A simple, unique and delicious recipe for Florida Tomato Jam createdby Valeriano Chaves won the grand prize in the Florida Tomato Committee’s “Best of the Best” recipe contest for culinary students in the U.S. and Canada. Chaves, a senior from Liaison College in Brampton Canada, won $2,500 and bragging rights with his two ingredient masterpiece.
Made from only fresh Florida tomatoes and light brown sugar, Chaves’ creative jam was the unanimous choice among judges and stood out from five other finalist recipes. The first place winner was George DePontes, of International Institute of Culinary Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts; he earned a $1,500 prize for his Mac ‘N Cheese Stuffed Florida Tomato recipe. Additional winners include Asrtid Auchmuty, of Johnson & Whales University in Providence, Rhodes Island who received second place for her Roasted Florida Tomato Soup and the third place went to Marleane Gonzales, of American River College in Sacramento, California for her festive Florida Tomato and Chicken Ole.
Since only one entry per school was permitted, supervising instructors held preliminary judging to select the recipe to represent their school. A panel of prominent New York area chefs and food writers judged the finalists. Entries were judged on the basis of taste, visual appeal, originality and effective use of fresh Florida tomatoes.
The eighteenth annual Florida Tomato “Best of the Best” Recipe Contest will begin in January 2007. Instructors at post-secondary schools interested in learning about how their students can participate should contact Jason Stemm by phone (212-420-8808) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fresh Florida tomatoes are low-calorie, low-sodium, a good source of fiber and high in vitamins A and C. Studies indicate that the antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes may help prevent damage to cells and boost cardio vascular health. Ripe, red Florida tomatoes add flavor, color and good nutrition to any dish.
FRESH FLORIDA TOMATO JAM
Valeriano Chaves, Liaison College, Brampton
Fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes 2 pounds
Firm-packed light brown sugar 1/2 cup
- Blanch tomatoes; remove skin, seed and dice.
- In a skillet, over medium high heat, cook tomatoes, stirring frequently to evaporate the moisture, about 10 minutes.
- Gradually add sugar, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Cook over low heat and reduce to jam consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
- Serve as a spread with bread, crackers and cheese.
YIELD: 1 1/2 to 2 cups
MAC ‘N CHEESE STUFFED FLORIDA TOMATOES
George DePontes, International Institute of Culinary Arts
Elbow macaroni (uncooked) 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces)
Bacon 3 slices
Fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes, cored 2 large
Milk 1/4 cup
Butter 1 tablespoon
Flour 2 teaspoons
Ground black pepper Pinch
Grated sharp cheddar cheese 1 cup
Italian seasoned bread crumbs 1 tablespoon
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions in lightly salted water. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice off the tops of the tomatoes. With a teaspoon, scoop out tomato pulp and seeds. Discard seeds; chop pulp and reserve. Place tomato shells in a shallow baking pan.
3. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove from skillet. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons fat. Add tomato pulp to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Crumble Bacon.
4. In a small sauce pan, heat milk with butter, flour and pepper. Add cheese, stir until melted, about 1 minute.
5. Drain macaroni; place in a bowl. Add cooked tomato pulp, crumbled bacon and cheese sauce. Stir lightly, but don’t blend completely.
6. Spoon mixture into tomato shells. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Peel off skins, if desired, and transfer to serving plates.
YIELD: 2 servings