I seem to be making a number of tomato recipes but I suppose that can be expected at this time of year, particularly as the temperature has started to drop in the evening. No one wants tomatoes to go to waste. Tonight’s recipe is for Baked Tomatoes – the only tomato recipe in the vegetable section of the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. It was submitted by Mrs. H. C. Diebel.
This is one of those recipes that can be decreased or extended to accommodate the number of diners and of tomatoes. I don’t have 12 tomatoes. I only have six tomatoes so I cut the recipe in half. I washed the fruit (tomatoes are a fruit) and carefully sliced a bit off the bottom so they would sit flat in the pan. I cut the stem part out of each tomato but realized later I should have simply cut across the top to create a sort of cap. Next I scooped out the pulp of the tomato leaving some inside so it wouldn’t collapse. I put the pulp in a bowl along with 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon butter, some salt and pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. I didn’t have any onion juice to add.
I have vague memories from childhood of a squirt bottle of onion juice as part of the spice cabinet but I can’t find such a product now. It was a favourite since my father hates onions but doesn’t mind the flavour. I’ve been searching for onion juice since January as it is used in several recipes. I don’t know if it was a home-made item in 1906 or if it was available commercially. I suppose I could make some but this recipe calls for such a small amount I decided to pass today. I mixed everything together and spooned the paste into the hollow tomatoes. It was at this point I realized my mistake but couldn’t change as the cores were already in the compost. I put the pan in the oven at 300 degrees F. for 45 minutes.
Lydia Caroline Moebus and Henry Conrad Diebel were married in 1894 and had two children. Henry works as a painter. In 1906 Lydia was in her early 40s and contributed sixteen recipes (one of the largest number) for the cook book and they tend to use everyday ingredients in interesting ways. Her children were school age when the cook book was published and the family lived at 47 Scott Street, Berlin Ontario according to the 1911 census. The house still stands and is the location of LaCasbah restaurant. Try using that famous search engine’s map feature and drag that little guy onto the map so you can see an image of the house today (well April 2009). Don’t forget to substitute Kitchener for Berlin!
Based on the aroma of cooking tomatoes I think it is time to check the oven. I like stuffing but I’m not fond of tomatoes and I think you need to like both to enjoy these Baked Tomatoes. In fact I think the stuffing needs the onion juice to provide some more flavour. I’ve had other versions over the years that involve tomatoes chopped and cooked with cheese and crumbs but Mrs. Diebel’s version looks nice and will appeal to some people. A modern cook might want to add some additional seasoning to the stuffing.
For 12 ripe tomatoes take 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, 1 of butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon onion juice, put tomatoes in granite baking pan, cut thin slice from smooth end, scoop out as much pulp as possible, mix with the other and refill, put on tops, bake slowly 3/4 of an hour, garnish with parsley.