Halloween is days away. Our house has been deemed the “meeting place” which inevitably means dinner first. What do I feed 12 boys, ranging in age from 7 – 14 without spending my entire weekly grocery budget on that one meal? We have done away with hot dogs and instead have adopted sausages in it’s place. After much thought, grilled sausages with homemade condiments is the route I will be taking. Setting everything up, buffet style, works with a crowd. Add a big bowl of veggie chips, cut up fresh cucumbers and jicama (spiked with fresh lime + chili powder) and just maybe all of this good stuff will counteract the sugar high that will ultimately be taking over the evening.

Most Sunday’s, one can find many things brewing in my kitchen. Vegetable or Chicken stock, a batch of marinara, salad dressings (this, this, or this), cookie doughs, sauces, cutting + cleaning veggies, and simmering homemade condiments. I like to prepare for the hectic week ahead and doing as much prep and organization in advance keeps me sane through out the week. Onion marmalade, ketchup, barbeque sauce, teriyaki, and homemade sodas can easily be found in our fridge, stored in glass jars of all shapes and sizes( I hoard glass vessels). I have recently gotten into making chutneys and this tomato chutney has become a a household favorite.

Not only is it delicious on grilled sausages (we are lucky to have Jeff’s Gourmet right in our neighborhood – truly the best sausage) with these gluten free rolls, but I simply like it in an omelette, spread on toast and topped with a bit of ricotta and Celtic sea salt, or slathered on top of a veggie burger, sans the bread. Eli now likes it on his grilled gruyere and onion marmalade sandwiches and if he could take that to school with him, he would.

Feeding a crowd does not have to break the bank. Making homemade condiments costs pennies, doesn’t contain ingredients you cannot pronounce, and inevitably tastes better than anything one can get out of a jar.

Homemade Tomato Chutney

1 1/2 pounds organic, Roma tomatoes – peeled
1 organic, red bell pepper
1/4 cup sunflower oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sucanat (or muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh, black ground pepper

• in a large stock pot, boil water.
• while water is coming to a boil, remove stem and score your tomatoes. to score tomatoes, slice an “X” at the bottom end of the tomato.
• cut red pepper in half, and remove stem and seeds. brush outside of peppers with olive oil and place, open side down, on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. place under the broiler for about 10 minutes – checking every two minutes to avoid burning completely. when perfectly charred, remove from the broiler and place in a brown paper bag to steam.
• after about 10 minutes, remove from the bag and peel away the skin. rough chop the peppers and set aside.
• when water is boiling, drop tomatoes into water using a Japanese strainer. let boil for 30 – 45 seconds or until you see a bit of the skin (close to the “X”) peeling away from the meat of the tomato.
• remove tomatoes, using the same strainer, run them under cold water. after a few seconds they will be cool enough to touch and peel immediately. this is an easy process. if you let them cool completely, the skin becomes harder to peel – so don’t let that happen.
• roughly chop tomatoes and set aside.
• heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. add the oil to heat for about 1 minute.
• add the garlic and cumin. cook for 1 minute.
• add tomatoes, chopped red pepper, red wine vinegar, and sucanat. bring to a slow boil and once boiling, turn down heat to medium. let cook for 30 minutes. the chutney should become thick and the chunks of both tomato and peppers should be broken down, but still chunky.
• add the herbs de Provence, Celtic sea salt, and pepper. let simmer for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
• puree 1/4 of the mixture in a mini food processor. place the puree and the chunky chutney in a glass bowl to cool completely before serving.
• this will keep in an air tight glass jar in the fridge for one week.