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Aug 14, 2014 08:00 AM
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My Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook

First, I believe an introduction is in order. I'm Brian Yarvin and I've been a Chowhound since the late nineties. Most of the time, you'll find me on the New Jersey board, offering comments on where to buy ingredients, find one global cuisine or another and trying to gently suggest that readers shop in local specialty stores instead of the big chains that dominate the Garden State.

I don't just haunt food markets: for the past nine years, I've been writing and photographing cookbooks. Actually, this is the reason I've stayed away from the home cooking board – it seemed a wee bit too commercial. Now though, a change in Chowhound policy and a great post by Andrea Nguyen have given me a bit of a poke – I want to share a bit about my books too. Since it's summer, I keep going back to my Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook from Countryman Press. I wrote it back in 2008 and it remains a favorite of mine. Most of the book was written after visits to farms, farmer's markets and ethnic restaurants in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – a story I've hinted at on the Chowhound boards.

American Chop Suey

Mexican Meatball Soup


Master Tomato Farmer Tom Coulton

Some people write cookbooks because they know a cuisine or ingredient inside and out. I write them because I don't know anything and need a journey of discovery. American Chop Suey is there representing my memories of small-town restaurants in Northern New England decades ago, and Burgoo made it in … well … because I always wanted to know what it tasted like. Even though many of us won't admit it, cookbooks can harbor our dirty secrets. I put a recipe for Menudo in because I'm a big tripe fan, and there's a Mexican meatball soup too – I have long harbored the irrational belief that the best Mexican dishes are served in big bowls.

For some reason, people expect a book about tomatoes to focus on Italian recipes. I have a few of those including Bruschetta With Tomato, Chicken Cacciatore and Caponata. But tomatoes do so much more than this. For example, I wanted to make ketchup from scratch. Not just make it, but come up with a good recipe for it. My book has that recipe and ones for Tomato Butter, Tomato Chutney and a sauce called “Train Smash” too.

So that's it … some summer recipes, hopefully good photos, and dishes from every continent. A book from a fellow Chowhound that I hope you'll find useful.

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  1. What perfect timing to share your tips for too many tomatoes in the kitchen! Have you ever made a breakfast bread (scones or muffins) with fresh tomatoes? Most of the recipes I've found ask for sun-dried. Great pictures - thank you for sharing!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CACulinary

      I've tried to bake fresh tomato bread, but the water content of the tomatoes made it very tough to get the measurements right. Sun-dried tomatoes have intense flavor and a predictable amount of water, so they're the choice when recipe reliability counts.

      I'm glad you like the post, thank you!

    2. Your American Chop Suey looks delicious. Is this similar to homemade hamburger helper?

      1 Reply
      1. re: EM23

        I'm not a food historian, but I'll bet that American Chop Suey came first. However, I like the idea of it being a homemade version of a popular commercial product.

      2. I'm a big tripe fan too and have been slurping menudo since I was a wee one. In my part of the world, I've never seen it include book tripe as shown in your photo.

        Would you please share your recipe here?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Sure. However, this is the recipe that I keep on file, it might not be exactly the same as the one in the book.


          Mexican Tripe Soup – Menudo
          Recipe from the Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook by Brian Yarvin

          1 tablespoon peanut oil
          2 Mexican chorizo sausages, chopped
          1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
          1 teaspoon dried oregano
          1 teaspoon ground cumin
          1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
          2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
          1 cup chopped onion
          1 cup canned, crushed tomato or passata
          1 can (15 ounces) white hominy, rinsed and drained
          1 pound  omasum or “bible tripe” cut into 1 inch long strips
          1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
          4 cups beef broth
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          1. Put the oil and chorizo sausage in a Dutch Oven on medium heat and cook and stir until the meat begins to brown and fat renders out and into the pot, about 5 minutes.
          2. Add the thyme, oregano, cumin, pepper, garlic, and onion and cook and stir until the onion becomes translucent.
          3. Mix in the tomato, hominy, cilantro, tripe, and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered with occasional stirring until the tripe is well-cooked and tender, about 1 hour.
          4. At the end, taste the broth and add the salt if it’s needed.
          Serve hot.

        2. I love tomatoes (and cookbooks), so when I read this post I ordered the book from Amazon. So far I've made Baked Fish with a Middle Eastern Tomato Sauce (I used sea bass instead of tilapia), and Japanese Beef and Tomato Stir-fry. Both dishes were very good.

          1 Reply
          1. I'm a soup lover....could I get your Mexican Meatball soup please