Sunday, 12 September 2010

A love affair with tomatoes

If only wedding anniversaries were marked with foodstuffs, for me that would make the annual purchase of a fitting gift so much easier. This year was the year of the Tomato. Our 5th wedding anniversary saw the end to my quest for the near perfect dish, a Provencal Tarte fines aux Tomates with homemade Aioli. Tigerella tomatoes have only ever featured on a faded poster in my kitchen, but I had the pleasure of choosing them from a variety of outdoor grown organic tomatoes at the market. They were labelled Tomates Couleurs, but in fact their true name gives them away in appearance. They are striped like a tiger. I chose them for their texture and taste as they felt and tasted on the day, and it was what you expect of a tomato but rarely get. Firm and sweet with a tang. I sliced a kilo and laid them onto puff pastry spread with a dense mixture of mascarpone, parmesan and basil before baking them slowly but surely in the oven until they dried out. My only mistake was that i didn't use enough of them, sliced to perfection, to give a more refined tarte. Here's to 5 years Monsieur McKay, who followed the tarte fines with a spectacularly executed dish of roasted poussin on sesame crepes topped with a sauce of green grapes.

tartes fines aux tomates
serves 4

230g puff pastry rolled to 30 cm
150g mascarpone
50g grated parmesan
a bunch of freshly torn basil
1kg tomatoes

  • roll the pastry to 30cm and place on a baking sheet
  • mix the cheeses and basil and season before spreading onto the inner 20cm circle of the pastry
  • slice the tomatoes to 5mm and lay them in ever decreasing circles from the outside edge of the pastry inwards, and upwards over the cheese mixture. Use the top and bottom slices to prop up each circle as you reach the centre.
  • bake at 200 degrees C for 25 minutes in a preheated oven, and then for a further 45 minutes at 170 degrees C.
serves 4

2 egg yolks
1 tspn water
1 tspn dijon mustard
350ml olive oil (or half the amount of olive to half vegetable oil)
3 crushed cloves of garlic

  • put the egg yolks into a basin and add the water and mustard
  • start whisking a drizzle of olive oil until incorporated ensuring it doesn't split. add the oil in small amounts whisking continuously until the mixture becomes firm.
  • mix in the crushed garlic and season to taste

tuscan bread salad
serves 4

1/2 stale baguette cubed
1/2 kilo tomatoes
1 red onion
1/2 cucumber
2 tbspns red wine vinegar
4 tbspns olive oil

  • toast the baguette in olive oil in the oven and leave to cool
  • chop the tomatoes, onion and cucumber and mascerate in the red wine vinegar and olive oil
  • just before serving toss the vegetable mixure into the toasted bread and add the oregano and season
serve with breadcrumbed veal or pork escalope

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