Chef Tom – TOMatoes

Tomato season. My favorite time of year. All the colors, flavors, textures and…juice. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. When something is in season, eat as much of it as you can. In season means the produce is at peak nutrition. Have tomatoes every day if you can. You’ll maximize the good-for-you.

With tomato season comes all the stone fruit. Their sugars and acid are perfect matches for tomatoes, especially peaches and nectarines. Go for a variety of colors and shapes to make each dish more appealing. Experiment with your own combinations.

Here are just a few of my favorite recipes.

Charred Tomatoes on Cold Yogurt

Charred Cherry Tomatoes on Cold Yogurt

Serves 4 as a starter

One of the most popular recipes from Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s ground-breaking cookbook, SIMPLE, this dish of fragrant, hot cherry tomatoes served with cold yogurt is the perfect dip or mezze.

Ingredients:
3 baskets cherry tomatoes (12.5 oz)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon light brown sugar

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

4 sprigs thyme

4 sprigs fresh oregano

1 1/2 lemon –, zest of one half shaved off in 3 wide strips, the other half grated

salt and black pepper

1 pound fridge-cold extra-thick Greek yoghurt (9 oz)

1 1/2 teaspoons urfa chili flakes

Directions:

Heat the oven to 200C (400F)

Put the tomatoes in a rimmed baking dish that’s just large enough to accommodate them all snugly. Add the oil, cumin, sugar, garlic, thyme, oregano sprigs, lemon strips, a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Toss together with your hands.

Roast for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to blister, and the liquid is bubbling, then turn the oven to the grill setting and grill for 5 to 7 minutes, until the tomatoes start to blacken on top.

While the tomatoes are roasting, mix the yoghurt with the grated lemon zest and 1/4 tsp salt, then return to the fridge.

Once the tomatoes are ready, spread out the cold yoghurt on a large plate or shallow, wide bowl. Spoon the hot tomatoes on top, as well as the pan juices, lemon peel, garlic and herbs, and finish with the remaining oregano and chili. Serve at once with some flatbreads or sourdough.

Tomatoes and Wasabi-Mascarpone

Tomatoes with Wasabi, Mascarpone and Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

Serves 6

1/2 pound mascarpone

1 tbsp wasabi paste

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped

1 spring onion, finely sliced

2 shallots, thinly sliced widthways

2 tbsp good-quality sweet sherry vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

2 1/4 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into a mixture of slices and wedges, 1cm thick

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/8 ounce mixed basil leaves (plain, purple and micro-basil) or just plain basil, to garnish

Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

This is all about the tomatoes, so get as many different varieties as you can: red, green and yellow; baby plum, cherry and vine. They also look great if they are not cut in uniform fashion: smaller tomatoes should be halved, while larger ones should be cut into wedges or sliced.

You can prepare all the elements for this in advance — the wasabi and herb-filled mascarpone, the pickled shallots, the chopped tomatoes, the toasted nuts. Just keep them separate and put the dish together just before serving.

It works well as part of a spread of salads or alongside some simply cooked fish or meat.

Place the mascarpone, wasabi, chives, tarragon and spring onion in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Place the shallots in a separate bowl with the sweet vinegar, oil and half teaspoon of salt. Mix well and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

To serve: Divide the mascarpone between the plates and spread it out to form a thin layer. Place the tomatoes on top, followed by the pickled shallots.

Sprinkle with the pine nuts, then scatter over the basil leaves, tearing the larger ones as you go. Season with 1/3 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and serve.

Peach and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:
4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut in wedges

4 large peaches, pitted and cut in wedges

1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Thinly slice and chill the onions in ice water.

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, peaches and onions.

Mix lemon, honey and olive oil and toss with tomato peach mixture.

Season with freshly ground pepper. Cover and set aside at room temperature, for one hour before serving.

Kitchen Sink Sandwich

From one of my favorite cookbooks ever: White Trash Cooking

In the peak of tomato season, chill 1 very large or 2 medium size tomatoes that have been vine-ripened and have a good acidy bite to their taste.

Take 2 slices of bread and coat them with 1/4 inch good mayonnaise. On one piece of bread add a layer of ¼-inch sliced tomato. Salt and pepper that layer. Add another layer  of tomato and salt and pepper to taste again. Add the other piece of bread on top of this.

Roll up your sleeves and commence to eat over the kitchen sink while the juice runs down your elbows.

ON THAT NOTE

Fado music is a form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs, cafés, and restaurants. This music genre officially originated in Portugal around the 1820s, though it is thought to have much earlier origins.

Fado is known for how expressive and profoundly melancholic it is. In fado music, the musician will sing about the hard realities of daily life, balancing both resignation and hopefulness that a resolution to its torments can still occur. It can be described by using the Portuguese word “saudade,” which means “longing” and stands for a feeling of loss. This loss is generally permanent and of long-term consequence.

Here are some good examples of the style and mood of Fado, although these are most definitely NOT cafes and pubs, but you can get a sense.

Suadade reminds me of the Spanish Duende, that heart-wrenching quality of Flamenco where the singer expresses such passion “they leave a piece of themselves on the stage.” 

MARIZA – Quem Me Dera [Official Music Video]

ANA MOURA – FADO LOUCURA

Ana Moura – Andorinhas (Official Video)

Sara Correia – Porquê Do Fado

BONUS TRACK

This is out of left field, but has been in my life of late. One of the funniest, NON-PC bits I’ve ever seen. The story is that they had to do numerous takes because the Asian woman could not stop laughing.

You will laugh as well, so prepare to be canceled.

Catherine Tate – the offensive translator

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

One Response to “Chef Tom – TOMatoes”

  1. oh my WORD! split a gut! I so love Catherine Tate, and this is priceless!
    I’ll slink away now .. cancelled… 😉

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