swimming in tomatoes

Went on a Trip last night (at the local movie theater)... following Steve Coogan and Ron Bryford as they tour the north of England. A gem of a "foodie" road trip / documentary filmed by Micheal Winterbottom accompanying the two actors (and their more than brilliant vocal impersonations of sundry English actors — though Rob Bryford's take on Woody Allen is more than impressive) through stunning landscapes along the two-lane winding roads they bump along as they make their way toward hamlets hosting inns with award-winning kitchens the likes of Yorke Arms, Hipping Hill, Hollbeck Ghyll, l'Enclume, and Angel at Hetton, where Coogan and Bryford baldly self indulge in one culinary creation after another, the description of each dish deftly (if not somewhat dumbfoundingly) enunciated by staunch mâitres d'hôtel, the whole interspersed with swirling "backstage" views of meticulous sleights of hand performed by white-toqued armies standing at attention before armored stoves. That was a "salivating" mouthful! Worth a see.....

Now back to the more humble characteristics and fare of the home kitchen, and that celebrated fruit of the nightshade family - the unpretentious tomato.

Though heat has not been much of a topic of discussion in Paris (except to express amazement as to its absence in the weather forecast) and thus unable to unleash its persuasive power of enticement in recruiting one into blending up a nice thirst-quenching summer soup, the availability of seasonal tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors (perhaps still needing a bit of lounging in a fruit basket to sufficiently ripen) have their own compelling power.

Thus I undertook to create a simple red gazpacho with a darkly deep tang. First thing I did was set aside the cucumber, replacing it with young fresh radishes — bulb, root, even a bit of the stem. Roasted the peppers The rest is down below.  I came up with this "basil chutney" served on bruschetta that goes quite wonderfully with the gazpacho.

Here's a rousing article on how to turn all those peelings, clippings, skins, leaves, rinds, roots, shavings, seeds... we normally throw away into luscious bits of flavoring and food.
And here's an op-ed piece by Mark Bittman, doing what he does so well: write about food and food policy.

a variation on GAZPACHO – serves 4
= best (or only) in summer and early autumn

500  gr / 16 oz lovely sweet, juicy tomatoes (skinned and the seeds removed)… of your choice
100 gr red pepper (1 large pepper)
100 gr red radishes
Pinch of Espelette* powder
1 lime for fresh juice and zest (if unavailable, or transported too far, substitute lemon)
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground WHITE pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tBsp extra virgin olive oil
200 ml water

— Zest then juice the lime and set aside for the moment.
— Heat 100 ml of water to boiling. Add the rosemary sprig and let infuse for 15 minutes. Remove the sprig and set the water in the refrigerator.
— Roast the red pepper under the broiler, turning frequently, until blackened on all sides, and top and bottom. Place in a covered bowl to steam for 5 minutes then peel and remove any seeds and white membrane. Transfer to a blender. (Don't discard the skins and seeds.)
— Slightly score the bottom of each tomato. Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the tomatoes and leave for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove them with a spider or slotted spoon. Cool off in cold running water. Peel off the skins and cut in halves or quarters and remove the seeds, reserving both. Transfer the tomatoes to the blender. Pass the tomato skins and seeds, along with the red pepper skins and seeds through a food mill to capture all the wonderful juice and flavorings. Strain out any wayward seeds and add to the blender.
— Cut the radishes into smaller pieces and add to the blender.
— Blend until smooth. Add just enough of the cold rosemary water for desired consistency. Squeeze in 2 - 3 teaspoons of fresh lime juice (or to taste). Add the olive oil, a generous pinch of Espelette powder (to taste), sea salt (to taste), and a few twists of fresh white pepper. Blend and set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Even better if made the night before to allow for the flavors to harmonize.
— Just before serving add the lime zest. Correct the seasoning and/or consistency as desired.

for the bruschetta :
8 ½-inch slices of baguette
Small handful roasted walnuts
6 – 10 fresh basil leaves (depending on size)
Zest of ½ lime (or lemon)
1 small carrot
Extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea salt

— Zest the lime or lemon and set in a warm place (such as over a stove pilot) for 15 minutes or longer, to dry out the zest.
— Roast the walnuts in an oven preheated to 160 ˚C (325 ˚F) for approx 10 minutes. Coarsely chop.
— Grate the carrot (or very thinly slice with a mandolin then cut into small dice) - enough for 2 tablespoonfuls.
— Pile the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up lengthwise. Thinly slice crosswise.
— Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, along with a couple drizzles of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt to taste.
— Toast the slices of baguette under the broiler until golden brown on both sides. Brush with olive oil and top with a spoonful of "basil chutney.”

to serve :
Divide the gazpacho between 4 bowls. Give a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of fresh white pepper. Serve each bowl with 2 bruschetta.

* Espelette is a variety of chili pepper (origin: Mexican) grown in the commune of Espelette in France's Basque region along the border with Spain. It's appreciated for its slight smokey tone and gentle fieriness. I think it's available at specialty stores in the States. If you can't find it, you might try substituting ancho chili powder, but test for hotness... might be a bit more fiery.

No comments:

Post a Comment