Do you remember that in my last post I was complaining that I did not have enough courage for cooking because of tropical temperatures? And now you know what? I came back to cooking, and this is mainly what this post is about.
August started which means that the season for all types of soil tomatoes finally started. We can actually enjoy these summer tomatoes only for two or three months a year. The season is too short, but I dare to say that our local tomatoes are not worse than those from southern Europe. When I am in Krakow in the summertime, I always buy extraordinary ones, on the food market I my neighbourhood, from a nice woman, who, twice per week, sells tomatoes straight from her farm in various sizes, shapes and colours. When I come back to France by car, I always buy a crate of them. Not because they are cheaper than in Paris, but simply because they are delicious. A quintessence of tomato in a tomato. Skins which peel easily without blanching them in boiling water. Pulpy, juicy but not watery. Sweet.
This is nothing special for those, who have access to great organic food markets in NYC, London or Paris. But for me, who watches the changes in my country, the discovery of various types of tomatoes on a small provincial food market is a tiny proof that something has been changing in my country. I remember from my childhood only one type of plain, round red tomatoes. One could only dream about Lima or Buffalo, or cherry tomatoes. Or yellow ones.
The leitmotiv for last Saturday’s lunch, which I prepared for my father, was the colour yellow. Soup, tart, pesto… The monotony of yellowness was slightly disturbed by “Bruschettas with Young Beans and Grilled Bacon”, as well as by “fried Chanterelles, Spinach and Parmiggiano”. There are the dishes:
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
For my Gazpacho I used very ripe round yellow tomatoes and one grilled yellow bell pepper. The soup was quite sweet. I broke the sweetness by the addition of white wine vinegar, but I believe you can add more than indicated in the recipe. It was good, but not outstanding (or it is just a matter of taste).
1 yellow bell pepper
1 slice of stale bread
150 ml chilled mineral water
700 g yellow tomatoes, blanched and peeled, seeds removed
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 handful of peeled almonds, sliced
6 nice basil leaves
½ half yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 small cucumber (max 100 g), washed, peeled and chopped
Lemon zest of ¼ of small organic lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of powdered chili
1. Preheat oven until 180° Celsius. Place your bell pepper on a baking sheet and bake it for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until its skin is well grilled and does not stick to the bell pepper anymore. Flip the bell pepper occasionally, so it will bake evenly. Remove the bell pepper from the oven, put into a plastic bag and let cool down. Then remove it from the bag, place it on a cutting board, and cut it along. Remove gently its stem, the seeds and peel the skin using a small and sharp kitchen knife.
2. In a small bowl, soak the bread in mineral water for a few minutes.
3. Put bell pepper, tomatoes, bread with its soaking water, garlic, onion, cucumber, basil lemon zest in your food processor or blender. Process the ingredients until smooth. Season with lemon juice, wine vinegar, olive oil, chili, salt and pepper.
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. You can add ice cubes right before serving.
Yellow Tomato Tart with Thyme
This tart may seem too simple at the first sight. For the filling, you only need ripe but firm tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic and shallots. And that’s enough! You can add local goat or sheep’s cheese, but nothing more. I prefer the simplest savoury tarts with one or two ingredients – the onion tart Provencal style and this tomato are my favourite so far. The key is how you prepare this one ingredient. I like tarts, but except for Quiche Lorraine, I rather do not enjoy all those with heavy cream and eggs; usually, the sauce soaks into the dough; the dough becomes too heavy and too gluey, instead of crispy. I am also a maniac as regards the preparation of tomatoes. Except for some salads, I always peel them and I remove their seeds. I do not like all those pizzas and tarts, where seeds of freshly slices tomatoes drip into the dough, changing its texture into a chewing gum. For this reason, I strongly recommend frying tomatoes for a while, before placing them in your tart mould. The excess of juices should evaporate if you want to enjoy the crispness of the bottom of the dough.
I made this tart using home made pâte brisée, which I prepared a month ago and that I kept in my freezer. I used my husband’s recipe, coming from times when he was working as a pastry chef. Home made pâte brisée is not complicated; the only problematic action is to place the dough in the tart mould. It is just time consuming, but I assure that as long as you have a good recipe, the result has nothing to do with an industrial product.
For the pâte brisée - makes 2 moulds: (18 cm and 24 cm) if rolled out quite finely. If you do not feel like to make your own dough, you can use ready industrial one, but I am not responsible for the final effect.
200 g flour plus some more extra for your working table
1 teaspoon salt
125 butter, diced
1 large egg
1 tart mould (24 cm)
For the garnish:
700 g ripe but firm yellow Lima tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded; cut into quarters
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1. Working with a small plastic pastry scraper (if unavailable with the tips of your fingers), combine quickly the flour, salt and butter, until you obtain a “sandy” texture. Add the egg and mix quickly and forms a ball. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of cold water and mix (if you add too much water, then add a bit more flour). Do not overdo the dough or it will shrink during baking and it will be tougher than necessary.
2. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours (you can freeze the dough and use it later as well).
3. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out on your working table. Make sure to always sprinkle enough flour between the table and the dough, and over the dough, to prevent it from getting stuck to the table or to the rolling pin. Use the rolling pin to place delicately the dough in the tart mould (I know that it is not easy, but even if the dough breaks a bit do not panic; just try to put the pieces together the best you can). Prick the dough with a fork, wrap the tart mould in plastic film and keep it in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Prepare a circle of baking paper, about 30 cm in diameter.
4. Take the dough out of the fridge. Remove the plastic film and place the baking paper on top of the dough; place baking beans over the paper (to prevent the dough from rising in the oven). Bake for about 15 minutes or until it gets slightly gold. Remove the dough from the oven. Let it cool down before removing the baking paper with the beans. Save the beans. Do not switch the oven off.
5. In the meantime, prepare the tomato garnish. Pour olive oil into into a hot saucepan. Add shallots, fry them for 5 minutes, then add garlic, fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and fry them over high flame, mixing often, delicately (so they will not go to the pieces), for a maximum of 10 minutes. And here’s one tricky thing. The frying time depends on your tomatoes. You should use ripe but firm tomatoes (Lima tomatoes are ideal). If they are too soft, they will give too much juices and will go into pieces while frying, and we do not want that to happen; on the other hand, they cannot be too cooked (the purpose of frying tomatoes is to get rid off the excess of water, which otherwise would go into the dough. You simply have to watch your tomatoes but if they gave a lot of juices, get rid of the liquid - do not add it to the tart –only add tomatoes! At the very end of frying, add salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Mix and place the totmatoes in the tart shell.
6. Place the tart in the oven and bake until the dough turns to a nice gold colour, and until tomatoes start to caramelize a bit (it should take about 20 to 25 minutes, but you really have to watch them). Remove the tart from the oven and serve hot. This tart tastes well both warm and at room temperature (this is how I served it to my father last Saturday).
Fresh Corn Pesto (from Lottie & Doof).
As a main dish, I served Pappardelle with Fresh Corn Pesto. I rarely present on my blog dishes of other bloggers. It does not mean that I do not find ideas in culinary blogs. On the contrary, I find a lot of great ideas, and quite often I cook something from my favourite blogs. I do not present those dishes, as I think that the blog is a place to share your own culinary ideas. However, this Fresh Corn Pesto from Lottie + Doof is worth recommendation. Who would think of making a pesto from sweet corn? With grilled crispy bacon, it is absolutely delicious. Check out the recipe and try it. It is great.