Saturday, July 21, 2012
THE MIGHTY TOMATO
The Tomato in all its shapes and variations truly is a giant amongst ingredients,part of the trilogy of Mediterranean cooking along with garlic and the Onion.
As a child My grandfather used to grow his own tomatoes in his greenhouse,his sanctuary from the world,the aroma of the tomatoes growing was truly overwhelming and to this day the smell of tomatoes takes me back to those days of picking a tomato off the vine that he would slice with his pocket knife add a sprinkling of salt between two slices of home baked white bread and we would eat in the greenhouse together sat on an old wooden crate ,happy days.Today I would add a little olive oil,but in England in those days Olive oil was a rare thing indeed,only to be experienced in Italian restaurants,although my Father who is very well travelled,and was cooking rustic Spanish food at home in the 1960's used to bring back olive oil from Spain in huge tins,along with cases of sherry,he loves Spain and for a brief time I remember him smoking DUCADOS Spanish cigarettes,didn't last long he soon reverted back to Benson and Hedges. Hard to imagine today,people use Olive Oil in England as an everyday ingredient, and are all the better for it!
In Spain and France it is common in the morning to char grill a slice of ciabatta bread drizzled with
some olive oil and rubbed with a garlic clove and then topped with fresh chopped tomato.In the little ventas and cafes you see the workman enjoying with a coffee and a little glass of Brandy early in the morning chatting with friends
In this blog I thought I would explore the making of the finest of all sauces, a simple tomato sauce.A lot of people use tinned plumb tomatoes and theres nothing wrong with that,without doubt plumb tomatoes are the fleshiest and best tomatoes to use,but for me,spoilt by a bountiful supply of fresh tomatoes I prefer to use fresh!
Start by putting the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water,just for a minute then remove from the bowl to a chopping board ,the skins will easily slip off.
De seed and chop the tomatoes,In a pan add some olive oil some crushed garlic and a couple of anchovy fillets along with finely chopped stalks of basil and parsley add a fresh chilli,just prick the skin to let the oils come out after a minute or two ,be careful not to burn the garlic,add the chopped tomatoes with all the juice,and let it simmer for around half an hour.....I usually give it a good seasoning of salt and pepper,be generous with the salt,a glug of red wine vinegar and squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You are there,now you can take this basic sauce in so many different directions,adding capers and squeezed black olives,or just adding fresh basil leaves,or oregano to replace the Basil the choices are endless
Tonight I am making a simple char grilled steak and fries for friends but I will make some provencal tomatoes and post the recipe for those tonight