Posts Tagged: tomatoes


20
Jul 10

Going Greek

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It was with a smile that I alighted in the tiny airport on one of the Greek islands where I’ve just spent a few days. Somehow the islands and indeed resorts all round the Mediterranean have this same beautiful smell that just says ‘holiday’ to me. Maybe it’s the scent of hot pine and herbs that fill the air, or the hot earth itself.Either way – you can probably guess that food is why I’m there – or at least forms one of the cornerstones of any international break I make. The med is home to some absolutely fantastic nosh – simple and pure, unfussy and for the most part eaten al fresco – a Greek friend I was visiting told me they ate outdoors at least six months of the year.

I’d forgotten quite how exquisite it is to eat a piece of fish grilled over wood, a wedge of lemon on the side, aromatic and juicy; a basket of fresh bread and a salad of tomatoes that have seen sun every day of their lives and cucumbers that have texture and flavour, more robust than their English cousins. All this eaten a stone’s throw from the turquoise Adriatic where after you’ve eaten your fill you can go and soak your toes. Eating doesn’t get much better than that.

Click here for our recipes for char-grilled halloumi, nectarine and prosciutto salad, for crushed new potatoes with mint and feta and lamb kebabs with cucumber and feta relish


6
Nov 09

Seafood supper – scallops with chilli, parsley and tomatoes

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I’m a huge seafood fan – razor clams, cherry clams, oysters and the like. Scallops, however, are one of those ingredients whose pleasure utterly escaped me. I just didn’t get it. To me they seemed rather like textured protein – without any redeeming factors!

Then, on two separate occasions these past two weeks, I’ve eaten such exceptional examples that my mind may have been changed.
Scallops in a cep broth at Martin Wishart’s fantastic Edinburgh restaurant were sweet and exquisitely cooked – a perfect golden sheen on the outside providing a welcome depth.

My second encounter was at Theo Randall’s incredible Italian restaurant at The Intercontinental Park Lane, where the quality of ingredients is second to none.

Theo’s cooking is wonderful in its simplicity – using the standard of produce they do, little is needed to let the food sing. For this recipe, try getting hold of the best scallops you can find – track down a local fishmonger if possible. The results will be worth it in the end.

Click here for Theo’s recipe for Cape
Sante – pan fried scallops served in the shell with chilli, parsley, datterini
tomatoes, capers, lemon and lentils di Castelluccio and rocket


10
Sep 09

Roll out the ricotta for a light lentil salad

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Ricotta is one of those ingredients that needs quite a lot done to it to make it exciting. I personally love the fact that it is rather the blank canvas and perfect for both sweet and savoury. In the restaurant where I work we do a fantastic lemon and ricotta cake, delicious, squishy and sharp.

It can be quite wet, so baking it adds an interesting extra layer of textures and flavours as in this recipe for a late summer salad, full of vibrant herbs to perk you up on a near-Autumnal evening.

The earthy lentils add a wonderful contrast of texture. I wrote a note in the margin of this recipe suggesting that a roasted red pepper cut into strips might make a lovely addition.

Lentil and baked ricotta salad

Ingredients (serves 2 as a light salad)

  • 75g lentils
  • 200g ricotta
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • A handful basil
  • A handful mint
  • half a small packet of cress

For the dressing

  • 1tsp Dijon
  • 1 tbs chestnut honey
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbs olive oil

Method

Cook the lentil in stock or water for 12-15 minutes until cooked but still with bite. Set aside to cool.

Cut the ricotta into ½ cm slices and bake at 180 for 20 minutes until starting to brown.

Quarter the tomatoes, finely slice the red onion and chop the herbs. Mix these all together gently with the cress and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled lentils and crumble in the cheese.

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and pour over the salad. Serve with crusty bread.


24
Aug 09

The best things in life

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As the saying goes, the best things in life are free – and nowhere is this more true that in the vegetable growing department.

A while ago I wrote about my tomato plants and how the first tomato had sprouted. The three plants I had on my balcony continued to grow and grow until the branches were bowing, so laden were they with fruit.

When it came to eating them, they were the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes I’d ever eaten on these shores – the skin slightly thicker from their outdoor growing, the flesh more intense and deep. I’d been given a handful of green beans my friends had grown on their allotment and a deliciously simple salad was born. To make this a standout you’d need to really source the best beans and tomatoes you could find – with so few ingredients the ones you do use must be heroes.

It would be silly to call this a recipe – merely a combination of delicious things – and as such the quantities are as haphazard as its coming together. A perfect summer accompaniment to a roast lunch or barbecue.

Tomato, shallot and green bean salad

Ingredients

  • A handful of tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
  • A handful of green beans
  • 2 small shallots or 1 banana, sliced into rings
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Method

Trim the beans and blanch in salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Refresh in iced water.

Drain and shake off the excess water before combining with the tomatoes and shallots in a bowl.

A splash of olive oil and a drizzle of good balsamic are all you will need, along with a good sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper.


13
Jul 09

Beans are the business

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Runner beans are such a great addition to the summer kitchen. Along with their fellow green, broad and the short-seasoned bobby beans they suit all manner of dishes.

Sometimes I forget how delicious they are – we were served them as a side at dinner in a restaurant last week, just boiled with butter, salt and pepper. What a sweet, succulent treat – hardly a vegetable at all. We ordered seconds and fought over them to the last.

They are also delicious tossed with finely sliced shallots, cherry tomatoes and a splash of French dressing, or given the classic a la Grecque treatment. Their sweetness works perfectly with a Sunday roast – sliced finely and devoured with a generous splash of gravy. This food writing business is hungry work.

I love the following recipe – a simple summer dish. We had it initially with a pan-fried pork fillet, although it is delicious on some sourdough toast the next day. Feel free to add a pinch of chilli flakes if you like it spicy.

Runner bean stew with chorizo

Ingredients (Serves 2-4 as a side)

  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 cooking chorizo (about 4 inches long)
  • 250g runner beans
  • 1/2pt water or stock

Method

Finely chop the onion and sauté in a splash of olive oil with the diced chorizo until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a matter of a couple of minutes or so. Add the halved tomatoes and cook until they break down and release their juice.

Add the stock or water.

Finely slice the runner beans on the diagonal so you get nice long pieces.  Add these to the pan, season and simmer until the beans are cooked.


25
Jun 09

A Spanish summer soup

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I’m a bit shameless when it comes to asking for recipes. If I’m in a restaurant or a cafe or even at someone’s house I will always ask for one to add to my collection. It’s a decidedly small contingent these days that endeavour to keep a recipe secret. After all, as my friend Jose said when I asked him for his delicious tortilla recipe, food is for sharing.

On this last visit to Spain I had a couple of delicious soups – both classics in the Spanish repertoire. Ajo Blanco is the first, a white, smooth almond and garlic soup sometimes made with grapes. The second, the recipe I have secured for your summer party enjoyment today, is for the inimitable gazpacho. Many recipes call for vinegar, some for bread, but this is a particularly tasty and light version, perfect to start an alfresco meal. This recipe comes from tapas bar El Molinon in Valencia.

Gazpacho El Molinon 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ a Spanish onion
  • 1 clove of garlic


Method

Blend the ingredients together in a food processor or with a stick blender, adding a bit of oil and a bit of salt to taste. Once it’s all processed, if it seems too thick, add a bit of water to make it more liquid.

Serve with some home-made croutons.


17
Jun 09

The joys of a green balcony

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I am lucky enough to have a particularly green-fingered mother, a dab hand in the garden, who manages to live for the greater part of the year off her allotment. I’m slightly green myself, with envy at the wonderful produce that comes off it, the tiny courgettes with their flowers, onions, potatoes, beans, beetroot, carrots, herbs, asparagus. They taste like vegetables should – fresh and deeply flavourful.

I live in London, which as you can imagine, creates something of a problem when it comes to having a garden. Fortunately, having moved recently, we opted for a flat with a balcony, just big enough to house a barbecue, a table and a few chairs, and more importantly some plants. Well ok, the barbecue might have taken priority…

We’re only growing a few things – tomatoes, herbs and salad but there is something distinctly satisfying with tending these things as they attempt to grow in Blighty.

But while the rain pours down outside, we’ll be eating a wonderfully simple lunch – some toasted sourdough, smoked anchovies and some salad leaves from our box, dressed with good balsamic, some very good olive oil and a sprinkle of grated parmesan – a little dose of sunshine.

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