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Tag: tomatoes

Tomato tart with tarragon mustard


Tomatoes are vegetables that make good neighbours. Bernadette, my lovely ‘voisine‘ (neighbour), is passionate about her home-grown pomme d’amour (that’s how she calls them – love apples). Whenever I drop by to say hello, she will meticulously tell me the difference between the yellow, red and green ones. Each type has a story to tell, from great-grandmothers recipes to how sweet some are compared to others. Whatever it is, I can stay hours listening to her vegetable tales. Earlier this week, she prepared an enormous basket of these glistening red beauties as a gift. I have been admiring them all week, letting my imagination run wild with cooking ideas. We’ve been enjoying gazpachos, tomato salads, and today, this delicious tomato tart. Merci, Bernadette!

Ingredients (serves 6):

For the filling:
5-6 tomatoes (sliced and partly deseeded)
4 tbsp tarragon mustard
5 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp Provence herbs
200 g mozzarella cheese (sliced)
A few fresh basil leaves
Olive oil (to drizzle)
Salt and pepper (for seasoning)

For the shortcrust pastry:
210 g plain flour
125 g unsalted butter, chilled and sliced in cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp cold water
or 230-250 g ready-made shortcrust pastry dough

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and mix using your hands until dough is crumbly. Make a well in the center, add egg and water. Mix well until dough is soft and form a ball. Roll dough on a floured surface, adding flour if necessary if dough is too sticky. With a rolling pin, roll dough large enough to cover tart pan. Press firmly on the sides to line the pan.

Preheat oven 200°C.

Spread tarragon mustard on the tart base, sprinkle parmesan and arrange the sliced tomatoes in two fine layers. Drizzle with olive oil, Provence herbs, and arrange sliced mozzarella all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
(Tip: To avoid a wet tomato tart, let the sliced tomatoes drain for 10 minutes on a plate before placing them in tart.)

Place tart in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

Tomates farçies ‘à la Provençale’

One thing you will always see on our kitchen table are tomatoes . We never run out of them – they are the juiciest of all vegetables, always available, raw or cooked, to be part of the plat du jour.

In Provence, tomatoes were called ‘pomme d’amour’ (love apples) because of their aphrodisiac properties. For me, they are the little black dress of the kitchen – a basic element that every cook must have. The quality I admire most in cooking is improvisation. My aunt is the queen of this act – she can create any dish on a whim, no matter what is in the kitchen, you are sure to get a gourmet meal. With a few simple ingredients, even a few leftovers, you can achieve little wonders.

I will always remember the first time I had tomatoes farçies à la Provençale. I was eight years old, it was a warm and balmy Sunday evening at my aunt’s house in Moissac, South of France. We had been invited by friends, feasting all week on foie gras and confit de canard, so my aunt didn’t have time to do any grocery shopping. However, she looked in the fridge and said ‘Oh, I will just bake some tomates farçies’,. My mother answered with ‘Mmmmm, j’adore!’ and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful summer food memories – succulent tomatoes stuffed with sausage meat, topped with golden crunchy garlic breadcrumbs and perfumed with a bouquet of herbs.

Today, I love making this dish, and I secretly like to stage the act of that night, pretending that I didn’t have time to plan anything. So when my husband asks me, ‘What are we having for lunch?’, I’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t really have the time to plan anything, but hey, I’ll make some tomates farçies!

Ingredients:

As I love hazelnuts, I added them to this classic recipe – it goes well with the breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley, and I find that they enhance the herb flavours. This recipe’s stuffing is made with sausage meat, but you can alternate and have this dish vegetarian.

5 large tomatoes
5 good quality pork sausages (or any ground meat of your choice)
60 grs hazelnuts (ground – I used a food processor)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp mustard
salt & pepper
1 tsp thyme
A large handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 slices stale bread soaked in milk
2 large handfuls of plain breadcrumbs
5 tbsp olive oil (2 for roasting pan, 3 to drizzle on top of breadcrumbs)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400 degrees F.

Slice the top part of the tomato, as if you were slicing off the ‘hat’ part. Gently scoop out the tomato pulp and place upside down on a plate to drain for 10 minutes. Keep the ‘hat’ part and set aside.

Cut a slit in each sausage and squeeze out the meat. Soak stale bread in a bowl with the milk. Drain off excess milk and set aside. In a large bowl, mix crushed garlic, chopped shallots, sausage meat, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper, a small handful of parsley and the soaked bread. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a teaspoon of plain breadcrumbs in the bottom of each tomatoes. Fill tomatoes with the stuffing, add a layer of ground hazelnut, followed by a layer of plain breadcrumbs. Pour 2 tbsp olive oil in a baking dish and place the stuffed tomatoes. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil on each tomatoes, and add the reserved ‘hats’. Place in a pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Gazpacho with garlic cream

‘A cooked tomato is like a cooked oyster: ruined.’ André Simon, wine writer

Today was a perfect summer day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the breeze smelt of rose bouquets. I couldn’t think of a better lunch than having a bowl of chilled gazpacho, the summer soup.

I somehow feel like a ‘Bewitched’ character when I prepare this soup – there is something so ceremonial about the green and red color combination, and I love to casually throw in the vegetables in a large pot, letting the food processor perform all its magic for me. The result is a poignant soup bursting with tangy flavors, so healthy and filled with sunshine. I love adding the garlic cream and home-made croutons – it’s a real treat.

Ingredients: (serves 4 to 6)

Gazpacho
5 tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 slices of stale white bread
150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
40 ml milk
1 tsp tabasco
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the diced tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, celery, onion, shredded bread, olive oil, milk, tabasco, vinegar and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Blend until smooth, add salt and vinegar to taste. Mix well. If you prefer a more ‘liquid’ consistency, add a little water. Keep chilled until serving time.

Garlic cream
1 clove of garlic, minced
100 ml double or single cream

Mince garlic with garlic crusher. In a small bowl, mix cream and crushed garlic, stir well. Pass the sauce through a sieve. Set aside and keep cool.

Garlic croutons:
1/2 stale baguette bread
70 ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced finely
Salt to taste

Preheat oven 180° C/350 F. Slice stale baguette bread into cubes. In a large bowl, mix cubed bread, olive oil, garlic and salt. Place on parchment covered baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.

Serve chilled gazpacho soup with garlic cream (drizzled) and croutons.