My first class in culinary school was “Soup and Vegetable Cookery”, and one of the many many techniques taught was “tomato concassé”. While this literally translates to “chopped tomato”, it is a rather more involved preparation in which the tomatoes are scored, briefly boiled, chilled in ice water, skinned, seeded, and then chopped. At the time I thought the only way I would ever peel tomatoes would be in canning whole tomatoes. The thought that I would actually do this in a restaurant was laughable.
Flash forward a few years and I am reading the Momofuku Cookbook. Lo and behold there are peeled cherry tomatoes in an interesting variation of a Calabrese salad. And darned if they aren’t just the … Continue reading.
At this time of year we usually have about a dozen unripe tomatoes in their cages in the backyard. Their days outdoors are numbered: this week saw the season’s first frost warning. I could pick the green orbs and let them sit on the kitchen counter. They do ripen, eventually, but this isn’t a very dignified existence for a tomato. Instead, they can be sliced, breaded, and fried.
Green tomatoes are firm, slightly mealy, and tart. Actually the flesh of the green tomato tastes like cardboard; it’s the jelly that holds the seeds that has all the sour, vegetal flavour. Frying tenderizes them, and breading tempers their acidity. Once they’re cooked the tomato looses its ghost-green colour and takes the … Continue reading.
Two years ago, I had no place in my heart for tomatoes. With the stiff, pale burger-garnishes in mind, I wondered how anyone could get excited about them.
Then a few potted tomato plants in the backyard taught me how much heat they need to mature. Once they started to fruit, the woman next door was in awe, as not thirty feet away she had tried to grow tomatoes to no avail. We decided it was the exposed, south-facing cement wall behind my plants, storing heat during the day to pass to the tomatoes at night, that let them flourish. After harvest, I built a special room in my heart for tomatoes, the demanding plants that grow best in greenhouses … Continue reading.