August 2011 Archives

Tomato Breakfast

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tomatoes2011.jpgOnce, in Spain, we were having breakfast and the guy next to us started rubbing big, hunking tomato quarters all over his toast, rubbing them until the skin came off in his hand. Then, he dumped salt, pepper and olive oil on the mash and ate it.

Later, we went out for tapas, and the whole table next to us started smearing tomatoes onto bread. We'll have one of those we said, of course, and soon my entire family was squeezing the meat out of the tomatoes with the help of the nap of the crusty bread.

If the skins won't come off -- meaning the tomatoes are old and not very good -- this isn't the method. But with my summer crop of tomatoes hanging so alluringly on the vine, they and great olive oil are the perfect candidates to go on my Seeduction bread, toasted.

This year we grew six different types of tomatoes. Eating one type per piece of bread really helps clarify the taste memory of each of these. Pictured are the small SubArtic Plenty, a small breed that does alright in cool temperatures and flourished through our cold July. They have never gotten very big for me, and aren't true early tomatoes so they are not my favorites for practical reasons, but their taste is clean, clear and sweet with just a hint of tart.

Thumbnail image for FiorentinoTomato.jpgThe heavy ribbed tomato on the left is a Costoluto Fiorentino, with a very sweet and very tart taste. Very meaty and the skin comes off nicely even when tucked in crevices. I didn't give these plants enough of a sunny home, so the ones that are ripe now are smaller than I hoped. Some more promising fruit is still on the vine.

To the right is the Black Russian that has produced so well for me this year. They riped with a purplish top on the green fruit then turn a deep violet red. The meat is equally saturated with color. The taste is sweet, only slightly tart, with a meatiness that hits the top back arch of the mouth like a steak does.  


BikeSpeerColfax.jpgHot days. So many tomatoes.

 tomatoOpalkaSm.jpgI picked the first few plum tomatoes. We have nine (4  San Marzano Redorta; 5 Opalka) plants in all and we hope they will make enough paste to last us all year. We've never grown the Redorta, and the Opalka were grown from seeds I saved from last year, so I wanted to try them before I bothered to store the lot. This first batch of plums, I made into gazpacho.

Sunday afternoon gazpacho for after the U.S. Pro Cycling finale in Denver August 28 - a perfect excuse.

We'd had a few Sierra Nevada beers up at the race finish, but were all pretty hungry after riding around to find the best race viewing positions. The food at the event looked good, but there wasn't that much shade, and besides I had the gazpacho made.

gazpachoMeal.jpgHere's what I did on the day before: dropped six tomatoes in boiling water. Turned the heat off below them, and pulled them out one at a time. Removed the skin, which I put in a stainer over a bowl. Then, I opened the tomatoes and scooped out the seeds, which I also put in the stainer. I cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and put them in a bowls with a chopped green (somewhat spicy) pepper, a garden-fresh cucumber diced, a red onion, a few tablespoons of basil, 3 small minced garlic. The tomatoes were making a juice while all the other chopping was going on, and I went out to the garden to see if there was something else.

chinesecucumber.pngFound a Chinese cucumber that is a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber. (This vegetable must be peeled because it has a fussy skin of little hairs all over it's exterior. My friend Sandy brought these seeds back from Chinatown last winter.  We grew them not knowing what they would turn out to be.)

To all the chopped vegetables I added about ΒΌ cup of olive oil, 1 cup water, 2 Tbs of dry white vermouth and the water that the tomato seed and peel made.  Just before I served it I added about a dozen ice cubes and let the gazpacho sit out at room temperature.

Martha was assigned the wine for this afternoon, after-race meal, and found that gazpacho is the wine pairer's nightmare. She brought a couple of Spanish reds (a Rioja and its cousin, a Tempranillo) and they were perfect.

CherryPeppers.jpgWe started with some previously marinated eggplant (with parsley/garlic/red pepper) and some green bean marinated in rice wine vinegar.  

We bought a pizza crust from a local pizzeria, Abo's, on the ride home. Stretched it into several pieces and grilled them. First on one side, then flipping them, and adding some chopped garlic, basil and rosemary from the yard. Then we grilled some eggplant rounds. When they were marked well on both sides we piled on cheese and a tomato slice. These were the garnish in the gazpacho that we served with the grilled pizza crust. Enough for six people. There were six of us and we had to share two pieces of leftover piece of semifreddo. It was cold and very frozen, and felt great on this hot afternoon.