Tag Archives: Tomato

Tuesday Tutoring… on a Wednesday

Just a quick post to say that the lovely Javelin Warrior has featured me as his Tuesday Tutor today.  Which is Wednesday, I know, but yay, time zones, it’s still Tuesday in the US.  Anyway, I digress.  Javelin Warrior is one of the genuinely loveliest bloggers out there, so I was delighted when he asked me to get involved with the series.

I feel a bit sorry for the tomato with no stem - it's the odd one out.  But it's not like tomatoes have feelings, so it's all good (in the hood).

He decided to try out my baked beef-stuffed tomatoes which is one of my favourite savoury recipes ever because A) my mum always made stuffed tomatoes in the summertime, so they remind me of growing up and summer holidays, and B) they’re super delicious.  Simple as that.  It’s not quite tomato season here yet, so I have to wait a little while longer to make my own, but I’m starting to grow rather impatient!

Anyway, you can read Javelin Warrior’s thoughts on and step-by-step guide to the recipe here.  I love that he used different coloured tomatoes – so pretty!  And I’m intrigued by his suggestion of adding cheese, because, well, cheese.  Enough said.

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

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Just bear with me whilst I wax lyrical about Auckland’s public libraries

I mentioned in this post that I’d requested a copy of the River Cottage Veg Every Day! book from my local library.  I requested it back in April, but apparently half of Auckland had the same idea (ok, a slight exaggeration perhaps…) so there was quite a waiting list for it.  Of course, I could have just gone and bought it rather than wait, but I’ve resolved not to buy any more books (cookbooks or otherwise) if I can borrow them from the library because A) books from the library are generally free, B) books from the library only temporarily eat up valuable and limited bookshelf space, C) library books won’t take up expensive box space when I next move country, D) if I detest a book I can just give it back rather than being annoyed that I spent good money on it when I could have used said money to buy butter or gin, and E) if I love a book so much that I know I will definitely read it again or realistically cook more than ten recipes from it, I can then go out and buy it, knowing that it will be a worthwhile investment.  Basically, it’s like test-driving books.  Particularly when it comes to cookery books (so should that be test-cooking?).

This plan only works because the Auckland public library system is brilliant.  All the public libraries across Auckland are managed by the council (apparently this is a relatively recent development and only happened in the last couple of years) and all linked up to the same computer system.  So when I request a book, it will come from whichever library has it available, it’ll be delivered to the library of my choice, and, most importantly, there aren’t any inter-library loan charges involved.  To me this seems the most blatantly logical way to run a network of libraries, but apparently it doesn’t work like that in, say, Edinburgh.  Since this system covers 55 libraries (yes, 55!), you won’t be too surprised to hear that the selection of books is very comprehensive and includes the latest releases (albeit often accompanied by long waiting lists).  This was something that I was extremely pleased, and indeed impressed, to discover.

So anyway, back to River Cottage Veg Every Day!, which is what this post was actually supposed to be about, rather than my over-enthusiasm for Auckland’s public libraries.  I finally made it to the top of the waiting list and was able to pick up a copy about a fortnight ago.  Flicking through it randomly, there were plenty of recipes that I wanted to try and I couldn’t choose what to try out.  I decided to be logical and start reading from the beginning and pick out one recipe to start with.  I got as far as the second recipe, chachouka, a North African dish which I’d never heard of but looked pretty damn delicious in the accompanying photo.  It’s a spiced (but not spicy) and flavourful sort of stew that consists of peppers, onions and tomatoes, topped with baked eggs.  It’s perfect for a lunch or light dinner, and I loved it!  The egg means that the leftovers don’t reheat all that well, so I’ll be keeping this one bookmarked for when I have guests over.

Chachouka

Serves 4
Adapted from River Cottage Veg Every Day!

Be warned that this dish does take a wee while to cook, but it isn’t difficult to prepare and doesn’t take too much effort.  This is best eaten as soon as it is prepared, accompanied by a simple green salad and bread to mop up the egg yolk.  This dish doesn’t really make for great leftovers – unsurprisingly, the egg yolks cooked completely when I reheated the leftovers for lunch the next day, so I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as when freshly cooked, although the pepper and onion mixture was still delicious.

Ingredients

3 tbsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
1 red peper
1 yellow pepper
¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of saffron
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
4 eggs

Directions

1.  Pell and finely slice the onion.  Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan (use an ovenproof one if you have one) and add the onions.  Cook over a medium heat for 8-10 mins, stirring frequently until soft and golden.

2.  Meanwhile, deseed the peppers and finely slice them (I’d suggest slicing more finely than I did in the photos),  Feel and finely chop the garlic cloves.  When the onion is ready, turn the heat down to low and add the peppers and garlic to the pan.  Cook for at least 20 mins, stirring frequently, until the peppers are softened.  Add the spices about 10 mins in.

3.  Add the tin of tomatoes, including the juice, and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook over a low heat for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally.

4.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.

5.  Adjust the seasoning of the pepper mixture if necessary.  If your frying pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to an ovenproof baking dish.  Make four hollows in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one.  Bake for 10-12 mins, until the egg white is cooked, but the yolk is still runny (it can be a little difficult to tell if the egg yolk is still runny, but basically remove it from the oven as soon as the egg white is cooked).  Serve accompanied by bread and a green salad.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #6: Baked beef-stuffed tomatoes

This month’s Random Recipe was to be chosen from our favourite cookery book, which posed me a slight problem because I have lots of favourite books!  In the end, I chose La Popote des potes, a French book (bet you hadn’t guessed) which, minus the word play, roughly translates as “Food for friends,” and I think might have been based around a TV series, but I’m not sure.  I decided to go for this book because although the recipes range from quick and easy mid-week meals to more elaborate dishes, they all seem straightforward and achievable (assuming you can acquire the ingredients – certain easy-to-find foods in France sometimes require some serious hunting down over here), it has a fun style, and I love flicking through it for inspiration because it has wonderful photos for every recipe, which I’m a big fan of.

So, out came the calculator and it’s wonderful random number generator, which directed me to page 172, which happened to be the photo accompanying a recipe for “les incontournables tomates farcies” or “unmissable baked stuffed tomatoes.”  When we can get large tomatoes, my mum often makes this dish, though using a different recipe (it’s quite a popular dish in France), and I love it, although I wasn’t such a fan when I was younger because, much to the dismay of my French grandfather, I detested tomatoes.  Anyway, luckily, I am (mostly) over my dislike of tomatoes and it also happens to be tomato season at the moment, which means that large tomatoes are available.  What a perfect choice!  Even though I love baked stuffed tomatoes, I’d never actually made them before for the simple reason that I only had a mini blender in St Andrews, and I deemed it too time-consuming to have to blend the stuffing in at least six batches.  My mum has a proper blender though, so problem solved!

The recipe required ham and minced veal, which isn’t exactly widely available in the UK, but the note at the bottom said that using beef and sausage meat also worked perfectly.  We decided to use just beef, since neither my mum nor I are particular fans of the fattiness of sausage meat, but of course the fattiness is partly what holds the stuffing together, so based on my mum’s usual recipe, I added an egg to compensate for that.  I also added a bit of bread soaked in milk to keep the stuffing moist, also a tip from my mum’s recipe.  Just before popping the tomatoes in the oven, in a moment of inspiration I decided to top the stuffed tomatoes off with breadcrumbs, which meant that the top of the stuffing didn’t go all crispy and burnt as it sometimes does.  So although it turned into a bit of an amalgamation of two recipes rather than really testing the one from La Popote des potes, the tomatoes turned out absolutely delicious, and I will definitely be adding this recipe to my list of regular recipes.  And buying a blender when I move out again (whenever that may be).

Baked beef-stuffed tomatoes

Serves 4
Adapted from La Popote des potes

If you have any leftover stuffing, butter a little ramekin, fill it with the remaining stuffing, cover with breadcrumbs and a few shavings of butter and bake for the same length of time as the tomatoes.  It’s super yummy and moist and is delicious served hot or cold with a tomato sauce and rice, couscous or pasta.  For the tomatoes, try and pick large, fairly firm ones, and if you can get beef tomatoes, those are really good for stuffing.

Ingredients

8 large tomatoes
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
3 slices bread
Several tbsp milk
500g lean minced beef
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp rosemary
1 egg
7-8 tbsp breadcrumbs
Butter

Directions

1.  Wash the tomatoes and remove their lids, setting them aside for later.  Scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes, and reserve.  Sprinkle some salt inside each tomato and turn upside down, allowing to drain on some kitchen roll for about an hour.

2.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.  Finely chop the onions and garlic cloves, and sauté them in some olive oil for about 5 mins.

3.  In a small bowl, tear up the slices of bread and cover with some milk.  Add the soggy bread, minced beef, chopped herbs, egg, salt and pepper to a blender and blend well.  Remove to a large bowl, add the onion and garlic mix and mix well.

4.  Dab the inside of the tomatoes with kitchen roll to remove any remaining juice, and place them in an oven-proof dish just large enough for them to all fit (it’s best if it’s a tight fit, otherwise if there’s too much space between the tomatoes, they’re more likely to collapse a bit).  Fill the tomatoes with the meat mixture (pat the stuffing down well to ensure that the tomatoes are properly stuffed).  Sprinkle each tomato with breadcrumbs and add a few slivers of butter over the top.  Spoon some of the reserved pulp into the dish between the tomatoes.

5.  Bake for 45-50 mins, adding a lid to each tomato about 10 mins before the end of baking.  Serve hot, with rice or couscous to soak up the juice.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #2: Roasted tomato & red onion salad

Another month, and another food blog challenge that I happen to have discovered…  Now I already participate in three monthly food blogging challenges (Breakfast Club, Mac Attack and We Should Cocoa) and as much as I love my blog and baking/cooking and posting new recipes, well, I am also supposed to be working on a dissertation.  A dissertation, I should add, that is worth a quarter of my final degree classification (no pressure).  So ya, three challenges are quite enough – priorities and all that…

But here’s the thing – we all have cookbooks full of recipes that, despite our best intentions, we never quite get around to trying out.  And Belleau Kitchen‘s Random Recipe challenge addresses exactly that: basically, it involves randomly picking a cookbook and then randomly picking a recipe within it, and then trying it out.  Genius!  So even though I’d decided to draw the line at three challenges, I couldn’t really not get involved in this one, could I?

So for this month, we had to line up our recipe books and pick the 18th from the left, which in my case was a French one, “La Cuisine des paresseuses,” which loosely translates as “Cooking for lazy people.”  It’s a lovely little book that my French Aunt and Uncle gave me for my 18th birthday (were they trying to tell me something?).  It’s full of tasty recipes that are straightforward and reasonably quick to prepare, which as a student, can be really helpful!  So I happily plucked it off the shelf, knowing that whichever recipe I landed on was unlikely to be particularly complicated or time-consuming in its preparation, meaning more time for dissertation-ing (totally a word).

The next step was to pick the actual recipe.  We’re supposed to flick through the book and stop randomly, but well, that’s not a particularly rigorous methodology (I won’t bore you with a mini analysis of the multiple sources of bias), so I had to be all scientific and use my trusty calculator to generate a random page number: page 42.  There were two recipes on this page, neither of which I’d tried before, so I had a choice between a roasted tomato and red onion salad or a tomato, broad bean and basil salad (page 42 happens to fall in the gloriously titled second chapter: “How to make a salad without dying of boredom.”  Could salad be the meaning of life?).  I was most tempted by the first option, because it’s a warm salad and it’s still pretty cold outside at the moment (after all, it is March).  This turned out to be a brilliant choice…!  Not only was it super easy and rather delicious, but it was quick to prepare (5-10 minutes to throw everything together) and I managed to read two papers whilst it was in the oven.  Hah!  Take that, dissertation.

Roasted tomato & red onion salad

Serves 2
Recipe from La Cuisine des paresseuses

The original recipe suggests either serving this salad as a side dish alongside, for example, fish, or as a starter or lunch with some goat’s cheese crumbled over the top and some good French bread.  I went for the second option, obviously with the added goat’s cheese, which actually works wonderfully because it perfectly balances the ever-so-slightly caramelised onions.  I sautéed the second portion the next day with some couscous (minus the goat’s cheese though) and that was scrumptious, too.  In a moment of sheer Frenchness, I automatically added garlic, even though it isn’t specified, and I also used some garlic-and-rosemary-infused olive oil that I happened to have.

Ingredients

4 firm tomatoes
2 red onions
1 clove garlic
4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme (or both!)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil (I used garlic-and-rosemary-infused oil)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g crumbly goat’s cheese (optional)

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

2.  Quarter the tomatoes and onions and scatter them into an oven-proof dish with the herbs (in sprigs), and the roughly hashed garlic.  Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar.

3.  Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, gently mixing the dish’s contents after 30 mins.  Season with salt and pepper once roasted and remove the herb sprigs and bay leaves (I stripped the leave form one of the rosemary sprigs and sprinkled them back into the salad).  Serve as a side dish or allow to cool slightly before crumbling the goat’s cheese over the top (optional) and serving with some French bread on the side.

Enjoy!

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