Vegan Tomato Tarte

IMG_20180822_195506.jpgThis was very moorish and a good addition to my vegan repertoire: a tomato tarte.

Instead of the usual puff pastry used with Provencale tarte, which is rich in butter and not suitable for vegans, I made a light and crisp pizza base. I covered this with tapenade from dried tomatoes, garlic and black olives. I added a rich layer of extra lush and tasty beefsteak tomato slices, sprinkled with salt and chilly oil.

Vegan-approved!

Tomato Jam: A Lynch Job

20140901210114.jpgKevin Lynch of Closet Cooking inspired this Tomato Jam with his original recipe.

I never followed his recipe, but end up with a coffee-free and much spicier variety, which we find looks and tastes fantastic on bread with a fried egg, as the tomato layer on a pizza, or with egg-rich Pappadalle or Fettuccine. So, here goes one fairly large batch:

Wash and dry 4kg ripe tomatoes, then cut into eights. Place the pieces, skin-down, next to each other on large flat baking trays and slowly dry in the oven at 95 C for 2..3 hours. Stop when they are still slightly moist, but no longer wet. You may need to do this in batches, depending on your oven. I get 2 kg on each tray, but a convection oven takes 2 trays with ease. I open the door every 20 minutes to let the steam out and to wipe off the condensation. You’re trying to evaporate over 3 litres of water, so give your oven a hand.

When dried, let them cool down (and dry out even more).

To make the jam, do this:

Blizz the tomatoes into a puree, skin, seeds and all. This should have a slightly moist yet rich and thick consistency.

Toast one large tablespoon of coriander seeds, one large tablespoon of fennel seeds, 3 dried red chillies, a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and 4 star anise. Transfer the hot spices to your pestle and mortar or spice grinder.

Add a splash of olive oil to the same pan and crisp 200 g of streaky dry-cured bacon or panchetta.

Meanwhile, grind your spices and enjoy the delicious aroma. Sieve to remove stalks and husk. Add a teaspoon of ground cumin.

Mix the ground spices with the tomatoes, then blizz the bacon into small bits and add to the mix.

Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and brown sugar.

Done.

Set some aside for tonight or tomorrow’s lunch.

Fill the rest into preserving jars and preserve in a Baine-Marie at 85 C for 90 minutes.

Artichoke Stir-Fry

DSC_0079.JPGA crisp and delicious quick stir-fry from fresh artichoke hearts, packed with flavour.

Most books discuss preparation methods which involve submerging the artichoke, or parts of it, in boiling water for some time. I prefer the stir-fry method, which doesn’t water-down the delicate taste.

Trim the artichoke by removing the stalk, most of the leaves, and the hairy carpet (which is called the choke). For this dish, where you’ll slice the hearts, it is easier to trim stalk and leaves first, then slice heart and choke combined, then remove the choke in slices. You’re left with an enormous amount of compostable waste (which the Guinea pigs only eat in the absence of other fresh food), and you have the artichoke heart. Cut it into slices 5mm thin, then cut those into halves. Irregular shapes also look nice, but will take different cooking time due to the varying thickness.

Lightly sprinkle with lime juice right away, and toss about in the lime juice occasionally until you’re ready to cook.

To cook, simply heat a good quality extra-virgin olive oil in a pan or wok, and stir-fry the artichokes for 3..4 minutes, adding more lime juice as you go along, and adding salt and black pepper to taste only in the last minute.

I usually also add capers, sometimes olives, or sauteed potatoes.

We love this stir-fry to accompany white fish, such as a pan-fried sea bass or sea bream fillet with crispy skin. Add a lime mayonnaise, or a Rouille, or a Sauce Vierge, and you’ve got a winner, a champion, a superstar on a plate.