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Friday, August 19, 2011

Tomato Time

Real Jersey tomatoes are absolutely the best. Why isn’t there a show, Jersey Tomato, instead of Jersey Shore? Much truer to our state and better for you too.

This week I had, I don’t remember, must have been about 10 lbs. of tomatoes from Honey Brook Organic Farm. I also had the August 2011 issue of Bon Appetit (yes, you can get issues of Bon Appetit in our Library! Or you can find the recipes at  The following two recipes are on pages 90 and 91.

The Tomato and Cheddar Pie was great for family brunch with a fried egg and crisp bacon. It was also good reheated for an impromptu dinner one night, and then, later in the week, cut into small pieces and served as an appetizer before our main course of the Tomato and Crab Soup (which for us was Tomato and Shrimp Soup) for a family and friends dinner outside on the deck.  Dessert was ice cream from Bent Spoon in Princeton - some of the amazing flavors:  Corn and Bacon, Cointreau Cilantro, Black Raspberry and Anise Hyssop, and Basil.

Some tips for the Tomato and Cheddar Pie:
– If you don’t have buttermilk (I didn't), use 1 cup of milk to which you add 1 tablespoon of white, apple cider, or red vinegar, stir and let sit 10 minutes.
– This recipe makes way too much crust and filling for a regular 9 inch Pyrex pie pan. Do yourself a favor and use a larger baking dish for a better result.
– You don’t have to wait for the pie to cool before eating – we didn’t, we just dove in – that’s why the photo shows a piece missing – forgot to take the picture before we had our brunch!

The Tomato and Crab Soup caught my eye because instead of traditional flavors, it was a Thai inspired dish that included fish sauce (a.k.a. nam pla), lemongrass, and a Thai chile.

I never used lemongrass before – first to find it: Wegman’s had it – a pack of two tough and fibrous pale yellow green foot long stalks for $2.99.

Then, how to prepare it – I’d seen lemongrass used before on Top Chef. There they bruised the stalks with a chef’s knife. Being the worry wart that I am, I used a flat metal meat mallet to pound them flat instead – they immediately released a great smell – lemony and vegetal, wonderfully fragrant. Nice!

Other than the time it took to slice the lemongrass really finely, this recipe was a snap to prepare with a few adjustments:

– I used a Serrano chile because they didn’t have a Thai chiles at Wegman's, and Serranos are similar in heat profiles.
– I couldn’t find the crabmeat at Costco, so I grabbed a refrigerated container of their Lime Cilantro Shrimp (perfect!) and added it to the soup at the last minute.
– Didn’t bother with “pea tendrils” – seriously? where do you get those? – or the snow peas (just a garnish anyway).

Result – a very light citrus-y soup, with notes of orange, lime and yes, lemongrass. Easy and delicious, healthy tasting and perfect for summer. And about that fish sauce - that and lime juice are very trendy this season.  

Especially love Bon Appetit, Cook's Illustrated and Martha Stewart Living magazine for their great recipes.  Stop by our Library, get some mags, and get cooking!


Anonymous said...

Very nice!

Anonymous said...

Really informative!!! Thanks!