Juicy Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Marinated Cherry TomatoesI saw some lovely looking cherry tomatoes in the greengrocers the other day and remembered that I had seen a recipe on Pinterest which I wanted to try out. I have hundreds of recipes that I want to try out so it was quite amazing that I remembered this one! I am embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I began to appreciate raw tomatoes. Until then I turned my nose up and refused to eat them. I know I drove my mum crazy as I picked them out of salads and made a fuss when I could see lumps of them in gravy. It wasn’t until I tried someone’s Insalata Tricolore in a really good Italian trattoria that the penny dropped and I realised what I had been missing. Now I can’t get enough of them and look forward to the summer’s crop of heirlooms, beef steaks, plums, cherries and canaries.

Marinated Cherry TomatoesThis is a lovely recipe which really brings out the best in sweet cherry tomatoes. The marinade takes on the flavours of the tomatoes, rosemary, chilli, garlic and lemon and is wonderful drizzled over fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. They can marinate for as little as 20 minutes but I think that both the tomatoes and the marinade taste so much nicer a few days later. Serve as part of a mezze type meal, use to top open faced sandwiches and tartines, include in lunchbox salads – the possibilities are endless. Make sure to eat at room temperature and with lots of napkins to hand!

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

I know that peeling tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at that, is a chore and one that I skip if I can get away with it but in this case, it is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t take long and the flavour pay off is worth it. These juicy marinated cherry tomatoes are really easy to make:

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

First, get the kettle on to boil and fill a mixing bowl with ice cubes and water. Then using a very sharp knife, lightly score the tops the tomatoes – this helps get the skins off. Fill a pan with the kettle hot water and turn up the heat to keep it at a boil. Then, using a large slotted spoon, lower the tomatoes into the water and set a timer for 30 seconds. You should see the skins lifting away where they have been scored, almost immediately. Using the slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and plunge into the ice bath to stop them from cooking. Pop the rosemary in to blanch and after 30 seconds, remove and put in the ice bath. Drain and pinch the skins off which will come away very easily.  Layer the tomatoes with the garlic, bay leaves and rosemary in a sterilised/extremely well cleaned Le Parfait/Kilner/Mason/pickle or jam jar. Mix up the marinade ingredients in a measuring jug and pour over the tomatoes. If there isn’t enough to cover them, top up with more olive oil.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Juicy Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

  • Servings: 1 x 500 ml jar
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Marinated Cherry Tomatoes by Alida Ryder for Simply Delicious
INGREDIENTS

  • 30 cherry tomatoes (or fill your jar with tomatoes to see how many will fit comfortably)
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves, broken up

For the marinade

  • 50 ml lemon juice (for me this was about the juice of a lemon and a half)
  • 100 ml extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt

You will also need 

  • sterilised 500 ml Le Parfait/Kilner/Mason/pickle or jam jar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the kettle on to boil and fill a bowl with ice and water. When the kettle boils pour the water into a saucepan and keep it boiling.
  2. Lightly score the tops of the tomatoes.
  3. Lower the tomatoes in for 30 secs then remove with a slotted spoon and place in the iced water. Drain and pinch off the skins which should slip off very easily.
  4. Blanch the rosemary while the tomatoes are cooling and plunge the stalks into the iced water as well.
  5. Layer the tomatoes in the sterilised jar with the rosemary, garlic and bay leaves.
  6. Measure the lemon juice and olive oil into a measuring jug then stir in the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and salt.
  7. Pour this over the cherry tomatoes. It should cover them, if not top up with some more olive oil.
  8. Leave at room temp for at least half an hour if you want to eat it later, otherwise place in the fridge. Let come to room temp before serving – the oil will solidify so give it a shake from time to time, when you remember.

Should keep for at least a week or two as long as your jar is clean and herbs blanched.

We had it on toasted pain de campagne with buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves, sliced avocado and a good drizzle of the flavoured oil.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

Mushroom_and-Onion_Marmalade_TartsThese Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts are something I made when I catered cocktail parties. Those parties were a lot of work but also a lot of fun – lengthy discussions on menus, researching and brain storming recipes, finalising menus, compiling shopping and prep lists, food ordering and shopping, scouring charity shops and department stores for serving props, prepping, cooking, serving and enjoying the party later! I used to do this around my son’s nursery  and bedtime schedules and had to be so incredibly organised – lists were my best friends! Always requested as the first canapé to every party were the Bloody Mary Cherry Tomatoes – vodka and worcestershire sauce infused cherry tomatoes served with a rosemary dipping salt – it was a real ice-breaker and got everyone mingling. I would blithely churn out things like seafood stuffed rice paper rolls with a dipping sauce, hot and sour lamb with peanuts on cucumber, lettuce cups with Thai inspired beef salad, saffron mussels on garlic bread, pear and blue cheese galettes, garlic  mushrooms with lemon risotto, mini Christmas puds, lemon curd tartlets  – all made impossibly tiny, dainty and beautifully presented. A friend recently requested this recipe (from a party that took place 12 years ago!) and I was so pleased that I still had some gorgeous mushrooms left in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm to make them with.

Mushroom_and-Onion_Marmalade_Tarts

Mushrooms cooked with garlic and thyme with a squeeze of lemon is one of my favourite ways to eat them which I do so rarely because my son is really not a fan of the fungi. This recipe is a riff on that together with some gooey caramelised onions with a topping of melted gruyere cheese ensconced in a crisp, buttery bread case.

They are quite easy to put together and can be made ahead earlier in the day to pop in the oven just as your guests arrive. The Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts also re-heat successfully as I found out when I took this batch round to a friend’s house last night. If you are making huge quantities of them for a party, then use a food processor to chop the onions and mushrooms (separately) to speed things up. Don’t be alarmed at the mountain of chopped mushrooms – these will swiftly cook down. You need that squigdy white sandwich bread for the bases – because that type of bread is so soft, it crisps up beautifully in the oven. You should get 2 bases out of each slice – going over the bread a couple of times with a rolling pin helps to stretch out the slices if they are just a little too small. These tarts are best made in mince pie tins as these are shallow and wide.

First the onion are caramelised, then the mushrooms are added and cooked down. While this is going on, the bread bases get stamped out and buttered and placed in the tin. Once the mixture is ready, the cases are filled, topped with cheese and baked for 10-15 minutes. They are very tasty indeed!

Mushroom_and-Onion_Marmalade_Tarts

Mushroom and Onion Marmalade Tarts

  • Servings: makes 12 tartlets
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from a recipe by Celia Brooks Brown for the Independent Magazine

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion sliced fairly thinly into half moons
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 175g mushrooms chopped quite finely
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 6 slices of large white sandwich bread
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 75 – 100g gruyere cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed frying pan over medium low flame and fry the onions gently until they start to colour.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the tablespoon of butter and then the mushrooms and thyme. Fry gently until mushrooms are soft and have released their moisture. They will reduce down quite a fair amount.
  5. Stir in the parsley and garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Stamp out two 3 inch circles from each slice of bread. If the slices aren’t big enough, go over them a couple of times with a rolling pin.
  8. Brush one side with melted butter and place buttered side down in a mince pie tin.
  9. Press into the pan – I use the end of a rolling pin to do this but anything small and flat will work like the bottom of a small jar or glass, for instance.
  10. Divide the mixture evenly between the bases- approximately 1 ½  – 2 tsp per tart.
  11. Top with the grated gruyere cheese  (they can be made ahead to this point) and bake for 10-15 mins until golden and bubbly.
  12. Remove from the tin and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess butter. The buttered bottoms lend themselves to slipping out very easily from the tins.
  13. Serve warm as a canapé or as part of a tapas style first course.

 

 

 

 

Cook the Books – Gratin au Poisson Fumé (Smoky Fish Bake)

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

I was very pleased to receive Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen as a gift a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen any of the TV programmes on which this book is based but I have very much enjoyed reading the recipes, exclaiming over how pretty she is and coveting her vintage yet chic vibe. It’s probably a good thing that I haven’t seen her in action as I would probably be totally besotted. Her cooking is French classic with a modern twist; simple yet flavourful and I have bookmarked quite a few of her recipes to try.

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeThis recipe for a Gratin au Poisson Fumé or Smoky Fish Bake came highly recommended by my friend C who gave me the book and rightly so. Rachel Khoo’s method of making béchamel is genius – taking the roux off the heat before adding the milk has resulted in a lump-free sauce every single time.

My only protest would be at the meagre quantity of fish – it is my opinion that 200g to feed up to 6 people is so stingy as to border on the penurious. At the weekend, we were 4 for lunch and I used 320g of smoked haddock fillets and 240g of lightly smoked salmon plus about 18og of raw prawns/shrimps (but these are full of water and cook down to nothing really) and there was perhaps a small serving spoonful left in the dish at the end of the meal. Normally, I buy a 320g Fish Pie Mix from Sainsbury’s  (my Local didn’t have any so I had to improvise with the fillets), but even then I tend to add an extra couple of salmon fillets and a packet of prawns to the mix. The thought of under-catering makes me feel quite anxious!

This is a lovely dish, comforting but not heavy in the way a fish pie can be and full of those deeply savoury, smoky fish flavours which marry so well with creamy sauces. A spoonful of grain mustard is also nice stirred into the béchamel while it cools as is a little chopped tarragon. You can also prepare it ahead so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven when your guests arrive. We had the gratin with roasted beetroot and a green salad using the delicious produce from my Sutton Community Farm veg box. Rachel suggests that leftover vegetables from a roast dinner can be added to the béchamel too, but I like to keep it simple with the fish and potatoes and usually serve it with a bowl of peas and a green salad.

I have to apologise for my rather uninspiring photo of the finished dish. I had two ravenous teenagers  as well as my friend J round and I don’t think any of them would have been able to contain themselves while I got arty with food styling.  I managed to get a quick shot of it when it came out of the oven and that’s it. There wasn’t even enough leftover for me to style a plate but rather than not post it at all, I had to share as this is such a delicious recipe!

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Put the potatoes on to boil

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeMake the bechamel

Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_BakeMix the fish, parsley and potatoes into the béchamel, then pour into an oven safe baking dish, scatter over the cheese and tomatoes and bake. Gratin_au_Poisson_Fumé_Smoky_Fish_Bake

Gratin au Poisson Fumé (Smoky Fish Bake)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 750g (8-10 medium ones) potatoes, peeled and already cooked – you can use left over roast potatoes (if such a thing exists!)
  • 200g smoked haddock, skin removed (I used 320g smoked haddock; 240g lightly smoked  salmon fillets; 180g raw prawns/shrimps) or use a pack of 320g fish pie mix and a couple of salmon fillets
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • a handful of grated cheese – use up odds and ends of cheeses like Mature Cheddar, Comté, Gruyere or Parmesan
  • a small handful of halved cherry tomatoes – my addition to the recipe

Béchamel 

  • 30 g butter
  • 30g flour
  • 500 ml milk (lukewarm – 2 mins in the microwave worked for me)
  • bay leaf
  • ½ an onion (I used a shallot)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 clove (didn’t use)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. If you don’t have any cooked potatoes, peel the appropriate amount and cut into thirds. Place in a saucepan of cold, salted water with a couple of bay leaves. Cover and set on the hob. Turn on the heat and set a timer for 20 minutes. They should be cooked enough by then – enough to get a knife through but not falling apart. They will continue to cook in the oven. When the pan comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and set the lid askew. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, you can start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a large saucepan (because you are going to add the fish and potatoes to the béchamel before turning it all out into a dish) over medium heat. Add the flour and beat well until you have a smooth paste. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly. Place the pan back on a medium heat and add the onion, clove and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes whisking frequently. If sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a little more milk. Finish sauce by removing the onion, clove and bay leaf; stir in the nutmeg and season with a little salt and some white pepper (or black if you are not bothered by the dark specks) Leave to cool slightly.  (If you are making this ahead, let the béchamel cool completely)
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/ 350 F, unless you are making this ahead.
  5. While the béchamel is cooking and cooling, I skin and slice up the fish fillets into 1 inch cubes; slice the potatoes into 1 cm rounds; grate the cheese; halve the cherry tomatoes and chop the parsley.
  6. Add the chunks of fish and the prawns to the béchamel and mix gently. Add the potatoes and most of the parsley (reserve a little to sprinkle on at the end) and mix again.
  7. Pour into an oven safe baking dish, scatter over the cherry tomatoes and the grated cheese. At this point, as long as the béchamel is cool/cold, you can loosely cover the dish with cling film and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
  8. This mix does bubble up as it cooks so if your dish is very full, place it on a baking tray to save having to clean the oven later.
  9. Cook for 25 minutes (35 minutes if fridge cold) or until the top is golden and sauce is bubbling.
  10. Scatter over the reserved parsley and serve after the dish has had 10 minutes or so to settle.
  11. Great with a bowl of peas and a green salad.