Weekend Herb Blogging returns home to Melbourne where Ed from Tomato is our host. What better time to feature tomatoes!
These wonderfully ripe examples are Roma Tomatoes. It's amazing to think that it wasn't until the 18th century that tomatoes had gained acceptance in Italy - nowadays they are so ingrained in the culture. The reason for the slow uptake is that the plant is a member of the deadly nightshade and so it was thought to be poisonous.
Tomatoes these days are being heralded as a potential disease buster due to the presence of Lycopene. It's actually one of the few plants where cooking actually increases the Lycopene content. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant and is thought to help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Tomatoes are also high in Vitamins C and A and contain good levels of dietary fibre along with iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin and thiamine.
For this week's recipe I'll be bringing together two of my favoured creations from local chefs - from Raymond Capaldi the Basil Ice Cream I posted about earlier this week and from Shannon Bennett, a cold pressed tomato soup.
The pressed tomato soup is almost a standard at Vue de Monde though of late it's been usurped by a bubbling dry ice infused lemon verbena lemonade. Still, I look fondly on this palette cleanser. It's quite an unusual experience the first time you have it as it's presented to you as a clear liquid in a white cup. With the first sip you are overwhelmed by the essence of tomato. It's an experience for the mind as well.
The version I've made isn't as clear as you'll get in the restaurant, mainly due to laziness on my part but I feel it works well in the structure and appearance of this dish. I've also slightly modified the ingredients to produce something less savoury - the original recipe contains garlic, Worcestershire and Tabasco.
As flavours go, pairing tomato and basil is a winner however it's done - in this cleanser a small ball of basil ice cream is floated amongst the chilled tomato broth in something that should appeal to all your senses.
Tomato and Basil Cleanser
Cold-pressed Tomato Soup
1 kg ripe Roma tomatoes
25 grams caster sugar
25 ml Champagne vinegar
1 cup cold water
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil ice cream balls, to serve
Place the sugar and vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil - then reduce by two-thirds to form a thick syrup. Set to one side.
Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and excess liquid from them by just squeezing them in your hand. Chop roughly before placing into a blender with the water and a little salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Line a fine mesh strainer with muslin place over a bowl - pour in the blended tomato and allow to slowly filter through. Place it in the fridge and let it go for about 12 hours.
To get a clearer result, just re-filter the strained liquid.
Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Make sure the basil ice-cream balls are as cold as possible. Pre-forming them helps retard the melting.
Place a ball into your serving dish and gently pour in a little of the cold tomato broth, try not to pour it over the ice-cream.
Serve at once.
Tagged with Weekend Herb Blogging : WHB