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This summer’s food discovery was without a doubt smoked tomatoes. My first taste of this flavour sensation was at Town where smoked tomato butter topped corn in a bag. Not long after that, we had smoked tomatoes in a dish at Murray Street.

That evening at Murray Street, David and I were seated on its fabulous patio. On the way out, we spoke briefly with Chef Steve Mitton at the kitchen pass. He asked us how our meal was. “Delicious!” as usual. Then David asked how he smokes tomatoes. “Slit them and smoke them,” he answered. “We do them in a stove-top smoker.” Not much to go by, but enough to give it a try!

David’s the grill guy, so this is how he interpreted those instructions:

  • Use perfectly ripe, but still firm plum tomatoes. They will stay whole throughout the process.
  • Mark the tops (opposite of the stem end) with an X and place them stem end down in a dish. I would suggest using an aluminum dish to avoid ruining a dish of better quality—we now have a dedicated smoking dish.
  • Smoke the tomatoes for 1-1.5 hours over indirect heat. David smoked them over apple wood on a Weber charcoal grill.
Smoked tomatoes

Relatively easy to do, smoked tomatoes add interesting flavour and complexity to dishes.

Back in the kitchen, the tomatoes were easy to peel once cool. Aside from freezing some—I think they would can well too—I used them in beef chili and paella. But their subtle and unique smokiness came through best, was truly showcased, in this smoked tomato gazpacho.

Recipe: Smoked Tomato Gazpacho

Start this recipe 24 hours before serving. The ingredients need to marinate, then the flavours need to meld. Serves 6.

Smoked tomato gazpacho600g orange cherry tomatoes (aka “garden candy“—these tomatoes lend the soup a beautiful sweetness), sliced in half
400g smoked tomatoes, peeled
1/2 cucumber, peeled (and seeded, if necessary)
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 leaves purple Thai basil, roughly chopped
100mL good quality olive oil
salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate overnight. The vegetables will draw water as they marinate and create the liquid required for the soup.

The next day (8-12 hours before serving), blend the marinated ingredients until smooth. Pass the mixture through a chinois or mesh strainer to remove the tomato seeds. Add some water or vegetable bouillon if the mixture is too thick for your liking. Adjust seasoning. Return to refrigerator.

Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with basil leaves, finely chopped red pepper or something else that is tasty and pretty to serve.

This smoked tomato gazpacho was part of a delicious end-of-summer dinner that included smoked shrimp, velvety paella and creamy caramel flans.

Cooking paella

Family watches David cooks paella on the grill.

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