Traditional recipes

Tomatoes in Chile-Fennel Oil

Tomatoes in Chile-Fennel Oil

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Double the chile oil, keep it chilled, and drizzle it over flatbreads, pastas, and all of your grilled meats and vegetables all summer long.


  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 3 pounds large tomatoes, preferably heirloom, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) red wine vinegar

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook oil, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil around spices is sizzling, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until oil is infused with flavor and rusty-orange in color, 20–30 minutes. Let cool.

  • Arrange tomatoes on a large platter and drizzle with vinegar, then chile-fennel oil. Season with more vinegar if desired and sprinkle with salt.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 160 Fat (g) 14 Saturated Fat (g) 2 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 8 Dietary Fiber (g) 3 Total Sugars (g) 5 Protein (g) 2 Sodium (mg) 10Reviews Section

Tomatoes in Chile-Fennel Oil - Recipes

For this second holiday dish in our Mexican-fusion holiday meal we made a typical yukon gold gratin but layered in roasted anaheim and poblano chiles as well as thinly sliced fennel to create an uber-decadent side dish.

For this dish I really wanted something that emulated the creamy delicious rajas we get at El Callejon, a Mexican restaurant in Encinitas. Rajas, as we know them, are a Mexican side dish of stewed chiles in cream. I figured what better way to get the sensation of rajas but also have a classic holiday potato dish than to have the chiles “stew” in the cream while the gratin is baking. There’s no getting around how incredibly rich this side dish is and there’s also no getting around how freaking delicious it is either! Whether it’s for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any old night this gratin is worth giving a whirl.

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
*4 anaheim chile peppers, roasted skinned, seeded and sliced
*5 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and sliced
5 medium yukon gold potatos, cut into 1/8" thick slices
1 fennel bulb, shaved into slices as thin as possible.
6 oz gruyere, shredded
1 cup panko

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack position in the center of the oven.

Place heavy cream, salt and pepper into a small sauce pan. Place pan over medium heat. Heat until salt has dissolved and cream is warm, stirring occasionally, about 6-8 minutes.

Spray an 8 quart baking dish with cooking spray(I used an 8x11.5" glass dish).

Layer about 1/3 of the potato slices evenly over the bottom of the pan. Next evenly layer 1/3 of the the chile slices and 1/3 of the fennel over the potatoes. Evenly pour 1/3 of the cream over the ingredients in the pan then sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat this process 2 more time until all of the ingredients have been used, starting each layer with potatoes and finishing with cream and cheese.

Using a spatula, gently press on the ingredients to help compact the layers. Evenly sprinkle the top of the gratin with the panko bread crumbs.

Cover gratin with aluminum foil.

Place baking dish into the preheated 350 degree oven. Bake, covered with foil, for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 30-40 minutes or until the top layer and edges are golden.

Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

This dish can be made 24 hours in advance Cool completely before covering and storing chilled. Allow gratin to come to room temperature before reheating in a 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

* To roast chiles simply char all sides of the chiles under the broiler or over an open flame then place into a sealable plastic bag and let steam for at least 10 minutes. At that point you can easily rub off the charred skins and remove the seeds and stems.

Stew Recipe

1/4 teaspoon of this, 1/3 cup of that—stifling! Chefs and confident home cooks improvise! Apply the 9 steps below to the ingredients at hand. We’ve added some specifics for a few of the world’s great stews. Try a few and play with our grains gadget to round off your meal. Unlike trying a conventional recipe, your version will be unique, so let us know how it turned out. Enjoy!

1) Preliminaries

Frugal cooks value their time as the most expensive ingredient, so several steps include a “Meanwhile…”. But some stews do require advance preparation. For example, some grains need hours of cooking. Stirfrys are so quick, don’t count on the “Meanwhile…” time until you really get the hang of it. The first few tries, chop all the veggies so you can be attentive your wok. Common considerations for all stews for our basic ingredient categories follow:

  • Tougher cuts are fine for the cook with extra time: either marinate the meat in a flavored acidic liquid (wine and herbs for example) or extend the simmering time (see Step 8 below)
  • Cube the meat to around 1 inch to 4 inches squares or for a stir fry, slice into long, thin strips
  • Trimming a fatty roast will leave you with surprisingly little meat
  • Working with meat that’s partially frozen can be easier than fresh or fully thawed
  • If dredged in flour (optionally seasoned with black pepper, white pepper or paprika), the meat will retain juiciness and the flour will thicken the stew
  • Sausage can be pricked, cut into chunks or even pulled out of the casing. Lately tasty “gourmet” fully-cooked sausage is quite good and cooks quickly.
  • I’ve never cooked bison stew leave a comment if you have.


  • For chicken, thighs and legs are moist, flavorful, inexpensive and hold up in a stew. White meat is fussier, it will get stringy if overcooked.
  • Kitchen safety tip: treat raw chicken like poison. Collect all the items needed to handle the chicken near the sink before starting: cutting board, sharp knife, tongs (I particularly like these />), paper towels, etc. This will save you from repeatedly washing your hands as you fetch each item.
  • Cut a whole chicken into quarters or eighths. High quality kitchen scissors />are more effective and safer than a knife. (I first saw these being used on a whole cooked chicken in a busy deli.)
  • Rinse the pieces and pat dry with a few paper towels
  • Trim away excess fat
  • Optionally dredge in flour (seasoned with black pepper, white pepper, paprika or any other spice in the ethnic style of your dish
  • While cutting, place the pieces a a bowl or colander, cover with wax paper, put all cooking tools that came into contact with the raw meat in the sink or the dishwasher and wash down the counter. Wash your hands once more with soap and use fresh tongs to manipulate the meat.
  • Unless you’re quick, put the covered colander on a plate and refrigerate until needed in Step 4.
  • Cleaning fresh shrimp can take a bit of time. A shrimp deveiner />can move that along, but if you still find the task messy and tedious, consider pre-peeled
  • Rinse the fish sole, halibut, cod, or sea bass (avoid Chilean Sea bass because of the high levels of mercury and because it has been over fished />)
  • Pat dry with paper towels
  • Don’t dreg in flour since fish for a stew is typically added after the wet ingredients


  • Dried beans can be softened by this method: bring them to a gentle boil in 3 times their volume of water, turn off the heat, let them soak for an 1 – 3 hours. They’ll still need up 1 1/2 hours to cook depending on their size and age.
  • Lentils and other dried peas do not need this extra step they simply need to be rinsed and picked over.
  • Canned beans (chickpeas, small white beans, etc) are a snap they can be quickly rinsed in one of the main steps as a “Meanwhile…”.
  • Tofu is low in calories, inexpensive and takes on the flavors of the ingredients its combined with.
  • Dried mushrooms are meaty enough to be a main ingredient and usually require only about 15 minutes of soaking. Various lovely varietiesare available.

2) Heat pan

What kind of pan?

  • A pan, pot or dutch oven, large enough to hold about 2 – 4 cups per person filled to within an inch or two of the brim
  • Deep enough so that the ingredients won’t fall out as you sauté and stir
  • Heavy weight and good quality. Best is a dutch oven, deep saute pan or tangine (I love my Emile Henry). A deep panor wokalso works well.
  • If the pot/pan is oven safe (plastic handles are a tip off that it’s probably not), you can move the whole shebang there for even, easy finish
  • A crock pot is another story and/or another website someday.
  • I’ve found that heating the pan before putting in the oil allows the oil to become hot without cooking it.
  • No more than a one or two minutes over medium low heat
  • Till a drop of a water flicked into the bottom surface of the pan gives a low growly sizzle
  • While the pan is heating, fetch the oil. See the next step to help figure out what kind to use.
  • I’ve found that heating the pan before putting in the oil allows the oil to become hot without cooking it.

How long?

  • No more than a one or two minutes over medium low heat
  • Till a drop of a water flicked into the bottom surface of the pan gives a low growly sizzle


3) Heat oil

What kind of oil?

  • Olive oil for “Mediterranean Diet” good health
  • Butter is delicious, but burns quickly and is said to contribute to heart disease although this is disputed
  • Vegetable oil (peanut, corn, canola) has a higher burn temperature so the food can cook faster giving a crisper brown crust
  • Mix the oils and or butter to get the advantages of each and add complexity
  • Frying bacon to render the fat is a tasty substitute, but it’s quick to burn and particularly unhealthy.
  • Schmaltz and lard are traditional for some cuisines, but I haven’t used them. Please leave a comment if you have some advice to share.

How much?

  • 6 tablespoons is generous down to a minimum of 2 teaspoons to save calories
  • If using less than 2 tablespoon, spritz cooking spray on the warmed pan before adding the oil
  • Any recipe that calls for 4 tablespoons of butter or more is cheating. Sauted newspaper would taste good cooked in that much butter.
  • If using rendered bacon fat, consider pouring out any more than 2 tablespoons if you have health concerns

For how long?

  • Not more than a couple of minutes, just enough time find some more veggies.
  • The oil and/or butter is hot but not smoking.
  • A drop of a water flicked into the oil gives a low sizzle.


  • Rummage for your onion(s) first.
  • Our method assumes your fridge is reliably stocked with onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Everything else is optional. Actually these are optional too, but go well in any stew.
  • There’ll be time later to hunt for the “soft” veggies.

4) Brown main ingredient

Browning tips

  • Over a medium high flame, working fairly quickly, place the pieces of meat or poultry, skin or fatty side down, in the hot oil. Place the pieces initially towards the outer rim since the middle of the pot is usually hotter.
  • Work in a circular pattern around and then towards the center. This allows you to (at least a first) have a general idea of which ones to start turning first. This is less effective if the pieces are not generally of uniform size.
  • Don’t fuss with the pieces searing keeps the juices in.

How much?

  • Enough to fill the bottom of your pan without crowding. Crowding the pan is the enemy of crisp!
  • The pieces should not be touching each other. Do several batches if you need more. (See deglazing the pot in the next tab.)

For how long?

  • The insides shouldn’t cook through at this point. When the meat starts to smell savory and the edges start to brown, peek under the first piece put in. If the whole side is browned, turn it over and check more pieces until all are browned all over. If it’s taking too long, raise the heat.
  • Remove the meat or poultry with tongs or a slotted spoon. (If using a covered pot, use the upside down cover to temporarily hold the pieces.) Many recipes skip removing the meat and simply add the onion and veggies right into the pot at this point.
  • Adjust the fat/oil to about 2 tablespoons. Don’t pour fat down the sink, but rather into a bowl for possible use later. Discard the remainder with the trash. (Make sure the trash is at least 1/2 filled. This will usually absorb most of it, otherwise you’re left with a goopy mess at the bottom of your pail.) Many recipes skip this pouring off the fat in fact you can sprinkle flour to make a roux.
  • If the need to make another batch and the pan is too burny and crusty, deglaze the pot with your wet ingredient, such as a dry wine. Splash a few ounces on the bottom of the hot pan, scrape up the crusty bits while swirling the liquid around till a little sauce develops, pour it into a bowl to add back later. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Add fresh oil and start the next batch.
  • For a very quick stir fry that uses scallions instead of onions and other soft ingredients, the meat can sometimes just be pushed off to the side of the wok, and the veggies added to the center. Tricky but do-able.


  • I usually find there’s time to chop the onion(s) while browning the meat. They come first since they’re the “hardest” and are the most forgiving if slightly over or under cooked. I haven’t tried these so-called onion goggles, but they sound hysterical and they’ve gotten great reviews.
  • At least 1/2 onion to as many as 3 large onions.
  • Other “hard veggies”: 1/2 to a few stalks of celery. Carrots sweeten any pot, so use them liberally. Potatoes and shallots (like a mild onion) also go well in stew. Turnips, parsnips and fennel have a strong flavor so experiment sparingly at first.

5) Sauté onions, grain


  • Sauté the onions till the edges become translucent or even brownish. They’ll begin to give a lovely aroma.
  • If you’re not sure about the timing, the grain can be cooked separately—see the Meanwhile… in step 8. But if you’re confident, it can be swirled right into the pot after the onions have cooked a bit. Allow the grain to cook in the liquid for the some time before adding back the meat or any ingredient that would overcook. Try 1/2 cup to 2 cups of any of these:
    • Barley or brown rice is nicely paired with chicken legs and thighs since the timing is about right around 50 minutes.
    • Wheat berries />can take up to 2 hours to soften. If you’ve paired this with a tough cut of meat, you can proceed without putting your partially cooked meat in the fridge.
    • White rice times well with chicken breast or sturdy fish.
    • Lentils can be treated similarly although they aren’t a grain, but rather a high protein legume />.


    Gather any or all of these while the onion is cooking:

    • Carrots and celery
    • Garlic (is almost always necessary)
    • Cauliflower, shredded cabbage, fresh peas, sliced mushrooms, chopped green or red pepper, broccoli, broccoli rabe, okra, lima beans, corn, asparagus, spinach.

    6) Sauté veggies, warm the spices

    • Except for a stir fry which should be cooked quickly and stirred almost continuously, there’s no need to constantly stir a stew. As the next hardest veggie gets chopped, add it to the pot, give everything a stir and start to chop the next.
    • If you find a “harder” veggie you’d like to use after you’ve already added a “softer” one, just chop the harder one into smaller pieces and add it anyway.
    • Pull a few cloves of garlic away from the bulb, smash it with the back of a knife, and peel the skin, then slice or mince. If you’re usually rushed, use jarred pre-minced. (Not many cooks with small children, a full time job, or other pursuits are garlic snobs.)
    • A stew’s ethic heritage is a combination of ingredients (including spices) and technique. Since our technique is assumed to be universal here this handy chart focuses on the spices. Often they can can be selected at this rather late-in-the-game stage.


    Cumin, jalapeno pepper, garlic, catsup, green onions, cilantro, ancho chili, worcestershire, lime powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.


    Garlic, basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, parsley, sage, thyme, juniper berries.


    Indian curry is a collection of (often) these: coriander, cumin, chile, fennel, cardamom, turmeric.

    Other spices of the indian subcontinent: cassia (a type of cinnamon), fenugreek, clove, tamarind, cilantro.


    Here are spices and herbs the Polish love:

    Dill, bay leaf, poppy seeds, cloves, grated lemon or orange zest, nutmeg.


    The spices of the Caribbean Jerk:

    ginger, allspice, thyme Habanero chiles, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, rum, bay leaves, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper.

    • Once you’ve chosen the spices, add them to the pot, stir them in deep to draw out their flavor. Don’t get distracted at this step watch and stir so your spices don’t burn and become bitter.

    7) Add wet ingredients

    • If you’ve added grain or lentils, add at least double or triple that amount of liquid. For dry stews such as paella and jambalaya, the measuring needs to be a bit more careful than a soupy stew where some extra liquid if fine when the ingredients are done.
    • Generally add additional liquid to make the stew and simmer the meat. Add quite a bit (3 – 6 cups) if you like your stews soupy, or less if you like them dry. Add more if it becomes too dry.
    • Use any or all of these: the juice from canned stewed tomatoes, broth, stock or bouillon, wine or vermouth (limit these to no more than 1/2 cup), dried mushroom soaking water (drained) and, of course, water.
    • The liquid for a stir fry should only amount to at most 1/2 cup: combine soy sauce, tempura sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and some cornstarch in a small covered container. Shake vigorously.

    8) Add (back) main ingredient, simmer

    • If you had browned meat or poultry and set it aside, now’s the time to add it (and any juices that it made while sitting) back into the pot.
    • If you prep’ed fish or some veggie ingredient (such as canned beans), add it now.
    • If this is the stir fry with meat pushed to the side, stir it back together and hurry though the rest. Don’t want to overcook the thin slivers.
    • Otherwise, bring your beautiful creation to a low simmer and partially cover.


    Except for a stir fry, you can get these done before you can kick back:

    • Begin the starch if it’s not already in the main pot: noodles, rice or biscuits take under an hour.
    • Chop the garnish and leave nearby herb scissorsmake quick work of this.
    • Bake a quick bread or slice store-bought
    • Make a salad
    • Prep an easy dessert berries or chopped fruit with whipped cream is easy and welcome after a stew
    • Clean up the prep area
    • Set the table
    • Open a bottle of wine
    • Pour yourself a glass

    Indian Spiced Chicken with Buttered Black Lentils, Tomato Chutney and Citrus Yogurt

    1. In a medium bowl, mix chopped cilantro stems, ginger, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, paprika, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Add chicken and coat with marinade. Allow chicken to marinade ½ hour or up to overnight refrigerated.

    2. Add yogurt to marinated chicken breasts, forming a paste with the spice mixture. Marinate another 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.

    3. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large cast iron skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Season marinated chicken breasts with salt. Add chicken breasts to skillet. Sear until brown and slightly charred about 3 minutes per side.

    4. Add butter and transfer pan to preheated oven. Cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 6-8 minutes more.

    Buttered Black Lentils

    1. In a large pot bring 5 cups of salted water to a boil. Add lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain lentils.

    2. In a medium skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add shallots and curry leaves and cook until shallots are golden brown and curry leaves are crackling, 4-5 minutes. Add cooked lentils and stir to combine.

    3. Add butter and season with salt.

    Tomato Chutney

    1. In a medium skillet, heat vegetable oil. Add chile, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds and toast 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.

    2. Add tomatoes and cilantro sprigs. Let mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Add lime juice, sugar and season with salt. Remove from heat.

    3. When mixture has cooled, stir in chopped cilantro.

    Citrus Yogurt

    1. In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients. Season to taste with salt.

    The Time is Now 1: Tomatoes

    It’s rare that I get stopped in my tracks by a recipe these days, but this was one of those times.

    I was browsing at our local bookstore in Montreal when I came across a book I hadn’t seen before: Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. I thought, “Oh, cool. Deborah Madison’s got a new cookbook out.” But when I flipped the book over the price sticker indicated that it had been published in 2013. “That’s strange,” I said to myself. “I never noticed anything about this book when it came out.” As it turned out, Michelle had never heard of it either.

    Michelle and I read a number of food magazines. We keep a pretty close eye on the latest cookbook releases, but here was a book that had totally slipped us by. And this was not just any cookbook. Here was a book that a) was written by one of the prominent cookbook authors of our time b) was published by one of the top houses for cookbooks and food literature: Ten Speed Press c) features photographs by the dynamic duo of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, who are two of our absolute favourites, and among the very best in the business and d) is book devoted to understanding, growing, and cooking vegetables (and features over “300 deliciously simple recipes”) that was released at a time when vegetable-centric and vegetable-forward cuisine was just beginning to sweep the food world. Who knows? Maybe we’d just missed all the hoopla.

    Then I started to leaf through it, and I was immediately impressed by its encyclopedic take on the vegetable kingdom, it’s beautiful photographs and layout, its fresh, often imaginative, and highly tantalizing recipes, and its enormous value to both gardeners and cooks, and especially those of us who garden to cook. The book breaks things down according to twelves families of vegetables:

    The Carrot Family: Some Basic Kitchen Vegetables and a Passel of Herbs

    The Mint Family: Square Stems and Fragrant Leaves

    The Sunflower Family: Some Rough Stuff from Out of Doors

    The Knotweed Family: Three Strong Personalities [sorrel, rhubarb, buckwheat]

    The Cabbage Family: The Sometimes Difficult Crucifers

    The Nightshade Family: The Sun Lovers

    The Goosefoot and Amaranth Families: Edible Weeds, Leaves, and Seeds

    The (Former) Lily Family: Onions and Asparagus

    The Cucurbit Family: The Sensual Squashes, Melons, and Gourds

    The Grass Family: Grains and Cereals

    The Legume Family: Peas and Beans

    and The Morning Glory Family: The Sweet Potato

    Each chapter is as captivating and fascinating as the last, and, not surprisingly, Madison excels when it comes to establishing linkages across families, providing inspiration for how to successfully combine edible plants from different families, as well as from the realm of fruit. [Note: This cookbook is entirely vegetarian, and all the better for it. For a book like this, which is so focused on gardening, meat-based recipes would just be a distraction. Plus, there are plenty of other cookbooks that do that and do that well.]

    And then I came across that recipe. Actually, I noticed the photograph first.

    It was a perfectly composed overhead shot that was highly colourful and just a bit mysterious. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was gazing upon, or what the recipe entailed, but it involved a beautiful array of heirloom tomatoes, and it looked good. I scanned the opposite page. “Comforting Tomatoes in Cream with Bread Crumbs and Smoked Salt.” That’s what the recipe was called. As I began to make my way through it, I was a bit stumped by what I was reading, and I was happy to see I wasn’t alone. Madison begins her recipe by explaining its origins, and she, too, was stumped by it the first time she encountered it:

    A friend once told me that her comfort food, and her only one at that, was a dish of canned tomatoes cooked in cream which she poured over toast. I struck me as odd at the time, but I’m now in the same camp. It’s a perfect indulgent lunch for a day when tomatoes are irresistible.

    Of course, this being a book that’s all about growing your own—or at least acquainting yourself with your nearest farmer’s market, so you have access to a wide variety of vegetables at their peak of ripeness—Madison’s take on her friend’s comfort dish doesn’t involve canned tomatoes. This is a dish to be made “when tomatoes are irresistible,” when field tomatoes are ripe, juicy, and plentiful.

    Well, at the time I was reading this local field tomatoes were still nowhere to be found—it was late June, after all, and we live in a Northern zone—but I knew they’d be here soon, and, in case you haven’t noticed, that time is now.

    This recipe also calls for garlic and basil. Again, the time is now. Local hard-neck garlic is available again, and fresh, local basil is easy to find, if you’re not growing your own.

    How did Madison update and improve her friend’s favourite comfort food? How did she transform it into an ode to late-summer seasonality? Let’s see…

    Comforting Tomatoes in Cream with Bread Crumbs and Smoked Salt

    4 tbsp heavy cream, preferably Vermont cream

    8 oz ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of the ripest, tastiest heirloom varieties you can find

    fresh bread crumbs toasted in olive oil until trip

    smoked salt* and freshly ground pepper

    Warm the cream with the garlic and basil in a small skillet over gentle heat. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and steep while you prepare the tomatoes.

    Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the tomatoes on the blossom end (the “bottom”), then drop them into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water to cool, then peel. Cut the tomatoes into quarters if large, into halves if smaller.

    Add the tomatoes to the pan, along with a generous pinch of smoked salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Turn the heat back on and allow the cream to bubble over the tomatoes and mingle with their juices for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Ladle into a bowl. Adjust the seasoning, if need be. Scatter the bread crumbs generously over the tomatoes. Devour, making sure to have some delicious bread close at hand to sop up all the juices with afterwards.

    [this recipe based very, very closely on a recipe by the same name that appears in Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy]

    It’s hard to explain just how good this dish is. There’s a simplicity, and purity, and genius to it that’s breathtaking. If you’re a true lover of fresh tomatoes at the height of season, this is the dish for you. If you’re a true lover of fresh cream, all the better.

    If you’re still a little mystified by the combination, think of the pleasures of a fine rosé sauce, but one where both the tomatoes and the cream have more of an assertive presence. Even better, think of the pleasures of eating a fine, ripe burrata—one that’s been allowed to come to temperature—with the ripest, freshest, most delicious tomatoes you can find, some torn basil leaves, and some freshly baked bread. You know how you’re left with that delicious cream mingling with the tomato juices? You know how good it tastes when you run a piece of crusty bread through there? Is it all starting to make sense?

    The first time we tasted Madison’s “Comforting Tomatoes” we were completely beside ourselves. Maybe the two of us are just the ideal audience for this dish. Maybe it was specifically the combination of our local, organic Vermont tomatoes with local, organic Vermont cream that made the difference (we had intentionally waited to make this recipe in Vermont, so that we had access to a pint of Kimball Brook heavy cream). But this was the single best thing either of us had tasted in quite some time. Madison describes it as a “perfect indulgent dish,” but I’m not sure I entirely agree. It was, quite simply, a perfect dish. It was one of those exceptional dishes that was entirely satisfying. And, in fact, it was a dish that lingered with us for hours afterward, even after we’d had our main dish (which was definitely no slouch, either). Even after we’d had dessert.

    * Don’t skip out on the smoked salt. If you don’t smoke your own, look for Maldon smoked salt, which is a very fine product, indeed.

    Bread & Tomatoes

    This semolina-sesame loaf has been my latest obsession over the last couple of weeks. It was inspired by the semolina loaves that were a specialty of some of the truly old-school Italian-American bakeries of New Jersey back in the day. For a while, I worked in a wine store in Northern Virginia that used to import dozens of loaves of bread from Jersey every Thursday. I got pretty hooked on the flavour at the time. Those loaves tended to have sesame seeds generously sprinkled on top. In this case, I put an especially generous amount of toasted sesame seeds inside the loaf.

    Yesterday, I celebrated the arrival of my latest batch of semolina-sesame bread by making a somewhat old-school spaghetti dinner with lots of garlic and a couple of anchovies in the sauce. I wanted to have something that was saucy and savoury, something that would need some sopping up, something that was just begging for a freshly baked loaf of crusty bread.

    This time of year, fresh tomatoes that have any flavour to them are a little hard to find, for reasons that should be obvious. Therefore, from the tail end of fall until the early days of summer, I tend to seek out the tastiest canned tomatoes I can find for many of my home cooking projects, including the making of tomato-based pasta sauces. Without being ridiculous, use the best tomatoes you can afford. Spending a few bucks on a can of tomatoes might seem extravagant to some, but, unless you grow your own, the best fresh tomatoes can also be pricey (rightfully so, in most cases), and a good can of tomatoes packs a lot of potential into its tight, tinned confines.

    If you happen to be in the States, keep your eyes open for these sweet, delicious Stanislaus 74-40 tomato filets from California. (They’re worth buying for their anti-Brand X propaganda alone!).

    If you’re in Montreal, it’s nice to see that Bianco DiNapoli’s phenomenal canned tomatoes—also from California, but this time organic, too!—are readily available.

    I like breaking open an extra-large can like the one you see above and then parceling its contents in a variety of ways for a variety of different projects, at least one of which will usually be a pasta sauce of some kind. The one I made yesterday was quick, easy, and super-satisfying:

    Simple Umami-Rich Pasta Sauce

    1 28-ounce can canned tomatoes (or equivalent), crushed by hand in a bowl

    a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil

    1-2 oil-packed anchovies (preferably packed in olive oil)

    1-2 medium to large cloves garlic, minced

    1 generous pinch crushed chile flakes

    Heat your olive oil over medium-low heat. When your olive oil is warm, add the anchovies and stir with spoon until they have broken down and melded with the olive oil. Add the chile flakes and cook 15-30 seconds, until aromatic. Add the garlic and cook for another 15-30 seconds, until the garlic becomes aromatic and it takes on a hint of golden colour. Add the tomatoes with all their juices and simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat. Season to taste with salt before serving.

    Serve over spaghetti, with freshly grated Parmesan, some garlicky homemade breadcrumbs (if you got ‘em!), and some freshly torn basil leaves.

    When you serve this sauce with pasta, don’t be stingy. There should be a little sauce left in the bottom of the bowl that’s calling out for a crusty bread.

    Of course, crust isn’t everything. There’s also something to be said for structure, and for a tender, flavourful crumb, like these two specimens:

    fig. d: semolina-sesame crumb #1

    fig. e: semolina-sesame crumb #2

    Using semola rimacinata instead of standard semolina is one of the big reasons the crumb on this loaf is particularly tender and fine. Plus, semola rimacinata is a great product to have around the house—it’s fantastic for making homemade pasta.

    Anyway, although they’re hard to see, there’s plenty of flavour-packed toasted sesame seeds in this loaf, which only add to the taste sensation. I used to toast my sesame seeds myself, but it was a bit of a hassle, especially because sesame seeds are delicate and easily scorched if you don’t watch them carefully. These days I just buy large bags of Japanese toasted sesame seeds—we use them all the time when we cook Japanese dishes, and they’re perfect for bread baking.

    This bread is delicious on its own, phenomenal with butter, and simply crazy with red sauce.


    Maximize your pizza oven output across the menu, extending that equity and cross-utilizing existing ingredients into dynamic features, upgraded ingredients and seasonal limited-time offerings. Use pizza as your inspiration, morphing into something new.

    Pizza Salad: Create-your-own salad on a warm Asiago pizza crust
    —MOD Pizza, based in Bellevue, Wash.

    Caputo Pie: Fried circle of breaded ground chicken, red sauce and a blend of cheeses, Calabrian chile-infused honey, sliced into triangular pieces
    —Foxwoods Resort & Casino, Mashantucket, Conn.

    Try This:
    • Roast vegetables in your pizza oven and transform into purées for a salad-dressing base, for a dipping sauce, or for premium toppers on salad.
    • Utilize pizza dough and signature fillings to create an open-faced pizza pot pie.

    From the Mar/Apr 2019 issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine. Read the full issue online or check if you qualify for a free print subscription.

    Watch the video: ΝΤΟΜΆΤΕΣ ΜΕ ΦΎΛΛΑ ΠΑΤΆΤΑΣ (July 2022).


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