Sunday, March 18, 2007

Salad of Haricots Verts, Tomato Tartare, and Chive Oil

I've had the WORST cold for the past week... ugh. Because of all the snot lodged in my brain and sinuses, my taster was a little off so I haven't been intrigued by food much, if at all. All I've wanted to do since last Sunday night is curl up in bed, sleep, whine, ignore my clients, and blow my nose. And not necessarily in that order. But you didn't come here to hear me bitch and moan, so let's talk about food.

I started to feel better Friday night so I rallied, went to the market, and bought what I needed to make this dish. I crapped out again Saturday morning and early afternoon, but rallied again Saturday evening with a burst of energy to do some prep work (Tomato Confit and Tomato Powder). The Tomato Confit, as always, was a joy to make. I didn't re-photograph the process, because it's already captured here.

As you may recall, in an earlier effort to make the Tomato Powder, I set my microwave on fire. This time, thanks to some helpful commenters, I decided to dry the tomato pulp and skins in my oven at 250 degrees for seven hours. Yes. Seven hours. Can't wait to see my gas bill next month! But you know what? It worked. AND, I think it made a difference in the taste of the final dish. But I digress... let me get back to the Tomato Powder for a sec. Here's a shot of the dried out tomato:

And, here's a shot of the finished powder after grinding it in my coffee grinder:

Those dark spots in both photos aren't charred bits of tomato. It's the lighting in my kitchen. So, with the Tomato Confit and Tomato Powder done the night before, the rest of the dish was easy to do this afternoon before my neighbors came over for a tasting.

I don't have my usual photo of the complete mise en place for this dish because a) I was doing ten things at once (writing a speech, cooking, cleaning out TiVo, folding laundry, yakking on the phone, dancing to my iPod... you get the drill) and I just forgot; and 2) I made this in stages over two days, so I didn't really have a full-on mise en place in the beginning. Fine, fine... I'll shut up now.

About an hour before serving, I made the Tomato Tartare. This involved taking the Tomato Confit, fine-chopping it, adding some balsamic vinegar, minced shallot and minced chives. Here's the mise for the Tomato Tartare:

Once it's mixed together, I let it rest in the fridge until I was ready to plate. Again, apologies for the lack of "after" shot of the Tomato Tartare. You'll see it in the final plating shots at the end, I promise. At least I didn't forget to take those. Jeesh.

The next thing I did was blanch the haricots verts (French green beans). Here's the before:

And after:

So pretty. I then whipped some heavy cream until it began to thicken enough so that the whisk left tracks in the cream, folded in some red wine vinegar, and then tossed the green beans around in that mixture. Commenter Todd (from the Risotto post) mentioned that the recipe made WAY more cream than was needed, and he was right. But, the ratio of cream to red wine vinegar is hard to do in small portions, so I'm fine with throwing some of it away. Apologies for the lack of photos of this step. Again, I was distracted. I think it was at this point that I was on the phone (again) teaching my mom how to cut/paste something from WordPerfect into email. Man, I suck. Sorry, guys. And gals. And sorry, Mom for swearing on the phone. Love you. Kisses! Hi, Dad!

So, now it's time to plate the dish.

First on the plate was a drizzle or two of Chive Oil (YUM!). I used some of the Chive Oil I'd prepared for the Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon dish. You can see that prep process here.
On top of the Chive Oil went a few tablespoons of the Tomato Tartare. The book said to use a 3" ring mold, but I couldn't be bothered. God, I'm such a mamby-pamby when I'm not feeling well. On top of the Tomato Tartare went the haricots verts in red wine vinegar cream. Then, on top of that went some frisée tossed in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Before I continue, may I just state for the record that I really, really hate frisée? Detest it. Hate, hate, hate it. I always have to pick it out of salads because when eaten, to me it has the texture of chewing on dental floss. [Wow, I am so awesome to mention both mucus AND dental floss in a post about fine food. How much do you hate me? I'm skeeved out, myself, thankyouverymuch.]

But, I soldiered on and took one for the team (mixed metaphors ROCK), and added the frisée. Then, the final touch -- a dusting of Tomato Powder.

Here's the final plating of the dish:

This was delicious. The Tomato Tartare and green beans played nicely together -- a sharp taste, but not off-putting in the least. The textures were good, although I really could not eat the frisée. Fech. The Chive Oil was noticeable, but complemented the dish nicely. And I can't say enough about the Tomato Powder. I scoff at powders as a rule, but this one was nice and worth the repeated attempts to get right. Or at least close to right. It was less of a fine powder and more like the size of a grain of salt. Or maybe sand. But it wasn't gritty. It was smoooooth and tasty. It just wasn't fairy dust.

I'd make this dish again, no question. Please: anything that requires Tomato Confit is a GIVEN repeat-recipe in this house.

Up Next: Ashed Chevreaux with Slow-Roasted Yellow and Red Beets and Red Beet Vinaigrette.

Brands Used:
All-Clad Cookware
Produce from Whole Foods
Organic Valley heavy cream
Antica Italia balsamic vinegar

Music to Cook By: I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but it was Salt-N-Pepa's Hot Cool & Vicious.


Jaye Joseph said...

I tried to do the powder the last time I made the tartare and it didn't work at all. Then I decided I couldn't be bothered to even try that again.

The tartare, however, is always going to be in my fridge. I ate it 5 times last week. And I'm having it again tonight. It's like crack. Tomatoey, delicious crack.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful dish. This particular recipe is so popular at our house that we have eaten it three days in a row. Hope you feel better.

Anonymous said...

hi, just found your blog and i love it! i've had the french laundry cookbook for over a year now and only have made the goat cheese mousse. reading your posts now has totally motivated me now though!

queenofsheba said...

I wonder if you could just grind up some of freeze dried tomatoes (like the "Just tomatoes" brand) and substitute that for a quick version of the tomato powder.... What do you think?

Rachel Rubin said...

That looks amazing. I love those pure and simple dishes with fresh ingredients. Anything Tartare is good with me. Your table looks gorgeous. Can I come over next time?

Anonymous said...

I've tried the tomato powder 5 or 6 different times and it just doesn't work. I think it is easier in a commercial kitchen when it's always hotter.

Carol Blymire said...

Jaye: I say try the powder one more time. It can (sort of) be done.

SallyForth: Thank you!

Susan: And, thank you! Keep me posted on what you make -- I'd love to hear about it!

Sheba: You probably could, but I bet it would taste like doody.

Rachel: Thanks for the compliment on my table. I love love love my dining room and I wish I could spend more time in there. :) Sure, c'mon over next time!

Anonymous: I think you're right re: a restaurant kitchen being hotter overall. It makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog. Very interesting and funny. P.S. Ive noticed you only use the green part of the frisee, its bitter and trash in most restaurants. Maybe that's why you don't like it?

Anonymous said...

I tried doing the tomato powder in the microwave and had a fire too! And an exploding dish. OMG it was scary. It really is NOT something that should have ever been recommended!

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe and have made it several times. I buy tomato powder at the local co-op natural foods kind of place. I too had too much trouble making it. I've also ground up sun dried tomatoes (not in oil) in my coffee grinder for tomato powder.

I wish I'd found your blog earlier. I'm very, very slowly working my way through the recipes I want to make out of the book. I won't ever make them all though. Oysters and Pearls is my favorite so far. It tasted just as good as when I ate at the French Laundry.