Sunday, June 17, 2007

Salad of Petite Summer Tomatoes with Vine-Ripe Tomato Sorbet

Before I begin, let me take the chance to wish my dad a very happy Father's Day. And, a happy Father's Day to all you dads and dads-to-be out there. As I told the one dad who came over this evening for a tasting, when I think of Father's Day, naturally, the first thing I think of is tomatoes. Don't you? You don't? Really?!?! Yeah, me either. I just thought it sounded all meaningful and stuff.

I had originally planned to do this dish in July/August when my very own tomatoes would be ready. However, last week the deer and foxes that live in the nearby woods pillaged my garden. They ate all my tomato plants one night, then the next night devoured the basil. They haven't touched the rest of the herbs, so I think I'm safe. They also haven't touched the squash. Everything else? Gone, baby gone.

So, since I didn't have a time/season restriction on this one anymore, I decided to just buy the tomatoes at the grocery store and do it this weekend. Work continues to be incredibly busy, so I was happy to have some time on my days off to cook and spend time planning the next few weeks' dishes.

Let's talk about the Salad of Petite Summer Tomatoes, shall we? Here's the mise en place for the Tomato Sorbet:

I peeled and seeded the tomatoes, cut them into small chunks, put them in a saucepan, simmered them, then reduced them by half (about 55 minutes):

When the tomatoes were done, I heated a wee bit of canola oil in a small skillet, added about a half cup of finely chopped yellow onion and cooked them for about 6-7 minutes until they were tender. I added the onions to the tomatoes, stirred, then in batches puréed the heck out of them in the blender. I strained each batch through a tamis, then returned the mix to the blender, added the rest of the ingredients pictured in the mise and strained it all over again. This base of the sorbet cooled in the fridge, then went into the ice cream maker, and became tomato sorbet:

Let me just take a moment to tell you that my poor ice cream maker is working overtime this month. Thanks to David Lebovitz and his awesome book, The Perfect Scoop, I am gonna be a FattyFattyTwoByFourCan'tFitThroughTheBathroomDoor by the end of summer.

Okay, as much as I could go on and on about David's book, let's get back to The French Laundry Cookbook and the tomato extravaganza that was my Sunday.

While the sorbet sat in the freezer, I made the tomato coulis by peeling, seeding and chopping two tomatoes, squeezing out the moisture in a clean dish towel, then putting the tomato in the blender with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper:

I puréed this mixture, then strained it through a chinois. Here's what it looked like:

I put it in the refrigerator until a few moments before I was ready to plate.

The next step was making the garlic tuiles. When I read the ingredient list, I actually clappped my hands and said "yay!" (obviously, I need to get a life, so no need to email me to tell me what I already know, thankyouverymuch) Here's the mise en place:

Other than the herbs, it's all very beige, isn't it? Let me tell you -- the final flavor is ANYTHING but beige. Damn, these were good, and my house still smells amazing. But, I'm getting ahead of myself (shocker). The first thing I did was mix the flour, sugar and salt in one bowl. In a separate bowl, I whisked the butter to make it smooth and creamy -- almost like mayonnaise. I added the egg white, then the butter to the dry ingredients, then mixed in the garlic and parmiggiano-reggiano:

I put a small spoonful of the batter onto my Silpat (on a baking sheet), smoothed them out into 2" rounds to make some tuiles:

I'm thinking they probably should've been a little thinner, but after tasting the final product, I DON'T CARE. They are so amazing. Next time I make lobster bisque, I'm making these. They are amazing. Stephen Durfee, if these were your idea, I love you even more, man. You'll see a photo of the final tuiles in the plating photo.

This dish also called for a few dozen peeled cherry tomatoes. You may have noticed throughout the course of this writeup (if you've been paying attention, that is) that there were multiple points at which I had to peel and seed tomatoes. That required me to blanch them, ice-bath them, then peel. That means I had to WORK, people. This whole tomato peeling thing isn't a walk in the park. Blanching and peeling 3-4 medium-size tomatoes is no big deal. But blanching and peeling 48 cherry/grape tomatoes? Oh. My. God.

They're cute and all, but man. I did them in batches of 10 or so -- blanching for 10 seconds, ice bathing them for another 10 seconds, then peeling them. They turned out really nicely, but this step was more labor-intensive than I thought it might be.

Ready to see the final plating? Of course you are. It's late. You're tired. You're thinking, "holy crap, will she just SHUT UP about how much freakin' work she put into this dish and just get to the money shot already? Gah."

Zip it.

Here goes. The first step in plating is a ring of fennel oil (it was supposed to be basil oil, but as I mentioned earlier, the local wildlife ate all my freakin' basil, so I subsituted some fennel oil from this dish, and it worked) followed by the tomato coulis in the middle:

On top of this lovely, lovely liquid, I placed a brioche crouton, topped with the peeled cherry/grape tomatoes. On top of that went the tomato sorbet, which was topped with the garlic tuile:

Remember how I said the halibut/succotash dish is what summer tastes like? Yeah. I lied.

This dish is so summery and fragrant and delicious, I'm not sure there are words in the English language that can adequately describe how beautifully these flavors work together. The fennel oil and tomato coulis found their way nicely into the brioche crouton. The natural juices from the cherry/grape tomatoes also helped flavor the crouton, but it wasn't a soggy, mushy mess. The tomato sorbet? It made my eyes roll back into my head with the same verve and elan as Baryshnikov leaping through the air. It's clean, yet has so many layers of flavor -- it's such a surprise. I'm a big fan. A huge fan. A superfan, if you will. Then, the garlic tuile on top? Wow. Just wow. It's decadent. This dish, which effectively could serve as a starter, felt like the pleasure that is most often associated with a dessert. I will admit that just like with the rhubarb/mascarpone dish, we had a few plate-lickers in the crowd. I can imagine no higher compliment.

Up Next: Vine-Ripe Tomato Sorbet with Tomato Tartare and Basil Oil

Brands Used:
All-Clad Cookware
Krups ice cream maker
Tomatoes and brioche from Balducci's
All other produce from Whole Foods
Herbs from my garden
Antica Italia olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Music to Cook By: The Postal Service; Such Great Heights and Give Up.


Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

How funny... I had a bunch of heirloom tomato slices left over from a party last night, and while I was making peach sorbet this morning, I thought "hm, I wonder what tomato sorbet would taste like. Obviously, my path is clear. :D

Anonymous said...

Looks veddy lovely! Especially beautiful are what I can see of the peeled cherry tomatos! I just drank two big glasses of chilled, smooth gazpacho that I made in my brand new VitaMixer so tomato's must be the fruit of father's day, apparently!

I'd love to try that tomato sorbet but without an ice cream maker, it looks like it will be granita, instead!

Anonymous said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Oh, to be one of your lucky neighbors who gets to eat everything you make.

Also? I love my Silpats SO MUCH. They're the best things ever.

Finally, I need to buy an ice cream maker now that I've seen that book. Because an ice cream maker is just what I need to slim down this summer.

pdxblogmommy said...

Yummmmmm.....that looks simply splendid.

Of course, I think it would work in pieces too. Like the garlic tuile topped with the tomato sorbet alone sounds just fine to me. As does the brioche crouton with the tomato confit and the fennel oil alone.

Anyway...I know it was WORK and all peeling those tomatoes but the final product was completely worth it.

I'm licking plates too. But mine don't taste as good as yours do.

Unknown said...

This just sounds so yummy and it looks beautiful as well. I will say what everyone else is saying, I definitely need an ice cream maker!!!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I'm jealous of all your fresh tomatoes in the northern hemisphere. We're braising and baking bread down here.
That looks seriously delicious.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your blog and was instantly mesmerized and shocked (in a good way, of course!)

Those tomatoes look fantastic.

To this day I have only had the guts to attempt the garlic chips. I will certainly keep an eye on your progress and perhaps try a few things myself.

Anonymous said...

I just licked my screen. God that sounds good! Where on earth in NYC do you live that you have deer to eat your tomatoes and basil?
My mortal 5 Boroughs gardening enemy are the nutsy squirrels living in the tree overlooking my "garden"
Stupid rodents.

Anonymous said...

omg, I just realised your not in NYC but rather in Maryland. Wow, what a DORK am I? It was the Balducci's that threw me off, I swear!