food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes

mini breakfast frittatas

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Here’s a great breakfast for a crowd that’s easy to prepare ahead. These were simple ham and cheese but there are endless ingredient choices for mini frittatas and they’re excellent party food too. Try mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, chillies, olives and truffle to name just a few. Let your imagination run wild.

Generously butter some muffin trays (silicone works really well) and place some chunks of good quality free-range ham and some shredded tasty cheese into each opening. Whisk all your eggs (1 per frittata) adding some cream, sour cream or just milk and seasoning to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the eggs evenly into the muffin trays then top each frittata with chopped fresh chives and some more grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes or until set.

And while the oven is on, why not roast a tray of tomatoes? Cut the tomatoes into wedges, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Written by michelle picker

May 23, 2018 at 12:20 am

Posted in breakfast, cheese, eggs

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sauerkraut-jarAll you need to make Sauerkraut is cabbage, salt and time.

Shred 1 whole cabbage finely and place it in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt and massage the salt into the cabbage until the cellular structure breaks down, releasing liquid and making the cabbage quite limp. Pack the cabbage tightly into a jar or crock, eliminating any air pockets and weighing it down so that it is submerged in it’s own juices. I find the easiest way to do this is to find a smaller jar which will fit quite snugly into the mouth of the larger jar. Fill the small jar with water to add weight. Now place the large jar on a tray or in a bucket as it will bubble up while it’s fermenting. Cover it loosely and allow it to ferment at room temperature for a week or a few months – it really depends how you like your sauerkraut. I like mine quite crunchy so I’m happy with a week but taste it as you go. When you’ve achieved what you want, refrigerate it to stop further fermentation. Sauerkraut is delicious as is but can also be cooked in a variety of ways.

This Ukrainian Sauerkraut Soup (Kapusnyak) is adapted from a recipe by Barbara Rolek.

To a large soup pot or pressure cooker add a ham hock, 10 cups of water, 1 chopped onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf and some black peppercorns. Cook until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove the meat and when it’s cool enough to handle chop it into bite-size pieces. Set aside. To the soup add 1 large peeled and sliced carrot, 1 large peeled and diced potato, 30g (1 oz) of dried porcini mushrooms and 900g (2 lbs) of sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons sour cream. Add a few ladles of hot soup to this mixture before returning it to the soup. Mix well and allow the soup to thicken slightly. Now add the reserved meat to the soup, heat through and serve with fresh parsley and rye bread on the side.

I often cook sauerkraut with onions and apples but here’s a delicious version with tomatoes.

In a little vegetable oil fry 1 sliced onion with 1 minced clove of garlic until soft and transluscent. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, 450g (1 lb) of drained sauerkraut and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Simmer uncovered until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes and sauerkraut begin to caramelise. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Written by michelle picker

September 6, 2017 at 12:39 am

Posted in vegetables

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saffron cauliflower + tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad

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Here are 2 salads from the master of salads, Yotam Ottolenghi. Serve them as part of a mezze selection or as side dishes.

Cauliflower is so versatile. In this recipe from PLENTY it’s paired with raisins and olives.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC (390ºF). Soak 1½ teaspoons of saffron strands in a little boiling water and allow to infuse. To a large salad bowl add a medium cauliflower (broken into florets), 1 large sliced red onion, 100g (3½ oz) of moist of sultanas, 90g (3¼ oz) of pitted green olives, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 bay leaves and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add the soaked saffron and toss everything to combine. Transfer to a baking tray, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. I uncovered the tray for some of the cooking time to allow the cauliflower to brown a little more. Allow to cool a little and stir in 4 tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley.

This unusual tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad was published by bon appétit.


Preheat your oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Halve and thinly slice 1 small lemon and cook the slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, pat dry and toss with 1 tablespoon of finely sliced fresh sage leaves, ½ a teaspoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake until they are dry and slightly coloured. Allow them to cool. Meanwhile, whisk 2 teaspoons of pomegranate syrup with ½ a teaspoon of ground allspice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 700g (1½ lbs) of mixed tomatoes, ½ a finely sliced red onion, generous amounts of roughly chopped fresh parsley and mint and the cooled lemon slices. Season again to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss gently.

Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2017 at 5:44 am

Posted in salad

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fine dining and tomatoes

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christian-etienneProvence has the most sunshine in France which is probably why the tomatoes here are so abundant and fragrant. When I dined at Christian Etienne, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Avignon, I was excited to see a 7-course tomato menu.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to photograph the first course, a ceviche of smoked mackerel with a Black Russian tomato sauce and puffed corn. Delicious!

Next, a trio of tartare of tomatoes with basil. The yellow one made with pineapple tomatoes, the red with Beefheart tomatoes and the green with Green Zebra tomatoes. Amazing flavour.


The third course was a wonderfully prepared fillet of red mullet over an olive and coconut brandade, with cream of salted garlic, tomato foam and cherry tomatoes. I suspect the garnish might have been sprouted black onion seeds.


Next, what was called a tomalafel. This was a wonderfully crisp tomato felafel served with a sauce of olive oil, lemon and fresh mint and yes, tomatoes!


The meat course was a perfectly cooked cutlet of local lamb with an amazing jus. It was served on a tomato concasse and with an eggplant caviar and parmesan crumble.


The sixth course which (in my haste) I once again failed to photograph, was a lovely fresh chèvre (goats cheese) from the Drôme region, served with chives and Andes Horn tomato crackers.

And finally, dessert. A Pomme d’Amour (Love Apple) cooked in sugar syrup and served on a pistachio mousse with crispy puffed rice and a tomato coulis……

Pomme-d'Amouraccompanied by a Marmande tomato sorbet and caramelised pistachios.


Written by michelle picker

July 3, 2016 at 5:34 am

marinated tomatoes teruel

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The remote and mountainous Spanish town of Teruel is not only known for it’s Moorish architecture but is also renowned for it’s jamón serrano (cured ham). This salad would make a fitting accompaniment.


Slice 3 very large ripe tomatoes and arrange them in a single layer in a shallow serving dish. In a bowl combine ⅓ of a cup of olive oil with ¼ of a cup of sherry vinegar (try to use sherry vinegar if at all possible otherwise substitute red wine vinegar), ¼ of a cup of finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons of drained capers, 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, 1 large minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried basil, and ¼ of a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then spoon the dressing over the tomatoes. Cover and chill for 3 hours before serving.

* recipe found here

Written by michelle picker

April 1, 2015 at 5:58 am

Posted in salad

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celery and tomatoes

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Celery was a vegetable I used to avoid but it’s becoming a favourite, especially with tomatoes.

An Asian stir-fry of celery, asparagus, onion and tomatoes.


Finely dice 2-3 cloves of garlic and a similar amount of fresh ginger. Slice a few sticks of celery into diagonal slices, trim and slice a bunch of asparagus into shorter lengths and cut 2-3 tomatoes and an onion into thin wedges. When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok until very hot and add some peanut or other vegetable oil. Fry the garlic and ginger for only a few seconds and immediately add the celery and asparagus. Make sure to stir everything continuously as this ensures that everything cooks evenly. After 2-3 minutes, add the onion for 1 minute and then the tomato. When the tomato begins to soften add 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil and some ground white pepper. To make this stir-fry a little spicier add some Sriracha chilli sauce as well.

This Italian method for cooking celery makes a perfect side dish.


Place 1-2 cans of chopped tomatoes in a shallow saucepan with a few cloves of crushed garlic and a generous lug of olive oil. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. This will sweeten the tomatoes and should thicken them a little. Add chopped celery and fresh parsley. Season to taste and cook for 15-20 minutes more or until the celery is to your liking.

Written by michelle picker

February 6, 2015 at 5:42 am

squid stuffed with prawns

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Seeing fresh squid tubes on a recent shopping trip inspired this meal.

squid-stuffed-with-prawns-2For 4 squid tubes, you will need 300g (10½ oz) raw prawn meat. Place half of this in a food processor and process to a fine sticky paste. Add the rest of the prawn meat, 1 finely diced clove of garlic, a few sprigs of basil leaves, a handful of walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil, 2-3 anchovy fillets and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and pulse until everything is well blended but still has some chunks in it. To this mixture add 1 grated zucchini and mix well by hand. Take the cleaned squid tubes and close the smaller ends by threading small skewers or toothpicks through them. Fill with the prawn mixture and close the large ends in the same way as the small.

For the sauce purée ½ a cup of tomato passata or tinned tomatoes with a small diced onion, 2-3 roasted red peppers (these can be from a jar), 2-3 anchovy fillets and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add a generous amount of olive oil and cook this mixture in a shallow pan for 20 minutes. Heat some olive oil in a fry-pan and flash fry the squid tubes briefly. Place them into the sauce and spoon some sauce over them. Cook them on low heat for 20 minutes, turning them once after 10 minutes. To accompany my squid tubes I served sliced fennel and asparagus tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper and cooked in a closed pan.


Written by michelle picker

January 12, 2015 at 5:56 am