Simplicity of Tomatoes

Tomato

“Once you have de-seeded the tomatoes then proceed to…..” – do these words make your stomach turn? ūüôā

For some reason the de-seeding of tomatoes had become a horrible task in my mind; something cumbersome and difficult. Something to avoid. Any recipe that required this method was, well, adapted…

Then the other day I realised what many of you probably already are aware of; de-seeding tomatoes is so very simple. So simple.

As I sliced open the tomato, the light pink inner flesh revealing itself I took a few minutes to actually observe the tomato Рto marvel at how it is composed and to see the intricate details of the flesh, the seeds and the skin. Suddenly the de-seeding process was very clear.

A tomato has clever departments, if you will, and when you slice it in half, or in quarters, you notice pockets within it. Each pocket is full of seeds and you can slip a little finger into each pocket and gently scoop out the seeds. Very pain-free, very quick and beautifully simple.

When I told my daughter, of 10 years, she laughed and said “Did you not know that mum? I always use my tongue and suck them out of the pockets”… Made me smile. Children have an amazing gift; exploring while keeping things simple.

Morale of the story: Slow down and enjoy every element of cooking Рespecially  exploring and learning about your ingredients.

What was I cooking? A cold tomato salsa Рde-seeded and chopped tomatoes, finely chopped red onion, garlic, chilli, olive oil and salt.Cool in fridge and dollop generously either onto   burgers or on grilled ciabatta bread that has been rubbed with fresh garlic. On top of the salsa you can then throw some buffalo mozzarella and scatter some basil. Perfect summer BBQ starter (no pictures as it was all eaten way too quickly!)

Take a look at the tomato pictures below and enjoy the next time you are advised to de-seed a tomato!

Pocketspockets

Some layers with your, blue?!, cake…

This kind of cake is what you get when¬†it is your birthday in Denmark (except for the colour which is what you get when you have a slightly mad 4 year old boy)! There is rarely a shop bought cake in sight, no fondant icing, no silly shapes and figurines…just good, old cake! Lots of layers, lots of whipped or vanilla cream and usually lots of fruit. It is very simple but I can tell you; it takes your breath away (mine at least). I will never get too old for this kind of cake and my husband, a die-hard chocolate cake fan, has even been converted! There are lots of reasons why –¬†it is light, sweet, fresh, soft…just gorgeous!

The recipe, passed on to me by my sister-in-law (who, by the way, makes it to perfection!) is used to create the three layers for the cake. Once the basic dough is made and cooked you can fill and decorate as you wish Рas you can see from the pictures my children often pick the colour of their icing as well as what fruit goes into it!

Make the layers and cake the day before you want to serve/eat it and refrigerate, but do not ice/chocolate coat it. This allows the flavours to develop and more importantly the sponge layers to get the moisture from the fruit and cream. On the day of serving, ice or chocolate coat it.

5 eggs – separated
210g caster sugar
150g¬†flour –¬†sieved
1 tsp baking powder
 
  • Preheat¬†your oven to¬†180C
  • Separate your egg whites and egg yolks

  • Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff – turn bowl upside down to make sure they are ready!!!! The best test…really. Promise.

  • Add the sugar to the¬†stiff egg whites, a little at a time. Watch the¬†white colour change from matt to silky smooth – so beautiful. Wish I could jump into it….velvet!

  • Once completely mixed, add the egg yolks to the white mix – another beautiful change of colour as you slowly add the yellow…

  • Put flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and combine well.¬†Sieve this mixture into the egg batter and carefully fold into the mix with a spatula.
  • You should now have a creamy, thick (and incredibly tasty!) dough.
  • Pour the dough into a lined round cake tin.

  • Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes – it will be light brown¬†in colour and spongy to the touch. With this I mean that if you gently press the top of the cake, your finger should feel a spring back rather than a sinking in feeling….Hope that makes sense!
  • Once cooked, let cool in the tin on a wire rack.

  • When completely cold, with a sharp and long knife, cut three layers. This can be a bit tricky but if you do it slowly you should be OK. It is fine if there is a small hole here or there – believe me, once filled, no one will know (or care)!

Now for the filling! You can, literally, combine any fruit, jam, whipped cream and berry you like…It just works…Here are my favourites:

  • Whip whipping cream with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy. Add raspberries (or strawberries)¬†and whip a bit more to make pink cream! Like you would lasagne, place a layer of cake on the bottom, then a layer of raspberry cream, then another layer of cake, then the raspberry cream and then, on top, melted dark chocolate… (place pieces of chocolate in heatproof bowl with a few tbsp of whipped cream,¬†over simmering water, slowly stir till melted. Scoop onto cake’s top layer and gently spread to cover…let ooze over the sides! Let chocolate set and then refrigerate until ready to serve (I have decorated with candied lemon peel here).

  • Spread strawberry jam onto the bottom layer and top with crushed macaroons. Put whipped cream (whipped¬†with vanilla essence and a tbsp sugar until creamy) on top and place a second cake layer onto this. Add whipped¬†cream and fresh strawberries onto this layer and place final cake on top. Thinly coat the top with the whipped cream and cover in fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…you name it! Beautiful and so tasty! (Don’t forget to lick the spoons!)

  • A very delicate version is to add a bit of instant coffee powder to the whipped cream mixture and spread this onto every layer. For the topping, add instant coffee powder to icing sugar and a little water and make a thin coffee paste that you then spread on the surface. Absolutely divine!
  • A layer of pineapple and whipped cream followed by a layer of strawberries and whipped cream – with the topping being icing sugar, water and food colouring of your choice! Banana also works well as a layer.

If you are not a whipped cream fan you can make this gorgeous vanilla cream – also often used in Denmark – and use instead. Simply layer it with the fruit as above.

Vanilla Cream

1 egg
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
200 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla sugar (can be bought in Waitrose or make your own by adding the inside of a vanilla pod to some caster sugar)
 
  • Whip egg and sugar until fluffy and light
  • Pour into a sauce pan and whisk in the flour
  • Add the milk to the saucepan and heat it all slowly. Stir constantly while it is heating – and low heat – we don’t want scrambled eggs!
  • Bring it to the boil and once boiling add the vanilla sugar
  • It is now ready! Let it cool and use as mentioned above. It is also very tasty to put a combination of this cream¬†and whipped cream into the layers.

Strawberry Compote

A small, simple¬†but very useful recipe to have! A must for every breakfast table…

Fill a small sauce pan with trimmed and washed strawberries (halved)

  • Add a teaspoon of sugar (optional) and a tablespoon of water
  • Simmer ever so slowly until a nice, thick compote is formed
  • Let cool and store in a jar or airtight container in the fridge – will keep for 2 weeks easily.

Eat on toast or put a dollop in your bowl of natural yogurt – delicious!

 

Top Tips

  • Great as a gift – just add a nice lable and ribbon to the jar!
  • If you have strawberries that are too soft to eat do not bin¬†them – make compote!
  • Compote can be made with most berries – blueberry also gorgeous!