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

Italy. Simplicity. Dry bread, garlic and tomatoes = Bruschetta!

It has been too long –¬†I have missed cooking, taking photographs and sharing with those that care to read it! I promise never to leave a two month gap again….

So, we went to Italy. Not just anywhere in Italy – we went to Tuscany. Not just anywhere in Tuscany – we went to Florence; and Florence is my favourite place in the whole world. Cannot for the life of me explain why, but the place fills me with joy, with promise, with excitement. The rolling hills, the flavours of the food, the people, the architecture, the colours…no where like it. No where.

It was a family¬†trip (I am lucky enough¬†to have¬†a sister-in-law living in Florence) and we made the most of it. The majority of¬† the holiday was spent eating and laughing….makes me smile to think about it.

Quality time with the children and extended family and a magical place to stay (Lebbiano Residence Рhave a look) from where we ventured into the Tuscan country side and spent hours in the nature. The children caught tadpoles and frogs, we taught them to row a boat in the lake, trekking in the woods, catching fire flies at night and finding a hidden park that was, and I kid you not, like a fairy tale come true.

This one needs translating – will live by this…..

In The Park You Can

– inhale clean air
– listen to the silence
– stretch out in the sun (lie down)
– dream
– love
– play
– make up
– think
– slow down
– observe
– taste/enjoy
– doze/nap
– forget/lose time
– come home feeling peaceful
 

¬†and the food….the food….the food!

Best of all – simplicity. With nothing but paper plates and a lot of love and patience we had the best meals I have had in a long time. Eaten outdoors, with family.

Eaten indoors, on little stools – amazing!

 

So simple – the line in front of the restaurant a very telling thing…My daughter who is only 7 and claims to not like meat – well – a Bistecca¬†Fiorentina at Mario’s….and she is converted!

If you are ever in Florence go there!!! Da Mario – behind San Lorenzo – close to Zaza (another good restaurant).

I want to leave you with a recipe – one of the simplest I know – and probably one of the tastiest too! Bruschetta. Dry bread, olive oil, tomatoes and garlic – fresh garlic – by the clove. Nothing more, nothing less.

Bruschetta

Loaf of dry bread
Fresh, ripe tomatoes cut into small pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Red onion (can be omitted)
Basil (can be omitted)
Sprinkle of salt
Garlic – cannot be omitted – peeled cloves, sliced in halves
 
  • Slice the bread – it is fine if it is horrible and dry (just not mouldy…)
  • Place under a grill – or on a hot BBQ (perfect for summer – if we ever get one!) until dark brown and crisp
  • Place bread on plate
  • Rub sliced, peeled garlic straight into the bread
  • Throw a large spoonful of tomatoes on top of it (precut in a bowl – if red onion is wanted add it to the tomatoes in small pieces)
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and a few basil leave
  • ENJOY!

If you are in need of relaxing, of a break or simply of re-falling in love with life, with your children, with your partner, with food – go to Florence! Stay at Lebbiano Residence, eat at Mario’s, go for walks, see the sites….it is a little bit of magic for the soul.

If you cannot afford to go – make bruschetta at home, put on some Italian music and pretend…! Not quite the same but hey – better than nothing!

Pomegranate #5 – Curry!

I am ending the pomegranate series on a high! This is absolutely stunning – rich and deep in flavour while still being fresh and incredibly healthy.

Indian in its flavour, rather than Thai, it does not have all the fat that comes with coconut milk and is also less spicy – brave children will like this one!

Prawn and Pomegranate Curry

(adapted from Food and Wine magazine recipe)

Seeds of half a pomegranate (tips on how to remove these here)
1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 tsp curry powder
1 red chilli, chopped (omit if making for children)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
500g prawns
Handful coriander
 
  • Place pomegranate seeds and water in a cup
  • Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and add chopped onion and curry powder – stir until the onions turn soft (3-5 minutes)
  • Add the garlic and chilli and stir
  • Add the pomegranate water mix as well as the chopped tomatoes and season with sugar, salt and pepper – the sugar is primarily included to counteract the acidity that comes with tinned tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes you can leave out the sugar
  • Cook for about 15 minutes stirring often
  • Add the prawns and let them cook with the mixture for about 3 minutes – you want them cooked but not hard. If using pre cooked prawns simply add for about¬†a minute¬†before serving to ensure they heat through
  • Just before serving, stir through half of the coriander
  • Serve by laying large ladlefuls on a plate – with either brown rice or naan bread – and sprinkle coriander¬†and a few pomegranate seeds over it for presentation
  • Savour it! Glorious!