Take it as red

There is more to a tomato than being red. Grown in a good soil and fully ripened by the sun to a deep red on the vine, before picking, the tomato is an integral part of our daily cooking.
Today I picked the first salad tomatoes of the season.One of my strongest culinary memories was having a vine ripened tomato from my father´s modest little green house pressed to my nose, leaving an indelible impression on me of what real freshness was about.This was a time when seasons still dictated what we ate. When you pick a tomato, try this same test, twist and sniff as you remove it from the vine. This will give you an indication of how this tomato is going to perform for you.
There is nothing better than a salad of sweet vine ripened tomatoes, skinned, sliced and drizzled with virgin olive oil and a dash of lemon juice, sprinkled with sea salt and left for half an hour to marinate in the fridge. Serve with freshly torn basil leaves.Tonight on offer here was a light salad of tomatoes concasse ( diced tomato) new potatoes, broad beans, peas and feta cheese dressed with a mint and basil pesto.
In its raw state the tomato contains lycopenes anti carcenogenics that can inhibit or reverse the growth of cancerous tumours. Raw juicing is the optimum way to extract and obtain this life saving goodness, or so say the "food police" Try not to let boosting your Lycopene levels become an obsession. Getting yourself stressed over your food intake will become counter productive!!!!!!
Why not just enjoy the multitude of recipes you can concoct with raw tomatoes. Bruschetta, salsa,tricolore salad, and for a quick shot to the blood levels, Bloody Mary or Virgin Mary, or as a close friend once renamed it `The Portuguese Mary.`

Tomato bruschetta

Serves 4
8 slices of rustic country bread
4 garlic cloves
6-8 ripe tomatoes,diced
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling*

salt and pepper

Toast the slices of bread on both sides on the barbecue or under the grill.
rub them with garlic while they are still hot and put back on the barbecue for amoment.
Arrange the tomatoes on the bread. season with salt and pepper and "drizzle"* with olive oil.

Simple salsa of tomatoes, red onion and coriander

10 tomatoes topped and tailed, finely chopped
2 large or 3 small red onions

3 small dried chillis crushed
2 cloves of garlic

Handful of chopped fresh coriander

salt and pepper
a good drizzle* of olive oil
drizzle* of balsa

somebody come up with a new expression , please

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon and leave to marinate overnight
Add another handful of chopped fresh coriander before serving

This makes a great accompaniment to a dish of grilled squid or served with sliced avocado as a refreshing starter.

So why not put your feet up and knock up a Bloody Mary.The secret to a top notch Bloody Mary
is balancing the flavours of Tabasco sauce, Worcester sauce, celery salt and black pepper with the vodka and tomato juice. I think it is a very personal thing. You may prefer more or less Tabasco, or you may want to omit the celery salt altogether. The drink was invented at Harry´s New York Bar in Paris in 1921, by Fernand `Pete´Petiot, who was inspired by the Hollywood star Mary Pickford. Like most cocktails made with tomato juice, Bloody Mary is a reviver or pick me up. My personal feeling is that it is more of a restorative. I like to drink it with Eggs benedict on an American muffin, mid-morning after having over indulged the night before - So Hollywood!!!! " Blood Mary is the girl I love, now ain´t that too damn bad "

My recipe for the perfect Mary

50ml Vodka
2 dashes Worcester Sauce
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 dashes of Tabasco
150ml fresh or very good quality canned tomato juice
pinch of celery salt
black pepper

One third fill a glass with ice. Add the vodka, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, celery salt and Tabasco. Pour on the tomato juice, Stir vigorously then season with black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

The San Marzano´tomatoes, the cooking variety are a few weeks behind. Something to look forward to, and when they flourish the kitchen will be busy cooking sauces for the freezer, making tomato tarte tatins and later in the season sundrying and dry roasting. Finally at the end of the summer when the last few stragglers are failing to redden, jams and chutneys will be the order of the day.


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