Last weekend it was our 39th wedding anniversary, and we decided to celebrate by making a special meal at home. I was in charge of the starter, and as we have a LOT of ripe tomatoes at the moment, decided to make it all tomato based.
So here we have: Fresh cherry tomatoes, semi dried tomato slices, tomato and thyme granita and tomato consommé.
The fresh tomatoes need no explanation. For the sliced tomatoes, I thinly sliced a tomato (slicing horizontally so the seeds stay attached, they don't drop out the way they do with a vertically sliced one) and then gave the slices 3 hours in the dehydrator, until they were soft and chewy.
For the tomato consommé I started a day in advance. This makes far more than two shot glasses worth, but it's so delicious you'll want more! The first time we tasted this was at the wonderful Rajvilas Hotel in Jaipur so it has very special memories for us.
You will need
1 kg very ripe tomatoes
2 torpedo shallots
a large handful of basil leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
Roughly chop the tomatoes and shallots and place them in a blender or food processor with the basil leaves and sauces. Blitz until finely chopped. Pour into a jelly bag, or a sieve lined with a muslin cloth (Oh, OK, I actually used a brand new J-cloth!) and allow to drain overnight.
The next day, pour the juice into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes, then season, chill again and serve very cold. You could, if you wished, add a slug of vodka - we didn't as we had a rather nice bottle of wine to drink.
Next the granita, which I have to say was rather less successful. I think if I make it again I will whisk a beaten egg white into it to bind it a bit - the tomato pulp and water seemed to separate too easily. With that caveat, what I used was:
350g tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
2 tsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp smoked sea salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Churn in an ice cream maker until frozen - if it starts to separate, switch off the machine and break up the crystals with a fork. I found I had to do this several times. Store in the freezer, and before serving allow to soften slightly and once again break up the crystals with a fork.