Archive for August, 2011

Buried in tomatoes? It’s time for tomato jam on burgers

When we were working earlier this summer on a New England burger roundup for the Boston Globe (see Sample articles), we had no idea that we would discover a partial solution to the late-August glut of tomatoes. When we dug into the basic hamburger served at Christie’s in Newport–the casual restaurant of the luxurious Hotel and Marina Forty 1º North–we just knew that chef Kim Lambrechts’ tomato jam was the perfect complement to the rich beef burger. With a little cajoling, we found out how it’s made.

TOMATO JAM

Chef Kim Lambrechts is the director of all food and beverage operations at Hotel and Marina Forty 1º North in Newport–including the casual restaurant, Christie’s. He serves this brilliant ketchup substitute on beef burgers. We find it captures summer in a jar. We pressure-can ours, but the jam is acidic enough to be preserved with the boiling-water method.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

5 large red vine-ripened tomatoes (about 2 1/2 lb.)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds; remove them quickly and place in bath of ice water. Once they have cooled, remove the core and skins and chop flesh roughly.

2. Heat sauté pan over medium flame. Add olive oil, shallot & ginger, and sauté for a few minutes until shallots are soft.

3. Add remainder of ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is largely evaporated, yielding a consistency like kechup. Let cool and reserve for use.

27

08 2011

Watermelon steak from José Andrés

When we first tasted this at Cayman Cookout on Grand Cayman Island in the middle of January, it was hard to think about watermelon. But José Andrés was thinking nothing but—demonstrating eight recipes for watermelon in an hour-long session. Andrés is perhaps the best ambassador of Spanish cooking to America. His Washington, D.C., restaurants include Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlantico, and minibar by José Andrés. His grand Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills has taken Los Angeles by storm.

We always think of watermelon as the most juvenile of summer fruits, but José showed just how sophisticated it can be. The preparation that stuck with us was his version of bistec de sandia, or watermelon steak. As every calorie-counter knows, watermelon is actually light and insubstantial (and low in calories), but grilled melon seems hearty enough to proudly wear the Spanish title bistec. The recipe depends on having wonderfully ripe watermelon and equally ripe heirloom tomatoes.

We’ve made a few departures from José’s original recipe. On Grand Cayman, he dressed the plate with microgreens. In the height of watermelon and tomato season here in New England, it’s too hot for tender greens to survive in our garden. So we use a chiffonade of Batavia lettuce, one of the few varieties that holds in the heat. José also cut his watermelon slices into palm-sized tournedos–almost like a filet mignon. Since there are just two of us and the best local watermelons are small, round ”icebox” varieties bred for New England gardens, we like to take two cross-section slices out of the middle of the melon. That way each ”steak” tends to fill a 10-inch luncheon plate.

GRILLED WATERMELON STEAK WITH TOMATO SALSA

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 ripe heirloom tomatoes
pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 cross-section slices of watermelon, 2 inches thick
Spanish olive oil to coat pan
3 leaves Batavia or Romaine lettuce, cut in fine chiffonade
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
2 pinches of Maldon or other finishing salt

Directions

1. Dip tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove, peel, and core. Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch dice and toss with sea salt, sherry vinegar, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Reserve.

2. Trim green skin from watermelon slices but leave about half the white rind intact. (It helps to keep the grilled steaks from falling apart.)

3. Grease grill or large skillet with olive oil and heat until it barely begins to smoke. Add one slice of watermelon and grill until lightly caramelized, about two minutes. Turn over and grill other side. Repeat for second slice.

4. Put slice of grilled melon on plate and spoon on tomato mixture. Place lettuce chiffonade on side. Sprinkle melon with chopped pistachios and a little finishing salt.

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08 2011