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Saturday, September 8, 2012

September happenings that are in season


There already seems to be a slight nuance of fall in the air, don’t you think? Yes, it is still quite warm here in San Diego, but, there is a crispness in the air, especially as you approach evening, that indicates that change is on its way.
With so many varieties of seasonal foods, let’s start by taking one at a time and see where we go with it. The first fruit I thought of was a tomato. Although, you can eat tomatoes year round, you can still enjoy the peak flavor of late summer tomatoes in salads, side dishes, casseroles and even desserts. Let’s see how a tomato dessert, like Bon Appetit’s Tomato Tarte Tatin compares to a recipe using this same ingredient, like Magic tomato soup cake from the 1950s.  Honestly, I never would have thought of making tomato soup cake, but apparently it was quite popular back then. You can click on the links for the recipes. 
But, I made a "today" version of TomatoTarte Tatin.

Here begins the evolution of the juicy tomato...
As the recipe indicates, first you blanch the tomatoes in a large saucepan by bringing water to boil, marking a small "x" on the bottom of the tomato skin and boil 4 tomatoes at a time for about 20 to 30 seconds; remove them and quickly put them in ice water to cool them. Once you've done this with about 8 large tomatoes, peel them, cut out the cores and remove the seeds by first slicing them in half.
Phase 2: Tomatoes, sliced in half, de-cored, de-seeded.
 Phase 3: Spread the butter over bottom of a 9 1/2 or 10 inch diameter, ovenproof cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar (recipe asked for 3/4 cup sugar, but I used less and it still came out delicious) over butter and arrange the tomato halves in concentric circles in skillet.
Phase 4: After tomatoes have cooked for about 25 minutes; remove skillet from heat and drizzle the tomatoes with a tsp. of vanilla. Then, top with the pastry round making sure to tuck in the pastry to fit the skillet. Cut a couple of slits in the pastry and put in over for about 24 minutes.
Last phase, cool tart for about 10 minutes. Cut around the sides to loosen the pastry -- you should be able to shake the pan gently to see that is moves around easily. With an oven mitt, hold skillet and place platter on top of skillet, then invert so that the tart settles nicely onto the platter.  You can finally serve with whipped cream if you like.

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