Friday, June 24, 2011

Tomato Souffles and Rosemary Corn Cakes

If you've been hanging about this blog for any time, you've no doubt figured out that I tend to cook with what I have. This is economical, and with some dedication, not as difficult as one might think. I don't spend an absurd amount of time planning meals, nor do I obsessively clip coupons. I do look for sales, and I keep staples on hand that can be transformed into any number of things-but beyond that? Just practise, and believe me, not everything that comes out of my kitchen is good. Oh, I've made some dreadful food over the years. Danny was lucky enough to be born after I'd passed the learning curve, but poor Mr. ETB had to endure some really awful food.

Sometimes, I'm just not sure how things will go over with the boys. For the most part, they have similar tastes, and they are both polite enough to eat what I bring to the table whether they hate it or not (save for Butternut squash which Danny still loathes). Tonight was one of those split reviews. Danny adored the green pepper/corn dish over the corn cakes, but couldn't stomach more than a few bites of the tomato. Mr. ETB happily ate Danny's tomato. They both really liked the salad with raspberry vinegarette (recipe follows) but then, it is pretty hard to find fault with a dressing made with fresh berries.

In the middle of preparing dinner, our power went out. It was restored an hour later (thanks, OPPD!) and fortunately I wasn't that far along with anything that it couldn't get held in the fridge. Luckily, the corn cakes were already baked. Had the power not returned by dinner, I would have used the tomatoes with the salad, and opened a tin of black beans turning it all into some sort of Southwestern inspired salad. A little cumin and chili powder works wonders. That ability to change direction when some sort of problem arises has served me well outside the kitchen, and were I the sort of person that gave a shit about other people's problems I'd probably be a good social worker. Thankfully, I really don't give a shit about other people's problems so I can reserve my "flying by the seat of my pants skills" for improvising dinner when the power goes out.

For The Corn Cakes:
( from Best of Food and Wine, 1995)

1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (yeah, it isn't health food)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large egg
Yolk of 1 large egg
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary plus more for decoration (I didn't decorate)
1/2 cup heavy cream (as I said, not health food)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in honey, egg and yolk. Scrape sides of bowl and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together and mix in. Stir in rosemary. Pour in cream and blend well.

Dough will be very sticky, so use plenty of flour on your work surface.

Pat dough out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. using a biscuit cutter, cut into rounds and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Decorate corners with small sprigs of rosemary if you like.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until bottoms are browned. Let stand on sheet for a few minutes as they are fragile when hot. Cool completely on rack.

For the Salad Dressing:

1 cup raspberries, sieved to remove seeds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup (or more) olive oil
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey

Shake well.

For The Tomato Souffles:
( from Encore With Claudine, Jacques Pepin)

4 large, ripe tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons AP flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons chiffonade of basil
4 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove top 1/2 inch from smooth end of tomato. Reserve tops and scoop out the centre and ribs (reserve those as well). Make sure you have 1/2 an inch thickness in the tomato.

Sprinkle tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and place cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 8-10 minutes or until shells have softened.
Place reserved tomato caps and ribs in a blender (I used a food mill) and process until smooth.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk it over medium high heat for 30 seconds. Whisk in the tomato puree and bring it to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 30 seconds.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Whisk the yolks in another bowl with the cheese, and basil. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the tomato mixture. Fold the egg whites in gently to combine.

Pile into hollowed out shells and place extra filling around them in baking dish. Bake 25 minutes or until nicely browned and puffed on top.

For the vegetables:

Just a combination of corn cut from a cob, green bell peppers, scallions, garlic, basil, thyme, marjoram, a few red pepper flakes, and finely diced carrots. I cooked it quickly in a pan with corn oil (to go with the corn cakes). Adjust salt/pepper as you like.

Put it all together with some nice, chilled salad greens.

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