Save our summer
PUBLISHED: 08:41 10 October 2013 | UPDATED: 08:41 10 October 2013
Tomatoes can be one of the best or the worst products we buy. They are available in most grocery shops and supermarkets all year round, and while some imported varieties, especially in the winter months, may brighten up a dish, but they do very little to add any taste. Take time to make tomato recipes now with the most flavourful summer varieties and freeze as a winter option which will save time and help you create wonderful recipes.
Bobbin Brothers have been producing tomatoes since 1929. The business was started by Herbert Bobbin on the family smallholding in Swardeston, and it is still flourishing there today in the capable hands of Michael Bobbin and his team. Their tomatoes are grown using no pesticides, and on plants which have been pollinated by bees; they supply their many customers, retailers and wholesale businesses with the best possible produce you can find.
Over the years, as their business has grown, the farm shop developed. I remember going as a child with my mother to a small wooden building that sold the produce they grew, but now they have a very modern farm shop full of the best possible fruit and vegetables, still with a lot grown by themselves, alongside other locally produced ingredients. You’ll find them on the main road in Swardeston, NR14 8DN; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cream of tomato soup
This a very simple but lovely soup recipe. You can add fresh herbs, but if you do, add them just before serving, tasting as you do so as they can overpower the taste. This recipe will freeze well; cook the tomatoes and whizz them, then freeze the tomato base.
2 banana shallots chopped
1.5kg ripe cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
130ml double cream
A good pinch of sea salt, cayenne and celery salt.
1 Melt the butter over a gentle heat and soften onions for a good five minutes. Add the garlic for a couple more minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
2 Whizz or liquidise, and pass the soup though a sieve. Return to a clean pan, add the cream and season to taste.
Tomato tart tatin
This is a recipe which doesn’t need a formal written recipe! You can change the syrup, use what ever variety or size of tomato, add herbs and onions or even cream or goats’ cheese before you top with the pastry. If you add a few breadcrumbs you will find they soak up some of the tomato juices, and your tart won’t go too soggy.
6tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, finely sliced
Enough tomatoes to fill the dish or tin, sliced or whole depending on the size.
50g fresh breadcrumbs
A roll of all butter puff pastry
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark six
Grease and line the base of a spring-form or tart tatin dish with baking parchment.
1 Heat the butter, balsamic and honey together over a gentle heat and reduce slightly. Pour into the base of the tin.
2 Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in the tin, making sure there are no gaps. Top with the shallots, then the breadcrumbs, and cover with the puff pastry. Trim and excess and press down the edges sealing the tart.
3 Cook for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Turn out after allowing to cool for about five minutes. In an Aga, cook on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven.
Serve warm, not long out of the oven, drizzled with a little extra balsamic vinegar.
This really is the essence of ripe English tomatoes. It will freeze and can then be used through the winter months, turned into tomato sorbet or - if you want to be really cheffy - serve a small quantity in a shot glass as an amuse bouche for your guests. Or use both the tomato pulp and essence to make a tomato risotto topped with lots of Parmesan and basil.
In a large bowl mix 2.3kg ripe cherry tomatoes; half a fresh fennel bulb, sliced; two banana shallots, sliced; four cloves of garlic, finely sliced; a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of salt; the leaves from a sprig of tarragon and thyme; 10 basil leaves torn; four drops of Tabasco and two drops of Worcestershire Sauce.
Mix well, then in several batches, whizz in a processor or liquidiser for seven seconds. Return to a large bowl, cover and leave to macerate for three hours. Strain through a muslin cloth. This will give you the most lovely clear tomato essence. Freeze the pulp in small batches and add to pasta dishes.