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Friday, August 25, 2006


Asked this week to compete in the annual Covert farms Tomato Iron Chef culinary contest I decide that although I do not normally take part these any longer this one gemmed be just a lot of fun rather than a lot of work for which time does not permit.

The tomato a fruit not a vegetable is believed to have it’s "roots" as far back as 700 AD with the Aztecs of Mexico, and in the 1600's was brought back to Spain with the Conquistadors. Applied named the Love Apple because of it’s heart shape and bright red colour. The British believed the
tomato to be art of the Wolf Peach family and would not eat fearing that like it’s cousin it to was poisonous.

Rich people in that time used flatware made of pewter, which has a high-lead content. Foods high in acid, like tomatoes, would cause the lead to leech out into the food, resulting in lead poisoning and death. Poor people, who ate off of plates made of wood, did not have that problem, and hence did not have an aversion to tomatoes. This is essentially the reason why tomatoes were only eaten by poor people until the 1800's, especially Italians. Before long the tomato had made great inroads in all the Europeans nations and eventually as they migrated to North America they of course brought back to it’s home the tomato. The one cuisine that set the tomato onto the plates of course is Italian, the pasta sauces and of course pizza, remain the number one consumer choice the world over.There is no pizza without tomato sauce, and pizza was invented around Naples in the late 1880's. The story goes that it was created by one restaurateur in Naples to celebrate the visit of Queen Margarite, the first Italian monarch since Napoleon conquered Italy. The restaurateur made the pizza from three ingredients that represented the colors of the new Italian flag: red, white, and green. The red is the tomato sauce, the white was the mozzarella cheese, and the green was the basil topping. Hence, Pizza Margarite was born, and is still the standard for pizza.

Covert Farms is a vegetable gem in the Okanagan and the premier tomato growing farm in BC, truly an attraction for anyone visiting in BC, why not visit them at

The menu I’ve selected for my tomato venture is as follows, try it you’ll like it. Make the Gazpacho, top with salsa and shrimp blossom and serve with the Corn bread on the side.

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
1 ½ lbs Yellow Taxi tomatoes or other yellow heirloom tomatoes, ripe
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 English or regular waxy cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 bell yellow pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 red onion, cut into large pieces
½ small hot red chili, seeded, cut into large pieces or to taste
¼ cup red wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

Avocado-Tomato Salsa
2 avocados, preferably Haas, flesh cut into small dice
½ small hot red chili, seeded, cut into small dice
1 small red onion, cut into small dice
1 red heirloom slicing tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
juice of one lime
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Soup : Working in batches, purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl by pressing the solids with a wooden spoon in order to extract as much liquid as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate two hours or overnight.
Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning.
To Prepare the Salsa : Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
To Serve: Place salsa in the center of chilled soup bowls. Ladle soup around the salsa and garnish with red and yellow cherry tomato halves.

Shrimp mousseline-stuffed squash blossoms

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
15-20 freshly picked squash blossoms

Combine shrimp, shallots and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a paste.
Add egg white and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse to combine.
With the processor running, add cream in a thin stream.
Scrape mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the squash blossoms. Using a paring knife, cut the bottom 1/2 inch off of the stem end of each blossom. As you pull it off, the flower's pollen-covered stamens should come with it.
Transfer the shrimp mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip (or no tip at all if the bag's opening is relatively small). Pipe shrimp paste into each blossom until it is full but not bursting.
Place the filled blossoms on the trays of a bamboo steamer and steam over simmering water for 10 minutes.


1cup all-purpose flour
3/4 C cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
1tbsp double-acting baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup butter or bacon fat
1/3 cup chopped cooked bacon
1/4 cup green onion, chopped with tops
tomatoe confit (follows)

Grease a large loaf pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees.In medium bowl with fork, mix first 5 ingredients.In small bowl, with fork, beat together egg, milk, butter. Pour this mixture all at once into the first mixture, stirring just until the flour in moistened. Fold in the onions.Pour batter in to loaf pan, spreading evenly. Layer the tomato slices across the top.Bake 25 minutes or until bread is done in the center.

Garlic Tomato Confit

12 Plum Tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme or basil leaves

Preheat oven to 250E. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. With a sharp paring knife, cut out and discard stem end of each tomato; score opposite end. Place tomatoes in a large bowl.
Pour boiling water over tomatoes; let sit until skin is easily peeled, about 15 seconds. Drain tomatoes, and cover with ice.
Peel tomatoes when cool enough to handle. Halve lengthwise and place, cut-side up, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt, pepper, and herbs and garlic.
Roast until tomatoes are dried halfway through, about 5 to 6 hours. ( or place in a food dehydrator) Let stand until cool. Transfer tomatoes to a storage container; pour oil from baking sheet over the top. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

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