This post took me a bit longer to write because I injured myself the same night when I prepared this dish for a dinner party hosted by my friend Chloe and her husband. I ended up staying at the hospital overnight and the next morning I had a small plastic surgery with a few stitches at the corner of my right eye. Thank god I am such a fast healer – well not as fast as Wolverine from X-Men, but fast enough to have the stitches taken out in merely 4 days.
And I stayed home for a few days, well rested, and completed another big task by making the famous Veal Stock that’s frequently used in the cookbook, which will be in a separate post.
Anyway, let’s get back to this beautiful salad, a very inspiring recipe that has showed me that slow cooking with love can bring such incredible result of flavours and texture to a dish. It is such an eye opener taking me to a whole new level in French cooking.
To cook this dish, I did quite a bit blanching and shocking in ice water bath. I would suggest to prepare we a large pot of hot boiling salted water, and a big bowl of cold water with ice.
The preparation started with tomato confit, the soul of the whole dish. This process requires a lot of time and patience as the goal is to slow roast tomato “petals” to achieve some luscious texture and intense flavour.
First, I make a shallow cross in the bottom of each of all 4 tomatoes. One by one, I dropped each tomato in hot boiling water for about 5 seconds, and put in the ice water bath. This little process had made peeling the skin off the tomatoes so much easier.
After peeling the tomatoes, I cut them into quarters. On each quarter, I carefully removed all the seeds, cut away the inner pulp and ribs, and left a smooth “tomato petal”. I saved all the trimmings (excluding the seeds) in a bowl for making tomato powder later.
I preheated the oven to 250F, lined a large baking dish with aluminium foil, drizzled the foil with olive oil, and dusted it with salt and pepper. Then I laid all the tomato petals on the foil with inside of the tomato facing down, seasoned with more olive oil, salt, and pepper, and topped each piece with a small sprig of thyme. I put the dish in the oven, and set the timer for 90 minutes.
Then I tried to make the tomato powder out of the tomato trimmings. I put the trimmings in between 2 pieces of paper towels, and tried to squeeze out the moisture as much as I could. Then I line a small baking dish with parchment paper, put the trimmings on the paper, and put the dish in the microwave. I set it to low heat (.2 or 20%), and set it to run for 40 minute. This is definitely something I have never done before with the microwave. And I can’t wait till see how the powder will turn out!
Okay while the microwave and the oven were both working. I washed, cut and blanched the green bean (3-5 minutes), chilled them in the ice water bath, drained, dried on paper towel, and stored them in the fridge.
Next, while the pot of water was still hot and boiling, I blanched about a cup of chives quickly by putting them in a strainer, and repeatedly pouring hot water over it for about 2 minutes. After ice water bath, I dried the chives with paper towel, then blended with canola oil in 2 batches, and strained with cheese cloth. Then I put the oil in a squeeze bottle and refrigerated it.
The tomato trimmings were not as dry as I expected, so I had to nuke them for another 10 minutes. As there Morgan’s blender was not really working that well, the powder was not as refined as I hoped. Oh well…
Then Tomato Confit was done! When I took the tomato petals out of the oven, the kitchen was filled with amazing aroma. I moved the Tomato Confit to a container along with the oil, discarded the thyme sprigs, sealed and put it in the fridge. I couldn’t help stealing a piece of the tomato, and it just exploded into flavours in my mouth. And it was hard to believe how minimum the seasoning I put on it. The natural tomato flavour was intensified but with the smooth texture, it was rich luxurious. Just incredible!
So Morgan and I packed up everything – Tomato Confit, tomato powder, blanched green beans, chive oil, and the rest of the ingredients. We had to meet up with Graham and his mom for oyster happy hours at Rodney’s before heading over to Chole’s dinner party.
The final steps were pretty straight forward. I make the salad dressing by whisking heavy cream to thickened, folding in the red wine vinegar with the whisk, and seasoning it with a bit salt and pepper. Then I tossed the green beans into the dressing.
Then I finely chopped the Tomato Confit, along with some shallots, and fresh chive. Voila, there we have Tomato Tartare!
Plating this dish was a lot of fun. Although I did not have a 3-inch cook ring, I managed to stack chive oil, Tomato Tartare, green beans, and frisse on each other. The chive oil, and tomato powder definitely have some strong flavours on their own to add to this dish. And I was amazed how such rich flavours could be produced by merely vegetables!
Recipe for 4
4 oz or 1/4 lb haricots verts (green beans), cut into 1-inch lengths
1/3 cup finely chopped Tomato Confit (16 pieces of pedals from 4 Medium tomatoes)
1 tsp finely chopped shallot
1/3 tsp balsamic vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar Cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly grond black pepper
Chive Oil, in a squeeze bottle
1 cup frisee (tender leaves only)
Extra virgin olive oil