Tonight’s meal was inspired in part by a menu at Blue Hill many years ago where the main ingredient in each course was tomatoes. I am unable to find notes online regarding that menu, probably since the menu in question was in September 2002. On the other hand, here are a couple of pictures from a meal I had in 2007 that might give you an idea of the kind of inventiveness that regularly makes its appearance in Chef Barber’s kitchen.
Left to right: heirloom tomatoes seasoned with fleur de sel and a touch of olive oil, tomato “burger” and tomato water
Summer fruits — grilled apricot, plum, heirloom tomatoes, watercress, tomato foam, tomato sorbet
Now, a dinner at BHSB or even at BHWS regularly costs upwards of about $125, not including wine. I’ve cut back drastically on my spending these days. As far as I’m concerned, the next best thing is doing something similar at home.
Recipes and pictures after the jump.
I had planned for three courses not including dessert. That was ill-advised as it turned out to be, as usual, too much food. Corn flan turned into corn pudding at the last minute. Ravioli with tomatoes, pine nuts and mint became fettucine with Sungold and Yellow Pear toms. I ditched the fruit salad and opted instead for a simple peach, eaten out of hand.
Overall, this meal was a success. I’ll probably do another tomato dinner towards the end of the month.
Savory corn pudding, heirloom tomato salad
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For the corn pudding:
1 tablespoon butter, more for buttering ramekins
1 large egg, beaten until frothy
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh whole-kernel corn (2 small to medium ears)
pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two ramekins and set aside. Place a saucepan of water over high heat to bring to a boil. Place beaten eggs in a bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. Add milk and whisk constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. While whisking vigorously, slowly add a ladleful of the milk mixture into eggs. You don’t want to add it too quickly or the eggs will curdle and you’ll have to start over. Return saucepan to medium-low heat, and whisk egg mixture back into remaining milk mixture. Stir 1 minute (do not boil), then remove from heat and add corn, salt and pepper.
Pour corn mixture into ramekins, and set in a shallow baking pan. Pour boiling water into pan to come halfway up sides of the ramekins. Bake until set like custard, about 30 to 40 minutes or until a knife plunged into the center of either ramekin comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then serve.
The tomato salad is just sliced heirloom tomatoes, minced shallots, chopped bush basil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil. Combine all ingredients and chill for up to an hour prior to service.
Fettucine with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, bush basil and marjoram
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6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 pint Sungold, Yellow Pear or other variety heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes, whole
1 tablespoon marjoram leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon bush basil, chopped
1/2 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 pound fettucine (or other type of long pasta such as linguine, spaghetti, pici or bucatini)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving some pasta water.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it softens and just begins to brown.
Add the tomatoes, marjoram, bush basil and Italian parsley (reserve some for sprinkling at the end) and cook until the tomatoes just begin to burst.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring, for an additional minute to marry the flavors. Moisten with extra-virgin olive oil or reserved pasta water as desired. Serve immediately.