Too Many Tomatoes

Today was a soup day. Not because it was a cold winters day. Quiet the opposite in fact. Here in London, it was overcast. hottish and muggy.

No, the reason for the soup was a glut of tomatoes. Not, I hasten to add from the tomatoes growing on my terrace but the glut from the market. I wandered down one of the many street markets at the weekend, to find that on one stall tomatoes were “In”. Several kilo- of tomatoes on the Vine for £3.00 How could I say No?

On unpacking, I was even more surprised to find that they were all , almost perfect and firm, so then the next challenge was to find room for them in the refrigerator.

So now a week on, having had tomatoes in all shapes and forms, it is time to move on, and tomato soup was beckoning.soup 2

I often make tomato soup, using canned tomatoes, nothing can be easier, but today it was to be the real McCoy.

So for my soup, I used

  1. 1 1/2 kilo- of tomatoes,
  2. 2 onions sliced,
  3. 3  green chile peppers ( according to taste) de-seeded
  4. a lump of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced,
  5. a small handful of fresh basil,
  6. a small jar of sun-dried tomatoes, to give a depth of flavour,
  7. 1 1/2 L of vegetable stock
  8. small carton of sour cream + some to serve
  9. 2-3 cloves garlic
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. some basil leaves to serve.

Make a slit in the top of the tomatoes, place in a large bowl and pour over some boiling water and leave to stand for a few minutes. Then remove one at a time and with a sharp knife, from the slit, peel off the skin.( Tomato Soup, is so much nicer with no bits of  skin floating around.)

Put some olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and throw in the onions and the garlic. When the onions have turned translucent, add the tomatoes,  chiles, basil, ginger, stock and sun-dried tomatoes. Bring all to the boil and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft.

Cool slightly and then whizz in either a blender /food processor or with a hand blender to make the mixture smooth. Return to the heat, add the sour  cream ( plain yoghurt can be used, but it gives a bit of a dappled effect to the soup) taste and add salt and pepper. Serve hot with a swirl of sour cream and a few basil leaves, along with some toasted sour dough bread, Home made of course.soup 1

And the Real McCoy? where does that come from. Well from the USA,  as I understand it. The McCoy company made some pretty awful pottery items  in the early twentieth century, but was copied far and wide, but as with all these things, it was real if it had the correct signature on the base of the item. hence the real McCoy.


One day in June

This week, saw us dining out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, though not all on the same day. On the day of breakfast and lunch out, himself cooked me dinner that evening.
For breakfast we went to one of our local haunts, which is called Fischer’s, on Marylebone High street. It is a sister to The Wolseley , but smaller and quieter, maybe a little off the beaten track ( Marylebone High street , off the beaten track ??) The decor is muted along the lines of an Austrian hunting lodge. The last time here ( about 18 months ago) we were less than pleased, but last week no such doubts. For me, it was very simple, but very nice, yoghurt with berry compote, whilst for himself it was porridge and prunes, the porridge was a large portion and was very creamy and the bowl of stewed prunes enormous!

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For Lunch we ventured even closer to home, a few hundred yards in fact to Galvin’s. The Galvin brothers opened this Bistro de Luxe 11 years ago, and initially the menu had a lot of offal, which is off putting to many, but now the menu is not so biased. The set lunch menu is very reasonably priced, although I chose to have two starters from the a la carte. First, came the asparagus , it is currently in season ( of course can now be bought year round, but this was English asparagus and the season is fairly short), second was the steak tartare , which I love.
We lived in Belgium for many years and steak tartare or filet americaine is common place. Youngest daughter, once was out with a young English friend , Katherine and had lunch in our favourite sandwich ( le sandwich) café. Daughter ordered her favourite and the young friend knowing no difference said she would have the same. Not until after they had finished, did Katherine , who thought the sandwich delicious,  ask, what she had just eaten. Moo came the reply, she was not so happy then !

Very often, when restaurants serve steak tartare , it is by using ground steak, but sometimes they do chop it finely instead and this is how it should be. Galvin’s chop their steak and I have to say it was excellent. Of course the best way to eat it is with a plate of double or triple cooked chips ( as the Belgians always do ), but that is being super indulgent!

I have given the recipe before, but in case you have forgotten.

To make your own Steak Tartare you will need:- ( for 4 people)

500g of beef fillet, diced or minced.          25g of shallot or red onion finely chopped

40g of cornichons, chopped.                       40g of baby capers, rinsed

20g of Dijon mustard.                                  

 90g of mayonnaise freshly made or  bought, but it must not be the fat free type

5 drops of Tabasco.                                        14ml of brandy

1 pinch of parsley, chopped.                          Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:-

4 egg yolks.       4 slices of sourdough bread and  Double cooked French ( Belgian ) fries.    100g of rocket .IMG_1727

And so onto dinner, where himself bought, shucked and cooked oysters. We had them in the form of Oysters Rockefeller , Yummy indeed, well they are if you like oysters.IMG_0026