Welcome to Thursday’s addition of ‘Tried and Tested’ Valentines Day meals. The big day is on the horizon and with the weekend fast approaching, this is the starter that will impress but needs plenty of practice! Taken from the coveted ‘French Laundry Cookbook,’ it’s a unique recipe and one that should not be approached flippantly. Have all the ingredients and tools ready before beginning, it’s a matter of timing and delicacy. I have changed some of the ingredients to make it my own and have presented it as an aperitif.
Tomato Sorbet, Margarita Style
Topped with fresh Mint, Cherry Tomatoes and rock salt.
|*6 medium tomatoes||One small glass|
|*Olive oil||2 Pans|
|* 1 Medium Onion||Mixing Bowl|
|Balsamic Dressing||Knife and chopping board|
|*1 red pepepr||Blender or Juicer|
|*8 tablespoons of sugar||Zester|
|*8 tablespoons of water||Ice Cream Maker or a Freezer|
|* Half the zest of one Orange|
|*Salt and Pepper|
|* Fresh Basil|
|* Fresh Coriander|
|* Fresh Mint|
|*Purchased at Masala Bazaar|
Peel and deseed the tomatoes (discard the light juice and seeds) and chop the tomatoes into 1 inch pieces. Place the chunks into a pan over a medium heat and simmer over a medium heat stirring often until the volume is reduced by half (can take 30mins or longer).
Finely chop the onion and gently cook in the sunflower oil until softened (10 mins).
Use a zester to remove half the orange zest in fine strips. Using cold water in a small pan and a fine strainer to boil from cold and strain away the hot water – repeat this twice to remove the bitter flavours.
Gently warm the sugar and water in a pan until dissolved – cover and cool.
Blitz the reduced tomatoes and softened onions in a blender until very smooth.
Use a very fine mesh strainer to remove any excess liquid and return to the blender add the orange zest, red wine vinegar, chopped tarragon, the cooled sugar solution, the cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper return to the blender – process until smooth again – remove any excess liquid with the strainer, as before.
Finally use an ice cream maker to freeze the pureed sorbet mixture.
If you don’t have and ice cream maker, place the covered mixture in the freezer compartment of your fridge, and remove and gently stir every 20 mins or so until it just freezes.
Take your small glass and dab water around the rim. Sprinkle rock salt onto a small plate and dip the wet glass into the crystals. Salt will now cover the rim of the glass.
One the mixture is frozen, delicately scoop and spoon into the glass until half full. Be sure to clean the inside of the glass to remove any excess sorbet.
Cut some leaves of fresh mint and cover the top of the sorbet like a roof. The contrast between the green and red is really striking and very fresh smelling.
Serve on a plate with a few polished cherry tomatoes and a long, ice cream spoon.
Tried and Tested?
- This dish has so many layers of flavours and textures; you are bound to feel pleased with the results after cooking. Its complex and exciting to make, as well as to serve.
- Be aware if your guest is a picky eater- even the title of this dish might frighten them off, despite how delicious it is. ‘Tomato’ and ‘Sorbet’ do not necessarily go together for some.
- Make sure the sorbet is completely frozen before serving. It can melt very quickly and when trying to keep the glasses neat and clean, it can become difficult to manage. A trick there is to chill the glasses prior to serving.
- The margharita style of serving is not essential. The sorbet is very sweet, due to the sugar, tomato and balsamic dressing. The salt acts as a contrasting distraction and is essentially a bit of fun.
- The original recipe includes red wine vinegar and tarragon, which also taste fabulous.
The Tomato Sorbet is a breath of fresh air as a starter. It will heighten your guests expectation of the evening as it is so unusual and most importantly, it will not overload them before the main course and very sticky chocolate fondant for after. Serve with a fresh, crisp white wine.
Allow plenty of time for preparation and follow the steps calmly; it will be a delightfully light way to begin the evening.