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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Saturday Celebrating the Tomatoes

On hopefully the last swelteringly humid evening of the summer, we had a little fete incorporating the last of the fruits of the summer, the ripe tomatoes. The sun ripened and heirlooms that have graced the farmers market stalls are soon to disappear and be replaced by the mealy hothouse ones that aren't even worth purchasing. To use up my glut of ripening tomatoes, I incorporated them into an entree and an appetizer. This could be over kill but the two sauces could not be more different. Call it my Iron Chef Challenge.

As my guest were arriving, I welcomed them with Pomegranate Mint fizzes and a some rustic brown bread with St. Andre triple creme brie and herbed gournay cheeses and a selection of marinated olives. I can't ever go back to double creme brie. Once you have had the St. Andre, the difference is stark. I highly suggest purchasing some to even just have for Sunday breakfast on toast. The appetizer was Patatas Bravas with it's smoky and fiery tomato based sauce.

The entree was a huge tail piece of tuna that I had got earlier in the day the fish market at the north side of Grand St. at Chrystie. It was a beautiful hunk of tuna seasoned with lemon, garlic and mint cooked in a lighter and sweeter tomato sauce served with simple steamed rainbow chard. One my tricks to cooking good chard is to steam it in a vegetable broth. It adds so much flavor and richness with out over salting or over fattening.

Finishing off the evening with coffee, port, chocolates and of course, good conversation. Drake of Cafe Drake settled in with Ronnie, Lisa Webber provided much style, Chel and Kathy were belles and Octavio took lovely picutres and I couldn't have hosted it without him. It was comfortable to have a buffet style dinner with six people at little 312 Square Feet.

Pop over to Cafe Drake for more pictures and even more entertaining tips and recipes!

Lemon Mint Pomegranate Fizzes

2 parts vodka
1 part Pama Pomegranate Liquer
Mint Leaves
Dash of Simple Syrup
Lemon Juice
Sparkling Water of Club Soda

This is all approximated but it made for a refreshing cocktail and respite from the heat.
Mash the mint leaves, simple syrup and the juice of 1/4 of a lemon in the bottom of a glass. Pour in the liquor, add some ice and shake. Top off with a generous pour of sparkling water.

Sicilian Tuna

3-4 lb piece of tuna, preferably the tail piece
24 pieces of lemon zest
24 mint leaves plus extra for garnish
8 garlic cloves, 4 cut into 6 strips and 4 mashed
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes in their juice
1/4 cup fish or vegetable stock
1/4 white wine
10 white pearl onions
2 tablespoons butter

Wash and pat dry the tuna. Cut 6 vents on all four sides of the tuna and in each vent put one piece lemon zest, one mint leave and one slice garlic.

In a large flame proof casserole or pot, heat the butter. Brown the tuna on all sides for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the stock. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Add the wine and pearl onions. Cover and simmer for 10-15 more minutes. since the piece of tuna is so large the risk in over cooking is high. You want it to be cooked through but still tender. I over cooked mine slightly so I adjusted this last cooking time to be less. More like 10 minutes should be enough.

Remove the tuna and let rest. Bring the heat up and reduce the sauce until it reaches a nice thick consistency. I added a tiny bit of cream to mine to richen it, but you don't need it at all. You could put the sauce in a blend to get a really even sauce, but I am ok with a bit more rustic food and don't mind chunks.

Reduce the heat on the sauce to med-low and put the tuna back in for 5-10 minutes, until it is warmed back up.

Plate on a bed of the rest of the sauce and garnish with extra mint leaves.


DRAKE said...

And a lovely evening it was indeed - quite the spread and lush variation of flavors and the 312 Sq Fett magic to be sure!!!!

Chel said...

The company was as yummy as the food. Walking int 312 feels as warm and lovely as the scents of dinner wafting from the... "kitchen" (that is the small wall along one part of the apt). Life is good when food is that good. Damn I wish I could cook...