Thursday, August 20, 2009

a slow journey

oven-roasted tomatoes
every summer,
i wait until august,
excited to finally make
this recipe
for slow-roasted tomatoes,
directly from the pages of orangette.

then somewhere around
it occurs to me that that
it's now october and i,
in fact, have let another
summer go without
producing even a single batch
of these deeply flavored

it was not going to
happen again this year.

reason one: i was determined.
reason two: i read a homemade life.
the book by molly wizenberg,

author of orangette,
this summer.
and while there
were quite a few recipes i intended
to use to break in the book,
like the buckwheat pancakes,
the bouchons au thons and
the chocolate cake of hers that
i've always wanted to make,
when there were nothing but
tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes,
everywhere i turned, it was
clear that this one was up first.

to ensure that i would carry
my promise through,
i bought 10 roma tomatoes
on friday, carefully placing
them spaced out on my counter
when i got home, so that if
i didn't roast them, the guilt
would hit me
every trip to the kitchen.
yes, that's how i work.
sunday morning,
it was ridiculously hot,
but when hasn't it been
this august?
i set to work, slicing tomatoes
and was pleasantly surprised
to note that in the book,
molly had adapted the recipe
to tossing the tomatoes with
oil, rather than brushing them.
once coated, i placed them on
a baking sheet, trying to keep
the slippery devils in place,
sprinkled the halves
with salt and ground coriander
and placed them in the oven.
roma tomatoes on baking sheet
roma tomatoes with ground corriander
but then i had a choice to make:
trap myself, and in turn, larry,
in the hot apartment
or take a chance and actually leave,
relying on the fact that we've used
this oven for 3 years and never has
it started a fire -
even when making this overnight apple cake,
which also required me to leave
the oven on all night and kept me
from a relaxed night of sleep,
too worried that i would wake
up to the fire alarm, or worse, smoke.
i'm sensing a trend, here.
so, we left, but it was too hot to
visit anywhere except the
air conditioned-movie theatre.
we settled in to see julie and julia,
as i vowed that i would pay attention
to the movie and not spend two hours
thinking about things like
fire trucks, insurance and
my grandmother's dining room table
& china cabinet,
both made of wood.

i expected the movie to be light
and touching and brimming with food,
but what i didn't expect was to be hit
so hard with its story lines,
so similar to mine.
i had read the book and found it
entertaining, but that's the most
that i remember
or took away from the pages.
the movie though, well if you've seen
it, you know that it is sweet and
inspirational with a
few moments that
could possibly provoke tears,
if you are pretty sensitive.

i cried almost the whole time.
and for a while after.
it was so strange.
but, save for the scene that julie
made the most delicious looking
bruschetta, the movie served
its purposes, keeping us cool for
two hours and mostly distracting
me from the tomatoes at home.

we got home at just about the
four hour mark
(from the prescribed 4-6
hour cooking time)
and everything was...
as it should be.

when we opened the door,
the entire space smelled
like the best tomatoes ever.
and when i opened the oven,
the halves were absolutely
wrinkled, smaller and darker,
but not quite the 1/3 of their
size they ought to be,
so i closed the door and let
them cook almost two hours
more, heeding the note
that they should still be juicy.
when i pulled them out,
i remembered the other blogs
from around the time
it was published,
saying that it was nearly impossible
to not eat them all right away
and how few tomatoes
actually made it to the table.
and i understood.
larry and i split one and i warned
him that the rest were for dinner.

but it was early in the day -
dinner was far away and that
was a hard deal for both
of us to keep.
it's just that
they're puckered and their
texture is unclear, until you pop
one in your mouth and you
realize that they are in fact,
incredibly juicy and nothing like
those leathery
sun-dried tomatoes
that i always knew i should
love, but have never been able
to fully embrace.
and their flavor is that of
the most intense tomato,
summery and sweet.

next to sherry vinegar roasted onions
(hey, the oven had been on all day anyway -
what's two more hours at this point?)
and skillet-browned padron chilies,
a round of bucheron
and slices of toasted bread,
they were our tapas-style dinner,
and certainly, the star.
i was glad that i had pulled out
four for a sandwich later in the
week (which i topped with
hummus and basil).

i cannot imagine waiting
another summer to make more,
but goodness,
the day of slow-roasting
was oddly stressful.
at least,
it was worth it.
tears and all.
oven roasted tomatoes on baking sheet
slow-roasted tomatoes
adapted from a homemade life
molly uses these to make pestos and sauces, which i would probably do next next time, now that i've enjoyed them on their own. here, though, we ate them straight, on a table with other veggies and in a sandwiches. they keep for up to a week. the original recipe calls for 20 tomatoes, which would have been nice to have, but i only used 10.

10 roma tomatoes, still firm
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
ground coriander
kosher salt

heat oven to 200 degree. using sharp paring knife, core tomatoes; halve each tomato. place in bowl and toss with olive oil. place, cut side up on baking sheet.

sprinkle tomatoes with pinches of ground coriander and salt.

roast 4 to 6 hours, or until tomatoes are 1/3 their original size, but are still juicy. let cool.

enjoy tomatoes warm or at room temperature.

No comments: