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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh I'm a Wandering Man...Caramelized Tomatoes on Anything (and Everything)

Me sitting out on the dock outside of the set in Athens, NY on a particularly sunny day.
No! I'm not dead! You're surprised, aren't you. Sigh, look, I know I haven't been there for you as consistently as you'd like me to be. I know there are other blogs out there, decent blogs, who come home every night, or at least once a week. They're reliable, safe. I'm not like them, I go where the wind takes me. And I know that's one of the reasons you love me, baby. Everyone likes a wild blog.

Mis en place for aloo gobi. Mmm...
 Alright, that got a bit strange. I apologize. But really, I have been crazy busy. Why, you might ask? Well, I realized I'm super poor and to fix this problem I decided to...cater low budget film sets! Amazingly there are a lot of indie filmmakers out there who just need some good ol' homemade food for their crew and are willing to pay a little Indian girl reasonable rates to cook.

Herby roast chicken. I know it's raw, but it still looks delicious, no? 
 So I've spent two weeks in upstate New York, will be cooking for an independent feature this upcoming week, and then I'm working on a shoot in...Vietnam! Yes, as the cook. Crazy, right? That's what I said. Crazy awesome. The director asked me if I could kill a chicken. Be prepared for some interesting photos.

Listen to the assistant director. Or else.
 And because I've been cooking up a storm for the past several weeks, I obviously have LOADS of recipes to share with you guys. But I figured if I put all of them in one blog entry your heads might explode. And that gets messy. So instead, I'm really, honestly going to try and write way more frequently, and spread out my newfound knowledge in bits and pieces. Today, we're going to talk about the most amazing salad ever.

The bone from a pork shoulder butt. I came home to find the roast totally cooked, and all my marinade fused into a burnt crust on the pan. Oops. Was able to salvage the pork by marinating it in newly made marinade and chicken fat. Oh man was that pork gooooood.... 
But first, can I just say that just feels good? Honestly, this past month has really been really super decent. I'm happy with where my script is going (had a major breakthrough because of some excellent feedback I received, did a major overhaul), I like the work I'm doing on the side, had a great time hanging out with my family over Thanksgiving, things are going quite nicely. Let's see how long I can ride this happiness bubble for.

Last night dinner of roasted pork, garlic and ginger rice, and roasted corn and cabbage salad
More than anything, I'm glad I'm feeling confident in my script again. It's both great and terrifying. Great because I feel like this is actually going to happen, I'm going to make a feature film. Terrifying for exactly the same reason. But we're not going to focus on that right now. Right now we're going to focus on...caramelized tomatoes in a thyme cream sauce over arugula. I know. My mouth instantaneously began to drool too.

This deer kept staring at me while I was cooking on one of the sets upstate. So not comforting....
The thing about this salad is the tomatoes. You can put it on anything you want, it doesn't have to be greens. I've just found that this makes a really luscious salad option that people tend to lap up pretty quickly. And you need to do absolutely nothing to the greens. I just pour out a couple bags of pre-washed arugula (or some nice baby kale) onto a serving platter, top it with this mixture and serve it up with tongs. Amazing.

Aw, aren't they cute?
But originally, I made this dish with medium sized tomatoes, which created much less sauce/dressing, and it was intended to top off some buckwheat crepes. You can do that too. Or you can just serve them on their own. Or you can toss them into some pasta. This dish is the little black dress of tomato dishes. Take it anywhere and it looks good.

Sunset on the amazing porch of the amazing house we stayed at in Pawling, NY. 
Now of course, traditionally you'd make this in season. Summer is the best time. But we're getting into the ass end of fall, and I made this salad for Thanksgiving, and people still loved it. Try and get the best tomatoes, because even with the butter and cream and thyme, this is still all about the tomatoes. Oh, and on that note, don't you DARE get all squirmy on me because I mentioned butter and cream. Yes, there is fat in this dish, and yes, it's more than a pinch, but come on people, suck it up! Enjoy it now and spend twenty extra minutes on the elliptical. Seriously worth it.

 Seriously, doesn't that look amazing? I didn't even have time to take a photo of the dish before people started digging in. This is halfway through the platter. And trust me: make more than you think you need. This stuff goes quick. So go, make yourself a plate or two, I'll be back soon. Trust me, baby. (Ok, I'll stop doing that. I swear.)

Oh you grad film students, you crack me up. And confuse me.

Caramelized Tomatoes (based on Laura Calder’s)

Note: The original recipe calls for 2 slices of bacon, diced, to be cooked in the pan first till crispy and then set aside to be mixed into the tomatoes later on. I generally skip this step when I’m making this for catering jobs, as there are always a few vegetarians mucking things up. It’s just as good without, but if you can, why go without bacon?

Note #2: Also, if you’re making this with larger tomatoes, cut the tops off and poke a few holes in the bottom, cook 7 minutes cut side down, then flip and sprinkle in herbs and continue preparing the dish.

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 tbsp butter
pinch salt and pepper
fresh thyme
sprinkle dried tarragon
splash of wine/chicken broth
1/2 cup cream

Heat butter in a large sauté pan and allow to bubble a bit. Toss tomatoes in. They should sizzle a bit. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring every so often, and then sprinkle the thyme and crushed dried tarragon on top. Add salt and pepper.  Add a little glug of wine (or broth) and give the pan a few turns. Add cream and cook for 3-4 minutes. At this point you can toss the tomatoes around a bit; make sure they all get touched by those herbs.

When the cream begins to thicken turn off heat and pour tomatoes and sauce into serving dish or on top of greens (or whatever you like). Serve immediately.