Tomate aux Crevettes

This simple and delicious starter is normally served in Belgium on special occasions. There are three key ingredients: tomatoes, small (grey) shrimps and mayonnaise. The tomato brings sweetness, umami and some acidity, the mayonnaise richness and a velvety mouthfeel and the shrimps saltiness and sweetness. Ideal combination.
We prefer to peel the tomatoes, because it makes it easier to jenjoy the dish, but it’s not necessary.
We thought it would be nice to tweak the recipe slightly. These ingredients are listed as optional.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Tomate aux Crevettes with a glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie produced by Domaine Raphael Luneau. This is a very aromatic wine with a strong flavour and a long finish, which goes very well with the taste of the shrimps and the mayonnaise. The term ‘sur lie’ indicates that during a few months the wine stays in contact with the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation. This technique makes the wine more complex.
In general you’re looking for a fresh, light wine with a clear acidity. 

What You Need

  • 6 excellent ripe Tomatoes
  • 100 grams of (grey) small Shrimps
  • Mayonnaise
  • Black Pepper
  • Optional
    • Ketchup
    • Worcestershire Sauce
    • Lemon
    • Mustard
    • Walnut Oil

What You Do

Classic version: peel the tomatoes, cut of the top, remove the green centre, remove the inside of the tomato and discard. Dry the inside of the tomatoes. Dry the shrimps. Add some black pepper to the shrimps and mix. Put some mayonnaise inside the tomato, then a layer of shrimps, some mayonnaise and finish with shrimps. Put the top back on the tomato and decorate with a few shrimps.
Alternative version: mix the mayonnaise with the optional ingredients. A squeeze of ketchup and teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, lemon, mustard and walnut oil should be fine. Taste, adjust and follow the steps in the classic version.

Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu
Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu

Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus

Happy New Year! Let’s start 2023 with a flavourful pasta dish, inspired by the Portuguese cuisine. A cuisine that is all about food with great flavours, such as bacalhauCaldo Verde, octopus, cuttlefish, and the well known chicken piri-piri and pastel de nata. Octopus is very tasty and it comes with a great texture. The suction cups may be a bit unappealing, but don’t worry, the taste will make up for it.
In this case we use Orecchiette, small ear shaped pasta. The mixture of tomato and octopus is not like a sauce, so the paste should function as a carrier (a mini spoon) of the mixture. Enjoy quality pasta with slightly acidic tomatoes, rich octopus and refreshing parsley.

Wine Pairing

A Portuguese white wine will be a great idea, for instance a Vinho Verde. You could also go for a Spanish Verdejo from Rueda. Look for characteristics like fresh, fruity, clear acidity, subtle bitterness, minerality and full bodied. We enjoyed a glass of Pazo das Tapias Finca os Cobatos, from Monterrei in Spain made with Godello grapes.

What You Need

  • 2 Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 2 Large Tomatoes
  • 2 Gloves of Fresh Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Jerez Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pasta (Orecchiette)

What You do

Quarter the tomatoes, slice the garlic (not too small) and fry gently in a warm pan with olive oil. Set to low heat. In parallel heat a heavy iron skillet. Remove the gelatinous substance from the tentacles, dry them, coat with olive oil and fry. Cook the orecchiette according to the pack. With only 5 minutes to go for the pasta, slice the octopus in small chunks (depending on the size of the pasta), add the octopus to the tomato mixture and add half of the chopped parsley. Just before serving the dish, add some Jerez vinegar to the mixture. Add the remaining parsley and black pepper. Drain the pasta, keep some of the cooking liquid and add the pasta to the mixture. Combine, decide if you want to add some cooking liquid or perhaps some olive oil. Serve immediately on a hot plate.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus ©cadwu
Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus ©cadwu

Ragù Napoletano

Ragù Napoletano is all about beef and tomatoes. Combining these two creates umami, one of the five tastes, because the tomatoes contain amino acid glutamate and the beef inosinate
Whereas Ragù Bolognese is made with finely chopped meat, Ragù Napoletano is prepared with whole cuts of beef, seasoned and rolled up. Best is to use Blade Steak (or Top Blade), Rump Cap or Top Rump. Our butcher suggested using Knuckle Side Roast (or Knuckle Plate Muscle) which is rather lean so a touch dry after simmering for many hours. On the other hand, it kept its structure and flavours very well. Best is to ask your butcher for advice.
Many recipes suggest adding pork ribs to the dish, but we wanted to focus on the combination of beef and tomato. We did however add a bit of fatty bacon.
Tomato-wise you need lots of tomatoes: fresh ones, passata, puree and/or canned.
Best to prepare one day ahead.

Wine Pairing

A red, full bodied wine from Italy made with Sangiovese grapes will be a great accompaniment for both the starter and the main dish. We opened a bottle of Les Petits Rigolos, a red wine from the Tolosan region in south western France made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A round wine with notes of strawberry and blackcurrant. A touch spicy, which worked very well with the rich flavours of the Ragù Napoletano.

What You Need

  • For the Beef
    • 2 slices of Beef
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Raisins
    • Fresh Parsley
    • Fresh Oregano
    • 1 small Garlic Clove
    • Optional: Pine Nuts
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Sauce
    • Small Onion or Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Bacon (or better: Lardo)
    • 250 ml of White Wine
    • Fresh Tomatoes
    • Tomato puree
    • ½ can of Tomatoes
    • Passata
  • For the Starter
    • Rigatoni
    • Parmesan Cheese
  • For the Main Course
    • Vegetables

What You Do

Soak the raisins in water for an hour. Drain. Chop parsley, oregano, raisins and garlic. In a bowl, combine raisins, garlic, oregano, parsley and freshly grated cheese. Flatten the meat if it’s difficult to roll up. Scatter the mixture over the meat, roll the meat up and tie with two strings of kitchen twine.
If using fresh tomatoes, peel and seed them. Chop coarsely. Chop the onion and slice the bacon. Heat a large saucepan, add olive oil, add onion and bacon. Leave on low heat for some 10 minutes or until the onion is glazed. Add the two rolls and fry them on all sides until evenly golden brown. Take you time to do this. Add the wine, let the alcohol evaporate and reduce. Add the tomatoes, the passata and the puree. Leave the stew on low heat and turn the meat occasionally. This stage is about stewing the meat as gently as possible and reducing the sauce. If you feel it’s going too fast, then put a lid on the pan, but only partially.
Once the meat is ready (this may take 4+ hours) remove the meat from the sauce, keep it warm (an oven at 50 °C or 120 °F will be perfect) and allow the sauce to reduce even more, as slowly as possible. Wait for the sauce to become dark and shiny.
For the first course: serve the sauce with pasta and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (we used Rigatoni because of the ridges).
For the second course: warm the meat in the remaining sauce, slice it and serve with sauce and vegetables.

PS

We would probably be kicked out of Naples (and Italy) with our version of Ragù Napoletano (oregano? French wine?). It is, however, a very tasty two course meal with lots of umami, as expected.

Salmorejo

A delicious, rich, creamy, velvety, elegant, complex, delicious, cold tomato soup from Andalucía (southern Spain) with lots of generous flavours. It is ideal on a hot summer’s evening and great as a vegetarian starter. It is very simple to make: purée skinned, fresh, ripe tomatoes with stale, white bread, olive oil and garlic. Garnish with Jamón Serrano (also from Andalucía) and hard-boiled egg.

Salmorejo and Gazpacho are very different soups. Gazpacho comes with red bell pepper, chili and onions; Salmorejo is purely about tomatoes and is much creamier and softer, because bread is a key ingredient. It’s nice to decorate gazpacho; Salmorejo must be garnished. Salmorejo is a beautifully balanced soup.

Removing the skin is mandatory when making Salmorejo. The idea to roast the tomatoes is a twist that enhances the flavours of the tomatoes, but it is not part of the original Salmorejo, so feel free to skip this step.

What You Need

  • 500 grams of Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • Slice of stale White Artisanal Bread without the crust
  • 1 small Garlic Clove
  • 1 tablespoon of Jerez Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 hard-boiled Egg
  • (optional) diced Serrano Ham
  • Black Pepper
  • (optional) Salt

What You Do

Peel the tomatoes. Soak the bread in water for 10 minutes. Optional: slice the tomatoes in two and transfer to an oven (200 °C or 390 °F) for 15 minutes and let cool. Chop the garlic clove. Blender the tomatoes, the bread (and the water) and the garlic until very smooth. It should be really smooth, cream like; this may take 1 minute on turbo! On low speed add the vinegar and slowly add the olive oil. Taste, add salt and pepper if required and perhaps some more olive oil. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours.
Serve in cold bowls and garnish with roughly chopped hard-boiled egg and diced Serrano ham.

PS

If you enjoy cold soups as much as we do, then we have more recipes for you: Gazpacho, Ajo Blanco and Avocado and Cucumber Soup.

Salmorejo ©cadwu
Salmorejo ©cadwu

Mussels with Tomato Sauce

Earlier this month the mussels season started in the Netherlands. Time to prepare Moules Marinière, Mosselen met Look, Mussels in Beer, Mussels with Anise or Mussels with Tomato Sauce. Serve with crusted bread or French fries and you will have a delicious lunch, starter or main course.
Mussel-wise we prefer small ones, they seem to be tastier and juicier. For a lunch or starter we suggest 1 kilo for two persons, when served as a main course it’s 1 kilo per person. Please read our post about mussel basics if you’re not familiar with cleaning and cooking mussels.

Wine Pairing

The sauce is a touch spicy, so we suggest a white wine with more intense flavours. Could be a Picpoul de Pinet, could be a wine made with Verdejo or Albariño grapes. We enjoyed a glass of Bodegas Piqueras Almansa Wild Fermented Verdejo. This is an organic white wine from the Spanish Rueda region. The wine has a beautiful yellow colour. Its aromas are intense and slightly exotic. The wine has a subtle touch of wood, is balanced and has a long finish. A wine that accompanies the mussels plus the spiciness and the acidity of the sauce perfectly.

What You Need

For the Mussels

  • 1 kilo of Mussels
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Glove
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme)
  • White Whine

For the Sauce

  • 4 Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Shallot
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Gloves
  • ½ Red Chili Pepper
  • Red Wine
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme)
  • And later on:
    • 2 Ripe Tomatoes
    • Grounded Chili Pepper

What You Do

Make the sauce one day ahead. Wash the tomatoes, the bell pepper and the chili pepper. Remove the seeds from the pepper and the bell pepper and slice. Chop the tomatoes. No need to remove the pits. Peel the shallot and garlic gloves and chop these. Glaze the onion, garlic and chili pepper in olive oil. Ten minutes on low heat. Add the tomatoes, the bell pepper, some red wine and the bouquet garni. Cook for at least two hours. Remove the bouquet garni, transfer the mixture to the blender and make a very smooth sauce. Pass through a sieve. Transfer back to the pan and reduce until it’s a nice, rich sauce. This may take 30 minutes. Cool quickly and transfer to the refrigerator. It freezes very well.

Clean the mussels with a small kitchen knife. Scrape off all the nasty bits. If you don’t do this, these will end up in your sauce and that’s not what you want.

Chop the garlic and the shallot. Warm a fairly big pan and gently glaze the shallot in olive oil. Then add the chopped garlic. Add a glass of white wine and the bouquet garni and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, allowing for the flavours to integrate.
Wash the tomatoes, remove the seeds and slice in nice small cubes. Warm the sauce. The moment you add the mussels to the pan, you add the cubed tomatoes to the sauce. Add some chilli powder to the sauce, just to give the sauce an extra push.
Turn up the heat to maximum and when really hot add the mussels and close the pan with the lid. Listen and observe: you will be able to hear when content of the pan is becoming hot again. You will see steam, more steam. Check the status of the mussels. Close the lid, listen and observe. Overcooking the mussels will make them chewy which is awful. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, transfer to a warm soup dish and label the warm and spicy tomato sauce over the mussels.
You could add a spoonful of cooking liquid to the sauce, if you want to.

Mussels with Tomato Sauce ©cadwu
Mussels with Tomato Sauce ©cadwu

Gazpacho

Simple, tasty, refreshing and quick: what more could you ask for on a summer’s evening? We love a cold soup, for instance Ajo Blanco or Avocado and Cucumber Soup.

Gazpacho, another Spanish classic, is not just a mixture of tomatoes, bell pepper, chili, garlic and white onion. It absolutely needs Jerez vinegar and excellent olive oil. The olive oil will give that velvety, rich feeling in your mouth and the vinegar with the chili gives the gazpacho that typical, sharp freshness.
You will need the very best of vegetables: ripe, tasty and with a firm structure.
The bell pepper should, according to some recipes, be a green Cubanelle pepper. Hard to find for us, so we’re happy to use a green bell pepper.

Prepare the Gazpacho 8 hours in advance and serve in cold bowls. 

What you need

  • 4 large, meaty, tasty red Tomatoes
  • ½ white (Spanish) Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 Fresh Garlic Gloves
  • ½ Red Chili
  • 1 small Cucumber (optional in our view)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Jerez Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt

What You Do

Cut the tomatoes in 4 and remove the seeds. Transfer to a sieve and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out the liquid. Discard the seeds. Chop the tomato chunks, onion, bell pepper, gloves and chili. Use a blender to mix tomato chunks, tomato juice, onion, bell pepper, gloves and chili until you have a fairly smooth soup. Add olive oil and Jerez vinegar and pulse. Taste, add pinch of salt and more olive oil or vinegar if needed. Transfer to refrigerator to let cool. You could decorate with green bell pepper or chopped tomato (provided it’s peeled and seeded).

PS

Most recipes mention passing the mixture through a sieve. This way you will get a smoother, but also thinner soup. That’s probably why these recipes suggest adding white bread to the mixture.

Gazpacho ©cadwu
Gazpacho ©cadwu

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

Poaching eggs in water requires a bit of technique or a nice tool. Poaching eggs in tomato sauce is slightly different: you want to keep the white close to the yolk, but it should not envelope it: the yolk must remain visible.

The combination of tomato sauce and egg seems to be a bit odd, but the rich, runny egg in combination with the slightly acidic, aromatic tomato sauce is really nice. Great suggestion for lunch or a hearty breakfast. Feel free to create your own version of this dish, for instance by adding some parsley or cheese. Serve with crusted bread.

In most cases the result is shown in a pan. For good reasons: it does not look very attractive when served on a plate. The fun is definitely in the flavours and aromas.

What You Need

What You Do

Warm the tomato sauce and reduce. Increase the heat until the sauce is nearly boiling, gently add the eggs (as you would do when poaching eggs in water) and reduce heat. Using a small spoon make sure the white remains close to the yolk, without covering it. Wait until the white is set. Perhaps add some freshly grounded black pepper.

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce ©cadwu
Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce ©cadwu

Sauce Provençale

Based on one of the leading (mother) sauces this is a quick, tasty and uplifting sauce with olives, capers and Herbes de Provence. The success of this sauce depends on the use of the intense, flavorful classic tomato sauce. Sauce Provençal has a good structure and comes with a variety of flavors, making it very much an accompaniment for grilled chicken or fish. If you use modern tomato sauce, then the result will be nice, but not as spectacular.

Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, savory and perhaps sage and lavender. Feel free to create your own mixture. If you buy a ready-made mixture, make sure it has character, aromas and structure.

What You Need

  • Classic Tomato Sauce
  • One shallot
  • Two Tomatoes
  • One Glove of Garlic
  • Teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
  • Capers
  • Black Olives
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut in small cubes. Finely chop the shallot. Wash and drain the capers. Crush the garlic and slice the olives in two. Heat a heavy iron skillet and gently glaze the shallot. Add tomatoes, garlic and herbes de Provence. Leave on low heat for 5 minutes. Now add the classic tomato sauce, the capers and the olives. Leave for 5-10 minutes. Stir the mixture gently. You want to keep the structure of the tomatoes. Taste and perhaps add some black pepper.

Sauce Provençal with Grilled Chicken ©cadwu
Sauce Provençal with Grilled Chicken ©cadwu

The Art of Sauces: Classic Tomato Sauce

This recipe goes back to the days of Antonina Latini who published a recipe for a tomato sauce in his Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward, or The Art of Preparing Banquets Well) in 1692. Marie-Antoine Carême wrote about Latini’s recipes and Auguste Escoffier positioned the sauce as a leading (mother) sauce.

The sauce is different from a modern, vegetarian tomato sauce, for instance because one of the ingredients is salted pork, which obviously brings saltiness and depth to the sauce, in a very natural way. 
The sweetness of the tomato is supported by carrots, onions and various herbs, making it a much more complex sauce. The flavours and aromas of the tomatoes benefit from the rich and tasteful context. This also supports the concept of a leading sauce: you can use it as a starting point for other sauces.
The texture of the sauce (it’s not smooth) in combination with the fat creates a very pleasant mouthfeel.

Sauce Tomate has many derivatives, such as Sauce PortugueseSauce Marinara and even Ketchup. In one of our next posts we will describe how to make Sauce Provençal and Oeuf à la Provençal (eggs poached in tomato sauce).

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Salted Organic Pork (not smoked)
  • ½ Leek
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2 gloves of Garlic
  • 4 – 6 Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • White Stock (Veal preferably)
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Rosemary)

What You Do

Start by cleaning and chopping the vegetables. Wash, dry and dice the salted pork. Render the pork meat on medium heat in a Dutch oven. Once lightly coloured add the leek, carrot, celery and shallot. Allow to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. You’re looking for a bit of colour, but not too much. Now add the tomatoes and the garlic. Once warm, wait for a few minutes before adding some white stock. This is a tricky part: if you add too much stock your sauce will be thin. Therefore some recipes suggest adding flour. We decided against it because we want a natural consistency. Now it’s a matter of simmering, either in the oven or on low heat. Allow to simmer for 90 minutes.
Remove the pork meat from the sauce. Pass the sauce through a sieve, making sure you capture all those lovely juices. It’s hard work, but the remainder in your sieve should be as dry as possible.

Tomato Confit

A few years ago it was the obvious garnish to nearly every dish: oven roasted cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine. It looks and tastes nice plus it is easy to make. Just heat your oven to 180 °C or 350 °F, add the tomatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, olive oil and 30 minutes later they’re ready to serve. When cold you can add them to a salad or a sandwich with soft cheese (mozzarella, burrata, ricotta). An alternative is to halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and quickly roast and dry them in the oven. Another tasty result.

We prefer a slow alternative: Tomato Confit. The idea is that the skin doesn’t crack, so the tomatoes remain intact, and at the same time they absorb the flavours of the oil, herbs and garlic. The result is not just a great sweet and juicy tomato, it’s a taste explosion!

We use Tomato Confit to brighten up a simple pasta or salad, or a more complex dish like Lobster Mushroom with Udon.

What You Need

  • Excellent Cherry Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • 2 Garlic Gloves

What You Do

Wash and dry the tomatoes and add these to a baking dish. Chop the garlic. Add herbs, garlic and a generous amount of olive oil to the dish. No salt, honey or sugar required. Put in the oven for something like 2 hours on 90 °C or 200 °F. You could baste the tomatoes once or twice. Don’t forget to use the cooking liquid as well, it’s another pack of flavours!

  • Tomato Confit ©cadwu
  • Fresh Tomatoes ©cadwu