It’s British Tomatoes Week and we had such a fun masterclass with Paul Foster making delicious tomato dishes at the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School.
British tomatoes taste great
British tomatoes are so often ignored and overlooked. Just last evening at another event, another blogger was lamenting about how bland our tomatoes are. She has obviously not been introduced to the great produce that is available here locally. It is time to change that perception.
I had a chance to visit the Isle of Wight tomato farm and had a chance to taste the succulent and flavourful fruit that they were producing. It was this visit that opened my eyes to what’s available in our local supermarkets. Next time you buy tomatoes, look at the packaging and pick some Uk grown ones. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Looking at the recipe, you might be a bit intimidated but all the steps are actually quite easy and achievable for the home cook.
With the help of the highly trained Le Cordon Bleu students, we managed to produce a very pretty and so very delicious starter, the humbly named, Plum tomato tart.
It seems so simple by name but there is a surprise in the recipe. Four ripe and juicy plum tomatoes were presented on a crisp Parmesan shortbread biscuit, dressed with a little avocado cream and a slice of Chorizo. The tomatoes were cooked 2 ways, one was confit in butter and the other was quickly “pickled” with the help of a vacuum machine. The vacuum has the effect of lowering the pressure in the bag, which causes the tomatoes to soak up all the pickling liquid. To do something similar at home, you can use a zip lock bag and squeeze out all the air. Then place it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
As with all these masterclasses, I managed to pick up a few new techniques which are definitely going to be used in my repertoire sometime soon. The pickled tomatoes were quite sensational and I can think of so many ways to use them in other dishes.
About Paul Foster
Paul’s food is influenced by his travels and his experience working at some of the top restaurants like Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, wd~50 in New York, The French Laundry and Sat Bains. His food is all texture and flavour and he is inclined to use local foraged ingredients. Paul is about to open his own restaurant Salt in Leamington Spa. You can read his full bio here.
Here is the recipe. Using the best tomatoes you can find would make this dish quite sensational. You can also watch the short recipe video below too.
Plum tomato tart with Parmesan biscuit, avocado and chorizo
- 16 baby plum tomatoes
- 250 g of salted butter
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 50 ml of Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
- 50 g of dark muscavado sugar
- 250 g of strong bread flour
- 100 g of grated Parmesan
- 100 g of salted butter
- 2 g of salt
- 1 avocado ripe
- 3 egg yolks
- juice of half a lemon
- 300 ml of sunflower oil
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- 4 slices of chorizo
- mixed salad leaves to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.
- For the Parmesan biscuit, mix together the flour, Parmesan and salt and rub in the butter to create a coarse crumble.
- Pour the crumble across a baking tray and cook for 10–15 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool
- Meanwhile, lightly score a cross through the skin of each tomato and place in a bowl.
- Cover with just enough boiling water to cover and leave for 30 seconds, then drain and cool the tomatoes under cold water. Peel off and discard the skins.
- Place 8 of the tomatoes in a heavy-bottomed pan with the butter and thyme sprigs.
- Gently melt the butter over a low heat and allow the tomatoes to confit slowly for 1 hour
- Place the remaining 8 tomatoes in a vacuum bag with the vinegar and sugar and seal with a chamber sealer to compress. Set aside until ready to serve
- Once the pastry crumble has cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend until the fat begins to separate out, making the crumbs sticky and glossy. Tip out onto a tray lined with baking paper and cover with a second sheet.
- Roll out evenly to create a thin layer of dough and transfer the tray to the freezer for 1 hour to set
- To make the avocado emulsion, remove the peel and stone and place the flesh in a blender with the egg yolks and lemon juice.
- Blend briefly to combine as a smooth mixture then, keeping the machine slowly running, gradually pour in the sunflower oil until the mixture emulsifies
- Adjust the seasoning to taste, then pass through a fine sieve to ensure the emulsion is completely smooth. Transfer to a piping bag and reserve in the fridge until ready to serve
- Drain the confit tomatoes from the butter and the compressed tomatoes from the vacuum bag. Remove the Parmesan dough sheet from the freezer and use a 6cm pastry cutter to stamp out biscuit discs
- To assemble the tarts, place a Parmesan biscuit on each plate and stand 2 compressed tomatoes and 2 confit tomatoes on top.
- Pipe over a little of the avocado emulsion and some shredded fresh basil.
- Gently warm the chorizo slices in a frying pan over a medium heat and lie across the top of the tarts, garnishing the plates with a few salad leaves to serve.
This the result of the stunning dish, as presented by Paul.
With the instigation of our Le Cordon Bleu helper, we pimped up our presentation to include some salad and some cheffy dots of the avocado cream. Which do you prefer?
Get more great recipes on the Great British Chef’s website.
Details about courses at Le Cordon Bleu can be found here.
EatCook Explore was a guest of Great British Chefs and Le Cordon Bleu