Recipe: Make Richard Bainbridge’s tasty tomato tart
- Credit: Archant
Richard Bainbridge and his kitchen team are busy making the most of the last of the summer's bounty – including his favourite, tomatoes.
When it starts to get to the end of August and beginning of September, the children are going back to school and I see parents across Norwich breathing sighs of relief.
It's a different story for chefs. Every kitchen across the land is a hive of activity as the season of small, fabulous produce starts - from the elderberries to the damsons to the sloes. Kitchens are busy trying to preserve those later summer flavours. This morning I'm making damson cheese and spiced damson puree, and pickling elderberries. And we've got some salted turnips on the go.
This time of year is fantastic for chefs to preserve the summer to continue those flavours through the cold dark months of root veg.
One of my biggest loves at the moment is tomatoes. At the weekend I was at the Thornage Hall fete where I did a demonstration. I went in the polytunnel and it was full of row after row after row of these bright red fruits, literally dropping off the vines. The smell was phenomenal. And they had these flowers like borage and calendula growing in between to keep the bugs away.
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Tomatoes are another great opportunity to preserve the taste of summer.
We make our own kind of sunblush tomatoes. They are semi dried out and we confit them in oil. We also dry them out until they're crispy and blitz them into this bright red powder. Also, another we do is marinate them in a honey, water and oil syrup, which makes them almost like little pockets of sweets that pop in your mouth.
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The great thing about tomatoes is they're versatile. You can make a quick tomato sauce, a more refined tomato sauce, tomato and basil sauce. You can roast them.
My favourite breakfast is slowly roasted tomatoes on sourdough and as a last meal it would be up there.
Children love them. If you're trying to get kids into eating fruit and veg, tomatoes are really great.
I've found out a few little interesting facts about tomatoes. They're originally from the Andes and were growing wild. Similar to potatoes, we've got a lot to thank the Spaniards and Columbus for - they brought back these ingredients that are now such a staple part of our diets across Europe.
The name tomato comes from the Aztec word tomatl, but they say it was modified because it was similar to the word for potato.
But my most interesting fact that I like is in the late 1700s the nickname for tomatoes was the 'poison apple' because it was thought the aristocrats got sick after eating them and people were dying because of them. In truth, at the time wealthy people used pewter plates. Those were high in lead, and because tomatoes are so high in acidity the pewter used to react and bring out the lead, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning. It took a long time for people to realise what was really happening.
Richard's tomato tart
1 pack pre-rolled puff pastry
10 heritage tomatoes (various colours)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 185C. Line a baking tray. Unroll the pastry onto the tray and roll to fit then score with a sharp knife in a criss cross pattern, leaving a 2cm border around the outside.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Drop in your tomatoes and blanch for 20 seconds or until the skin starts to peel, then put them into ice cold water to cool.
Once cooled peel off the skins and slice to 1cm thick. Arrange on the pastry within the border. Sprinkle the thyme over, season well with salt and pepper, then brush lightly with olive oil.
Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool then serve with dressed leaves.
Richard and Katja Bainbridge own Benedicts Restaurant in Norwich