Recipe Repertoire 3/52...

09 February, 2014

In the midst of the summer heat (yet another 40+ C degree day yesterday - enough already!) I have barely felt like cooking. The idea of turning on the oven or cooktop and actually adding to the insane heat is just unthinkable.

Luckily for me the tomatoes are FINALLY coming in, and so I've been eating a few of my absolute favourite salad in the world: tomato, basil, buffalo mozarella, olive oil, balsalmic vinegar and just a smigeon of salt. It never stales.

But yesterday, even amidst the heat, I felt like doing a little kitchen concocting. But using no heating elements. What was I to do?

Why, add to my recipe repertoire of course!

So I flicked through my recipe books until I came across a recipe that suited my requirements.

Tomato jelly. Genius!

This recipe came courtesy of the excellent book Week In, Week Out by Simon Hopkinson.

This was another gifted book (thanks Rhonda and Graham!). It is the kind of cookbook I would not have looked twice at in a bookshop, let alone picked up off the shelf to peruse. Which would be a mistake. It is a gem! The book is a collection of articles written for a newspaper column, and yet has a lovely flow and has introductions to each recipe/theme that are delightful.

The one for my chosen recipe talks about him having a similar meal, but with a celery cream. This got me thinking.

But first, the jelly.

I went out and collected a basket full of the most sun damaged tomatoes and some basil.

I figure I may as well use the ugly tomatoes in this recipe, as how they look now will have no impact on the end result. I'd say I had about 600-700 grams of tomato and a big handful of basil.

The tomatoes then got chopped and added to a saucepan with one small red chilli (bought) and two small cloves of garlic (homegrown), both sliced finely.

This is where I slightly broke my 'no heat application rule' in that I put this (lid on) on a low heat for 30 minutes, until everything softened. I then smushed it with a potato masher and chucked in the basil, then put the lid back on and turned the heat off. I then left it until it had cooled down.

This then got strained through a doubled over cheesecloth.

They do say you shouldn't prod or squeeze the bag, lest you get an unclear jelly.

I did both.

Obviously, the left bowl is the squeezed out additional juice, with the right bowl the unadulterated tomato juices.

I didn't care all that much, so I added them together.

I then soaked one gold gelatine leaf in a little water, while I heated about 1/4 cup of the tomato juices in the microwave. Soaked gelatine went into the hot tomato juice until it was disolved, then added to the rest of the tomato juice mixture and poured into bowls.

Into the fridge to set they went.

I then made both a tomato cream as per the recipe, and a celery cream for experimentation.

The tomato cream uses the remaining tomato/basil/chilli/garlic pulp, whizzed in a food processor/thermomix until smooth (mine wasn't all that smooth, so I pressed it through a sieve), flavoured with salt and tobasco (I also added a few drops of smoked hickory and a little balsamic vinegar) and then added to cream whipped to soft peaks.

The celery cream I made by whizzing the inner stalks (warning: outer stalks will be slightly bitter) with lemon in the thermomix until completely pureed. Then I squeezed this through a cheesecloth to get celery juice. (The lemon stops it from going all oxidised and brown - very unappealing - and keeps it a gorgeous kermit green colour). This, plus some celery salt (celery seeds + salt crushed in a mortar and pestle = delicious), gently folded into the softly whipped cream, was amazing!

So much so that I disregarded the tomato cream and only used the celery cream.

Then I got a little fancy with garnishes (basil, celery leaves, a little celery salt and some olive oil) cos it just looked so perty.

OMG! It was exactly what I was after. Cooling, refreshing, delicate and delicous!

That's definitely another one to add to my repertoire. I shall be cooking this one again for sure!

What are you cooking this week?


  1. Where do you buy gelatine leaves? I never seem to come across them but clearly I'm not looking in the right places. Simon Hopkinson is good isn't he? A few years ago when I lived in England they did one of thosemy useful cookbooks of all time polls and there in the top 10 amongst the 'classics' was a small paperback book called 'roast chicken and other stories' by Simon Hopkinson. I will have to look out for 'week in, week out'.

    1. I got mine at Simon Johnson about 3 years ago - I was so excited to find them I bought a heap. But I used the last one yesterday so I guess I'll be on the search again. I think I've seen them at The Essential Ingredient near Prahran Market, but am not entirely sure.
      Now I have to look for 'roast chicken and other storie' - it sounds great!

  2. Replies
    1. Cheers! It tasted pretty wow too!

  3. I often wondered about savoury jellies. It does look pretty nice I have to say. I hope you got to use you tomato cream for something else (pasta?).

    I think I actually saw gelatine sheets in a Coles-worth Not that long ago. I expect as there are so many recipes that they saw a market for it.

    1. Funny, as jellies are somethings I think of as being exclusively sweet. But no more!
      I ate the tomato cream standing up in the kitchen, as it was delicious. :)
      Interesting, I shall have to keep an eye out for it!