Friday, August 3, 2007

candied tomatoes

It's the height of tomato season, and nothing beats the sweet explosion in your mouth after biting into a ripe cherry tomato, still warm from the vine. I found these lovely black cherry heirlooms at the market, all purplish-red with with a hue of green. They have a sweet complex flavor that lingers on the palate.

One of the best things about summer cooking is the abundance of salads you can make. Just about anything tastes wonderful together, given that its fresh, and thus true to its flavors. A salad doesn't necessarily have to have greens; it can be a simple julienne of root vegetables such as jicama and carrot. A sweet corn and pepper chow chow can also make a refreshing meal.

I candied these cherry tomatoes in a cinnamon-chile syrup. They pop in your mouth like delicious Red Hots.


Fennel and Apple Slaw with Salted Anchovy
Candied Black Cherry Tomatoes
serves 4

CANDIED TOMATOES
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
3 dried Thai red chilies
1 cinnamon stick

SALAD
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin lengthwise
1 apple, thin julienned
1 shallot, thin sliced
3 Tbsp fennel fronds, rough chopped
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
12 filets anchovies in olive oil
olive oil for drizzling

1. Candy the tomatoes: Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cut a slit in the base of each tomato. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and blanch until the skins begin to split, about 20 seconds. Drain the tomatoes and place them in an ice bath. Peel the tomatoes and gently put them into a shallow bowl.
2. In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, salt, chiles, and cinnamon; simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Pour the syrup over the tomatoes and let stand for 30-45 minutes to infuse the flavors.
3. The salad: Lightly toss the fennel, apples, fronds, and shallot with the vinegar, sugar, and salt.
4. Plate: Mound the fennel slaw in the middle of the plate. Arrange 3 anchovy filets so that they drape down one side of the mound. Arrange tomatoes around the slaw and anchovies. Drizzle with olive oil.