Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Dinner - Seared Tuna & Tomato Water

Facing an excess of tomatoes and 98 degree weather, we decided on a light & refreshing fish dish - seared tuna served in tomato water and garnished with diced cucumber & heirloom tomato.

Tomato water was made by blending together a peeled cucumber and three large tomatoes with a pinch of salt. The resulting soup is then strained through a fine-mesh strainer that has been lined with a dampened paper towel. I had tried this recipe before without the paper towel and the water wasn't a clear as it was with the towel. The mix yielded about a cup of tomato-tinged broth, which is then simmered down by about half.

The tuna was portioned and flash-seared, then placed in the broth to rest and soak up the flavor.

Garnished with a fine dice of cucumber & tomato, then dressed with a splash of olive oil and a few cilantro sprigs, the dish was a simple and clean way to enjoy summer flavors.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fresh Tomatoes, 00 Flour & Handmade Pasta

Our tomatoes have started to arrive from our container garden and along with some extra tomatoes from Blooming Glen's stand at the Headhouse Market, we picked some herbs from the garden to make a simple pasta dish that incorporated handmade noodles.

I've never been blown away with our earlier attempts at handmade pasta - it was always OK but it seemed a little too soft, despite attempts to cook it al dente.  I had heard that using the right kind of flour can make a big difference, so we picked up a bag of 00 flour from Claudio's and made some dough using the standard 1 egg to a generous 3/4 cups of flour.

I noticed that the dough itself was a little firmer, less elastic than when we're used regular All-Purpose flour. I was a little worried when we began rolling the dough as it tended to jam up a little more than usual. However, we didn't need to use nearly as much flour to keep it from sticking to the roller bars and once we got down to the smaller sized rollers, the dough was looking beautiful.

The pasta cooked in under 5 minutes and retained a firmness that seemed to be lacking in previous attempts with AP flour.  We served it up with a tomato sauce and some tiny veal meatballs.

Alongside the pasta we enjoyed a green heirloom tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella salad.

Although the bag wasn't cheap - $5 for about lbs. - if you're going to go through the process of homemade pasta, it's worth the extra $$. You just need to be a little cautious about using the right amount of flour; my dough was a little too dry and hard to work with when I used the same amount that I normally would with AP flour.