there's even tomatoes in the dessert!
Mr. Tart and I recently had a delicious Supper Club dinner with our foodie friends Cynde & Todd and Katie & Aaron. We try to get together every few months for an Iron Chef-inspired meal, where we all contribute dishes using the theme ingredient. In honor of late summer's bounty in our gardens, this time it was TOMATO.
The appetizer was my perennial favorite, fried green tomatoes. Thick and tart with a spicy cornmeal crust, they just say "summer" to me. Our first course--as you can see above--was a tiered chilled soup of avocado and chicken broth and sour cream, topped with fresh tomato puree, decorated with chopped cucumber and shallots. My mother-in-law found the recipe in Sunset magazine and shared it with us (the long chives masquerading as straws were a last-minute inspiration).
The main course consisted of Cook's Illustrated extremely-picky-but-quite-successful ratatouille recipe. I spent much of the afternoon draining and pressing and roasting and pan-frying each type of vegetable separately, but when they came together, each one asserted its own flavor and texture instead of turning into Provencal mush. We served it with polenta (made from corn meal) with four ounces of goat cheese and some sun-dried tomatoes thrown in. Cynde brought a side dish of tomatoes baked with couscous, raisins, and cinnamon--adding to the Mediterranean feel of our meal--and a green salad with tomatoes.
Katie had the night's biggest challenge: dessert. She prepared crepes with a sweet, creamy filling and topped them with homemade tomato preserves which had been cooked with sugar, ginger, and lemon. Mr. Tart and I confessed later on that we were a little suspicious of the idea of sweet tomatoes, and Katie grimaced as she ladled them out, telling us we didn't need to eat them if they tasted nasty--but once we tried them, we all were hooked!
And Katie was kind enough to give each couple their own jar of tomato preserves, suggesting that we use it as a glaze on meat as well as on top of desserts. I'm thinking it might also go well with a quiche (my mom always serves a sweet raspberry salsa with hers). We'd welcome other suggestions from loyal Three Tarts readers!