Tag Archives: tomatoes

Abundance

21 Aug

Sunday is my sister’s birthday, and of course I am planning a really lovely meal for her. I am trying to rein myself in a bit because its really muggy and hot here at the moment … and you dont really want to eat lots of rich overwhelming hot dishes when its a thick summer’s day. But I do want it to be an exciting meal, and to that end, I went mosey-ing along to Whole Foods (my personal mecca) to see what was in store. I have never been there during the summer months, and I have to say… WOW. Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, luscious, astonishingly bright, delicious, fragrant, touchable, edible fruits and vegetables. I mean really, really stunning. I probably spent about an hour in the produce section. I couldnt believe how lovely and tempting everything looked…

These are just some of the things I picked up…

Such colour and texture and taste!

Check out these baby heirloom tomatoes. Seriously gorgeous. I chopped some up tonight to go into a bean (pinto and kidney) stew. They added brightness and freshness and a certain pizzaz to the dish. I just love how they smell… essence of tomato but each one subtly different.

Lusciousness

Peaches, with baby fuzz skin, and a scent like a perfect perfume. Flesh juicy and sun warmed, sweet and tangy and thirst quenching … like your first kiss. Unforgettable. And the avocadoes… bright green and creamy, we had one for lunch today, sliced thin and sprinkled with salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. With sour dough bread, and some smoked white fish salad. What a summer’s meal!

Cant eat just one...

Oh these cherries. So glossy they seemed out of a magazine. Such blood red colour, and tartsweet flesh. Staining our lips red, like lipstick. These cost ten times as much in Malaysia, and when I had these today, I realised the ones at home dont even taste like cherries should. These had such a complete and full flavour that all your senses are satisfied after eating just a few…

Oh My Goddess

These grapes were phenomenal. We had them for dessert with the cherries. Thick skinned, so you had to work at biting into it, but once you did … An explosion of juice, the essence of grape – but greenpurplered all combined. You had to spit out the seeds and skin after, but each bite was like a firework going off. Amazing!

Roasted for dinner tonight :)

Have you ever seen such beautiful kale? Frilly, thick, perfect. Roasted it for dinner tonight with bean stew and rice. What a great, healthy, vegan meal. Simple and yet infinitely satisfying. This kale was so vibrantly green it almost hurt the eyes. And it was absolutely delicious. Earthy, strong, vibrant.

Perfection

Strawberries. I was literally assaulted by the perfume of these berries in the store. I tried one, and they were sooooooo good. I couldnt resist. I got a four pound box first, but then decided may be it was overkill, so I compromised with a 2 pound box. Again, it cost about ten times less than it does in Malaysia, and these were so richly strawberry-ish I couldnt believe it. I plan on making a strawberry fool with some organic whipped cream to go with the chocolate cake for M’s birthday dinner…

There were so many other things – firm succulent mushrooms, tender delicate raspberries, red and green figs, leeks, parsnips, arugula, elephant garlic, bright broccolini… I was totally and blissfully immersed in these lovingly grown and sold fruits and veg. I was so happy today, and I am so thankful that my family and I can experience such abundance.

Speaking of which… I am still musing on the menu for the birthday dinner, but I think its going to go something like this…

  • Poached fig tart – made with a walnut crust, mascarpone and blue goat’s cheese base (all local cheeses), and wine poached figs on top
  • Mushroom pastry
  • Roasted butternut and parsnips
  • Broccolini with almonds
  • Honey glazed carrots
  • Heirloom tomato salad
  • Arugula + Avocado
  • Creamed spinach
  • Chocolate blackout cake with a raspberry coulis + Strawberry fool

What do you think? 🙂

Frittata!

18 Aug

Ahhhhh… here I am in my “other” home, with my beloved M + Z + B + the AuPairNation of Essia + Julia. And of course, the King, Raai. Its wonderful to be back, and I am blissfully babied out. It was a 24 hour journey to get here, so I let myself off one day of blogging. But today, I cooked and so I thought it would be a good idea to start to blog again … I find that if I let anything go for more than a day, it becomes a habit NOT to do it!

I love cooking in my sister’s kitchen. Its large, airy, comfortable. Everything is so well organised, and its totally open plan. I love her knives, her pots and pans, and particularly, I love the contents of her fridge! There is always something interesting in there that will challenge me to create something delicious. Today, I was cooking for 6 people for lunch, so I decided on a frittata. Its a really simple open omelette, with the fillings added before the eggs. Its fluffy, and is finished in the oven, so that the cheese melts and browns a bit. Delicious – and it can contract and expand to take on whatever is in the fridge! Plus, its wonderfully easy to feed a hoard of people.

Along with the frittata, I made an apple berry crumble, and for dinner a very simple vegetarian curry with brown rice. The remains of the frittata were delicious sliced with dinner. Meals at my sisters are like this… I cook, and we always find ways to incorporate the previous meal into the current one. Simple food, cooked with organic and local ingredients. So much joy … And she has a huge basil plant, her own tomatoes, and a fig tree that is positively laden with swollen purple fruit. I think I am going to have fun here!

I am giving you the approximate ingredients for my frittata today. Use what you have in the fridge – and be experimental. But make sure you use your own judgement about what you mix together into the frittata. I wouldnt add blue cheese, but feta makes a wonderfully salty counterpoint to just about anything. Onions, peas and carrots go well with lots of things, but olives are quite a specific taste and might not meld well with parmesan, for example. Think about what youre putting together into the frittata, and then give yourself permission to experiment! Also be logical. I used 3 different kinds of cheeses because my sister had that in the fridge – but if you only have one cheese, then use that and dont go out and buy extra!

This is a wonderful dish to serve for lunch or breakfast, and its as tasty cold as it is hot, so its fantastic to serve at a picnic or in hot weather 🙂

This will serve six

  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • salt and pepper
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • splash of port wine
  • 1/4 cup water (about)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 small carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed baby tomatoes (roma and plum), sliced
  • 4 vegetarian sausages, crumbled
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup feta, grated
  • 4 tbsp hummus (optional, but it added lots of protein and it was delicious!)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar, grated

In a large, oven proof frying pan, heat the olive oil, over medium heat, and fry the onions and garlic until glossy and soft. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. Add a splash of vinegar and wine, and let the onions colour and burn just a little bit. Pour a bit of water into the pan, and scrape up the juices and burnt bits if any.

Add the vegetables, and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. You dont want it too salty as the cheeses will add salt too. Crumble in the sausages and stir well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parmesan and feta. When the vegetables and vegetarian sausage have been combined to your liking, arrange them evenly over the bottom of the frying pan. Lower the heat, and pour over the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, move the egg mixture around gently in the pan to encourage it to cook about half way through. DONT mix it though – you just want to kind of poke holes in the bottom that will be filled by uncooked eggs!

Spoon the hummus over, if using. Switch the oven broiler on, and sprinkle over the cheddar.

Slide the frittata in the oven for maximum 5 minutes. It will cook through, puff up a little, and the cheese on top will melt and brown a bit.

Serve immediately with fresh brown bread. Or wait a while, till its cooled, refrigerate and serve it sliced, for a summer meal that it light, and delicious.

Tomato Water

10 Aug

Tomato WaterYes, it seems I have tomatoes on the brain. When they are in season, local, bright red, juicy and fresh, there is absolutely nothing better. This fruit, which is commonly treated like a vegetable, is the base of so many gorgeous dishes. I love tomatoes, and I would have them every day, in so many different ways, if I could. But I have always been fascinated with one tomato preparation. A soup of a sort, tomato water, clear and lightly yellow in colour, but completely imbued with the scent and taste of tomato. You can serve this cold or hot, as a clear vegetarian consomme. You can also use it as a drink, adding it to gin and vermouth in a dirty martini, or with vodka, for a bloodless Mary!

I have always been fascinated by the science of this preparation. You use egg whites as a filter – boiling the egg whites with tomato puree. The egg whites become thick and pink, and suck up all the colour in the tomato puree while at the same time leaving behind all the flavour. When making the tomato water, I used the egg yolks to make a phenomenal garlic aioli which I used as a base for an open faced grilled cheese sandwich. Suddenly, grilled cheese and tomato soup have a whole new presentation – and its amazing! Your taste buds recognise what you are eating, and enjoy it, but this is not your old school dish. Its new, and fresh, and totally delicious.

This takes only a few minutes to put together. Its really fun to do with young people because they are very pleased with the alchemy and magic of the cooking. Easy, and haute. A perfect synergy 🙂

For about 2 – 3 cups of tomato water, you will need:

  • About 3 lbs / 1.2 kg / 6 – 7 cups chopped tomatoes (I used a mixture of ripe roma and plum) – seeds and skins and all
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites, beaten a little

Chop your tomatoes well, and then puree them, using your food processor, immersion blender, or blender.

Place the tomatoes, salt and egg whites in a medium saucepan. Over medium high heat, whisk the egg white – tomato mixture until it all comes to a boil.

Immediately reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for five minutes. Dont touch it, mix it, stir it or annoy it in any way.

While the tomato mixture is simmering, prepare a bowl, with a sieve over it. Line the sieve with very fine damp cheese cloth.

After about five minutes of simmering, you will see a thick, foamy, white crust over the water. Pour everything into the sieve, and allow to drain for at least 15 – 30 minutes.

You will have a perfectly clear tomato consomme. Delicious, healthy and a joy to present to those you love.

Make a fantastic grilled cheese and tomato soup that will blow people’s minds!

The tomato water will keep for up to 1 week, covered, in the fridge.

Tomato Salad

9 Aug

I know, a tomato salad. Simple, right? Well, yes, and no. Tomato salad needs only a few ingredients, but this is one dish where organic, fresh and local really count. Go to the market, or the grocery store, and really look at the vegetables on offer. Smell, feel, prod, poke. When you only use a few key ingredients, freshness is all. A good tomato is one you can actually smell – that ineffable scent that is only tomato. This is a dish to have up your sleeve when you are serving heavy foods. Its fresh, delicious – tasty and sweet. Its a perfect complement to stews and breads – the juices of the tomatoes beg to be mopped up and savoured.

This salad brightens up any meal. When I make a grilled cheese sandwich, I serve a small side salad of these tomatoes. When I have a huge hoard over and am serving stew or sausages, or anything heavy, I offer these tomatoes. Its so easy to make and is really a wonderful addition to any party meal. When you serve lots of people, you want them to feel abundance. Adding an extra dish, especially one as easy as this, makes people feel your generosity.

This dish is all about the tomato. Make sure you pick ripe, bright, red, luscious ones – and try and make them organic if possible. It really makes a difference! Cooking is not just about putting ingredients together – its about forethought when shopping!

Feeds about 12 – 14 people

  • 4 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cups yellow / mixed tomatoes
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 very thinly sliced white onion (optional)

Please note that you should buy the best tomatoes that are available – if you see that big fat beefsteak tomatoes are the best in store at the moment, get those. Just make sure you deseed them.

Cut the tomatoes in half (if small) or in large chunks, deseeded (if large)

Let the tomatoes sit in a bowl, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. This will encourage the tomatoes to let go of a bit of their juice.

Sprinkle about 3 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice over the tomatoes.

In a separate bowl, sprinkle a few tablespoons lemon juice over the onions (if using), and let them sit until the acid in the lemon juice has mellowed out the onions.

Salt and pepper liberally.

Cut about ½ cup of fresh basil over.

Slick about ½ cup of olive oil over.

Mix. Taste. Adjust.

Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavours to meld. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

If you have any left overs, blitz in the food processor with some chili for a wonderful salsa which is great with pita chips. Or roast in a very hot oven, with a few slivers of garlic until almost blistered and burnt, and mix with some hot cream for a pasta sauce that is out of this world. Or add to a stew or soup the next day. Tomatoes are so very versatile and add a hit of sweetness and brightness to any dish.

Vegetarian Chili + Tacos

11 Jul

Taco DinnerThis is a meal for a celebration. A birthday, a party, a World Cup final. Or even just because. Its so delicious – and its good for you too! No cream or butter, and lots of fresh vegetables. You can make it vegan by cutting out the sour cream and cheese sides (or finding wonderful alternatives – soy cheese is surprisingly tasty). It looks lush and bountiful, and making it is really the work of one afternoon. There are lots of fiddly bits, and I admit, I dont make my own tacos, and I supplement my salsa by purchasing a good branded one (I used Paul Newman’s peach salsa this evening). The heat is also up to you. I give measurements for a medium spicy chili, but really do what feels natural to you.

I also use dried pinto beans. Why? Well, in part because I am stubborn, and Ive always made it that way. But also because even with an overnight soaking, they need at least 3 – 4 hours to cook. This forces you to cook the chili for long enough so that it really becomes thick and luscious, and for all the flavours to meld.

Feel free to halve this recipe, but really, its a meal for a big group of people!

Serves 8 – 12

Vegetarian Chili

  • 500 g pinto beans
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 7 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 – 2 red chilis, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250 g can white beans
  • 250 g lentils
  • 250 g can kidney beans
  • 500 g can pomodoro tomatoes in their own sauce
  • 1 – 2 c fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • handful of dried chanterelle and portobello mushrooms reconstituted in hot water for 15 minutes
  • juice of 3 small limes
  • Handful of Italian parsley (or fresh coriander if you really must)

In a saucepan or heatproof bowl, rinse and sort the pinto beans. Make sure there are no grit or stones in the beans – a nasty bite of food if there ever was. Cover with water and leave overnight.

The next day, about 4 – 6 hours before you want to eat, in a large, heavy pan (I use a dutch oven or heavy bottomed 5 quart stock pan), over medium low heat, heat oil and soften onions and garlic. Saute until glossy, and then add the celery, carrots, mushrooms, pepper and chilis, mixing well after each addition. Cook for about 3 – 5 minutes until the mixture has softened and let go of some of its liquid.

Add the bay leaf, basil, cinnamon, herbs, pepper flakes, cayenne, coriander, cumin, oregano, and smoked hot paprika, and mix very very well. Season with salt and pepper.

Add about 3/4 of the pinto beans (you can freeze the rest and use in a soup or stock), the white beans, lentils, and kidney beans, mixing well after each addition. Add the pomodoro tomatoes and their liquid and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.

After about 15 minutes, uncover the pan. It will be very liquid. Add the fresh tomatoes, the mustard, cocoa powder, sugar, and red wine. Chop the dried mushrooms fine, and add to the stew, along with the juice of 3 small limes. Cook, over very low heat, for at least 3 hours and up to 6 if you want, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes so it doesnt burn on the bottom. The chili will go from liquid to a very thick savoury stew. Taste for spice and salt and pepper, and adjust to your liking.

Just before serving, sprinkle over some chopped fresh parsley. If you like fresh coriander (I hate it), please feel free to substitute!

Tomato Salsa

I dont add any spice to this salsa because I think it would interfere with the chili and the bought salsas I am serving. However, if this is the only salsa youre serving, feel free to add 1 – 2 chilis, chopped fine.

  • 1 – 2 cups baby roma tomatoes (or 2 – 3 large juicy tomatoes)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/4 cup mixed fresh basil and Italian parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 4 – 5 small limes

Chop the tomatoes in a small dice. Add the minced onions, and salt and pepper, and mix well. Chop the basil and Italian parsley, and add and mix well. Juice 4 – 5 small limes, and add this liquid to the salsa. Mix, cover and store in the fridge until serving time.

Guacamole

I am a purist. I like guacamole simple – as many avocados as I can afford, mashed with a bit of salt and pepper and lime. Unbelievably delicious.

  • 4 ripe avocados (dark skinned)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 5 small limes
  • 1 avocado pit

Cut your avocados in half lengthwise, using the pit as a guide for your knife. Using a spoon, carve out chunks of avocado into a pretty serving dish. Make sure you scrape out all the beautiful dark green flesh that is right next to the peel.

Mash the avocado with a fork until it is a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the juice of 5 small limes. You wont taste the limes in the finished guacamole, just a really intense avocado flavour.

Pop the avocado pit into the serving bowl to ensure that the avocado does not brown, and store, covered, in the fridge until time to serve.

To serve

To serve this feast, you will need:

  • White and yellow corn tacos, heated briefly in the oven (figure 3 taco shells per person, or 2 if you add the wraps)
  • Soft burrito wraps, warmed briefly in the oven
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Tomato Salsa
  • Store bought salsa as an addition, refrigerated
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded lettuce (I use a combo of lettuce, baby spinach and parsley)
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar or jack cheese

Arrange on pretty serving platters, and let your guests make their own! So much fun!

All photos copyright Chan KY

Hand: Ezril

My Tomato Sauce

5 Jul

For pasta, for pizza, for salsa… for just about anything. When I need a pasta sauce that is delectable, this is the one I go to. Its been “developed” over more than 20 years of cooking tomato sauce. I have friends who remember me cooking a version of this sauce when I was 14 years old! Im almost 40 now 😉  Its ingredients are malleable but there are some broad rules that I usually stick to:

  • Keep a base of onions and loads of garlic
  • Always use a mix of tomatoes – I use at least 2 types of fresh tomatoes, canned pomodoro, and tomato paste. This ensures a really deep level of tomato flavour. Sun dried tomatoes are also awesome in this sauce.
  • Try and use a mix of fresh and dried herbs. Again, these impart very different flavours, and mixing them really lends depth to the sauce
  • You can use a mix of vegetables (see below for what I put into it) but try and make sure there are some carrots for sweetness

I first started cooking this sauce in high school when I used to have loads of people over for pool parties. It was the most forgiving sauce because you could simmer it for ages, and it just got better and better. As long as the basic rules were followed, and the bones of the sauce were respected, you could add just about any vegetable (bar potatoes or pumpkin) that you wanted.

When I went to university, I started making this sauce for my housemates. There was always something missing, until one day, I hit on a magic combination. And this is the secret to the sauce, without which you will not have the same sublime flavour and glossiness. These are non negotiable. You need at least 1 eggplant for silky smooth, shiny unctuousness, and a big handful of prunes for a dusky sweetness that you just cant place in the final taste. These two ingredients are secret because they both melt into the sauce, encouraging and supporting its flavour without pushing their own agenda into the story. Eggplant and prunes. Who would have guessed?! Please do not try and make this sauce without these two – I promise, it will make you so very happy that you trusted me. 😉

For about 4 – 6 cups of finished sauce, you will need:

  • 2 medium white onions (approx 2 cups), minced
  • 7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter (optional)
  • Salt and pepeper
  • Fresh basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano and rosemary, minced fine – about 1/2 cup in total
  • 1 large or about 5 baby eggplant (approx 2 cups) roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large red pepper (approx 1 cup), deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 4 – 6 baby carrots (approx 1 cup), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium zucchini (approx 1 cup), roughly chopped
  • 2 cup mixed tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used cherry and baby roma)
  • 8 medium portobello mushrooms (approx 3 cups) peeled and very roughly chopped
  • 2 x 400 g cans of pomodoro tomatoes in juice – about 4 cups, made up with wine or water if needed
  • 15 pitted prunes
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 – 2 tbsp mixed Italian herbs (dry)

In a heavy 5 qt saucepan, soften onions and garlic in about 2 tbsp olive oil and butter (if you are not using the butter, just use a little more olive oil), over high heat. Keep the olive oil by the side of the stove, and add more when you feel the ingredients are sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Season the onion mixture with salt and pepper, and add about 3 tbsp of the minced mixed fresh herbs, and mix well. Lower heat to medium high, and add the eggplant. Mix well to ensure its covered with oil and onions. Add  balsamic vinegar, and mix to brown a little.

Add red pepper and mix well, and then a few minutes later, add carrots and mix well.

Add all the red wine and the tomato paste, mix well, and turn the heat to low. Add zucchini, mix well, and then add the raw tomatoes and mix well. Add the mushrooms and mix to combine all, keeping check that nothing is sticking and add olive oil if neccessary.

Measure out 2 cans of pomodoro tomatoes in juice into a large measuring cup and make up to 4 cups with wine or water if needed. Smash the tomatoes with a fork so they are roughly chopped, and add all at once to the pan.

Cover the sauce, and allow to begin to simmer and steam. Meanwhile, pit the prunes, and chop roughly. Add the prunes and brown sugar to the sauce and mix well.

Let the sauce simmer, covered, for approx 15 – 20 minutes, mixing every five to ten minutes to ensure it does not burn.

Uncover, mix very well, and let simmer for at least 45 minutes to a couple of hours, over low heat, or until reduced by half. Ensure you check the sauce every 15 minutes or so to ensure it does not burn. You can add more wine if you want a particularly deeply wine-ey sauce.

Taste for flavour and season with salt and pepper if needed, or even some more sugar, and add dried herbs. About five or ten minutes before finished, add the rest of the fresh herbs to let their scent permeate the sauce.

Once the sauce is to your liking, take off heat and decide if you want to keep it chunky (which is nice for some pastas, salsas, etc) or if you want to blend it smooth. I use an immersion blender here. If you do blend it please make sure it has cooled to at least lukewarm – hot splashing tomato sauce is a real pain!

If you are using this as a pizza sauce as I will be, make sure you have at least one cook’s meal with about half a cup of sauce mixed with some angel hair pasta! Soul satisfying.

This freezes extremely well. I often freeze in an ice cube maker and then transfer to a zip loc bag. Alternatively, measure out by cupfuls into a sandwich ziploc bag and freeze flat. Keeps for up to 6 months.

Special thanks to AngelKitten for transcribing all the ingredients and keeping track of me!

Photos copyright Chan KY

Vegetables a la Greque a la Karo

22 Jun

This is from a good friend of mine who has the same philosophy of cooking with love and passion, and as little harm as possible. She sent it to me as below, and I love her words, so I will let them be …

The original recipe is in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – and I think it’s volume 1.

It’s a one-pot method of turning your beautiful raw vegetables, which might otherwise become cloudy and dull in the fridge as you wait for another idea/opportunity to do something with them, into delectable little appetisers or salady thingies.

You can do it with any vegetable that has firm texture and flavour, as long as it does not need to be cooked before being eaten raw like potatoes and aubergines do. I find it a much more forgiving method than oven-roasting or grilling for cold salad veg.

I have used: courgettes, mushrooms, asparagus, pepper, celery, green beans, beetroot. Must do firm small tomatoes next.

Take your fresh and good vegetables and prepare them as if for salad – cut them cleanly and decoratively and uniformly.

Take a pot and put in it a scanty pint of water, the juices of one or two lemons, a cup of good olive oil, good salt, pepper, and garlic cloves finely chopped. Add any good herbs that you have to flavour your court-bouillon; bay, parsley, thyme, tarragon, fennel … I have added lemon rind too.

Bring to the boil and simmer your vegetables within until tender but still holding their firmness. Mushrooms will be tender in 5 minutes or less (depending on your slicing of them); celery could take 20.

Remove your vegetables, and leave to cool on a plate.

You could now poach another set of vegetables in the same pot. Or proceed:

Strain the court-bouillon and put it back to reduce by at least half. It will become a lovely flavoured smooth light emulsion.

Then cool it down and bathe your vegetables with it. And then eat as they are at room-temperature or cold from the fridge later. And consider dressing them further by adding garlic or fresh herbs or more garlic or more whatever to them.

(Last weekend, I had a cold hors d’oeuvre which included mushrooms with no added seasoning, green beans with lots of extra lemon and garlic, courgettes with chopped parsley and lemon )