Last winter - on New Year's eve morning to be exact - when the field was covered with snow, and summer seemed oh-so-far away, I sat in a cozy warm kitchen with Sylvano - a kitten then - curled up on the table, loaded music onto iTunes, and daydreamed about "doing the tomatoes."
Summer is over now; Monday was the Autumn Equinox, and before you know it, it will be New Year's Eve 2008. But right now, even though there is a little touch of fall in the air, the weather is still warm, and this past Sunday I did what I dreamed about on a cold snowy day - "the tomatoes."
This isn't exactly a recipe. It's more of a procedure. You need wonderful, glorious, summer, ripened-on-the-vine, hard-to-resist-eating-out-of-hand-but-you-must-restrain-yourself tomatoes. And lovely extra-virgin olive oil. And - for me - Maldon sea salt, always Maldon. That's it.
Upstate, the tomatoes were ripening at a rapid pace, so Chris gathered them for me and left them snuggled together in paper bags on the back porch where I found them when I arrived on Saturday. Early Sunday morning I washed the tomatoes well, cut them into quarters, removing each core, and put them in three 5-1/2- to 8-quart pans (wide pans, not tall narrow stockpots) on the stove. I added a few glugs of olive oil to each pan and crunched in some Maldon salt to taste. I brought the tomatoes nearly to a boil then lowered the heat to a simmer.
After about 30 minutes, when the tomatoes were done to my liking, just slightly thickened, I turned off the heat, let them cool a little, and put them through the finest blade of my old Mouli food mill. (It seems the brand Mouli is no longer available - at least I didn't see them available anywhere online).
I was going to try the most coarse blade too, but to be honest, for some reason, I couldn't find it anywhere. As I usually use the fine blade for my tomatoes, it wasn't a problem, but I wanted to try the coarse blade for comparison.
I let the milled tomatoes cool, then put them up for freezing.
I still have more to do!
But next year - for sure - I am going to do old-fashioned "canning," and put them up in jars just like Cream Puffs in Venice. Broadway Panhandler had some really nice small ones from Italy this year, so that's where I'll head to find them. I want jewel-like jars of glorious red tomatoes on my shelf in the fall of 2009 ready to get me through the winter. I'll send you a picture.