Everybody has to put up once in a while. I know I do. Try living with a Yale/Georgetown litigator. She's doing so well. I am not. And now, in the grimy (and sometimes joyous) throes of unemployment, I find myself with a lot of time on my filthy mitts. So, I find myself putting up again.
A lazy visit to my local supermarche revealed heaps of tomatoes, the sweet 100 kind, no doubt from Argentina and Colombia where the farmers have delicious sun-drenched all-year seasons while ours in the northern hemisphere wilt spectacularly. They are indeed lucky little plump red bastards, (the people and the tomatoes) dwelling in conditionales especial, as they do year-round between 30 and -30 degrees latitude.
I wanted to preserve those little kernels of sunshine and happiness (the tomatoes, not the people) and in the presence of an overwhelming glut of olive oil and jars, I set about dehydrating the little sods to augment their majestic flavour.
Take four 'punnets' of small, and I mean small, tomatoes, rinse thoroughly and set your oven to 200F. Spread em out on a baking tray covered with foil, lubricate with the olive oil of your choice, not too much, season with Maldon and black pepper, two half-heads of garlic face down on the pan so they dont' burn, and swidge all around on the tray. Scatter a few leaves of thyme, bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, sit in a warm place where they can release their useless H2o, for maybe 20 mins. Taste and revel in the the concentrated tomato flavour. Bung the results into jars, with the sweet garlic cloves squeezed from their fibrous and charred dwellings and tuck some twigs of thyme into the recesses. Top up with good olive oil.
I added a few cheeky slices of kumquat to embellish the acidity and citric sweetness. I closed the lids smugly, rewarded myself with a superb martini, stood back and admired the results. Like something you'd find in Dean &Deluca, no?
Let them chill to the max on a shelf of your choosing. Perhaps somewhere they might get noticed eh? Leave alone. For ages.
The temptation is to eat them too soon, but hold back brothers and sisters. Their taste (and the resulting oil) is far better if left alone for at least a month. Or two.
They are brilliant for garnishing braised meats to cut through the richness (OK short rib fans) or a nice piece of roasted halibut.