Friday, August 16, 2013

Fresh Tomatoes! Two Recipes!

Tomato Sandwich with Sourdough Cornmeal Bread
The tomatoes in our garden took their time ripening this year, but we now have baskets full to enjoy before the late blight knocks them out for good. (A friend and colleague recommends using a copper sulfate to prevent blight, which we'll try next year!)  My favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes is as a simple tomato sandwich.  Brings back memories of watching my Grandmother Wood prepare tomato sandwiches:   thin slices of  Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread slathered with mayonnaise, topped with thickly sliced tomatoes and an ungodly amount of salt.  I'm almost positive Grandma peeled the tomatoes since she peeled everything (even celery).  Made a mean BLT, too!

The first recipe here is for Sourdough Cornmeal Bread, which isn't as delicate as Pepperidge Farm white bread, but makes a great sandwich bread with a nice, nutty crunch.  Thinly sliced, it's perfect for tomato sandwiches.  Our dear friends (and recent visitors) Rebecca, Tom and the amazing going-on-3 Eleanor enjoyed some of this bread toasted with honey during their visit.  This recipe's for you, Rebecca! :)

The other recipe for fresh tomato slices is adapted from a recipe in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Brenda Waters's Grandmother's Special Sliced Tomatoes. (Grandmas really seem to know their way around tomatoes!)  I hesitate to add anything at all to a nice, fresh tomato slice, but this recipe was too intriguing to pass up--and it's delicious.  A friend who doesn't even like honey (yes we actually have friends who don't like honey!) liked these tomatoes.  Read on for the recipes!

Sourdough Cornmeal Bread for tomato sandwiches
Sourdough Cornmeal Bread
This recipe is adapted from Sunset's A Cookbook of Breads (1974), which I must have picked up at a thrift store ages ago. It requires sourdough starter, which isn't hard to make--just takes about a 3 to 5 day commitment.  Need a sourdough starter recipe? Here are step-by-step instructions from King Arthur flour. Also check out this quick starter recipe from a previous blog post for sourdough English muffins.

1 teaspoon (1/2 package) quick rise yeast
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
1 cup cornmeal (plus extra for sprinkling on dough before baking)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-2 cups bread flour (you could use all-purpose flour if you want--and could also skip the whole wheat flour.  You'll get a slightly less dense loaf if you do).

Combine the yeast, starter, canola oil, honey, salt, water, cornmeal and whole wheat in a mixing bowl.  Using a wooden spoon (or the dough hook of a mixer), combine well.  Add the white flour, about a 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough until it's smooth--by hand (on a floured board) for about 10 minutes or by mixer for about 5.  (Using a mixer will likely cut down on the amount of flour you use overall, making the dough a bit lighter.)

Lightly coat a large bowl with oil and place dough in the bowl, oil top and cover with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel (not terry cloth).  Let rise for about 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk.  Remove from the bowl, folding the dough in on itself a few times and form into a round ball (or boule).  Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat-sided cookie sheet and sprinkle it with a little corn meal. Place the dough on the sheet and sprinkle a little cornmeal on top.  Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven on a middle rack to preheat as well.  When the oven is preheated and the dough has risen, take a serrated knife and make a few slashes in the top (each about 1/4-1/2 inch deep).  Slide the dough (with parchment) from the cookie sheet onto the baking stone (if you're using a stone) or just put the cookie sheet with dough into the oven.  Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.  The crust should be nicely browned--almost honey colored.  The crust will be crunchy when first baked, but will soften once it cools. (You can crisp the crust by reheating in the oven if you'd like). You should probably wait until it cools completely to slice it, but I've never been able to wait that long!

Sliced tomatoes with vinegar honey dressing

Sliced Tomatoes with Vinegar and Honey
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
kosher salt
Core and slice the tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices.  Place on a plate or platter with a lip (so that the dressing doesn't run off!). Stir the vinegar and honey together in a small microwaveable bowl. Heat for 15 seconds, just to warm the mixture and ensure that it's well combined.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drizzle the vinegar-honey mixture on top.  Serve with the bread to soak up all of those delicious juices!
Serves 4

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