A short silence followed while I was putting two and two together "What, you mean a James Beard award?"
Turns out my new friends auntie is none other than Deborah Madison, and whilst I wasnt up to date with her books (I find being new to the US means im not up to date with a hell of a lot), I am now, thanks to Lindsey, the proud owner of Vegetable Literacy.
I have nowhere near got through the whole book yet, but am finding it amazingly helpful and informative - given that I am trying to eat less red meat (I think 3-4 times a week is good, but growing up in a "meal isnt a meal without meat" country, thats a big step!) and also, it provides explanations and recipes for many fairly new to me vegetables that a common place in California. For example, chard and Kohlrabi. The idea of grouping the chapters by ingredient rather than dish genre is great, a big fan. Got a load of aubergine? Look up the aubergine chapter. So simple.
It is, I think, a recipe made for San Francisco. What other place can you get the most amazing tomatos during summer, but is also cold enough to warrant baking it with cream and cheese? Oh yes, San Francisco's cold summers have just paid for themselves!
So, if you need me between now and september, ill be here, with my early girls , my green zebras, my cherokees and my heirlooms. It is truely beautiful in my corner of the world.
Summer Tomato Gratin
Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
Serves 2 as a light breakfast or starter
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan (or alternative hard cheese)
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 small shallot, shopped finely
1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
1/4 cup real breadcrumbs (if all you have is the very fine store bought stuff then leave it out)
pinch of salt
In a sauté pan place the chopped garlic and shallots and soften for a couple of minutes.
De-glaze the pan with the white wine, then add both creams and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the cream mixture into 2 small gratin dishes.
Arrange your tomato slices in the dish, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and then the parmesan.
Bake at 350 F or 180 C for 15-20 minutes. You want the tomatoes to start to break down and the cream thickened.
Serve with lavishly buttered toast.