Monday, August 8, 2011

A Fast, Fresh Salad For the Top Of Tomato Season

    Tomatoes are easy. They're everywhere, in every shape and color this time of year. Finding a great tomato however, is not easy. Summer does not  a tomato make, even though it's supposed to. Here in Sonoma we have a big field called The Patch.

   The patch is one driveway down from where we used to live. In fact that house with the tine roof visible though the trees is where our little yellow farmhouse used to be. So we've moved farther up a steeper hill but The Patch hasn't changed one bit. It's still a traditional community favorite, still attended by Leo The Patch Guy, and payment is still stuffed in a tin box on the honor system, something this long time city dweller had a long time wrapping her brain around. If you ever get up Sonoma way, make sure you make it a stop on your tour around the town and bring back some Sonoma goodness.
   The Patch by far, has some of the best tomatoes I've ever eaten. On occasion I've gotten a little carried away and been afraid I was getting a gouty toe and so, I had to dial it back on the love apples for awhile. But what's one supposed to do when that dizzy, crazy tomato season rolls around again except break out the mozzarella and start plucking basil, like a tweaking rabbit.
   Well hold on there sugar pop, there are other ways to go with one's tomatoes. One that I especially go for this time of year is wrapping them in a creamy fresh yogurt with a spicy chaunk.
This tomato raita recipe is crazy easy which is another great thing because how much time do you want to spend in a hot kitchen at the height of tomato season aka Summer? If you're like me, not much. This dish whips up fast and easy, and like a lot of these simple salads, goes just as well with Western dishes as it does with an Indian feast.

Tomato Raita

Here's what to do:
 Whip 2 cups of plain yogurt until smooth and creamy

  Add in 3/4 tsp of salt
 Grind in a couple of twists of white pepper
 Cut about 3 fresh ripe tomatoes into 1/2 pieces, or you can halve small cherry tomatoes.
 Drop them into the yogurt, but Don't Stir them in !!!!

 First comes The Chaunk!
Heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil in a small pan or skillet.
 when the oil is hot add in:
  1 tsp of black mustard seeds
  1 fresh serrano chili seeded and finely chopped
 When the mustard seeds start to pop, mix it all into  the yogurt.

   Stir everything together carefully, sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh cilantro across the top and serve it up right away! This is not something you want to leave sitting around. Serve it fresh, cool and fast.

   On another topic I've been deeply involved with goat lately...I know that doesn't quiet sound right. I've just got a bad "goat jones" ever since I became involved with the Goaterie Gang. This last weekend I went in search of goat ribs for a tandoor experiment. How did it work out? Take a look.

   Marinated for 24 hours then slow cooked on the grill, it was amazing. The only thing that wasn't so amazing was the caveman-like behavior required to eat it. I didn't have the butcher crack the ribs so there was much tearing and gnashing. I was so glad that it was just the two of us since I wouldn't want to have any civilized people have to see me eating like that...truly greasy with goat meat. I loved the marinade and I am planning on cooking this again and giving the recipe. In the future I will be inviting guests and cutting the meat ahead of time and cooking it on long skewers to be more managable.
  One other great discovery with all this food was this:

   Fragrant and fruity, it did not go head to head with the goat. If you're looking for it, be quick. They've ripped out the vines to make room for a more popular grape, so it is as they say...leaving the planet.
  Coming up next, bottle gourd, the zucchini of India, I do some cooking from the Peko Peko Cookbook and I go all gluten free with dessert! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori 



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