Sunday morning, I made Eggs Pomodoro. Our tomato plants have started to ripen, and I had a nice, fresh tomato, a big one, one of the green-topped heirloom types.
I started by frying a couple strips of bacon (lightly peppered) while I chopped the tomato into small pieces, putting them into a bowl as I went and adding a little seasoning to each layer: freshly-ground pepper and onion powder, basil and Italian seasoning mix.
Once the bacon was done and draining on a sheet of paper towel, I poured off the bacon fat, being careful to leave all the lovely flavorful bits. Not all the fat comes off but I got nearly all of it. Then I added the tomatoes.
I don't peel them or remove the seeds. I grew up being told that a lot of the nutrition and flavor was in that;* I don't know if it's true or not, but heirloom tomatoes have thin skins that cook almost to nothing. The seeds essentially vanish. (Most of the tomatoes you buy at the supermarket have thicker skins so they will survive being shipped. If you dislike bits of tomato skin in the sauce, you'll want to peel them.)
The tomatoes started simmering away and I stirred it, then lowered the heat and put a lid on the skillet. I had a small can of tomato sauce in the cupboard; the can is half the height of a soup can, about 6 ounces. It's about as thick as spaghetti sauce. I try to keep a can or two on the shelf, right next to the one or two cans of much thicker tomato paste. They're both very useful and keep well.
The tomato cooked down in five minutes or or less; I added the tomato sauce, gave it a stir, and had a taste. It was a little thin and wanted salt. I thought about that, snipped the bacon into it, let it cook open a little and had another taste. It wanted basil and a little more salt. Basil was easy. Instead of more salt, I added six Castlevetrano olives, cut up, and that did it. I covered the pan, let the sauce get good and simmering, then took the lid off, used the spatula I had been stirring with to make a couple of wells, and cracked eggs into them.
Cover back in place, the eggs cooked a bit and I broke the yolks with a toothpick and stirred them a little. I prefer the yolks cooked. If you don't, just leave them be. I sprinkled a little parsley over everything and put the lid back on.
When the eggs were as done as I wanted (pretty firm; this is a matter of personal taste), I dished them out and served it with some grated Parmesan cheese. About as good a breakfast as anyone could want! (Tam takes hers without egg; I just can't convince her it's better with, no matter how I make the egg.)
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Saturday afternoon and evening were hot. Steaming. I had a London Broil thawed in the fridge, a great big chunk of beef that really needs to be slow-cooked. I had it marinating in a mixture consisting of two tablespoons of vinegar brine from"Jeff's Garden" brand hot pepper rings (the flavor of these takes me back to childhood, not very hot but complex) along with a tablespoon or more of the pepper rings themselves, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, plus ginger and garlic powder, parsley and za'atar (which is sage and some extras). I wasn't sure what I was going to do; I was just hoping to intimidate what can be a tough cut of meat.
I had a couple of large tomatoes from our garden, one "Amish Paste" and one of the green-topped heirlooms. They needed to be used up.
Running the stove for hours on a hot afternoon wasn't appealing. I have a nice little roasting pan for the grill and the grill certainly wasn't going to make the outdoors any hotter. Around four o'clock, I started setting up the grill, building my usual miniature tower of kindling and lump charcoal in the middle. I stuff the bottom of it with small, crumpled balls of newspaper as I assemble it. It's usually a one-match start that results in roaring flames up the middle and falls on its own once the charcoal is well-started and the kindling (in a tic-tac-toe grid) has burned away.
For roasting, the coals get pushed into two rows each side of the center, and the oval pan goes in the middle. I oiled the bottom of the pan (a quick wipedown with olive oil is all it takes) and put in the London Broil and its marinade. I gave the meat ten minutes on a side with the lid on while I cut up a collection of vegetables: the big tomatoes diced small, an onion, carrots, three celery stalks and a large potato (with a shake of smoked paprika), loaded into a big bowl in that order. Gave the meat another five minutes, then added the vegetables and couple of bay leaves. (I added a small can of mushrooms about midway through the cooking -- wish I'd had fresh, but they were okay.) There's a trick to picking the order of the vegetables: add them to the bowl in the order of what needs the least cooking to the most, taking into account the relative sizes you have cut them into. Then when you put them in the roasting pan, you can just pour them in and it will work out.
|Tamara Keel photo|
An hour later, they were cooked and the meat was fork-tender. The addition of tomatoes had made the broth a deep orange hue and it was a tasty a dinner as I have had. The vegetable take up the broth and end up remarkably well seasoned without being overpowered.
I should have taken a picture. Tamara may have and if she did, I'll ask to add it. (She had taken two!)
* And Mom and Dad said the same about potatoes; in fact, they told my siblings and I that the skins were the best part. Unless potatoes have gone green from sunlight, I don't peel 'em. YMMV, but I even make mashed potatoes with the skins on and they taste great.
|Tamara Keel photo|