Sira-sira store: Fun with tomatoes

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Friday, April 11, 2014


MAYBE eight out of 10 people hate tomatoes unless the veggie-fruit is disguised as spaghetti sauce and pizza topping. Some children say tomatoes are their mortal enemies.

Perhaps the fault lies in tomatoes not in the stars. They can fool the eye and shock the taste buds. They look like cherries or plums when ripe but they have an acidic taste that does not sit will with popular acceptance. It takes a lot of getting used to having fresh tomatoes as part of the meal.

I can even dare say that like sushi and sashimi, eating tomatoes, especially raw ones, is an acquired taste.

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My aunt, Tita Blitte, and cousin Donnata said that tomatoes add flavor to any dish. Monggo soup with cubed tomatoes perk up the starchy dish. Sandwiches with a slice or two of steak tomatoes make the ham or bacon or hamburger smile—and kids don’t notice the enemy anymore.

Call this your Tomato Intro Course 101. The recipes are for tomato-based delights and can be served during your sosyalan parties.

Bloody Mary Slush. Have on hand 2 cups cored, seeded, diced ripe tomatoes; 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (about 1 cup); 1/2 cup tomato juice; 2 tbsp lemon juice; hot sauce to taste; Worcestershire sauce; salt to taste; 1/4 cup vodka or gin; green olives for garnish; carrot and celery sticks for accent (optional).

Instructions: Spread tomatoes and cucumber on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze for about 45 minutes. Thaw the veggies before using.

In a food processor, mix the vegetables, tomato juice, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pulse until mixture is a fine slush. Add vodka or gin to food processor and pulse once to mix. Serve with olives, and carrot and celery sticks.

Fresh Bloody Mary. The original recipe was from about.com, but my family added a few things to make it more interesting.

Have on hand 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes;1 small shallot; 1 small chili pepper or to taste; 2 tsp. fresh lemonsito juice; salt to taste; white pepper to taste; hot sauce to taste; vodka or gin; and olives, celery stalks and pickled cucumber sliced into sticks.

Instructions: Roughly chop the tomatoes, shallot and chili, and whirl in a blender or food processor until smooth. Squeeze the pureed mixture through a clean sieve for a smoother texture. Add the lemonsito juice, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Adjust taste.

To serve, pour the juice into two to four glasses, add vodka or gin in each glass and stir to combine. Serve with celery stalks, pickled cucumber and olives.

Caprese Delight. Have on hand 3 tbsp pitted black olives, finely chopped; 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; 3 medium sized red tomatoes, each cut into 4 1/4-inch-thick slices; salt and pepper to taste; and 1 8-oz. ball fresh mozzarella, cut into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Preparation: Stir together olives and oil in a small bowl. Place a slice of tomato on each of four small plates; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Top each with a slice of mozzarella. Repeat with layering one more time. Drizzle olive dressing over each stack. Eat immediately.

Mango Tomato Salsa. Have on hand 1 semi-ripe mango, diced; 1 medium semi-ripe tomato, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; 1/4 cup chopped white onion; 1 tbsp lime juice, or more to taste; 1 tsp minced, seeded jalapeño (or to taste); salt to taste.

Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with more lime juice, jalapeño or salt, if you like. This salsa goes well with fish, chicken and tortilla chips.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 12, 2014.

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