Sunday 29 September 2013

Tomato jelly with basil oil and black olive 'twigs'

I feared I was sitting on my laurels. I've only really ever served two different amuse bouche(s?): mushroom and truffle velouté and tomato crisps with basil oil. The crisps are great in the summer being light and fragrant but now autumn is here I wanted something more substantial. As I am growing my own tomatoes it made sense to use them in glut.

I think this looks like a detail from the Death of Marat.
I won't tell you what my wife said it looked like!
So, take a lot of tomatoes and blend them. Put in double muslin on a sieve and allow to drip. IF you wait you will be rewarded with a near clear liquid that tastes intensely of tomato. HOWEVER, if you are in a bad mood and squeeze  said bag you will get a cloudy soup which still tastes good. Guess what I did?

Reduce the liquid and season. Much salt. While still warm add some pre soaked sheets of gelatine. Sizes vary so check the packet for instructions. Bear in mind though that when gelatine people say 'set' they seem to mean 'like frickin' rubber'. You want the jelly just set. I use shot glasses.

What would I do without my KitchenAid?
It is a little poorly now. I need to find a service centre.
To make the black olive twigs mix 200g bread flour with a teaspoon of salt, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, some black pepper and about 110g of water. You might need more. You want a fairly dry dough mix. Knead this by hand or in a machine until elastic. Now add 100g of black olive puree, made by pureeing 100g of pitted black olives (someone in the back asked!). This makes a sticky goo that you will struggle to roll out but struggle you must. Thinner the better. I do it between two sheets of floured Silpat. Then sprinkle over more finely chopped black olives, at least another 100g, pressing them in with the rolling pin. Because I'm serving these with my tomato jelly I want these salty so I also sprinkle over some Maldon.

A sod of a job
Yeah, we've come to the fun part: cutting the wet, snag prone, sticky dough into fine strips. I struggled with this. It took me four attempts and I think I've cracked it. Use a rolling pin and a pizza cutter. Cut against the side of the rolling pin, roll and cut, roll and cut. The pin keeps the dough down and the rolling cutter stops snagging. Maybe you can do it with a knife but you'll be a better man than I (and very likely with sharper knives).

Bake at 180°C for around 12-15 mins. Keep a close eye after 10 though. Crisp with a slight lamination is ideal.

Now I don't like black olives but I do like these. I think the heat burns off whatever chemical
compound it is that makes the olives taste like a Bic biro has burst in your mouth (remember in school?).

When ready to serve, float a little basil oil over the jelly, place a basil leaf in each shot glass and serve with at least one olive twig.

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