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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette

I recently watched one of my favorite Cooking Channel Shows, "Chuck's Day Off". Chuck Hughes is a very talented and creative young chef and his show is always exciting- in the food he cooks, in his enthusiasm and in his passion for fresh, sustainable ingredients. I like that!
On the show I watched, he made a roasted halibut served over a 'Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette".  That made my mouth water, especially since I am looking for some creative ways to use the abundance of tomatoes I have in my garden this season!
I made a really tasty red enchilada sauce from scratch a few days ago- using Sweet One Million and Sungold cherry tomatoes. It was incredibly tasty, but very sweet. After watching Chuck, I thought a sweeter version of his Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette would be delicious made with the over-abundance of cherry tomatoes in my yard.
So, thanks, Chuck. Here's his original recipe with the halibut, which also sounds delish!
I made some changes.
First, wash, stem, cut in half, and seed a huge amount of cherry tomatoes. I used about 2 cups. Seeding cherry tomatoes is a pain in the neck, but worth it in this instance.
Then, get your homemade smoker ready.
This was a very easy technique. I have had a Chinese steamer for years- but never thought to use it for smoking in the kitchen!

Unless you want to ruin a heavy duty pan, line your pan with a double layer of foil. Turn the heat on high, and toss in a couple of handfuls of smoking chips- in this case, mesquite. When it starts to smoke, TURN ON THE HOOD/FAN. Seriously!

 Rinse your Chinese steamer basket out, and place the cut side up of the tomatoes on the trays. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and add either some sliced green onions, or shallots, as Chuck suggests, or as I did, half a chopped onion. Then, top with fresh herbs of your liking- in my case, some fresh torn basil, oregano, and thyme from the garden. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to the chips when they start to smoke, cover the Chinese steamer, and place on top of the smoking chips.
Let it smoke for about 20 minutes.

Take the steamer off of the heat and let it cool a bit. Toss all of the smoked veggies into a blender. Add a little kosher salt and pepper, and if  you have it handy (I ALWAYS DO!!) add a tablespoon of roasted garlic.
Don't know how to make roasted garlic? Get a nice head of garlic, slice it across the root to expose the ends, put it on some aluminum foil, drizzle some olive oil and a pinch of salt over the cut ends, wrap up the foil and bake in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes. When it cools down, pop the soft, gooey cloves into a small container and cover well. Refrigerate. It keeps for a week ...ha ha, as if it will actually stay around a week! I add it to many, many dishes- the sweet, deep, carmelized garlick-y flavor makes everything taste better. You can even spread it on bread in the morning after is fantastic. No harsh, garlick-y breath or flavor, either!
Anyhow-I digress. Back to the vinaigrette...Toss in 1/4 cup of rice vinegar. Well, I guess you can use another type of vinegar, but I like the mildness of rice wine vinegar. Blend the heck out of the veggies and vinegar. Slowly add 1/2-1 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a drizzle as you blend. You don't want a runny, oily mess- just a nice emulsification.
Now, this had a very mild smoked flavor. I thought it was good, but I also added a 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika to bump up the smokiness.
This came out absolutely incredibly delicious!
I am not sure how to 'can' it yet, but as soon as I figure it out, I'll be shipping some to my niece, Lauren, who has already expressed interest in this unique flavor!
My batch made 4 cups of deliciousness. I'll be drizzling this on our zucchini tonight, and on a roasted beet, goat cheese and arugula salad on Monday for the Catholic Daughters potluck. No, I'm not joining. I'm just checking them out.
Now if I am really lucky, I'll be posting my amazing success with Festivity Corn Pudding tomorrow! It's in the oven as I write...

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