Georgie’s weekly blog

Tomato season has officially started!! My kitchen counter is now full of them (which I can’t stand but doesn’t seem to bother Pep for some reason) and also our spare bathroom, which in the summer gets converted into a storage place for a load of our fruit and veggies. Two wooden boards cover the bath (which never gets used anyway), turning it into a provisional fruit and veggie pantry.

Most days Pep walks in with a smile on his face while carrying another crate of the beautiful red veggies/fruits (whatever they are). I adore them don’t get me wrong, but over a crate a day can sometimes make me want to run out the house screaming and disappear into the mountains never to be seen again! That’s the trouble with over 60 tomato plants (I think, he might be telling me there are less than what there actually are, just so I don’t go into a state of panic).

Friday’s offering, and this is only the beginning! The slightly greener tomatoes are what they call “tomaques de penjar” in Valenciano (tomatoes for hanging!). As long as they’re stored correctly and haven’t been got at by insects they will last until the following season. We use them for rubbing on rice cakes or bread before drizzling with olive oil.

The first year we moved into our house he planted over 100 tomato plants. After being literally inundated with them and almost turning Benissa into the next Buñol (where they hold the “Tomatina”, a festival that turns the town red, literally), I said if he ever did that again I would divorce him. So the following year he only planted 80. At the end of the season I mentioned divorce again so this year we’re down to around 60.

The longest row of tomatoes. There are more plants scattered around the “huerta” but most of them are here. Out of everything we grow, tomato plants require the most time and effort. First off the canes, then tying the plants to the canes as they grow and various other time consuming tasks. Pep likes to keep space between all the veggie plants, they grow better and produce much more.

One good thing about having so many is we can preserve a load to use throughout the year. The year he planted over 100 plants we preserved around 100 large jars, as well as eating far too many, keeping family stocked up and selling a few kilos to friends and acquaintances. I often use the preserved ones to make the “Ensalada Murciana” I spoke about in my last post.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we really are tomato snobs so having jars of them to use when they’re needed is a great way to not have to buy tasteless spongy ones when they’re out of season. No doubt we’ll soon be spending the odd afternoon cramming them into a few jars. It’s actually quite a nice way to spend a few hours when it’s so hot you can’t do much else. It’s best to be done in an area you don’t mind getting messy though, by the time you’re done, everything is covered in tomato juice, feet included. Who knows, it might be good for your skin.

There are a few ways I like to use up a surplus of these delicious veggies/fruits, two of them being typical Spanish cold soups. “Gazpacho” and “Salmorejo” are, without a doubt, my two favourite ways to have lunch when it’s so hot. In fact, there’s nearly always a huge bowl of one or the other in our fridge every single day of the summer. They slide down easily, making it easy on your stomach to digest when the temperatures are in the 30’s. I don’t know about you but I just don’t feel like eating much during the day when it’s so warm. Plus, hardly any heat is involved while preparing them, I’m all for that.

Today I’ll be talking about Salmorejo, a recipe traditionally from Córdoba. Consisting of just a few ingredients, it really is an easy recipe to prepare and can be made in a matter of minutes, although I alter the recipe slightly (it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t) so it takes a little longer, but nothing to worry about. The result is a divinely creamy, silky-smooth cold tomato soup that is incredibly moreish.

We had the pleasure of sampling this delicious soup for the first time on our trip to Córdoba in 2015. I think I ordered it nearly every meal time, I liked it so much. Me being me, as soon as we came home I googled the recipe. Tomatoes, crustless white bread (pan blanco sin corteza), olive oil (aceite de oliva), salt (sal) and garlic (ajo) are all you need to whip it together. It’s often served with chopped up hard-boiled egg (huevo duro) and small pieces of “jamón serrano” on top, but this is by no means mandatory.

Because I mostly avoid gluten (although lately, with all these dinners with family and friends we seem to be eating rather a lot of it!) I wanted to come up with another way to prepare it (yep, here I go again). I have made it before with bread but, for some reason it doesn’t seem to be quite the same as the one they make in Córdoba. It might be to do with the type of bread they use, I find that wherever you go in Spain, the bread is always different. I’ve also made it before with homemade wholemeal bread and, although still very tasty, it doesn’t have the smooth creaminess of the original recipe.

So I had the idea of making it with peeled boiled potatoes (patatas peladas hervidas). And what do you know, it wasn’t half bad. The result was just as creamy, if not creamier than the traditional recipe. I just replaced the bread with the same weight of boiled potatoes and that was it. It needs to be made with ripe tomatoes, if they’re a bit squidgy it doesn’t matter, but make sure you have nice tasty tomatoes, preferably organic ones. There are various eco markets around here that sell seasonal veggies and I’d recommend you buy them from one of them, if you don’t grow your own that is.

First off you need to chop your tomatoes then blitz them. You can use an ordinary blender for this if you want but I use an immersion blender, less washing up that way. Once they’re blitzed they need to be put through some sort of fine sieve to remove the skin and pips. The one I use is a cone type colander I bought quite a few years ago from a restaurant in Orba that was closing down. They were selling off a load of their equipment and I bought it for 5 euros. They were possibly the best 5 euros I’ve ever spent, it’s had so much use. It’s all dented now but still does a fantastic job. You could use any type of fine sieve or colander though, as long as all the pulp gets separated it’s fine.

The process of extracting the “juice”. My trusty cone shaped colander

Once you have your tomato “juice” you then add the cool boiled potatoes (or white crustless bread), garlic, olive oil and 2 or 3 good pinches of salt. You must add enough salt, it makes all the difference. You then blitz it all again with your immersion blender (or normal blender if you don’t have an immersion one or you like washing up) until you get a smooth, creamy texture. And that’s it. Put it in the fridge until it’s very cold and serve. You can add chopped up boiled egg and “jamón serrano” on top if you want.

The tomato “juice” being blitzed with the olive oil, potatoes, garlic and salt, resulting in a delicious creamy cold soup.

There’s nearly always a small bowlful of this soup or “gazpacho” on our table accompanying whatever else we’re eating. At lunchtime I might just have the soup, followed by a small bowl of vegan ice cream of course, that also seems to be a staple in our freezer in the summer. I made a different ice cream on Friday, an orange vegan ice cream, based on my “carajillo quemado” recipe but substituting the coffee and rum for orange juice and some orange zest, altering the quantities slightly. It was rather nice. We had family round Friday night and I served it with homemade vegan apple and walnut cake. Everyone loved it, as they did the “salmorejo” we made for the first course. No doubt I’ll be posting the recipe for the cake and ice cream in the future.

Vegan apple and walnut cake with a delicate vegan orange ice cream. Photo taken on an antique IPhone at night, hence not too brilliant quality.

Ok, that’s it for today. I’ll be back very shortly with more tales to tell, there’s always something going on around here. One more thing, me and my blog will now be appearing on Valley FM every Saturday, as part of the magazine programme Valley Vibes. Here’s a link to my first 5 minutes spot on yesterday’s show. I appear at around minute 32. You can also listen live next Saturday, normally between 1pm and 2pm on 94.5FM or 102.6FM if you live locally, or online at valleyfm.es.

Cheerio for now. As always, any questions, suggestions or whatever you fancy, please scribble us a few lines, we’ll be pleased to hear from you. Take care, love Georgie and Pep xxx

“Salmorejo”

A delicious, silky smooth, cold tomato soup Print Recipe Pin Recipe CUISINE Mediterranean

INGREDIENTS  

  • 1 kilo cored, tasty ripe tomatoes
  • 100 grams boiled peeled potatoes
  • 50 grams olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2-3 good pinches salt

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Cut tomatoes into biggish chunks, removing the core. The kilo weight is after the core has been removed but I doubt it will make much difference if you measure them before removing the core. The measurements in this recipe are approximate, a bit more or a bit less won’t matter. Place chunks in a large bowl.
  • Blitz the tomatoes with an immersion blender. Alternatively, blitz them in a normal blender.
  • When there are no tomato chunks left, place a small holed colander or sieve over another large bowl and pour in the blitzed tomato. Stir with a spoon so the juice goes into the bottom bowl. Stir until all the juice is in the bottom bowl.
  • Add the potatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt to the tomato juice and blitz with the immersion blender until you have a lovely, creamy consistency. Alternatively, tip it all into a normal blender and blitz that way. Taste to check if there’s enough salt, adding more if necessary.
  • Place in the fridge until very cold and serve.