Salmorejo-style Tomato Soup

For those of you who don’t have a clue, salmorejo is a tomato soup very similar to gazpacho and usually served cold with hard-boiled eggs, lashings of olive oil, jamon serrano (Spanish dry-cured ham) and sometimes tuna. True to its origins, this recipe contains all of the above and black olives. It’s a true revelation and I need to thank chef José Pizarro for this wonderful concoction.  Salmorejo originated in the Spanish city of Cordoba, in Andalucia, but this tomato and bread soup has now conquered the whole country and is enjoyed on every dinner table. And quite rightly so! The scent alone is wonderful.

Opt for vine-ripened tomatoes as they have a more intense flavour. If you can get your hands on some heirloom varieties, then even better. As for the bread, use a decent sordough loaf, if you can. Don’t even remotely consider that sliced plastic bread you find in shops – you need something wholesome and thick. Finally, as odd as it sounds, serve this soup cold. My partner thought it very weird and did not enjoy it as much as I did, but I completely see why. The colder the soup, the thicker it gets and the more satisfying it is to eat. A true foodie experience.

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Ingredients

  • 340g slightly stale rustic-style bread
  • 1kg vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 6-8 thin slices of serrano ham
  • 100g black olives, halved
  • 2 x tins of tuna in brine, drained

Method

  1. Start by preparing the tomatoes, which will need to be skinned. In order to do so, bring a large pan of water to the boil over a high heat. Score a cross at the bottom and at the top of each tomato, then plunge them in the boiling water for about 40 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander, refresh under cold running water (or place into a bowl with water and ice), then peel. The skin will easily come off.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes, scoop out the seeds into a sieve set over a bowl, roughly chop the flesh and add to the bowl of a liquidiser. Rub the juices from the seeds through the sieve, then add to the liquidiser. Discard the seeds.
  3. Break the bread into a bowl and sprinkle with 250ml cold water. Leave for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic cloves to the liquidiser and blend until smooth. Squeeze as much water as you can from the bread, then add to the liquidiser and blend again. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
  5. Before serving, put the eggs in a saucepan filled with cold water, then bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, then cover with cold water. Peel the eggs and cut them into small pieces.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the serrano ham slices and cook until crisped up, turning them halfway through. Set aside to drain on kitchen paper, then roughly chop.
  7. To serve, ladle the tomato soup into chilled bowls, then top with some of the olives, tuna, hard-boiled eggs and ham. Finally, drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of pepper. Enjoy!

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Summer Berries and Custard Tart

In case you hadn’t noticed, summer has begun! And yes, you would be excused for not realising seeing as I am currently writing this blog post in my flat and when I cast my gaze outside the weather is simply horrible. Truth be told, we had some nice weather recently, although I keep on repeating myself I shouldn’t be expecting too much from the North of the UK. Anyway, despite the weather and what not, we should still celebrate the beginning of summer. In my opinion, nothing beats a dessert with an abundance of sweet and ripe berries.

This recipe is freely inspired from one which appeared in a summer issue of the Feel Good Good magazine. I like keeping old magazines, I stack them on my shelves in chronological order (I have a bit of an OCD, I’ll have you know) and use them as reference material when I am stuck for ideas or need pointers to prepare my weekly shopping list. I used blueberries and raspberries in this tart, but you can swap these for any other berries you might like. Also, I kept the custard quite plain, but you could look into flavouring it with lemon, orange… you get the gist. This tart is best served slightly chilled, so the custard will not risk oozing out everywhere.

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Ingredients (for the sweet shortcrust pastry)

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water

Ingredients (for the custard)

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 35g custard powder (or cornflour/flour)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 200ml double cream

Ingredients (for the decoration)

  • 250g blueberries
  • 150g raspberries
  • 2 tbsp berry jam (I used cherry and berries)
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • some mint leaves (optional)

Method

  1. Start by making the pastry. You can do this in a food processor, but for such a small amount I usually tend to avoid using the heavy machinery and rely on my hands and a glass bowl. Pour in the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter, then use your fingertips to rub the fat into the flour mixture, stopping only when you get to a sandy consistency and the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Pour in the yolk mixture, keeping about 1 tsp back. Use a knife to move the mixture around and start to combine it, then use your hands to bring the pastry together. Only add the remaining yolk and water mixture if the pastry looks too wet. Use the pastry block to clean the bowl and soak up all of the crumbs, then shape into a flat square (easier to roll if using a long rectangular tin like I did), wrap it in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. In the meantime, move on to the custard. In a saucepan over a medium heat, mix the milk with the vanilla bean paste, then bring to a gentle simmer. In a glass bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, custard powder (or cornstarch/flour). Whisk these ingredients together until the mixture is free of lumps, then remove the milk from the heat and gently pour into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Pour the liquid custard back into the pan and place it over a medium-to-low heat, stirring constantly. Use a balloon whisk or a wooden spoon to judge the consistency of the custard – it is ready when it easily covers the back of a spoon and it has thickened considerably. Pour into a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm and allow to cool before putting it into the fridge to set completely.
  5. Back to the pastry. Remove it from the fridge and unwrap it. Dust your surface and rolling pin with some flour, then roll the pastry out to a large rectangle to match the tin (mine is 9.5 x 32cm). Gently lift the pastry and lay it in the fluted tin, pressing it down to make it adhere to the case. Trim the excess pastry with a knife, then go around the edge and gently press the pastry upwards to make it fall into place, keep the fluted edge and make the pastry stretch a little above the edges. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
  6. Once the time has elapsed, preheat the oven to 160°C and place a flat baking sheet on the middle shelf to heat up. Remove the pastry case from the fridge, use a fork to prick the base at regular intervals, then line the inside of the tin with baking parchment and cover with baking beans, pressing them down and ensuring they cover the whole surface evenly. Blind bake the pastry case for about 15 minutes, then remove the beans and baking parchment and bake for another 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and feels cooked to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. To finish the custard, remove it from the fridge. Whip the cream to soft peaks in another bowl, then gently fold it in the custard, mixing well to ensure there are no lumps. Put the mixture back in the fridge until it is time to use it.
  8. To assemble the tart, pour the custard mixture into the pastry case until it fills it completely. Wash the berries, then scatter them on top the way you prefer. Warm the chosen jam in a small saucepan until it becomes liquid, then drizzle it on top. I like to fill any raspberries too. Scatter with the lemon zest and arrange the mint leaves on top. For an extra touch of sweetness, you could also dust the tart with some icing sugar (optional). Enjoy!

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