The lines between restaurant cooking and home cooking have been slowly blurring for a long time, now. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that they converge and diverge over time. Right now, we’re in the midst of a gourmet revival, which seems to happen every generation or so. I direct you to almost any cooking blog for further research. At the same time, there’s also been a revival of interest in home-cooking from a professional perspective. In my town, restaurants like Grub, Burgoo, and The Wallflower have made names for themselves presenting and reinventing comfort food. My brother, a chef, cites not only professionals as mentors, but also my mother. Of course, a professional chef can’t surpass your mother’s famous [insert specialty here] and there are few home cooks who can match the expertise and equipment available to chefs.
One of the fundamental things that separates the two is preparation…though perhaps I mean preparations. At home, the success of a dish is often based on seasoning and the care put into assembling and cooking the dish. An apple pie is the result of a gentle hand with pastry, judicious spicing of the filling and a careful eye on the oven. In a professional kitchen, the Mother sauces provide the springboard upon which a menu is built, but the same care is put into other ingredients. Especially at restaurants that make use of seasonal produce, it’s the preparation of ingredients that can transform a dish. It’s a step beyond what we usually do at home.
This is the train of thought that I followed when reading this week’s French Friday recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes. It seems more like a preparation that would be found in a professional kitchen than a home cook’s staple. It should be a staple, though. Slow-roasting is a wonderful, hands-off process for a quiet day at home. It’s also an effective method for concentrating flavour. This summer, I’ve slow-roasted strawberries, rhubarb and now tomatoes. Tomorrow, I’m going to try cherries. I think they’ll be great as a tart filling. But, I digress.
Dorie’s slow-roasted tomatoes can be flavoured with garlic and herbs, or just a little salt and pepper. They can be used immediately or packed in olive oil to use over the course of a few weeks. They can be ground into a paste, added to a dish during cooking, or used as a garnish. It’s this versatility that reminds me of restaurants.
Save for a taste after they were finished, I haven’t used my tomatoes yet. I’ve packed them in olive oil and they’re waiting in the fridge, ready to bring my home cooking up a notch.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
I’ve just realized today that I’m nearly at my 100th post and am only a few weeks away from my one-year-blogoversary. So, I’m trying to think up a little something to celebrate. As they say in advertising: Watch This Space.