skye gyngell’s a year in my kitchen is making me excited. if you haven’t got the book i strongly recommend that you purchase a copy immediately! or, if you’re slightly less impulsive than i am, visit a book shop (preferably one with a café so you can settle back with a drink) and settle down to thumb through it. then buy a copy!
one of the things that has got me excited is skye’s concept of a culinary toolbox. she describes it as follows:
“the toolbox is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of my cooking. as the seasons change and new ingredients present themselves it is the toolbox i turn to for inspiration… every item in the toolbox works as a component to be added to something else – the ‘tools’ act as conductors or enhancers of flavour and they come alive when they are added to another dish. they work without masking or overpowering the ingredients that i most want to highlight in a dish. ultimately they help me to achieve the balancing of flavours that is critical to the way i cook.”
skye shares with us her savoury toolbox – starting with top note herbs (such as basil) running via infused oils, roasted red onions and braised lentils through to base note earth herbs (such as bay) - and her dessert toolbox which is much more simple.
this approach, which asks us to identify core flavours and ingredients, instinctively makes sense to me and is something i am pondering on.
in the meantime, i decided to add one of skye’s toolbox ingredients to my fridge, and my cooking. slow roasted tomatoes. if you make these, make sure you have a supply of good bread to hand so you can mop up the richly flavoured juices that caramelise on the tin.
slow roasted tomatoes
10 ripe vine tomatoes
½ teapsoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
heat your oven to its lowest setting – probably around 100c.
halve the tomatoes (i quartered them) and lay the cutside up, ina single layer, on a baking tray. mix together the sugar, salt and pepper and sprinkle this mix over the tomatoes. roast, undisturbed, for 3-4 hours until they shrivel up. remove and set aside until ready to use. they will keep well for several days or you can store them for longer (up to a month) in sterilised jars, covered with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.