There is a back story to this recipe for Tomato Tatin. The recipe comes from an old rerun of Cook Like a Chef. I was half watching the show as I really didn’t know when it was on and which chef would be featured, but there are two shows that do still stick in my mind.
One episode was with a very young Rob Feenie and two or three of his sous chefs and the other episode was the show about tomatoes.
The Rob Feenie episode included several dishes but the interesting thing about this show was that each dish featured a sous chef and his/her specialty. If I remember correctly, there was a sous chef dedicated to prepare only ‘faire des plats à partir de restes’.
These would be appetizers and hors d’ouevres and even desserts made from left over vegetables, meats, bread, sauces or other foods prepared in advance of service in the restaurant the night before. It makes sense to re-purpose these very good ingredients but I was surprised that this was actually assigned a station at the Lumière, Rob Feenie’s restaurant in Vancouver. The French actually have a designation for this station and is the responsibility of the chef du faire des plats à partir de restes, or chef making dishes from left overs.
During this episode, the chef du faire des plats à partir de restes made three or four outstanding appetizers with ingredients already on hand. No cooking, just chopping, blending, and combining. It made a lot of sense to me as I also look to my fridge when I make hors d’oeuvres. It’s amazing what you can create using bits and pieces from your fridge and pantry.
The Tomato show…
And then there was the tomato show and a young chef from Quebec, or at least she was French speaking.
If I am not wrong, her name is Elizabeth Manville. Certainly, what I have found after only a brief search, is that she is Canadian and has worked in the best restaurants in the US and Canada as well as hotels and embassies around the world, not to mention cooking for performers and entertainment personalities.
Anyway, tomatoes and Cook Like a Chef.
It wasn’t until the final presentation of the TomatoTatin that I started paying attention. I had half listened to how and what, but when I saw this dish presented, I thought, this is worth keeping. So, I jotted down some notes and it wasn’t until I was looking for an appetizer for a dinner party that I found the notes.
Most of it was there, and while I could not find the show or the recipe again, I think that I have managed to recreate that wonderful TomatoTatin from that show. It is truly an exquisite dish, one that you might find in a fine French Restaurant and a dish that you would make for just the right dinner party. The closest I have come to seeing this dish was at Maison Blanch on Longboat Key, but Chef Martinez used cherry tomatoes and presented the appetizer as a mini tomato tart.
This recipe was made with perfectly round tomatoes, all the same size, blanched and peeled and stuffed with caramelized onions and then baked. The peeled tomato is placed in a ramekin with a gastrique base and topped with pastry dough. Once baked and cooled, it is turned out onto a plate, surrounded by the gastrique.
It’s actually not that difficult or time consuming to make. Many things can be cooking at the same time, and provided that you start the gastrique and the caramelized onions first, you will be ready with the rest of the ingredients at the right time.
So, this appetizer would fall into the category of an appetizer for a special dinner party, and I did prepare this appetizer for just that kind of event, The Love Apple Dinner Party. The dinner was for friends down south during pre pandemic days. The star of that dinner party menu was the TomatoTatin, but it was preceded by an assortment of equally impressive hors d’ouevres and followed by a fabulous and decadent main course.