In 2007, I lucked into spending a day with author and writer Peter Kaminsky just back from Argentina where he'd been cooking over fire with Argentinian chef Francis Mallman. A book was in the works and Peter was stoked -- smoked?! -- with the idea of reducing cooking to no more than fire and food.
Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentinian Way is that book and truly, it's a treasure. For anyone who likes to grill, who's serious about barbecue, who cooks outdoors, this cookbook will be a real inspiration. But for others, too, the ingredient lists are short and accessible, the food spare and simple. There's plenty of meat in the cookbook but the vegetable recipes have really captured my imagination. I can see cooking from this book -- directly from its recipes but also on my own, just from its inspiration -- for a long time. It's an entirely new way to cook -- or perhaps, better said, it's an entirely OLD way to cook but made contemporary.
The 'seven fires' are the parilla (a grill grate set over hot coals); the chapa (flat cast iron griddle set over fire)' an infernillo (a two-story fire with a cooking surface in between); a horno de barro (wood-fired oven); a rescoldo (covering food with embers); asado (a vertical spit for cooking whole animals); and caldero (iron kettle).
So far, we've tried the charring technique over an open wood fire, on the stovetop and on the grill with a hickory log for smoke. The first real hit, the 'recipe' we'll make again and again all summer, is the fire-charred tomato.
THE TASTE OF BURNT "I adore dissonance in food -- two tastes fighting each other. It wakes up your palate and surprises you. As you'll see in many of the recipes in this book, charring or even burning adds an extra dimension to breads, vegetable, and fruit. The right amount of burning or charring can be delicious and seductive: a burnt tomato, for example, has a dark crust bordering on bitter, while the inside is soft and gentle in texture and taste." ~ Seven Fires, page 5
Time to table: 15 minutes
4 medium-size perfect summer tomatoes
Kosher salt or another good coarse salt
Heat a cast iron skillet until smoky hot, adding a layer of olive oil after a minute or two. Cut the 'cap' off each tomato, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down. Press the salt into the cut surfaces. When the skillet is hot, place the tomatoes, cut-side down, onto the hot surface. DO NOT MOVE -- and let cook for exactly 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plates, serve and savor!
Don't be tempted to move the tomato once it's on the skillet -- otherwise the charred skin won't develop.
There will be smoke so if you've got a good fan, turn it on, or can cook outside (on a grill's side burner, say), do that.
~ Broiled Tomatoes with Oregano ~
~ Fresh Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella ~
~ Insalata Caprese ~
~ Fresh Tomato Sauce ~
~ Tomato & Onion Salad ~
~ more recipes for perfect summer tomatoes ~
~ more Weight Watchers recipes ~
~ more low-carb recipes ~