For me, August is the tomato month. When we lived, for a short time, in Austin, Texas the tomato season was much earlier. I recall tasting our first homegrown tomatoes in late May. I'm a native New Englander so I connect tomatoes with August. The German knife maker, Wusthof, must think so too, since their special promotion knife for August is a 5" Tomato Knife with serrated edge and a forked tip. Seeing their ad reminded me that I should begin to upgrade my knife collection. Cooking is great fun with all the new gadgets and gizmos available today, but the "must have" tool is a set of good knives.
This past weekend I added to my list of errands, a stop at a local cookware store. After checking out the used book stores for cookbooks - where I found a great book on Salt & Pepper, which I'll blog about later - I popped into Kitchen Outfitters in Acton and found them to be most helpful in describing all the knife choices for slicing tomatoes. I was intrigued by the ceramic knife but stayed with the reason I first went into the store...the Wusthof 5" tomato knife. I really like how the forked tip can be used to pick up the sometimes very slippery tomato slices. I bought the knife along with a serrated peeler. I read about the peelers in The Boston Globe a few weeks ago and am curious if they really work on tomatoes. It would be great to not have to scald and peel tomatoes on a hot summer day. I'll let you know how it works out.
Weekend Dinners - on Saturday I tried a recipe from Clotilde Dusoulier's new cookbook, Chocolate & Zucchini. I love her blogs and have enjoyed preparing the recipes she posts there. I found her cookbook enjoyable to flip through, but the recipes seem overly complicated. I prepared the Mustard Chicken Stew - using my fresh tomatoes in lieu of the canned ingredient. I didn't understand the reason for preparing the garlic paste. The recipe indicated to "cover and set aside" but never mentioned where or how to use it. Perhaps a French thing? Anyway, the stew was tasty. Here is an adaptation using fresh tomatoes and omitting the garlic paste. Made before I purchased the serrated peeler...so I still blanched my tomatoes.
Mustard Chicken Stew
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
One 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut up in 8 serving pieces
2 red onions
2 pounds ripe, fresh red tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
A pinch of chile powder
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard with whole mustard seeds or 1/4 cup regular Dijon mustard
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Arrange chicken pieces in pot, skin side down, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned.
While chicken is cooking, scald tomatoes in pan of boiling water. Peel off skin and trim stem ends. Dice tomatos and set aside. Peel and quarter the onions.
Once chicken is done browning, remove from pot and set aside. Pour out excess chicken fat. Put onions in the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
Add diced tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and ground chile power. Arrange chicken pieces over the vegetables. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occassionally to make sure the vegetables don't stick to the bottom.
Once the chicken is cooked, spoon the mustard into the pot and blend to make a sauce. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Continue to stir until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Adjust seasoning if needed.
Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Serve over rice or pasta after first removing the bay leaves.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini