Here is an article about her published in The Guardian UK:
Then I piled them in the largest pan I own... which almost wasn't large enough!
But after 2 hours of stewing, the peppers softened
The dish is finished with tomatoes. Not just any tomatoes. Peeled tomatoes. How do you peel a tomato? Bet you've never thought of that. But in cooking it is often important as tomato skins can be tough and not complimentary to the consistency of the dish. It depends on what tomatoes you are using aswell.For this recipe I am using Plum or 'Roma' tomatoes. They are meaty and not overly watery and hold up well in a sauce. They also have good flavour. I could research and write a whole blog on tomato varieties and what to do with what kind... But let's stay focused. this recipe called for skinned tomatoes, and this is how you do it. Gently score ( to score... means to gently make a small cut with a VERY sharp knife - in fact it is just best to understand that if you plan on accomplishing anything in the kitchen.. that your knives are very sharp) So with your SHARP! knife, gently score the bottom of your tomatoes with a small x. This will enable you to peel the skins of more easily later. This isn't mandatory... the skins will come off anyway but it helps. Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Dump in your tomatoes and let them boil for no more than 3 minutes. You will see the skins start to peel up and away. Have a bowl of ice water ready. After 3 minutes, fish out your tomatoes and immediately submerse them in the ice water.
This cools the tomatoes and ensures the flesh of the tomatoes does not cook. After they have cooled for a few minutes, simply peel away the skins, and voila! Peeled tomatoes!
I learned in cooking school that they are quite popular in french cuisine as the concept is that the tomato skins can be unpleasant to the palate in certain applications such as a small canape where there is not much cooking involved and the skins would be too toothsome. Also... french recipes often call for the GRAPES to be peeled so ... you can see they take their peels very seriously... ( a little too seriously) Anyhow I believe it was important for this recipe -albeit Italian, because they are to accompany the peppers which have been stewed for two hours which has softened the peels. And if you put the tomatoes in with the peppers at the beginning the flavour would be completely different. So- raw tomato with a soft texture. I hope you are following. These peeled tomatoes are used in french cuisine as garnishes aswell. If you core the peeled tomato and then slice it into strips it becomes 'Tomato Concasee' - which I did about 100 times during cooking classes. Anyhow it is a nice little trick. Very simple and can be quite delightful for guests if they have never had it. It's a way to fancy up the tomato!
I will add one last comment on this topic - i think it could be debated that a certain variety of tomato with a gentle soft skin could be used as a replacement and skip the whole skinning broo-haha. But this goes back to my reluctance to turn this post into a discussion on heirloom tomato varieties... perhaps another day!
Alright so tomatoes skinned, the recipe called for them to be seeded and chopped then stirred in with the stewed peppers. Voila! A simple antipasti. The slow cooking of the peppers made them very sweet and tender. The juices were almost a syrup because of all the sugar that was released. Delicious! They would keep in the refrigerator for 7 days in an airtight container and make an excellent quick salad or sandwich topping for weekday lunches.
Next came the beans. A very simple salad. Cook the beans in salted water until tender. Cool slightly and toss with olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped fresh parsley, and salt & pepper. Delicioso!
Next up was the ever curious zuchinni.
The first step was to slice the zuchinni on the diagonal ( oh the diagonal - shapes and cuts are very imporant with food presentation. You can make a slice of zuchinni look much more posh if you slice it on the diagonal! It's true! Don't laugh!)
So following a rather excellent diagonal slicing session, the zuchinni were ready to be laid out to dry. This was important - Said Rose&Ruth.. as the zuchinni will release a bit of moisture while sitting, which you can then pad with some paper towel to remove.. and this ensures a good brown frying once you get them in the pan. So I laid out some paper towel and I actually let them sit overnight.
Fewf I was tired from all that skinning and diagonal slicing.
The next morning ... D DAY! I tackled the zuchinni. It took quite a long time to get this into swing.. so looking back I would have completed this the day before. But Alas!
Next step said Rose&Ruth was to heat enough olive oil to easily cover a heavy bottomed pan. Quarter a clove of garlic and fry it gently in the oil. Remove the garlic. Begin frying the zuchinni in batches until brown.
This part was extremely frustrating as I will admit now that I have a completely useless stove with electric burners that only heat up properly in about 1/3 of their total surface. I've learned to cook with them anyway... Any good cook should know how to improvise ..right? Or is this just what I tell myself when I'm shuffling the pan around this way and that to get everything cooking evenly. After a few rounds the pan finally heated up thoroughly and I got them all browned off. Then they were sprinkled softly with red wine vinegar, chopped mint, dried chili and salt.
Worth the effort :)
Now that I had sufficiently delayed my time management expectations I had to immediately pack up and head to work! With two tote bags filled to the brim with the 3 completed dishes plus the remaining 10 lemons, 1.5 kg of cheese I hobbled my way to work on transit. I smelled like fried zuchinni, hadn't eaten breakfast and was sweating like a tennis player in August sun. Stopped once enroute for dried pasta and arrived at work! 11am. Excellent. I had 1 hour to complete my last dish - Pici Al Limone Con Pecorino ( thick spaghetti with lemon and pecorino sauce)
I cooked my pasta - again on a completely frustrating induction burner which hardly boils water on a good day.
I unwrapped my beautiful cheeses. This dish called for Pecorino- which is a sheeps milk cheese from Italy. Two kinds were used in this dish. An aged 'Pecorino Staginato' which had a strong nutty flavour and crumbly dry texture similar to parmesan
As well as a 'fresh' pecorino which is alot more like mozzarella in texture - but still quite strong in aroma and flavour.
So I shredded like a mad woman. I juiced and zested 10 lemons. Over a strainer to catch the seeds
The cheese was blended with the lemon juice.. and after a few minutes began to 'melt' into a sort of sauce. Doesnt look appetizing on its own but boy was it tasty!
I rapidly tossed the pasta with the sauce and threw in the basil leaves and checked for seasoning. I had left the recipe book at home for this part so luckily it wasn't too tricky. And it turned out beautifully:
I was really glad there was almost no one around for this part of my cooking. I have to profusely thank my dear friend Isaac for his help and patience during my final steps. From pulling my hair out trying to find the measuring cups and strainers in the cooky work kitchen to my obsessive plating and incessant worrying and agonizing over whether it would be enough food, Isaac was there to help me find things.. and take deep breaths. Thank you Isaac :)
It was all worth the sweat ! It turned out beautifully and everyone was pleased. Especially me. The stress and worry and bother of it all becomes instantly worth it as soon as I watch someone slurping up my food with a big smile on their face. Cooking is my favourite thing to do. And what makes me even happier than cooking is sharing my food with others.
Cooking from this book was a joy and I will definately be trying more recipes from the lovely ladies of the River Cafe. Stay tuned.
If anyone is interested the book I cooked out of is the newest book by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray: