Saturday, September 24, 2011
Doesn't English have the oddest words? Due to the chilly and wet spring and early summer, we had a dearth of ripe tomatoes, even in August. Dearth sounds so heavy and sad (and means a lack of or inadequate supply or [even more so] a scarcity that makes something dear) which is appropriate since the scarcity of tomatoes was a sad thing. Now, with the onset of almost a full week of hot weather, we have a plethora of ripe tomatoes!Plethora is another one of those unusual words but it is perfect for the current situation; we do indeed have an excess, superfluity, over supply, profusion and abundance of a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes.
I've been giving them away to friends, eating them at almost every meal, and still there are plenty of bright red Costoluttos, yellow-orange Persimmons, striped Green Zebra tomatoes with a yellow tinge under the stripes to let me know its ripe, big fat Marvel Stripes and dark green brown and pink Black Krims, plus a dusky plum shaped one that is twice the size of my old favorite Romas. This makes me the opposite of sad as you can imagine. The wait was worth it. Don't you just love it when you finally get something you've been waiting patiently for and it actually lives up to your expectations?
I have to boast a little. One of the plants that I fed and watered for so long produced an absolutely huge tomato. Here is a photo of it by the KitchenAid mixer paddle to give you a visual idea of just how much of a big guy it was. There have been a few more that were large, but that one was giant.
Once each season when we get to this point and there are tomatoes to choose from, each more luscious looking than the other, I make a classic BLT sandwich.
This time it took a day longer than planned because the sourdough bread I baked to use to hold the sandwich together and to capture those delicious fresh tomato juices baked up too thin. It made great toast but I wanted a nice tall sandwich bread. The next day I made some for my sandwich and some to share with friends. I tried something different. I fastened a folded parchment collar around a small spring form pan and put the dough ball in that. It rose up beautifully so I had the perfect tall sandwich loaf, even if it was round instead of loaf shaped.
Some thoughtfully cooked platter bacon from our local market (not undercooked with flabby parts where the fat didn't crisp up, not overcooked so it would be crumbly, a handful of baby lettuce leaves, light mayonnaise (the only thing I should have made from scratch instead...but the taste was still just fine), freshly ground pepper and slices of juicy tomato fresh from the vine...it made a really iconic BLT!
I ended up wiping tomato juices from my chin because the bread just couldn't soak them all up. It was like biting into the best of summer.
two slices bread, if possible a sourdough bread (I made a sourdough herb bread with whole wheat flour)
2-4 slices good quality bacon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 ripe tomatoes, home grow if possible
1-2 full sized lettuce leaves or a handful of baby leaves
pepper to taste
Toast the bread.
Fry the bacon until just barely crisp, turning a few times as the slices cook. Lay cooked slices on paper towels or brown paper to drain.
Spread both slices with the mayonnaise. Slice the tomato in thick (about 1/2 inch) slices. On one slice arrange the tomato slices. Top tomatoes with the cooked bacon strips. Top with the lettuce. Add pepper to taste on the other slice of bread. Freshly ground pepper is the best.
Place the peppered bread on top of the bacon. Press the sandwich together slightly. Serve at once. Be sure to have some napkins on hand to handle those fresh tomato juices that might escape the sandwich.