Kelsie and Mel of Travels with My Fork Supper Club have come up with a genius proposition: a cooking club for Berlin.Genius because with 6 different people doing their utmost to impress each other and the guests outside, there is bound to be some good stuff to eat.
And there was. Rene served up a tousled plate of noodles with gambas and sauce chien. Stefan made a chilli chutney so punchy and addictive, I spooned it on top of everything! You hear that Stefan? You need to bottle that stuff up and sell it. Jill surprised me with a raw sweet potato salad. (Who knew you could eat sweet potato raw?) Mel’s Jambalaya had 3 different kind of sausages. I had two servings and kicked myself for not bringing along a container to take some home. Caroline, of the wonderful Thyme Supper Club, made a spiced chocolate bread pudding.The theme is different every time. Saturday night it was Cajun / Creole food served up in the cute cafe that is The Dairy in Prenzlauerberg.
I’ve never eaten Cajun / Creole food, let alone cooked it. So my solution was to make things that sounded vaguely Southern and then crank up the heat. Thanks to Matt & Lee’s: The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, I found a superlative recipe for cheese straws. Once I figured out that the best way to cut them was with a ruler and pizza slicer: FAST. I cranked them out and served them in a tall vase.
Not that I followed the recipe. But I did do two things they recommended; I roasted the tomatoes until their skins blackened and blistered and my oven spewed thick white smoke into my living room, and I added a can of plum tomatoes.
Instead of a watery gazpacho, this cold soup (even in the small canape sizes I served it in) assaults with smoke, depth and flavour. I did away with the gelatine altogether, passed it through a chinoise to remove the seeds and put a spoonful of pan-fried corn and bacon at the bottom of each glass.I had a blast with my fellow cooks. Everyone was poking their noses and fingers into each others recipes. When Caroline finished potting up her bread pudding, she came over and helped me peel eggs, Jill joined shortly after. I loved how it felt, a camaraderie I remember from my days at Leiths or christmas time at Melrose and Morgan.
Kelsie, Mel…count me in for all future events!
Smoky Spicy Chilled Tomato Soup
(Serves 6 generously)
- 1kg large tomatoes, cored
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can plum tomatoes
- olive oil
- sherry vinegar
- Sriracha spicy sauce (Available at asian stores and the KaDeWe)
- spring onions, white parts kept whole and green parts thinly sliced
- 1 corn on the cob, kernels removed with a sharp knife
- 4 slices of bacon, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses (this is my secret ingredient)
1. Set the grill on your oven to its highest setting. Open your windows.
2. Core the tomatoes and space them evenly on a large low baking tray. Scatter the white part of the spring onion around and the whole cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and one teaspoon of sherry vinegar. Add salt and pepper.
3. Grill the tomatoes until they get a thick black skin. Turn them over and do the other side.
4. When cool enough to handle, peel the black skin off the tomatoes. Peel the garlic. Put everything in a food processor. Taste the juice that has collected in the baking tray. If it is not too bitter and burnt, tip it into the food processor. Add a can of plum tomatoes. Process until smooth.
5. Add vinegar, salt, pepper & Sriracha sauce until you are happy with the flavour.
6. Pass the soup through a chinoise. Check the seasoning again to make sure you are happy with it.
7. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. I poured the soup into glass swing top bottles.
8. When ready to serve. Pan fry the corn kernels in a little oil. Let them stick to the pan and caramelise, this will add flavour.
9. Fry the bacon until crispy.
10. To serve: put corn, sliced spring onion greens and bacon at the bottom of each bowl or glass, pour the chilled tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil and sherry vinegar and put on 2-3 flakes of maldon sea salt.