December is upon us. I have neglected my blog even more than my garden for the last couple of weeks, so apologies to any regular readers who thought I had fallen down the proverbial plug hole. Some low level renovations made me briefly computer-less, followed by the usual ups and downs of a household at this time of year, but I am planning to more than make up for lost time this month, so brace yourselves.
A few months ago, I saw a post from Melinda at Melbourne Larder about making good use of food magazines. In one month, she had made more than 10 recipes from a recent Gourmet Traveller. I was impressed because - brace yourselves - my name is Suzie and I am a food porn addict. I don't just enjoy them; I mainline food magazines. As well as filed and orderly collections of magazines I am keeping, there are piles of unsorted magazines hidden in various corners around the house. I have an enormous box of unsorted clippings from magazines that have been sent off to recycling, plus three largish scrapbooks of sorted recipes. Whenever I find myself out and about with some time to kill before collecting the kids, going to an appointment, or meeting a friend, I tend to dive into a newsagency and collect another hit. Which all wouldn't be nearly as wicked if I actually used them a bit more instead of just conjuring up hypothetical meals in my head.
So I dropped a note to Melinda suggesting some sort of monthly challenge, and after an exchange of emails, we have decided to play. Our plan is to pick a different magazine each month, try and cook and review and post as much as possible from it in the month. If anyone else decides to join in, they are more than welcome, just drop a comment in to either Melinda or me. No more rules or pressure than that. This month's choice is Australian Gourmet Traveller, December 2009. And tentatively, this project of ours is called "We Made It". Which, incidentally, is how I feel by the time I get to December.
So first recipe off the rank was a mixed tomato salad with sumac, herbs and flatbread. At this time of year, the available varieties of tomatoes spin out from the usual choices of Italian, vine-ripened or bog standard to a gorgeous palette of shapes and sizes and colours. And the recipe is not prescriptive as to what varieties you pick - take a look at what is available and what will look pretty in a bowl and work from there. Tomato salads are a great addition to any buffet or plate because of the shot of colour they give. They also last longer than your standard leaf salad - I enjoyed the remainders yesterday of a salad prepared the night before - so make sure you don't bin the leftovers. The tomato holds its shape and texture well, and if anything the flavour is enhanced. Incidentally, I prefer to blacken the capsicum skins under the griller than mess around with open flames - no need for yet another cooking scar on my hands!
If you would like to join in the fun of cooking from Gourmet Traveller this month, leave me a comment, and make sure you go and visit Melinda at Melbourne Larder and see what amazing things she is whipping up too.
3 red capsicum
1.2 kg assorted tomatoes, such as vine-ripened, green, ox heart, grape, cherry, kumato
80 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
3 golden shallots, thinly sliced
1 lemon, juice only
2 tsp sumac
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bunch each coriander, parsley and mint, leaves torn
grilled flatbread and crumbled feta (optional)
Grill capsicum over a low open flame until blackened, turning occasionally (20-30 minutes). Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand until cooled (1 hour), then peel, coarsely chop and set aside.
Cut large tomatoes into wedges, halve smaller ones and combine in a bowl. Add olive oil, shallot, lemon juice, sumac and garlic, season to taste and toss to combine. Stir through capsicum and herbs and serve with grilled flatbread to the side and crumbled feta, if desired.