By Carolyne

For this recipe, you should prepare all the items ahead of time but keep everything separate and refrigerated. Assemble it near to serving time. Choose very firm fresh tomatoes so they don’t leak their water content onto the plate.

When preparing to serve, select a large rectangular serving platter, smear the plate with either my special Caesar salad dressing or use my warm fresh amazing blue cheese dressing; if you love garlic, when using either sauce, stir in a little oven-roasted light golden colour garlic purée from your refrigerated jar, as much or as little as you like; then arrange the fruit in symmetrical rows, overlapped with quite thick slices of fresh firm juicy tomatoes with equal thickness slices of fresh firm, skinned peaches.

An even more interesting plate: use yellow tomatoes with the yellow peaches or go completely different and use white tomatoes and white peaches. Yes, they both are available white. Depending on where you live you might have to ask your green grocery department to order in for you. So, get organized well ahead of time so you know where you can buy what when you are ready.

Both fruits love fresh ground pepper, so use plenty, and just a little granular salt. If you can find it in a specialty shop, use garlic scape sea salt.

Just before serving, use room temperature sauce again to drizzle overtop the fruits. Yes, tomato is a fruit.

Serve this platter buffet-style along with a cognac marinated black mission fig tart tartin, and a pie-shaped piece of warm baked smoked Norwegian salmon frittata made with minced dill, a little mustard and Canadian goat cheese, using a dozen whisked eggs, a little flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and a bit of oven-roasted garlic purée.

Bake the frittata in a stainless-steel sauté pan with an oven-proof handle, on the centre rack on high heat, perhaps at preheated 400 F to 450 F.

Know your oven. If baking in glass, always drop the oven temperature 25 degrees. Test at a half hour but allow 45 minutes just in case. Set your timer.

The frittata is done when a knife inserted comes out clean. It’s no different than a baked custard. It will keep overnight in the fridge but remove it in plenty of time to serve at room temperature, or then reheat for a few minutes only at 200 F. Pre-cut into individual servings but serve in the baking dish with a pie piece serving lifter.

And the table pièce de résistance…add a whole beautiful round genoise, filled with fresh fruit and stiff Chantilly cream, to the table.

Remove one serving size wedge, so people can see what’s inside, and provide a long, thin serrated knife and a pie slice lifter so people can decide for themselves whether they prefer a tiny piece or an extra-large serving.

An urn of fresh brewed hot coffee might be appreciated, or even espresso (hint: make the genoise filling coffee cream).

Depending on what fruit you choose in the genoise filling, provide a matching fruit coulee in a small gravy boat, with a little ladle, in case someone might like a fresh fruit drizzle on their cream-covered genoise.

You could substitute a fruit cream-filled homemade, layered, horizontally sliced pound cake, completely covered in Chantilly cream and decorated using a forcing bag with a large star tip.

Use an offset spatula to spread the Chantilly and a sharp knife to slice, or you could pre-slice and overlap the slices on a generous rectangular serving platter. Surround with whole fruits; perhaps a mix of whole strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or even gooseberries.

It’s a royal exquisite buffet table selection that is light and beautiful to look at as eye candy, making it even more delectable on the palate.

Easy to prepare; takes no time at all, and it’s all so fresh. The genoise can be made a day ahead, sliced into three horizontal slices ready to fill just before preparing the buffet table, but refrigerate either finished cream cake until the last minute.

Invest in a large plastic dome container to cover whipped cream cakes, to avoid their taking on any fridge fragrances. For example, if you have sliced fresh cucumbers in the fridge, remove them if you are storing whipped cream covered cakes.

Always add fresh cut flowers or at the very least, a generous flowering potted plant placed strategically or use a row or grouping of little pots artfully arranged in pretty little soup cups perhaps. If it happens to be pansy season or nasturtium time, they make great little container fillers as table pretty helpers, mixed with little bunches of fresh herbs for a little greenery.

Maybe choose a loud contrasting colour mix, or pair up using a matching flower colour for synchronizing. For example, if you are doing a white carpaccio, perhaps use stalks of white phlox or wild lupins. Strategically arrange bunches of fresh herbs if no flowers are available.

You could even chop fresh basil or rosemary and scatter all over the table between the food serving plates. Kind of like herb snowflakes. The fragrance is grand. Best perfume in the world, and a natural air-freshener too.

Offer a bowl of lemon wedges for those who would enjoy. Especially nice squeezed over the frittata.

A cheese board and frozen-grape presentation is always welcome. Freeze a cluster of seedless sweet sugar-coated grapes, green or purple. Keep refrigerated until serving time. Bunches of fresh basil are nice on the serving plate, put in place at the last minute.

Extra special treat:

For fresh firm tomatoes, any colour: If you have never done this, using a box grater on the coarse side, push the whole tomato, starting at the bottom tomato end, along the wide grating holes side, until there is only the tomato skin in your hand.

Stand the manual grater on a large plate and all the tomato pulp solids will be on the plate along with a little tomato water. Drain off the liquid (I use a small sieve) and you have the most fabulous tomato pulp that seems to exacerbate the incredible fresh tomato taste.

The fresh pulp can be used for a multitude of things, including a topper for a wonderful omelette, or as a side dish with my fabulous grilled goat cheese sandwich. Or just serve plain and simple as a side dish with any meal. Or mound the pulp on a grilled garlic-smeared bread, sliced on the diagonal to make an amazing bruschetta for a mega special treat.

Chop a little flat leaf parsley or fresh basil and enjoy. You could add herbs and spices, but just plain pulp is amazing. Maybe sprinkle with fresh real parmesan.

Why this process enhances the fruit flavour I have no idea. But it certainly heightens the taste bud experience way over the top. Try it. You might be surprised.

And now for a couple of hints you can’t resist. Buy a bottle of sweeter label Prosecco. Ruffino works. Pop the cork as you would champagne. Add it to a mix of peach coulee, made using your food processor and fresh tomato pulp (prepared as above using the box grater) combined with sugar-water syrup to which you have added a little orange juice. Pop the mix into a glass or metal tray that can be frozen.

Just before the mixture is frozen solid, scape from end to end using a fork. Re-freeze and process in this manner three times. Freeze and scrape.

You have made a wonderful “granita,” sort of a cross between sorbet and semi-freddo. A wonderful summertime treat that is excellent all year round.

Use an ice cream scoop and serve in a martini glass with a sprig of fresh mint. Works beautifully between courses of a heavy meal, as a palate cleanser. (Perhaps with a venison meal, or stronger game dishes, or roasted rabbit.)

Here’s a magical tip for not wasting any leftover Prosecco, for people like me who would have leftovers because I mostly use spirits for cooking. Freeze it in ice cube trays and add it to special sauces, gravies or even to soups; or pop a Prosecco ice cube into a glass of your favourite smoothie or fruit juice or into a fruit coulee, served in a bowl stem wine glass. This ice cube process will prevent the Prosecco from turning to a vinegar taste.

You can make ice cubes from any leftover wines. I know: some of you will say there are never leftover spirits at your house! Whatever suits your fancy. Many people who live alone avoid buying spirits due to the cost and fear of waste, so this great idea solves that issue.

© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. The cookbook will be available in the coming year. Email Carolyne.


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