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Creole Lullaby



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Creole Lullaby

Rockabye your babies with these tasty melodies

The Tmes-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
Thursday, June 09, 2005
By Marcelle Bienvenu

“Ever since I was introduced to Creole tomatoes more than 30 years ago, I've
had an annual love affair with them. I've kept a journal about my "trysts"
over the years and refer to it whenever I have a tomato fantasy. My "little
black book" has a photo on the cover of me with a big basket of my Creole
babies, which was taken after an early morning trip to Belle Chasse several
years ago.
I even remember the day I first met the Creoles. It was on Memorial Day
weekend in 1969 on a trip down to what now is called Lake Judge Perez.
As we headed out toward Belle Chasse, our driver announced that we had
to make a stop at Becnel's, a produce stand, where he said there were the
best tomatoes in the world. Being a homegrown tomato fanatic, I was most
amenable to his plan. And so I was introduced to Creole tomatoes, and
I've been hooked ever since.
Nothing has stood in my way of getting those fine 'maters over the years.
For a while I purchased them at the French Market. Later, when I moved
back to St. Martinville, I thought nothing of driving down to Belle Chasse
early in the morning, several times a year, to load up on my Creole babies.
Whenever I'm in New Orleans, I'll drive to Becnel's, and also scour the
produce departments at Dorignac's and Langenstein's, and roadside stands.
I know when some tomatoes labeled Creoles are not the ones from down
the river. And the uglier the tomatoes, the better. I like them best when
they're just starting to turn red so I can spend more time with them lined
up on my kitchen counters.
Just thinking of all the ways to consume these tasty 'maters makes my mouth
water: slathered with tart mayonnaise, on sandwiches, in salads, paired with
Vidalia onions in a tart, and used to make gazpacho, salsa and casseroles. My tomato recipes are like my children -- I can't get enough of them. [Amen!]
And here it is, Creole tomato season again, and I'm eager to get my hands on
them. I have lots of plans to spend as much time with them as possible. Bring
on my babies!"


Gazpacho, My Way

Makes about 8 servings

1 (46-ounce) can tomato juice
2 to 3 large ripe tomatoes (preferably
Creoles), chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium-size sweet onion (such as a
Vidalia) or a Bermuda, chopped
2 green onions, chopped (both green
and white parts
1 medium-size cucumber, peeled,
seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black
pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (more or less to taste)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to mix. If
you wish to puree, do so in a food processor. Cover and chill in
the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving. It will last for
about a week in the refrigerator and it only gets better with time.


Tomatoes Provençal

Makes 4 servings

4 medium, ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil plus additional
for brushing the tomatoes
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 flat anchovy fillet, rinsed,
dried and minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup minced parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut off the top third from each tomato
and discard. Scoop out the seeds with a small spoon. Brush the outside
of the tomatoes with some of the olive oil. Put the tomatoes, cut sides
up, on a lightly oiled shallow baking pan and season the inside of the
tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Bake the tomatoes for 20 minutes. Remove and invert them over paper towels and let them drain for about 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil.
In a small bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, anchovy, garlic,
parmesan, parsley, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the mix-
ture equally among the tomatoes and stuff into the cavities. Sprinkle
tomatoes with the three tablespoons of olive oil.
Return the tomatoes to the shallow baking pan and broil about 4 inches
from the heat until the topping is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes.

. . . . . . .

"I use this salsa for a dip, and it's heavenly on a grilled hamburger."

My Best Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup thin strips basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (or more to taste)
chopped pickled jalapeno
1 teaspoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a glass bowl, cover and chill for at
least 30 minutes before serving.

Aromatic tomato soup

Creole tomato and onion tart

Featured Archive Recipes:
It's Creole tomato time!
Baked Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil
Chilled Bloody Mary Soup with Crabmeat
Creole Tomato Soup with Dumplings (Emeril)
Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Soup
(Craig Claiborne)

Gazpacho: The Quintessential
Summer Soup

How good does it get?
Tomatoes and corn...

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Salsa Collection
Stewed Creole Tomatoes and Shrimp
The Tantalizing Tomato
Tomato Pie (Laurie Colwin)
Tomato Soups (Craig Claiborne)
Tomato, Basil and Cheese Tart

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