March 7th: tomato soup, beef stew, nectarine tart

Autumn …dinners … mushrooms and pumpkin, the colours of falling leaves transposed to the table. Although, with friends coming to dinner yesterday & my mind a blank at the planning stage, neither pumpkin nor mushrooms featured. I realised afterwards that I fell back on old familiar dishes from the time when I lived in the Wairarapa, dishes that perhaps I haven’t made for 6 years.


Trish’s tomato soup


This I first had at a friend’s in Greytown. And like Susie’s pasta and many other dishes I seem to turn to, this isn’t really a recipe. It uses tinned tomatoes, too, so a bit of cheat perhaps. Anyway … one onion, finely chopped, gently sautéed. Sprinkle softened onion with a tablespoon of flour, & brown. Add 2 tins chopped tomatoes, about 1 ½ cups of chicken stock – but take care, you don’t want the soup to taste of chicken – and tarragon. Though I used sage from the garden this time & that worked well. Heat gently, and before serving add cream, season to taste.    


Beef stew with red wine


Now, this is an old favourite, another Gabriella Rossi recipe. Black olives & red peppers give it a special touch, and thyme & parsley from the garden contribute a tenuous home-grown provenance. But the recipe’s too long to reproduce here … and I’m feeling lazy! Suffice to say, to my surprise, four people demolished a very generous pot full last night!


Crisp nectarine tart


Again, this was a dessert I used to make in Featherston, where we had our own nectarine tree. But at the supermarket yesterday they had, amazingly, ripe nectarines & it’s such a simple dessert. A sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry. About 5 nectarines cut into semi-circular slices, arranged artfully on the pastry sheet. Sprinkled generously with sugar – avoiding any on the naked pastry – and baked at 210 degrees Centigrade for 15 – 20 minutes. Last night, sadly, the caramelising sugar dripped off the baking tray onto the element, so I had to pull it out of the oven before the caramelising finished, but still delicious. Especially with whipped cream.


Suppose I should have cleaned the oven this morning … it slipped my mind until now.


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