Inspiration for third-place Top Tomato 2009 winner Lloyd Ronick's elegant appetizer came by way of an old cooking series called "Great Chefs of the World" that ran on PBS. The Rockville resident jotted down notes as he watched a terrine being made, and over the years he refined and adjusted ingredients and amounts to his taste.
The result is a creamy and smooth terrine with rich tomato flavor. Sometimes Ronick likes to pour the terrine mixture into individual martini glasses. Just before serving, he spreads a thin layer of guacamole on top for color and flavor contrast.
Serve slices of the terrine with dressed salad greens.
Make Ahead: The terrine needs 8 hours' refrigeration to set up. It can be made a day in advance.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large rib celery, cut into small dice (1/4 cup)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into small dice (1/2 cup)
- 2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges, then seeded
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder
- 1/4 cup hot water, plus more cool water as needed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Leaves from 6 sprigs tarragon, chopped (2 or 3 tablespoons)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the celery and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.
Add the tomato wedges and stir to incorporate; cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes, then uncover and cook for 10 minutes, so that some of the tomatoes' moisture evaporates. (But if the tomatoes look too dry during the last 10 minutes of cooking, put the lid back on the pan.)
Pass the mixture through the fine disk of a food mill, or press it through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Discard the solids. Return the strained mixture to the pan; reduce the heat to medium-low and stir until heated through. The consistency should be that of tomato sauce; add water as needed if it is too thick, or cook longer if it is too thin. Remove from the heat.
Combine the gelatin and hot water in a small bowl, stirring until dissolved. Let it sit while you use a whisk to whip the cream in a separate bowl, until it is slightly thickened.
Add the tarragon, dissolved gelatin and whisked cream to the tomato mixture in the pan; stir to incorporate. (There should be about 4 cups total.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into a 4-cup-capacity terrine or gelatin mold. (Alternatively, the mixture can be divided among martini glasses.) Refrigerate for 8 hours, or until set.
When ready to serve, carefully run a knife around the inside edge of the terrine or mold. Immerse the bottom of the terrine or mold in a large bowl or a sink filled with a few inches of hot water for 30 seconds, then place a plate over the top. Invert so the terrine unmolds onto the plate.
Cut into slices to the desired thickness; transfer to individual salad plates. (Or place the filled martini glasses on individual plates.) Serve chilled.
From Top Tomato 2009 finalist Lloyd Ronick of Rockville.
Tested by Michael Taylor and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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