When I was a kid, we went home for lunch. No school lunches back then. We lived in a little town called Algonac in Michigan. Dad drove us to school in the morning and again after lunch but we walked home, weather permitting of course. It was about a mile. I've often thought since: my poor mother. The entire family (including my dad) came home for lunch. She had to plan three meals a day. And she fussed, too. It wasn't just a bunch of pb and j's on the table. We had hot lunches....and some kind of fruit or pudding. I always remember stewed prunes being served with mac and cheese. Who knows why that one particular lunch stayed in my mind?
So here I am, with just me to worry about, still looking around for innovative luncheon ideas. We tend to get repetitive, don't we? Probably the time element. I even wrote a post about it a while back. But every once in a while, a friend may be coming over, or I feel like rewarding myself and I really want something special. What to make that's fast and delicious?? In the summer when tomatoes are at their best, my favorite company go-to sandwich is a tomato sandwich à la Ina Garten. I like her dressed up version. But for speed (and just for me) I take those lovely, garden-fresh red tomatoes, add some butter lettuce, real mayo and plunk it on some fresh country bread. Heaven, for sure.
Unfortunately, it's officially still winter so I'll save those two sandwiches for summer. Even when we can get lovely tomatoes this time of year, they just don't taste the same as the ones you get in the summer at the farmer's markets. Then I ran across this super recipe in Simon Hopkinson's book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories. I really love this cookbook. Last August it was listed in the top 10 cookbooks by the London Observer. I've started reading it again, wondering how I missed this gem of a recipe the first time around.
Creamed Tomatoes on Toast
From Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories
8 ounces heavy cream (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and cored
Salt and pepper
12 basil or mint leaves, torn into pieces (I used basil)
4 slices of French country bread, grilled or toasted and brushed with a little olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Simmer the cream with the garlic and reduce by one-third. Put the tomatoes, cut-side uppermost, in an ovenproof dish and season them with salt and pepper. Strain the cream into a bowl and stir in the basil or mint. Lightly season and pour over the tomatoes.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cream is reduced and is thick and the tops of the tomatoes are slightly blistered. Meanwhile, have ready the toast on 2 plates and spoon a few tomatoes onto each slice. Spoon some residual cream over the top. Serves 2.