Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures
Grandma Zimmern taught me to cook by osmosis. On weekends, my dad would sometimes drop me off at her house and ask me to be good while she babysat me. We had nothing in common on the face of things. She was 75, I was six. But when she put me on the stool in the little cramped kitchen of 411 West End Avenue, I watched her turn into a young Ginger Rogers, whirling around the kitchen, churning out amazing food for 15 people like it was child’s play. All of her Jewish grandmother comfort-food classics are stellar, from chopped liver and tongue to matzo ball soup and brisket. She was an ace in the kitchen, rendering her own chicken fat for her recipes and giving me the poultry cracklings to snack on when they were crispy and the fat was clear and golden. I am convinced that Sean Brock is partially reincarnated from Grandma. Just my theory.
When Grandma entertained, she made small Pepperidge Farm bread circles with a juice glass as cookie cutter, spread them with butter and topped each with a curled anchovy. That was her idea of fancy. We would sit down to the table and nosh on a relish tray, with some chopped liver. Once a year, as a prelude to her main course, she would send one of these tomato aspics out, to the delight of the cheering Zimmern family.
Now this kind of dish is old-school in every sense, but I swear it is making a comeback, and you should get on the bandwagon before you are labeled a culinary poseur by all of your friends.—Andrew ZimmernTomato RecipesFirst Course Recipes
One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
6 black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup hot chicken stock or low-sodium broth
6 large hard-cooked eggs, sliced 1/3 inch thick
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, thinly sliced crosswise
1 1/2 pounds skinless poached salmon, flaked
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes and their juices with the onion, lemon, sugar, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat for 20 minutes.
Strain the tomatoes through a fine mesh sieve set over a large heatproof measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible; you should have about 1 1/2 cups. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt. Stir the gelatin into the hot stock until completely dissolved. Then whisk the mixture into the hot tomato juice. Let cool.
Line the sides of a nonreactive 9-inch ring mold with the slices of egg, and line the bottom with a ring of sliced olives. Place the mold on a small baking sheet and fill the mold with the flaked salmon, trying to not disturb the eggs and olives. Carefully pour in the tomato juice, filling the mold to the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Unmold the ring onto a chilled plate, cut into slices and serve.
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