Tomato season is well under way so it’s about time I sat down and penned the most fantastic tomato coulis (thick tomato sauce) recipe in the world. I make bottles and bottles of it every year as it is so good and so easy to make. Today I am also featuring some of the friends who asked me to post this recipe…here are their stories. (This is not a copyright, it’s a right copy!! Sigh, “Here are their stories” is the line they use on CSI, silly.)
August has been no different to any other month this year, except that is was (and still is) even busier than the previous months. I haven’t gotten past January 2nd yet and I still have plenty to catch up on, so keep reading this blog! I am jumping ahead to August 1st as I HAVE to give you this recipe, but have no fear, I will return to the other happenings. With tomatoes following us even in our sleep, one needs a really good way to use lots of them, so Clare insisted I write this post. Okay, so maybe insisted is a strong word, but one likes to feel needed…
A photo of some of our tomatoes, including some black and yellow heirloom one’s.
On the 1st we were at Deb’s and Colin with several other friends for a braai. A braai, as you might / should know by now, is a South African barbecue. The weather this summer has been incredibly hot, but there was a huge thunderstorm threatening so we had to eat inside rather than sit around the braai. A pity, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves immensely. Nothing like good friends, good food and a sea of wine to keep the spirits up!
I actually think that it’s my fault that the weather is sooo terribly hot – I think it is almost officially a (very hot) drought in our area. You see, the last winter was soo long and soo miserable that I said to God that I would NEVER again complain that it was too hot, no matter how hot it got. He seems to have taken it as a challenge and He is seriously winning this staring competition. I have broken down and said that He wins and that it is too damn hot, but He only sends a rumble of laughter my way and no rain. Got to learn to keep my big mouth shut…
I have this little book I keep in my handbag to make notes of all the very interesting / strange / funny things people say. I used to try and rely on my memory, but after several cubic liters of wine, I can be lucky to remember which one of the husbands is mine, never mind what anybody said. However, this clever solution comes with a slight drawback, namely, that the next morning I can’t remember what all those cryptic notes mean. Like: “So nice to see the ladies driving”. What the hell is that about?! (Some people find the notebook a little intimidating (annoying), but unless I write down who they are, I won’t remember anyway!)
Other notes can be fathomed out though (or perhaps they were written earlier in the evening…) and one I particularly like is from Deirdre. She used be a Stewardess with British Airways and said that the crew had often thought of re-christening the BA air fleet “Lourdes* Airlines” because of the amazing recovery the passengers seemed to have on the flight. There were always lots of people who needed help to get onto the plane (before everyone else), but once told to wait till everyone had disembarked so the crew could help them, there would be nobody there. Healed!
*(Lourdes is a pilgrimage town in the Pyrenees Mountains in France where miraculous healings have been reported.)
Then someone mentioned that they had been in Paris in a park when a very well dressed businessman had walked by with his briefcase, stopped nearby, opened the briefcase, took out a towel and his baguette, got undressed, put his clothes in the briefcase and then sat on the towel in the nude and ate his lunch. At the end of his lunch break, he did it all in reverse and walked back to the office. Very civilized. Although I personally would have preferred to watch Mr. Bean trying to get his bathing suit on without talking the suit off first.
Or also in Paris, a woman was having lunch with her dog. Doesn’t sound unusual? The dog was sat across from her at the table with it’s own plate and napkin…
Another one I liked was from Clare, and was about a French woman on English telly. She speaks English very well apparently, but she does occasionally say some fun things. Like she said “pelvic floor” instead of “pelvic core”. But the best was(is) that she calls men “humans”. So like, “A human was seen walking into a park with a baguette and a briefcase”. This may, however, not be technically correct seeing as “humans” actually come from Mars…
But now the time has come for the recipe. This is a photo of the end product, the tomato coulis or sauce.
TOMATO COULIS / SAUCE
(Makes 4-6 litres / quarts)
This recipe calls for a large quantity of tomatoes so it’s best you have a vegetable garden and a very big pot to make it! Alternately, you can reduce the quantities according to how many tomatoes you have. We always plant a lot of tomato plants just in case we lose some to disease or insects, but they are very hardy plants so we generally end up with literally hundreds of kilos (pounds) of tomatoes. We also go through large amounts of tomato coulis so I need to make large quantities! There is no added liquid in the following photo – tomatoes produce enough of their own.
I collect a handful of fresh herbs in the garden and toss them into the pot. If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, dried ones work just as well. Add according to your taste, but do remember that dried herbs are more intensive so go easy on them at first. 2-3tbsp should do the whole pot.
Adding chillies gives the coulis a wonderful hot flavor, but I most often leave them out as it limits the end product. I generally add the coulis to a dish (like Spaghetti Bolognaise) so I can just as easily add a chili then rather than in the original sauce.
Adding figs is our secret ingredient and has become a firm favorite in our house. You do get a slight crunch sometimes as you bite on a fig seed, but it works as a natural sweetener without adding flavour. We use them as we also have tons of figs, but it is not essential or necessary to add them. A little bit of sugar does the job fine.
The vegetable mouli (mill) is very important and is readily available in France. Before I had one, I pureed everything, but I did not find the result to be as good as it should be. They are very affordable so keep a look out for one should you not already have one. In the above photo you see the tomatoes before you have passed them through the mouli and in the photo below, you see it afterwards. I also use mine when making plum jam – I don’t remove the pips; I just boil the whole lot and then pass it through the mouli at the end. A great time saver.
The muslin cloth is a great trick as it saves both time and electricity/gas. You ladle off the juice rather than having to boil it away. I use it to make a Tomato Consommé/soup (recipe to follow soon) although I sometimes just drink it as I’m ladling it off! You can also freeze the juice and use it as a base for soups and stews at a later time. In the photo below, you see how the soup spoons work.
Some people put the puree into the jars cold, but I had one batch go off like that, so I do not recommend you do this. I have made hundreds of jars like I describe below, and have never had a problem. You can also use a Sterilizer or a Bain Marie to preserve the bottles, but I find this way so quick and easy so I don’t bother to do it any other way.
3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
10kg / 22 lb tomatoes, chopped
Fresh herbs to taste, e.g., thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, bay leaves (handful)
Salt and pepper
2 chillies, optional
2 tbsp sugar OR 10 figs
1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a gentle boil and then simmer till the tomatoes are soft, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking and burning.
2. Put the tomato mix through the medium grill of the vegetable mouli/mill. Discard the seeds and skins. Put a piece of muslin cloth over the pulp and put two soup spoons on top of this. The tomato liquid will gradually seep through the muslin cloth and you can ladle it off. This process takes time, so you could leave it overnight. You need to ladle off about 3-4 liters/pints until the tomato puree has reached the desired level of concentration.
3. Bring the puree back to the boil and then fill into sterilized jars. Put the lids on firmly and place in a 200F/100C oven for 30 minutes. And you’re done!