Today I picked my very first tomatoes of the season. Well not quite true as I have had an abundant supply of cherry tomatoes for at least a month if not more. And they keep on coming. But delicious as they are they are trickier to use in cooking than these 'real' ones. It's not very many I know but I think enough to make one of my very favourite recipes for dinner tonight. If it's not quite enough then I shall have to use those cherry tomatoes too.
We tend to think of tomatoes as a summer fruit, but really they are an autumn fruit, and so it is apt that on this first day of autumn we are going to eat my first tomatoes.
I don't know what type of tomato they are. I bought a punnet of mixed 'heritage' tomatoes but I don't know which is which really.
So what am I making? Well it's a sort of savoury upside-down cake and I might have told you about it before, but it is such a favourite of mine that I am telling you again. It's from Belinda Jefferey who is another of those somewhat unsung and uncelebrated cooks who writes beautiful no fail recipes. I think her 'speciality' is baking but she has a whole lot of other recipes too. So far I only have one of her books and it's a small one, so I am always on the lookout for others.
I have several of her recipes in my recipe database on my computer but I think that is about to die a death. It was in one of those programs that, excellent though it was, was discontinued. Some time ago now. It was called Bento and I painstakingly went through all of my delicious magazines picking out the recipes that I thought were worth preserving and putting them, one a day, into my database. There are hundreds and hundreds there. All to no avail, because when I upgrade to the latest OS it will no longer work, and as it has been discontinued nobody is going to update it.
Which is the problem with technology is it not? The methods for preserving and recording things changes all the time and becomes redundant. We painstakingly record things on the latest medium - microfilm, microfiche, video, cd, dvd and they become redundant. Even material that has been digitised is very possibly becoming redundant. I am not enough of a technologist to know but I am guessing that there are databases in which such things are stored that are now redundant, and coding that is also redundant. Lose the machines that read these things and you lose the items themselves. And so we record them all over again. Which is why all those paper archives will always be needed. Yes paper is looking good. But then again paper can burn, parchment too. Who knows what unimaginable works of genius were lost when the library in Alexandria burnt down. And on a less important note, when government record offices burn - like the Dublin ones in the days of the troubles many, many records are lost forever. Which is why it's so difficult to trace your Irish ancestors. Floods too ruin paper. Still paper is still with us and I suspect always will be.
But back to Belinda Jefferey and her recipe for Upside down tomato and basil pie. She says it is very simple - and indeed it is. This is what it looks like. I don't know why she calls it a pie, because it's much more like a cake.
She also says that you can vary it a bit and that some of her friends have:
"It’s interesting how many people have also said that they make their own versions of it. One good friend sits a layer of sautéed onion under the tomatoes; another adds slivers of olives and semi dried tomatoes to the base. I’m sure there are many other versions as well, all equally good." Belinda Jefferey
Because of my slightly worrying small number of tomatoes I might have to vary it myself. Maybe a few sliced grilled zucchini. Or make a smaller one. We'll see.