Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Monday, 22 October 2012

Half term and I am pretending I am in Mallorca - Tumbet

... I am imagining that in Mallorca it is shimmering hot with a periwinkle blue sky and a breeze that merely breathes through the branches of the soon to be abundant fruit trees whilst I sit on the veranda of an old Mallorcan house, sipping Palo and reading a good book, watching Lola and Finn splash about in the pool and Phill visibly begin to unwind and build up some laughter lines. I think it's safe to say that he needs this imaginary holiday more than me. Anyway, in my mind I am feeling pretty damn content after eating the joyously wonderful Tumbet in such imaginary surroundings - it is better than the harsh realism of being sat here in my conservatory staring out westwards watching the cloud...and the rain...and wondering if my washing will ever dry. 
I love these kind of dishes in which the whole is better than the sum of its parts. I mean, I do like all these things separately I suppose but there is something that happens, let's call it 'alchemy' for I like the word, that takes place when these ingredients come together. I don't know whether this particular alchemy will confer some kind of everlasting life and youth but what I do know is that it tastes wonderfully garlicky and glorious. And if you're of a mind to, dipping a bit of good bread into the flavourful olive oil once the Tumbet is no more is a total and utter must.
Once again, as I am attempting to escape to somewhere further south with this recipe so it seems apt that this recipe is from Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes, a book that has seen plenty of action in my kitchen, as its battered cover and corners will testify.  Stein makes reference to Sam and Eddie hart's Modern Spanish Cooking, which I also have, and my reason for mentioning it is not to give you some sort of glimpse into my cookbook addition, it's more to emphasise the extraordinarily good provenance of this dish.
It is a little bit of a faffy recipe with a few stages involving frying the various vegetables off, but don't let that put you off because it is worth it. Not unsurprisingly, Lola and Finn were not necessarily taken with aubergines. That's okay. Phill recommends this dish highly, and so do I, 'cos we loved all of it.
Tumbet: Oven Baked Potatoes, Peppers, Tomatoes and Onions, adapted from Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad twice as a side dish
My adaptions are in red
For the tumbet:
Two large aubergines, stalk ends removed
1 kg floury potatoes (I used Vivaldi, that I get from Sainsbury's)
About 10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Two large red peppers (Though I confess to using one red and one yellow - I fancied colour)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the tomato sauce:
14 plum tomatoes (Ever tried getting decent tomatoes around here? Impossible. So, I subbed two tins of plum tomatoes instead)
1 - 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion chopped (I used a full onion because it wasn't so big)
1 banana shallot or 3 ordinary shallots (I used ordinary)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large thyme sprig (I subbed 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 oregano sprig (I subbed 1/2 tsp dried oregano)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
To make the tumbet - slice the aubergines into 1.5cm thick rounds ans lay them out on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Sprinkle with salt and allow the aubergine slices to degorge for about 20 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and slice into 5mm thick rounds. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the potato slices until they are golden and tender. You will have to do this in batches. Season.
Halve and core the peppers, then slice length ways into 1 cm strips. Heat some more oil in the frying pan and fry the peppers over a medium heat for about 20 - 25 minutes stirring occasionally. (I cooked mine for about 15 minutes and they were fine). Remove, season lightly and set aside.
On their way to golden!!!!
Meanwhile, pat the aubergines dry to remove the salt and juices. Place the slices in a frying pan with some more of the olive oil and fry until the slices are golden brown. You'll need to do this in batches and you will probably need to add more oil. Set aside.
For the tomato sauce. If you are using tomatoes you'll need to skin them, quarter them and remove the seeds. If you're using tinned, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine at this point.
Bit chunky - we like it this way. You might like to cut them smaller...)
Sweat the onion and shallot in the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or so then add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for another five minutes approximately.
Add the tomatoes and thyme and oregano and some salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce slowly for 25 - 30 minutes until you have a thickish sauce. Remove any herbs you can (I'm thinking bay leaves if you used dried herbs like me) and then taste and season again if necessary to taste. You do need a sauce with flavour because it is going to 'season' the vegetables too.
Preheat the oven to 190c/Gas 5 and oil the base of an ovenproof dish.
Lay potato slices over the bottom and then cover with pepper strips, then aubergines (though for reasons I still don't understand I did aubergines first, then peppers). I had potato slices over so I topped the peppers with them.
Pour the tomato sauce over the top and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve with chicken or fish maybe. I had Merguez sausages and some sourdough bread and we ate like a king, a queen, a princess and a prince.

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