Baba is the gardener in the family and, by the grace of his genes, so am I. My knowledge in gardening pales in comparison to my father’s, but I might just out do him when it comes to enthusiasm. Sometimes, overly so.
We had what seemed like the longest winter in history. It was nothing short of grey and depressive. I survived the winter pinning garden ideas, tips, and tricks from seasoned gardeners on Pinterest, while one snow storm passed after the other. It kept my sanity. I would often call up my father on the phone and give him tips borrowed from Pinterest: making home made seed tapes, burying a whole egg in a flower pot to fertilize plants, using coffee grounds for fertilizer and the miracle of epsom salt on plants. I had high hopes for a great garden this year, much like my Baba’s. I wanted to grow my vegetables just as well as Baba, especially tomatoes! I think I have set my own standard when it comes to gardening: you are as good of a gardener as your tomatoes.
I started collecting egg shells to deter snails off my Bok Choy, and 2-litre soda bottles to make galoshes. I was mapping my garden and scheduling seeds in January. I couldn’t wait. Meanwhile my collection was getting a bit out of hand, as the empty soda bottles rolled about in our utility room and egg shells became a menace. As soon as I heard, ” temperatures in the double digits”, I flew to the store to stock up on tomato plants. So there in my cleaned-out bed, I hopefully planted four tomato plants. Then, I proudly inserted my cut up soda bottle galoshes and thought, “Ah, this will do the trick!” … until two days after I heard there was a frost warning!
It is not clear if anyone can predict our weather here in Newfoundland this year. This past Thursday, as I peeked out the window early in the morning, I spied flurries. Flurries and tomatoes do not go together, no matter what kind of galoshes you put over them. Should I confess that my impatience was more related to putting the collection of soda bottles to use over planting tomatoes out in the garden? I won’t confess.
I hear, that I should wait until the full moon in another two weeks to plant any vegetables outside. Hopefully the wait won’t be hard this time. I have tomatoes, aubergine, and zucchini plants waiting indoors, sunning by the patio door. Should I make another confession? I have planted a few bell peppers and green onions, scattered seeds for carrots, beets, lettuce and parsley. If the cold doesn’t kill them, my next door neighbour’s cat just might! Between the frost, the rocky soil, the slugs and the cats, gardening is nothing short of a protracted war in my backyard.
Today’s recipe is tomato-inspired. This recipe is from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s book ‘How to Make Bread’. I love this book and have yet to come across a recipe in it that I didn’t like. This bread, which he simply calls ‘tomato bread’, has nigella seeds and tomato paste. My take on the recipe was the addition of tomato juice instead of paste and some diced sun-dried tomatoes to give it an extra pop of flavour. It is a great bread to serve with fresh mozzarella cheese and a fresh cherry tomato salad with balsamic vinegar, pea shoots, or arugula micro greens. If you are not a fan of nigella seeds, you can opt out – the bread will still taste just as satisfying and humble.
Recipes using my home grown tomatoes on the blog 2012: Roasted Cherry Tomato Caprese on Pastry 2013: Cherry Tomato Tart Tatin with Honey, Hazelnuts and Oregano
Tomato Nigella Bread
- Flour: 3 cups
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Yeast: 1 tsp
- Sour cream: 3 Tbsp
- Tomato Juice: 1 cup
- Tomato Paste: 2 Tbsp
- Sundried Tomato in olive oil: 1/2 cup julienned
- Nigella seeds: 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Rosemary: 2 Tbsp chopped
- Sugar: 2 Tbsp, and 1 tsp
- Water: 1/3 cup warm water
- Mix flour, salt rosemary and nigella seeds and 2 tbsp sugar together until it is well incorporated – it is called the dry mixture.
- In a bowl take the tomato puree, tomato juice and sour cream and mix well.
- Take the 1/3 cup warm water(I make sure my water is at 100F using a cooking thermometer) and add the yeast and 1 tsp sugar and stir to combine.
- Add the yeast water along with the tomato mixture into the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it all comes together.
- The mixture will be sticky .
- Cover the bowl with another bowl or a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, fold the dough twice or three times in the bowl and let rest for 10 more minutes.
- Repeat previous step again for two more times.
- Transfer dough into a well floured baking basket or a bread pan and cover.
- Let dough rise for 4-6 hours.
- Preheat oven at 425F.
- Invert dough on baking sheet with parchment paper or into your wooden spool.
- With a very sharp knife make incisions.
- Bake the tomato bread bread for 30-35 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow.
- Let rest for a few minutes before slicing.
- Serve with cheese, olive oil and salads, fresh or toasted.