When I was up in Canada last month for labor day the NYTimes published an article on tomatoes by Sam Sifton. The first three paragraphs are worth quoting in full; to paraphrase would be like using egg beaters to make a souffle:
The last of the tomatoes are coming in now, wide and cracked, heavy with the captured humidity of passing summer, each one a Neruda poem shedding its own light, benign majesty. It is time to eat them, these sunsets of the season, then put away our flip-flops and face the fall.
And so this last celebration, a dinner of fat-slob tomatoes stuffed with a mixture of cheeses and a hint of tomato flesh, scented with paprika, made light with vodka, dusted with chives. There ought to be bread as well, to mop up the remaining juices, and a platter of grilled chicken served alongside, cooked in whichever manner most evokes in you the feeling of a summer night that goes on just late enough.
There should be sunflowers somewhere in the house, a nod to autumn. There should be friends and a soundtrack that is elegiac without being sad. Everything should be casual except your commitment to having plenty of wine. And the combination should lead inexorably to a morning spent lying slack and sun-kissed on powdery sand before a restless sea or, failing that, in bed somewhere, as comfortable and careless as Daisy Buchanan.
This article almost seemed to speak to us, up on a summer beach vacation wearing jeans and flannel shirts. The heat from July and August was still in the water, but September and October winds were blowing in the air. Instead of lying on the on the beach, we curled up in the hammock listening to the waves push up on the shore, the autumn wind blowing through the trees above. We didn't have a soundtrack, but an old radio, a fork in the antenna, tuned just so. In the world of ipods, it was it was a delight to find Shout by Tears for Fears as we washed dishes. But true to Sifton's words, we had plenty of wine.
We didn't make Sifton's tomatoes during our weekend at the beach, but our food was just as summery: arugula salad, farm-stand corn, and tomatoes "as sweet as candy," as my cousin said. The main dish was Beach Chicken, a family summer staple, grilled to perfection. For dessert we had a blueberry pie and a apple pie, a nod to summer and to fall.
Back at home from Boston, savoring the memories and pictures from the weekend in Canada, and from the entire summer with Liz and Zandra, I knew I had to make these tomatoes.
Along with the tomatoes we made Ina's scallops Provencal.
The tomatoes were very interesting, I think next time I would tone down the paprika next time because they were a little smoky for my taste. The recipe certainly showcased their freshness, and I loved the combination of cheeses. With the additional plum tomatoes in the filling, the dish wasn't too rich or heavy for the season. The scallops were perfect. They were a breeze to make, I even doubled the dish to feed six. The sauce was very flavorable, the perfect topping for bread. With sunflowers on the table, it was the perfect farewell to summer.
Robiola Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from the NYTimes
Salt and pepper
3.5 ounces robiola cheese, rind removed and diced
2 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
2 tbs. butter
4 large tomatoes
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp. paprika (or less)
4 chives, minced
2 tbs. vodka
1. Cut the large tomatoes in half and scoop out most of the flesh. Sprinkle with salt and place upside down on towels to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Beat the cheeses and butter in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the plum tomatoes, paprika, chives and vodka, stirring to combine.
4. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture and serve.
Adapted from Ina Garten
1 lb. bay or sea scallops
Salt and pepper
4 tbs. butter
1/2 c. diced shallots
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/3 c. white wine
1. If using the smaller bay scallops, keep them whole. If using sea scallops, but in half horizontally. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Toss with flour, shaking out the extra.
2. Heat 2 tbs. butter in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the scallops in a single layer and lower the heat. When they are brown on one side, flip. This should only take a few minutes.
3. Add the rest of the butter to the pan, along with the shallots, garlic, and parsley. Stir all together for two minutes. Add the wine and cook for one more minute. Serve with wedges of lemon.