The Morning Glory Café features home-style food with a modern and seasonal twist in a comfortable, homey atmosphere. Chef and owner Cookie Hadley has been in the restaurant business since 1987. Here, he waxes poetic about summer tomatoes. For more information, visit http://themorningglorycafe.com
Xpress: What’s your favorite tomato variety?
Hadley: I love so many. I love slightly tart golden grape tomatoes for a lively “pop in my mouth” experience. I love slow-cooking Jersey Devils or San Marzano plum tomatoes to make homemade pasta sauce that takes me back to being a kid and eating my mother’s cooking (no, she's not Italian). But I have to say that my all-time favorite is the Brandywine tomato. Wow, what a tomato! Huge, colorful and full of flavor: sweet, tangy and lush — just slice one up and dig in.
Where are your local tomatoes from?
I have a few sources for local tomatoes, as well as all of my local produce. I work with Mountain Foods (a local produce distributor working with area farms) and have a standing order that they always give me local produce whenever available. I also work with Leading Green Distributors, COG (Carolina Organic Growers) and the Black Mountain Farmers Market. And, I get produce from a friend’s garden that I helped start myself about six years ago. We also grow a little bit of stuff ourselves right at the Morning Glory (mostly herbs)!
Are you willing to share your favorite tomato recipe?
Yes! I’ll share a cool gazpacho.
Fire-roasted tomato gazpacho
4 medium-large tomatoes (I go for smaller Brandywines or large Cherokee Purples for this recipe)
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large red bell pepper, cored and quartered
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and quartered
1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slabs
2 ears of corn, husked
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tsp creme fraîche
Light a grill. Cut the tomatoes in half. Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer. Lightly brush the garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, onion and corn with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and crisp-tender (about 10 minutes). Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 15 minutes.
For the tomatoes, grill “face-down” until lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the garlic cloves from the skewers, peel them and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large serrated knife, cut the charred corn kernels into the bowl. Peel the peppers and add them to the bowl along with the zucchini, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper, tomato juice, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar.
Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour the gazpacho into a clean bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about two hours. Just before serving, stir the cilantro into the gazpacho. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cucumber, creme fraîche and serve. Enjoy!