28 August 1998

From soup to barbie

– tomatoes can taste a treat

Eggs flamenco

30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

225g (8oz) tomatoes, peeled and sliced

115g (4oz) closed cup mushrooms, sliced

2.5ml (0.5 tsp) hot

pepper sauce

85g (3 oz) cooked peas

85g (3oz) garlic sausage, sliced and each slice quartered

115g (4oz) ham, diced

4 small eggs

1 small red pepper, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F, gas 6). Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until tender, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and hot pepper sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas, garlic sausage and ham, and heat thoroughly, stirring constantly. Turn into a shallow 23cm (9inch) ovenproof dish and spread the mixture to make it level. Make 4 slight indents with the back of a wooden spoon. Break the eggs over the top of the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with chopped red pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are set. Serves 4

Stifado

90ml (6 tbsp) oil

1kg (2lb) onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1kg (2lb) stewing beef, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes

1kg (2lb) plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped

45ml (3 tbsp) tomato purée

200ml (7fl oz) red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C (300F,

gas 2). Heat 60ml (4 tbsp) of oil in

a large pan. Gently cook the onions and garlic for 15 minutes until tender and reduced by half. Transfer to a 2.3 litre (4 pint) ovenproof casserole dish. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and brown the beef. Transfer to the casserole and add the tomatoes and tomato purée. Stir well. Pour over the wine. Season. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook in the oven for 5 hours until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced to resemble the consistency of jam. Serves 6-8.

SEE red and drool: Victoria Lloyd Daviess tomato cook book* is packed with illustrations that make you wish you could lift a helping from the page.

Happily, when you turn to read the facing recipes it all looks so simple that even reluctant cooks could be persuaded to have a go. The big question is, what do you try first? Soups, starters, salads, sandwiches and snacks, family meals, party dishes, vegetarian and barbecue ones – the tomato has a place in them all. We have chosen just two to reproduce on this page, eggs flamenco and stifado from the family meal section.

Perhaps you pick home-grown tomatoes and can enjoy the fresh, sweet, summery smell that comes with them. But if you have to get your supplies from the supermarket then make a point of looking out for the distinctive "british" logo of the Tomato Growers Association (also reproduced on this page), the associate publishers of the cookbook.

&#42 Not GM at all

"Contrary to popular belief, British tomatoes are not genetically modified," Victoria points out. "They are produced entirely naturally, with bees used to pollinate the tomato plants and natural methods of pest control are practised."

But whatever the source of your tomatoes, dont be mean with them in cooking, use a plentiful supply, says Victoria who developed her appreciation of the fruit during her early adult summers when cooking for her uncles household in Italy. Here tomatoes were abundant and she was able to turn simple ideas into beautiful, rich tasty dishes.

The other point she stresses is that tomatoes are a sub-tropical fruit. "They hate the cold," she says, "and especially the refrigerator. To enjoy them at their best, serve them at room temperature. I keep tomatoes in the fruit bowl!" AR

*The Tomato Cookbook by Victoria Lloyd-Davies, Salamander Books, paperback (£4.99) Available from bookshops or direct from the Tomato Growers Association at £3.99 including post and packing. Make cheques payable to The Tomato Growers Association and send to British Tomato Cookbook, The Tomato Growers Association, 133 Eastgate, Louth, Lincs LN11 9QG.

Tomato and mozzarella salad is the dish illustrated on the front of Victoria Lloyd-Daviess book. Her salad tips include adding a pinch of sugar to bring out the tomatos natural sweetness. Choose a dressing which will not smother their flavour, she says, drizzle over good quality olive oil and add freshly chopped herbs.