The French used to call tomatoes 'pommes d'amour', love apples, back in the 16th century. The pope thought that these juicy red globes were the devil's fruit. As far as aphrodisiac foods go, I'd rather a tomato than anything sweet.
This week I visited Hampton Court's newly discovered 18th century chocolate kitchen, previously used as store rooms. Chocolatier Thomas Rosier and his wife Grace (who was a celebrity chef of the time with her own fashionable chocolate cafés), lived at the court and was the only servant permitted to serve the king directly. Hampton Court is worth a visit, the red coated attendants are all historians, there are also hourly recreations with ghostly mistresses sweeping through the rooms bidding good day to tourists. We met Henry VIII who implored us to tell Katherine Parr the advantages of marrying him. She, of course, was the only wife of six to survive. I mentioned Valentine's Day coming up, that he could give a love token to Katherine. But Henry said Valentine's Day didn't exist in his time. Prior to Chaucer in the 14th century, there was no connection between the martyr Saint Valentine and romantic love, but Ophelia mentioned Valentine's Day in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
I do love a heart shape, and food writer Emma Marsden has just published an entire cookbook of heart shaped foods 'Heart on a plate'. Another good cookbook for Valentines is Helen Graves book 'How to cook your date into bed' in which yours truly has a guest recipe, a post-shag cocktail, my mustardy Bloody Mary.
Here is my simple recipe, Tomato tart fine, for Valentines day. Again the whole thing is done and dusted within half an hour, if you buy ready-made puff pastry in a sheet.
1 sheet ready-made puff pastry, cut into a large heart
1 clove of garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
5 tomatoes, thinly sliced (or more cherry tomatoes, cut in half)
1 tbsp Pink peppercorns (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200cº.
Unfurl your pastry sheet and cut out the largest heart shape that you can from the sheet.
Mince a clove of garlic with some sea salt, using the flat of your knife to press down. The salt will help to purée the garlic.
Mix this minced clove and salt with the olive oil. Drizzle half over the puff pastry heart.
Lay down the tomatoes all over the heart, leaving a border of 1 cm around the edge.
Pour over the rest of the olive oil/garlic mix. Brush it particularly on the edges.
Scatter some pink peppercorns over the tomatoes and some more sea salt.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Serve with a glass of pink champagne.
love from msmarmitelover xxx
Beautiful white china heart plate by Sophie Conran at Portmeirion £32