Monday, February 04, 2008

Tomato Tatins (Page 66)

  • Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Cornelia, Chuck, Lynn, Paul K, Beth, and Lauren K
  • Recipe Rating: A-

This recipe was also part of my using-all-my-ramekins plan last weekend. This baked tomato recipe was surprisingly good. Tomatoes were sliced and roasted, then layered in ramekins with pesto and topped with a circular crouton (made by brushing white bread with oil and toasting). The ramekins got baked just a bit and then turned out onto plates to be served. The end result was beautiful and flavorful. The croutons were essential for textural contrast, as the tomatoes were a bit mushy. Matty was worried about the mushy tomatoes as he was assembling this dish, but actually their soft texture wasn't a bad thing. My one negative comment about this recipe is that it called for way too much oil. We didn't brush on nearly the amount of oil that the recipe indicated would be used, and it was plenty. Aside from that, I was quite happy with this recipe. The tatins were very elegant, and extremely flavorful, even when made with mid-winter tomatoes. The recipe was also quite simple. Overall it was a winner.

This recipe is the same as the one in The Book except that the one from The Book doesn't specify what colors of tomatoes to use.

My fake calculus students have their first exam tomorrow (just for clarification: the students are real, it's the calculus that is fake. Ok, I shouldn't say that. Not fake, just applied). Anyway, they have an exam. I find writing exams to be quite difficult -- especially the first exam for a course I haven't taught before. It's very hard to gauge whether the exam is too short, too long, too hard, too easy... I spent a long time yesterday working on the exam for tomorrow. And I am confident that it is a reasonable test of knowledge of the material. No one will ace this exam without understanding the things we have learned, and no one who has made an effort to understand will fail. But I couldn't possibly even venture a guess for what the mean will be. Or how long it will take the students to finish it. And that is a little unsettling. If the mean ends up too low, students get very discouraged. If the mean is too high it is very difficult to distribute grades at the end of the course. Writing an exam that is an appropriate difficulty is a subtle thing. Last semester I didn't always manage to accomplish it. The first exam was about right (dumb luck!), the third one was much too hard, and the second one was somewhere in between. I haven't gotten my teaching evaluations back yet from last term, but I did get to look at them briefly a couple weeks ago. One comment really stuck with me: "The tests in this class are bullshit!" That made me laugh. But maybe whoever wrote that had a point -- perhaps they were too hard. So this term I am aiming for something different. It's a completely different class though, with an entirely different type of student, so who knows if I will manage to achieve that goal.

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