Part one of the cooking class at Château Ambe Tour Pourret in St. Emilion with Chef Bertrand was creating the perfect starter for any time of year. Since we blanched the tomatoes and then peeled, seeded and seasoned them you could almost get away with using any type of tomato from gorgeous in season heirloom or big beautiful beefsteak to Romas that you can find all year long. Again, you have to use enough cream to really make this appetizer decadent, but the creamy texture and incredible flavor make the calories worth it. Though Rose is hard to find on the Right Bank of Bordeaux, it is the ideal pairing for this rich starter; if you are in the land of red wine only, as we were on this incredible trip, the spicy, dark cherry, earthy Merlot based Château Ambe Tour Pourret St. Emilion Grand Cru was excellent as well.
Fresh Tomato and Goat Cheese Mousse with Spring Greens and Crostini
2 plump beefsteak tomatoes
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 cup cream
2 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
2 slices baguette
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 cups spring greens or arugula
Bring a small sauce pan of water to a boil. Cut an X in the bottom of the tomato and drop in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds, turning a few times in the water then scoop out and let cool. As the tomato is cooling place the basil and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a mixing bowl. Using a hand held immersion blender blend to create a basil oil. Add the goat cheese and blend until the basil oil is fully incorporated into the cheese, season with salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each or to taste) then add the cream and blend until light and frothy creating a mousse-like texture. Place the goat cheese mousse in the refrigerator to keep the cream firm and chilled. Peel the tomatoes and cut in half. Carefully scoop out the seeds. Dice each tomato half then scoop the equivalent of 1 whole tomato into the bottom of a martini glass or soup bowl. (the glass makes a nice presentation.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the greens to a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon each oil and vinegar and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste, add additional oil and/or vinegar to your taste if you like. Heat the oven to 300 and drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil. Toast for 2-3 minutes until crisp then, while the bread is still warm, rub with the garlic clove. Remove the mousse from the refrigerator and scoop onto the top of the tomatoes, dividing the mousse in half. Top the mousse with a handful of the spring greens and garnish with the crostini.