Minimix Tomatoes: Two Recipes with the Jewels of Grand Cayman

by Anne Evans

My Mother grew up on a cattle ranch in the 1920s/30s – the eldest of 5 kids. Her family raised and grew all their own food. When I was growing up in a suburban, upper middle-class home in the 1950s/60s we bought 95% of our food at the local grocery store. Mom would always say, “these tomatoes are tasteless.” I didn’t understand. Now I understand.

Discovering the Minimix Tomatoes

My Farmer’s Market Tutor

Rick and I didn’t have access to a car of our own for the first year we lived on Grand Cayman Island. When a friend of ours learned of this, she invited me to accompany her to the Farmers Market on her weekly outings. So, early every Saturday morning we would pack up her toddler and off we went. The first trip was all about “teaching me the ropes.”

Lesson 1: if you look like a tourist, you will be charged the tourist price. So, until the vendors get to know you, ask the price before you agree to buy and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Lesson 2: a guide to prices to expect for a range of the offerings.

Lesson 3: which vendors to trust (to which she introduced me) and which to steer clear of.

Patrick

I remember her introducing me to Patrick and telling me, “You can always trust Patrick. I never question his prices as he has always treated me fairly.” And it was Patrick who introduced me to (hooked me on) the Minimix tomatoes.

I was reminded of his fairness recently because it is currently in season for Minimix, however he is between harvests, so they are in short supply. He could have jacked up the price so that only those who could afford it could buy what he had. Or instead, he could be fair to all his customers and cap every buyer at 3lbs while holding the price steady so all of us got some. He chose the latter.

Comparison Shopping

Minimix season comes to a close as summer begins. Patrick’s final harvest was over in June. Another vendor had them available into July. Then they were gone.

That first year we were here, Rick and I were so desperate we began trying the grocery store tomatoes in search of an alternative. Plum tomatoes seemed like a reasonable first try as they were generally KY$2.69/lb. We skewered and grilled them as if we had the Minimix. The result? I sounded like my Mother . . . “those tomatoes are tasteless.”

Now we were really desperate.  Our second try were Heirloom tomatoes priced at KY$7.29/lb. Now I sounded worse than my Mother . . .  “those tomatoes are tasteless and outlandishly priced!” (KY$1 = US$0.80, so those Heirloom tomatoes =US$9.11/lb.!)

Conclusion, there is no comparison! Sigh, it was going to be a loooong wait until Spring.

It’s Minimix Season Again!

Today was a Farmers’ Market day in April. When I arrived, there was a gentleman standing in front of the minimax tomatoes talking to Patrick . . . and talking and talking. I felt like addressing him sternly, “Sir, please do not stand between me and my Minimix  tomatoes if you do not intend to purchase any.” I successfully kept my mouth shut until he finally moved on.

When I return home with my 4.5lb haul, I sort them carefully by size and color.  Micro Minis go into Rick’s salads. Standard Minis of a carefully balanced assortment of colors are used for grilled skewers. The Mega Minis, it depends . . . if there are enough for their own skewer then I go that route. If there are only a few, they get cut up and used with the Micro Minis for salads.

When It’s Not About Baking

Of course, Minimix are terrific in salads, however additionally consider:

Skewered Grilled Minimix Tomatoes

Cooks are creative; Bakers are obsessive. I am the latter, thus I execute this rather uncreative recipe of 3 ingredients with obsessive precision.

Ingredients:

Minimix Tomatoes – # depends on the length & # of your skewers

Basil Leaves, Large & Fresh – # depends on the # of tomatoes

Wooden Skewers – # depends on the length of the skewers  & # of your tomatoes

Instructions:

Divide your tomatoes between your skewers. Line the tomatoes up along each skewer so that the colors are balanced both within & between each skewer. As you skewer the tomatoes also skewer a folded basil leaf between every 3rd [+/- 1] tomato. Place the skewers on a heated grill. Turn frequently as they cook and remove just before they start to disintegrate (~5-10min, depending on the heat of your grill & wind direction/velocity).

Grilled Minimix Tomatoes are a delightful accompaniment to Quiche for a light dinner.

When It IS About Baking

Martha Stewart’s Roasted-Tomato Bread

One of my absolute favorite recipes to bake is Martha Stewart’s Roasted-Tomato Bread which can be found on page 327 of her Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, Copyright 2005). Here’s my variation of it reflecting my preferences and experience.

Ingredients:

8 cups Minimix tomatoes, sliced in half

½ cup, divided plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – plus more to oil pan, hands & plastic wrap

4 teaspoons coarse salt – plus more for sprinkling

3 ½ cups whole milk

1 ½ pounds (about 5 ¼ level cups) all-purpose flour

10 ounces [about 1 ¾ cups] semolina flour

1 ½ envelopes instant dry yeast

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300˚F with rack placed in the middle of the oven. Divide the tomatoes between 2 rimmed baking sheets, drizzle each sheet of tomatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, and sprinkle each sheet with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake until tomatoes begin to shrivel and juice on the pan has reduced, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Pour off any juices/oil and reserve. Lightly brush another rimmed baking sheet measuring 17 inches by 12 inches with olive oil; set aside. Raise oven temperature to 425˚F.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring milk to 110˚F while stirring constantly. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, the flours, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and the yeast. Mix on low speed, gradually pouring in the warmed milk until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once combined, mix on medium speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very sticky.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using lightly oiled hands, spread the dough evenly, making sure it fills the pan. Cover tightly with oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until the dough reaches just below the edge of the pan, about 30-45 minutes. Using your fingers, dimple the dough in an uneven pattern, leaving approximately 2 inches between each dimple. Evenly arrange all of the roasted tomatoes on top, drizzle with any reserved juices/oil from the roasted tomatoes, and then sprinkle lightly with additional salt.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until golden brown – about 20 minutes or until internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 ˚F. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into pieces with a serrated knife. Yield: one 17”x12” bread.

Conclusion: I learned my lesson last year at the end of Minimix season: it is better to go without than to go with an inferior product.

If ai cannot solve a problem by baking a cookie, I cannot deal with it

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