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Articles by Francis Lam

Francis Lam is features editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam. In past lives, he was a senior writer at Salon.com, a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine (RIP), and his work has appeared in the 2006 to 2011 editions of Best Food Writing.

Featured Article

Oven-drying turns decent tomatoes great and good tomatoes insane. (Photo by The Purple Foodie.)

What to do with all these tomatoes? (Photo by Lionel & Heidi.)

It was a triumph: After three hours of chopping, pureeing, simmering, stirring, caramelizing, and concentrating, I stepped back from the stove. In my hand was a spoon, clinging to a dynamite-red flavor bomb. It was just short of nuclear, and already I knew I was going to put it into everything that could use a big bang of tart, savory, and sweet with a miles-deep umami finish. I showed it to my special lady friend. “Congratulations!” she said. “You just made tomato paste. It’s cheap and comes in cans.”

But but but … OK, fine. Yes, that is what this is. But to be honest, I’ve never understood, really, why anyone eats the tomato paste that comes in cans. I mean, I’m not even snobbing on this — it just tastes like sour goop; has anyone ever said, “You know, what this dish needs is some really sour red goop?”

This homemade tomato paste, though … this is magnificent stuff. Once you’ve concentrated three pounds of fresh, sweet, peak-summer tomatoes down to about a cup, you have a texture like cool butter and flavor that makes you feel lik... Read more