Tips for tomato preparationTo peel a tomato, cut a shallow "X" in the blossom end, then blanch the tomato in a pot of boiling water just until the skin begins to peel away from the cut -- from five to 30 seconds; the timing will vary depending on the ripeness of the tomato. Rinse under cool running water. The peel should pull away easily. If it doesn't, return it to the boiling water for a few more seconds and try again.
To seed a tomato, cut the tomato in half horizontally and squeeze; the seeds should pop right out. Do this into a strainer set over a work bowl and you can collect the gel that surrounds the seeds. This is the "tomato water" that was such a trendy ingredient a few years ago. It doesn't really have enough flavor to use as a sauce by itself, but it is a nice extra when added back into a tomato dish.
-- Russ Parsons