Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomato Bruschetta


Hot, dry wind is blowing around my house right now. A red flag fire danger day today. My house is closed up tight to keep the cool air inside.  I am having tomato bruschetta for lunch along with cleaning, laundry and talking to you. You know how when you had the stomach flu when you were a kid and the food you threw up  created a lifelong aversion? (mine is soggy iceberg lettuce, my twin sister's is Mexican corn) I actually have thoughts that if I were to ever have to cross tomatoes off my food list due to some unfortunate turn of stomach events, I would revolt. It would be unacceptable. But this summer has been a sick free one, and a cooler than usual one. Lucky us!

I thought not to share this recipe at first. A part of me thinks "oh geesh, tomato bruschetta is so over done, so 1995"....Seems like everyone has their own special way of preparing this dish, but I am giving you mine in case you want to try a new way. I promise it is good. It is a highly requested dish my friends ask me to make. This dish relies heavily on very good quality olive oil and very vine ripe tomatoes. I also use sourdough baguette (are you gasping?). I just like the tang of sourdough over french baguette. I also think a skinny baguette poses a big risk of being too crispy..so look for a soft, fatter baguette. Also very important to my recipe is using garlic on the bread and not putting it in the tomato mixture. Lets the taste of garlic shine through, but not overpower the dish.
This week I topped my bruschetta with fresh burrata cheese which was just food craziness. If you eat cheese and have a place to buy burrata,  it will make this dish simply divine. And creamy. And gooey. And wonderful.
So go for it. It only took 10 min. to make this.

Tomato Bruschetta
(makes 4 servings)

1 soft sourdough baguette cut into 1 inch slices
3 cloves garlic sliced into three pieces each
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (ok, you might not need this much!)
sea salt (I use Himalayan Pink Sea Salt)
3 medium ripe tomatoes

Lightly toast baguette slices.  Take a piece of garlic and wipe each piece of baguette with a garlic slice.

Slice tomatoes in half. Gently squeeze the seeds and juice out. Discard. (or save and use for sauces) Slice tomatoes and then dice. Add to a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil for each tomato in the bowl. Add one or two pinches of salt. Taste for salt.

Put a spoonful of tomato mixture onto each baguette slice and arrange on a plate. Spoon a drizzle of olive oil on each baguette and then serve immediately.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dining in the Field....

Whew. Life has been busy. School started last week. Little M is starting her second year of Waldorf kindergarten. I have been working my way through summer eating heirloom tomatoes on sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil. For breakfast I have topped it with a fried pasture egg. What is your favorite way to eat heirloom tomatoes? My friends mother makes a sweet tomato conserve with her summer tomatoes. Tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and salt stewed until it is a compote and then canned. Her son Cedar and his wife Ruby have been serving this delicious jam at their glorious Off Grid Dining meets Farm to Table Movement dining event all the weekends in August at their farm. A spectacular feat they are pulling off. Ruby is a master gardener, CSA owner and local seed cooperative organizer. The food is showcasing her beautiful farm bounty and local butchers and cheese makers. Cedar is a traditional Japanese carpenter craftsman and musician. He and Ruby built their house. Themselves. Yep. The kind of thing you just want to be a part of. Of course word has spread like wildfire and their dining event has sold out every weekend. Another reason to absolutely love where I live; things like this happen. And better yet, I get to be a part of it.
Locally raised chickens, beef, chevre and honey have all been served. Tamales (Ruby's hand ground cornmeal of course!) topped with chevre made from goats that live just down the hill. Ruby's "hippie" bread made with barley, local soft white wheat and corn. (I could have eaten a whole loaf of that bread by the way...) House cured olives, pickled green beans, handmade white peach sorbet. That is just a sampling what is coming out of their kitchen.
I became involved because they know I love all things food and asked me. I debated over cooking or serving for them. I decided to be one of their servers to make sure every person dining in my presence would have an experience they would not soon forget.  I have had years in my early 20's waitressing in various fine dining establishments and that my friends is a skill I still use every day. Well, mostly on a six year old, but I think it has helped her love food even more. I had a great time talking about the grapefruit driven sauvignon blanc going well with the garden zucchini fritters. It was a bit like being on vacation watching 20 or so people a night throughly enjoy themselves at Ruby and Cedar's farm. What a wonderful community event. Friends coming together to eat food they have grown. Passion for all things local. Loving where I live. A special place.

Ruby and Cedar...

My Brother-in-law Ralph the chef helping out!
Entrance to the garden
Ruby making white peach chutney
Local Celebrities...
Dear, dear friends came up all the way from town!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Figs with Vanilla & Balsamic Pickled Onions



Can vanilla be a pickling spice? Today I found out. Yes! Heck yes it can! Mixed with balsamic vinegar as a picking agent, it was delightful! I have mentioned before, that I buy ground vanilla beans. I have noticed in the past months they vanished from my local store shelves. But, it is back now (more expensive unfortunately). If you like vanilla and use it in any capacity, I highly recommend keeping a bag on hand. I can't imagine how I got along with just vanilla extract. And, this dish is a perfect example of how well it can work as a spice in savory foods.
And, like so many of the recipes I create, it is quite easy.
Don' forget the mint though..it really added a wonderful dimension and brightness.

Figs with Vanilla & Balsamic Pickled Onions

1 small red onion (to equal a bit over 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp. heaping crushed vanilla beans
1 tsp mustard seeds
6 juniper berries
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
4 large figs
2 sprigs fresh mint

Thinly slice red onion and place in a mason jar.  Add the balsamic, vinegar, mustard seeds, juniper berries, water and cover with lid. Let stand for no less than 2 hours. Shake gently or swirl every once in a while to blend the spices. The longer the better! Will keep in fridge for a week covered.

Slice figs into 1/2 inch slices and spread on plate (1 fig per serving) top each fig with a forkful of pickled onions and top with 4 or 5 small mint leaves.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kale stuffed with Grilled Eggplant and Avocado Tahini Sauce

























Barbie hair cut leftovers..and a fresh found doll who needed a trim


























A photo of the fake press-on nails!!







Yesterdays vegetable box had the first of the season's tomatoes. A basket of sungold cherry tomatoes. Little bursts of sweet tomato goodness. I had to seriously examine my decision to roast them on the grill instead of eating the whole basket while checking my email. In the end I thought it not fair to keep them all for myself and decided to include them in the family dinner.
I started this recipe out wanting to make kale wraps stuffed with eggplant and tomato. I did eat mine like a wrap, but the avacado sauce starting oozing out and I ended up cutting it with a knife. I also wanted this dinner to be super easy. So I decided all the vegetables would be roasted on the grill with my most favorite, most seasoned, most attached to cookie sheet. It was a good decision. I turned on the grill and set my oiled baking sheet loaded with peppers, eggplant and cherry tomatoes and let it be. I did make sure to close the lid of the grill to assist in uniform grilling. Almost 15 minutes later everything was perfectly cooked and ready to fill the lightly grilled kale leaves. Along with the avacado tahini sauce, I was in fresh vegetable heaven.
And here is a funny bit about dinner. M was pretty much not into dinner. She will eat tomatoes in sauce, but will not eat them raw. I promised her these little pockets of sweetness were different. She did try one and said it "was better than she thought it would be". Then I asked her to try the avocado tahini sauce. Let me say first that M's first baby vomit was the night I gave her avocado. She avoids avocado under all circumstances. I did not tell her there was avocado in this sauce however just to see if she could detect it. She could not detect it, and really liked it. Really, this sauce could be smothered on almost anything and it would taste good. Sometimes I have noticed that tahini can be a tad bit bitter. The avacado smoothed out any bitterness and it turned out super creamy.
Other things we have (or rather the six year old) is systematically cutting all her doll's hair. I am posting the photo of her lasted hair cut....and wouldn't you know it was right after I had meticulously cleaned the whole bathroom! Last friday we did the big drive down the hill to the mall. M was given 7 dollars to spend on whatever she wanted. She bought press-on nails. Lord help me. We have been dealing with the press on nails for 4 days now. I am finding them in all the weird places you would expect a little girl to store nails. The bathtub drain, kitchen counter, shag carpet in the living room, the play kitchen sink. She cannot get enough of her nails. I had to take a photo to show you. I am very happy they are pretty short. She is way, way, way into them. Oh, and they turn bright pink in bright light. Lovely huh?

Avocado Tahini Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

1 medium avacado
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
5-6 tbls. water
2 tbls lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup tahini (I used raw tahini)
Scoop out avacado filling, discarding pit. Add everything in a blender and mix until smooth (about 60 seconds). You may need to add more water depending on how thick it is. I would add the water one tablespoon at a time.

Vegetables

On a greased cookie sheet add 2 medium pepper cut into fourths and 2 small eggplants cut into 4 pieces each. Remove stems from cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt. Grill on a medium high heat grill for about 15 min. with lid closed. Check on your cookie sheet every couple of minutes to make sure it is not burning and your pan is doing ok with the grill heat.

For kale, rub each leave with a bit of olive oil front and back. Grill on a low heat for about 30 seconds each side or until the edges start to brown and the color starts to become brilliant green.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the avocado tahini sauce with 2 pieces of eggplant and peppers. Top with grilled cherry tomatoes.

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