Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Tomato Sandwich

Every summer I look forward to the first bite of a tomato sandwich made with garden fresh tomatoes.
Today's version (I eat them almost daily during the tomato harvest) was made with the health loaf from The Vinegar Factory in NYC. We always stop in our way out of the city, and you can read my holiday post if you're not familiar with this wonderful establishment.
I used to think that tomato sandwiches should only be made with white bread, but things change as we get older. I toasted up a couple of slices of this delicious bread, then spread a little Hellman's mayo, added my garden tomatoes (do keep them at room temperature as they are so much more tasty). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then add a few leaves of fresh basil. Voila! It's one of my favorite summer treats.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to cooking from the garden...

Just arrived home from a trip to VA and NYC and couldn't wait to get back to the garden. While we had a very nice time in both places, I prefer Cape Cod over just about anywhere else this time of year. After some delicious meals in NYC consisting of fish, veal, and chicken...I felt like a bowl of garden fresh veggies was in order.
I was cooking some beets for canning, so I sauteed the beet greens in olive oil and garlic.  I added a few cooked beets and dressed it with a little bit of balsamic vinegar. You'll need to cook the beet greens for about 5-8 minutes. There was no need to add any more olive oil, as the beet greens had enough on them after sauteing. 
Also picked some green beans, which I steamed for about 5 minutes, drained them and added a little bit of butter (or you can use olive oil), and a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Lastly, I chopped a few cucumbers, added chopped tomatoes and dressed that with olive oil, a little bit of balsamic and red wine vinegar. Garnished with fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper, to taste.
Pretty perfect meal!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


My favorite chocolate for baking, dipping, and just eating is Callebaut Belgian Chocolate. I spent several months in Belgium back in the mid 80's and sampled vast quantities of chocolate. We even had a tour of the manufacturing plant of one of the finest chocolatiers in Brussels at that time, Corne Port-Royal. It confirmed what I had already experienced...the Belge know chocolate. For my baking needs I purchase chunks of Callebaut  (milk, bittersweet, or white) at my local Stop and Shop. It can usually be found in gourmet food markets, too. You can also purchase it on-line.

David Lebovitz, who lives in Paris, writes a wonderful food blog. His recent post about cocoa powder is very informative, and answers all kinds of questions you may have about cocoa.

One of my favorite French chocolate stores:
La Maison du Chocolat
The New York Store is right in Rockefeller Center:

Here's an excellent blog post on chocolate: http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com/bestsweets. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer Salads: Enjoying nature's bounty

For a person who loves to cook fresh food, I couldn't ask for a better neighbor. Richard plants a beautiful garden, which he encourages the neighborhood to pick from, so yesterday I came home with this wonderful basket of veggies:

Which I turned into these summer salads:
Roasted Turnip and Beet Salad
Trim and peel the beets and turnips. Quarter the beets and place in a roasting dish. Add enough olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Quarter the turnip (notice I left a little of the stem on as this caramelizes and tastes yummy) and place in a separate roasting pan. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
(Please note: I did go back and quarter these after I took the picture)
Cover both with foil and place in a 375 degree oven. Roast until tender. Beets will take about 25 minutes and the turnip was close to an hour. Remove the beets from the oven (leave them in the baking dish with the cooking juices) and sprinkle with 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar. Allow them to sit for several hours.
After you have cooked the turnip until tender (fork inserts easily), remove the foil and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Roast until they just start to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to sit in the roasting pan for several hours (in the cooking juices).
To serve, place a bed of lettuce on a serving platter and arrange the turnip on one side and the beets on the other.
Take a tbsp of olive oil and add to the pan you cooked the turnip in and mix well. This will combine with the oil from the cooked turnip giving it a delicious flavor. Drizzle this over the turnip.
Add a tsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of red wine vinegar to the liquid in the pan from the beets. Mix and drizzle this over the beets.  Sprinkle both the turnip and beets with crumbled goat cheese before serving.

Corn and Roasted Zucchini Salad with Cherry Tomatoes:
Cook 6-7 ears of corn.  About 5 minutes in boiling water. Cut the corn off the cob.
Cut the zucchini into a 1/4 inch dice:

Lightly coat the zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until just tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Then add the zucchini and corn to a mixing bowl. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the roasting pan to get the extra olive oil which has that wonderful flavor from the roasted zucchini. Slice about a dozen cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise. Add to the salad and gently combine using a rubber spatula. This will prevent the zucchini from breaking up. Add a tsp of seasoned rice vinegar, a tsp of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper, to taste. Allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate just be sure to bring it up to room temperature before serving, as it will taste much better. You may need to add a little bit more vinegar to bring out the flavor.

Tortellini with Pesto
You can find my pesto recipe here. Cook a good quality cheese tortellini (I used whole wheat three cheese from Buitoni) until tender. Drain and reserve about 3-4 tbsp of the pasta water. Add this back to the tortellini and toss with a generous amount of pesto sauce so that the pasta is well coated. Place in a serving platter and sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese (mine is Pecorino Romano).
My favorite summer dessert is fresh fruit. I had some beautiful cherries which I pitted with my nifty cherry/olive pitter from Williams Sonoma. Actually the one pictured is a little different than the one I purchased, but I'm sure it will do the trick:
 I added these to watermelon, mango, blueberries and plums:
My nephew Nicholas came for dinner and threw this together in about 10 minutes:
The salads made for a wonderful light summer dinner on very hot evening. The cake was delish, too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th Brunch - Celebrating our Independence

This morning we celebrated our independence with brunch on the deck. It was a warm sunny morning, with a nice breeze, so the perfect way to kick off the festivities.
Independence Day Brunch:
Zucchini and Vidalia Onion Frittata with Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Fruit Bowl
Grilled Assorted Muffins
Frittata - Slice 1/4 of a Vidalia onion into half moons. Slice one medium zucchini into 1/4 slices.
Saute both in olive oil until tender (about 6-8 minutes):
Add cherry tomatoes and saute for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano):
Beat 8 eggs in a bowl:
Spray the sides of the pan with cooking spray and then add the eggs:
Sprinkle with a little bit more grated cheese. Cook over medium to low heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the sides have started to set up. Then place in the oven under the broiler (450 degrees) for about 8-10 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. I cook the frittata in my All- Clad pan which works well in the oven. You can slice into 8 pieces (like a pie) and bring the pan right to the table.
I purchased assorted muffins at Roche Brothers, but your own homemade muffins would be even better. Slice the muffins, melt some butter or Earth Balance in a cast iron pan (if you have one), and grille until golden brown. Keep the heat between medium and low.
Slice your favorite fruit. I served blueberries, watermelon, mango and plums.
Happy 4th of July to all!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

My neighbors have a nice crop of lettuce in their garden, of which I am encouraged to help myself to, so lettuce wraps were a nice light summer meal last night. My daughter has a friend over for the weekend and she said it was one of the best meals she'd ever had. This is the kind of food we like kids to get excited over, so if they love it then I'm happy to make it.
Wash and spin your lettuce leaves and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Slice 3 full boneless breasts of chicken into 1/4 inch thick slices. Saute them in some olive oil until just browned. Add a tbsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground thyme, 1 tbsp of fresh sliced basil. Salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. I added a little corn and black bean salad that I had on hand, which gave it a nice kick. Most markets that have a nice prepared food section will offer a corn and black bean salad.
Slice two summer squash and one zucchini into 1/4 dice:
Slice 1/2 sweet white onion (Vidalia) into 1/2 moons. Saute onion in about a tbsp of olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the squash and cook for another 4-6 minutes.
Grate some carrot (If available, organic is best for all your veggies). Slice some cherry tomatoes and add a little balsamic vinegar to them. Now place all your veggies and the chicken in serving bowls. Just like you would do when making tacos. Plate the lettuce and serve a little Pecorino Romano cheese on the side.

The wraps can get a little messy, but they're well worth it. You can always resort to a fork it things get out of hand. Enjoy!