A Last Hurrah

7 10 2011

Here’s a last hurrah to the heirloom tomatoes out of the garden; a roasted tomato salad topped simply with good olive oil and balsamic.


Roasted corn and black-eyed pea salsa

30 08 2011

With Labor Day quickly approaching, fall is around the corner. Time to put away the whites and welcome the festive fall flavors. Here is a topping we used with the ropa veija that features the last bounty of summer, with fresh garden-ripened tomatoes and welcomes fall with hearty black-eyed peas and roasted corn.

To the basic salsa recipe (see under recipes in the side bar) add 1 pint of roasted grape tomatoes, 8 oz. of cooked blackeyed peas, 1/2 finely chopped roasted red pepper and the kernals from 2 ears of roasted corn

Doc’d Up Tomato Soup

1 08 2011

One of just about everybody’s favorite childhood treats has to be some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s an all doc’d up version. We replaced the traditional tomato soup with a rich, cool gazpacho; a perfect prescription  for the summer heat wave. We served it up with a cool white wine. We also added some roasted corn and red pepper to add some smokey sweetness from the backyard grill. The addition of avocado adds a creaminess without the heaviness. We then paired this with a brie and prosciutto panini and a side of eggplant fries. Top this with a little fresh basil and grated Pecorino for an amazing appetizer or as part of a main course; it’s an unbeatable way to cool down those summertime scorchers.

Roasted Corn Gazpacho

  • 6-7 pounds vine ripened, fresh tomatoes
  • 2 ears roasted corn
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1 medium onion, rough chop
  • 2 gloves of garlic, rough chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 4 cucumbers, peeled and seeded, rough chop
  • 4 ounces of piquant peppers, rough chop
  • 1 Florida or 2 California avocados
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Peel and seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice. Place the onion and garlic in a large pot with a little olive oil and cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, corn and peppers and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes at 160-180 degrees F. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add all the remaining ingredients and working in batches puree the mixture until smooth. Chill and serve. Makes about 5 quarts.

Duck, Duck, Pizza

15 05 2011

Here’s a little treat for thought.  We took some fantastic duck breasts, stuffed them with herb and citrus flavors. Smoked them until perfectly juicy and done over applewood chips. Layered that on a home made Roman style pizza crust,with mixed greens and roasted grape tomatoes. Drizzle with excellent olive oil and a Port wine fig reduction sauce. Top with a whisp of fresh, shaved Parma. A little work, a lot of flavor and satisfaction!

Lindsey’s Luscious Lamb

28 04 2011

There was a lot of help for today’s post. First I borrowed some alliteration from Christo over at Chez What for the title. Then we had a little leftover Easter lamb; that scrumptious cherry balsamic apple wood smoked lamb (video from nationally syndicated Southern Living’s Daytime TV to be up shortly). Finally, I had a most excellent sous chef visiting. Lindsey whipped up some spinach pasta from scratch and stuffed some raviolis with the lamb and demi-glace. She also fixed a garden fresh red sauce and topped the ensemble off with some fresh grated Manchego cheese (sheep’s milk cheese) from Spain.  It was a feast fit for earthly kings-and beyond!

Food of Love

15 02 2011

What did you devour on Valentine’s Day? I meant the food, of course! For me, risotto is a food of love. She rewards your patience and care with a  sublime texture of slightly al dente rice and unctious creaminess. MMMM. To our basic risotto we added fresh crab meat and crispy pancetta, some pan roasted heirloom tomatoes and mushrooms (bellas, oyster and shiitake), and some toasted  pine nuts. Amore!

Pappa al pomodoro

20 06 2010

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This dish was inspired from a similar recipe from Koek!, an absolutely fantastic site based out of Capetown, South Africa. The recipe posted there was from  “Beaneaters & Bread Soup: Portraits and Recipes from Tuscany.”  I really love this dish as it screams summertime with the ripe red tomatoes. It is a light yet flavorful offering and with the plethora of fresh, vine ripened tomatoes available this recipe was a must. If you can not get garden fresh tomatoes I recomend 2 large cans of pureed Italian tomatoes, preferably from San Marzano.  Do not use the tasteless megamart options or the soup will be a bland, wasted effort! Made with the proper and fresh ingredients it is a great appetizer or first. You can also serve it slightly chilled with a refreshing white wine to beat the  summer heat.

Pappa al pomodoro

  • 1 cup (8 oz) olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 pounds fresh garden ripened tomatoes, concassée with seeds removed and puréed or 2 (~28 oz) cans puréed canned Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 4 cups light chicken stock
  • 1/2 loaf day-old sourdough bread (preferably unsalted), thickly sliced
  • 4-6 oz  basil leaves, chiffonade
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Truffle oil or good quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a medium cooking pot over medium heat. Cook for about 1 minute then add the leeks, shallot and onion. Sauté over a low heat for 20 minutes, do not let the vegetables brown. While the vegetable cook, concassée the tomatoes, reserving the juice and discarding the seeds and cores. Puree the flesh and add back the reserved juice. Add the stock and puréed tomatoes and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the bread. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. For a more homogeneous soup, use an immersion blender, or blend in small batches in a blender or food processor, and purée the soup until has a porridge-like consistency. For a more “country-style” (pictured here and which I prefer) use a wooden spoon to stir and break up the bread slices until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the basil and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve ladle into bowls, drizzle with truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil then top with grated parmesan cheese and serve.