Posts made in July, 2013

Roasted Tomatoes Part One: Roasted Tomato Salsa

Confession: I didn’t liked tomatoes growing up, unless they were in the form of ketchup (which really doesn’t count) or tomato sauce or chopped up in tiny pieces (and that was questionable). Then, when I got older, I realized something. The types of tomatoes typically found in restaurants (you know, those soggy pinkish things) are not real tomatoes. Of course I didn’t like those (who does?). I still don’t. But a homegrown or locally grown tomato? Now that’s a real tomato, and it is so sweet and juicy that I can’t believe I lived for so many years without experiencing them. During my childhood, my dad always grew his own tomatoes, and him and my mom would rave about the flavor. I didn’t get it at the time. To me, a tomato was a tomato, and it was something to be avoided, unless it was pureed. Now, I’ve seen the light.

tomatoes

This post will begin a three part series in which I feature my current favorite way to prepare tomatoes: roasting. Yes, it means turning on a hot oven in the summer, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for these delicious dishes.

The first recipe is a simple one: Roasted Tomato Salsa.

This recipe is very similar to my previous recipe (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa). And I’m also going to begin this recipe with the same instruction as I did before: Unhook any smoke alarms near the kitchen. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange the following ingredients on a cookie sheet:

3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove of garlic, peel still on
Any other sweet/spicy peppers you have on hand (bell, poblano, and cubanelle all work well)

Tomatoes Tray

Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stick it in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, place the following ingredients into the food processor:

1/4 of a red or yellow onion, roughly chopped (red looks pretty, but I don’t always have it on hand, so yellow works too)
1 generous handful of cilantro (optional)

Add the ingredients from the cookie sheet. (Don’t forget to remove the garlic peel!) Pulse the mixture a few times and then puree to desired consistency.

Once smooth, poor the salsa into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of about half a lime into the mixture, stir and then taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

salsa

Serve it warm with your favorite tortilla chips. (Check out my recipe for homemade: Homemade Tortilla Chips.)

Note: This doesn’t make a lot, so if you’re serving more than a couple of people, double it.

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo salsa. Salsa verde. Green salsa. Call it whatever you like. It’s amazing stuff. I wait anxiously each year to see tomatillos appear at the markets. These tomatillos are from Northridge Organic, and I was thrilled when I saw them.

I’ve tried many recipes over the past few summers, many of which have added lots of various peppers, and I’ve discovered that I like the salsa as simple and pure as possible. I like to highlight the tomatillo flavor, not the other ingredients.

And so to begin:

Remove any smoke detectors near your kitchen and turn your kitchen fan on high. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start by gathering:

about 20 tomatillos 

tomatillos 2

tomatillos 3

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them in a colander. If using more, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet. Also add:

one large, or two small, jalapenos, halved twice and seeds/membrane removed. 

I only used one because it was huge. They ones I currently have are from my dad’s garden and are the size of my palm. If you want your salsa to be extra spicy, don’t remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno.

Also add:

One clove of garlic, peel still on

The peel allows the garlic to roast without burning. Sprinkle all of the ingredients with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stick the baking sheet in the oven and roast for at least 15 minutes. They will start to burst and the pan will start to smoke. Don’t panic. That’s normal. You want them to char slightly for flavor. When they’re done, they will look like this:

roasting pan

Let cool on the pan for a minute. In the meantime, get out your food processor. Add:

1/4 cup of yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 hand full of cilantro

Also carefully add the tomatillos, jalapeno, and garlic (don’t forget to remove the peel!). Be sure to scrap in any juices from the pan. Give the mixture a few pulses and then puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Also a few drops of lime juice. Add a little at a time and taste until it’s at your liking. I have found that it doesn’t need much.

salsa

This salsa is wonderful warm.

Serve with my homemade chips or poor on top of enchiladas (recipe coming soon!).

 

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Warm Potato Salad with Mustard and Dill

I love potato salad in all of its glorious forms. I grew up eating two different kinds of potato salads: the typical midwest version that’s covered in mayo and has hard boiled eggs mixed in (and sometimes bacon), and also my great-grandmother’s Italian version, which has an olive oil-based dressing, bacon, and chives.  Though I love both, in recent years, I discovered another one that I love just as well. The one I will describe below I consider to be more of a French-style potato salad. It’s wonderful warm but can be served chilled as well. And the farmers’ market has wonderful red-skinned potatoes right now, so it’s a perfect time to make this salad.

Potato

Start by boiling:

1 pound of red skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered

Boil them in enough water so that they’re covered by about an inch of water. Don’t boil them in too much water, for they’ll loose their flavor. And don’t forget to salt the water.

In the meantime, select a bowl large enough to not only hold all of the potatoes, but also one that has room enough for you to stir the potatoes without making a mess all over the counter. In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh dill, chopped*
a dash of paprika
salt and pepper

Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and then add them directly to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Toss the potatoes with the dressing. Since they are steaming hot, the potatoes will absorb the mustard and create a wonderful fragrance. While they are still steaming hot, add:

a few splashes of vinegar (champagne, red-wine, and apple cider all work well)

Also add more olive oil, if need be, and taste to see if they need more salt, pepper or mustard.

Serve while it’s still warm.

*The dill in the above photo is from my little apartment balcony herb garden. That’s the wonderful thing about herbs. You don’t need a lot of space to grow them, and one plant will give you wonderful herbs all summer.

 

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Summer Food Photography

Just some more photos of beautiful Ohio food.

Red Kale, Wayward Seed Farm

kale_

Carrots, Dangling Carrot Farm

carrots

 

carrots2

Green Cabbage, Wayward Seed Farm 

cabbage

Blackberries, Rhoads Farm 

berries

Peaches, Branstool Orchards

peaches

 

 

 

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Green Beans with a Mustard Dressing

When I was 14 years old, I visited New Orleans. It was a trip that probably started my obsession with food. One of the restaurants we went to was Court of Two Sisters, where I had asparagus with some sort of a mustard sauce. That mustard sauce has stuck with me during all of these years, and countless times I’ve tried to copy it. At this point, I have no idea what it originally tasted like or what was in it, but this dressing strongly reminds me of the dish, nonetheless.

green beans

Start with a large enough bowl to hold all of the green beans (in this case, about 3/4 of a pound). In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced or finely grated
about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (it’s strong, so start with a little. It’s easier to add than to take away). 
salt and pepper

Once it’s all whisked together, add enough extra virgin olive oil to thin out the mustard.

Next cook the green beans. Either steam them or boil them. Either way, cook them just for a couple minutes so that they still have a nice crunch to them and a nice bright green color. (If you boil them, use just enough water to cover them.)

Once the green beans are done, give the mustard dressing a quick whisk and then add the green beans right into the bowl. Add:

1/2 cup of slithered almonds (optional)

Toss it all together. Taste the green beans and adjust the salt. If the dressing is too strong, add more olive oil.

Top with freshly ground pepper and serve.

green beans2

This dish pairs well with Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Mascarpone.

 

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