Tag-Archive for ◊ tomatoes ◊

11 Sep 2013 Caprese Garlic Bread (with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil)

caprese bread

It’s just garlic bread, folks, but it’s garlic bread with an upgrade! After running across this recipe at Two Peas and their Pod,  I decided I needed to make it! I quickly sent texts to a few friends and invited them to come over for a light supper and four replied “YES”!  I served this bread, a platter of cold shrimp, some sliced melon, iced tea and lemon meringue pie. It’s  great having friends who are good with spur-of-the-moment things 🙂

The bread was very good!  The Balsamic Reduction highlighted the simple tomato, cheese, and basil topping.  I made a few changes to the original recipe:  I used my own garlic bread base, I adjusted the cooking time for the balsamic reduction and I baked the tomatoes on the bread instead of laying them on after cooking.  BTW, do not skip the balsamic reduction, it’s fabulous!

I hope you have some backyard (or farmer’s market)  tomatoes on hand, because store bought tomatoes just aren’t invited to this party! And the photo above shows a bit too much cheese.  I bought fresh mozzarella from Costco and it came pre-sliced, so I just went with it.  Turns out I used double the cheese!  Oooops!  No one complained though 🙂  The recipe below has the correct amount of cheese listed but if you want to up it a bit, that’s up to you. One other piece of advice, the tomatoes shrink when baked, so pile them on the bread.  I think I could have added another slice of tomato to each row!

Caprese Garlic Bread

AKA: Garlic Bread with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, horizontally cut in half (french bread would work, too.  The original recipe called for ciabatta, but I am in the SF Bay Area and sourdough rules around here!)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus and extra tablespoon or so for garnish)
  • 3 Tablespoons dried onion, if you have it
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. While you are getting all the ingredients together and doing the prep work, make the balsamic reduction. Place 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about half. How do you know when the vinegar has been reduced by half? Keep the measuring jug near the pan.  Every once in awhile pour the hot vinegar into the measuring cup.  If it’s not at 1/4 cup yet, pour it back in the pan and continue boiling. Keep doing this until the vinegar has been reduced to 1/4 cup. This will take about 10-15  minutes. Set the reduction aside to cool.  You won’t  need to use it until just before serving.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, dried onion, basil, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  
  4. Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Place both sides of the loaf on a large baking sheet with the cut side up. Spread the garlic butter mixture over both sides of the cut bread.  Spread to all the corners and completely to the outer edge of the bread.
  5. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread, making sure the cheese covers the bread completely.
  6. Top the cheese with the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper, to taste. If desired, sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese over the tomaotes.
  7. Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  8. Remove the bread from oven.  Sprinkle fresh basil over the top of the bread and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
  9. Cut into slices and serve.

That’s all there is too it!  Enjoy the last of your summer tomatoes!  They are special, aren’t they? And thanks for dropping by today!

28 Jun 2011 Grilled Vegetable Platter

I love veggies, as long as they are cooked.  If they are grilled, even better.  I started grilling veggies a few years back.  I just sliced and grilled.  Except for loosing a significant number of veggies through the grill, they worked out great.  I grilled carrots, zucchini, asparagus, onions and sweet potatoes.  Now I am working on fancier grilled veggies; a little marinade, a little glaze, grill marks…

Last week I received an email, “Top Ten Recipes of June 2011”.   This email came from Taste of Home magazine.  I am not a huge fan of Taste of Home, too many of their recipes start out with a mix, but I am a sucker for Top Ten lists. So I opened the email.  The picture of the  Grilled Vegetable Platter looked good, the recipe had five stars out of five stars with twelve reviews, so I clicked away.  The recipe sounded good and looked simple enough, so I tested it…, winner, Winner, WINNER!

Don’t feel like you have to stick to the veggie combo listed.  Grill what you have and what you like.  I left out all the bell peppers.  I. don’t. like. bell. peppers.  I didn’t add in any mushrooms because I just posted that fabulous recipe for Grilled PortobellosTaste of Home reviewers also reported adding green beans, snow peas, sweet potato rounds, and halved cherry tomatoes  into the mix.

My change to the Taste of Home recipe is to make two marinade mixtures.  Use one to marinate the veggies in prior to grilling (and then discard that marinade with the Ziploc bag), and then use the second one to drizzle over the veggies after grilling, the second marinade is just slightly different from the first. I also substituted freshly minced garlic for the garlic powder in the first marinade.

Now for my number one tip on grilled veggies… Grill the veggies first, before the meat or the fish.  Veggies are grill hogs, taking up an entire grill, and some of them take a surprisingly long time to grill, onions especially. The asparagus will cook most quickly, then the squash, then the carrots, and the onion will probably still be cooking when you start in on the meat.  Just remove each veggie when done and, when your veggie platter is mostly complete, drizzle with the second marinade, and place the whole platter in a warm oven.  Another reason for cooking the veggies first?  You can be in the middle of cooking them when  your guests arrive, and I haven’t met a guest yet who is not impressed by a grill covered in marinated mixed veggies, some with nice char marks!

Grilled Vegetable Platter

For the pre-grilling marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the post-grilling drizzle

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil (this is the time to use your best tasting/most expensive olive oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (which is equivalent to 1 1/2 teaspoons) Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Veggie Mix (mix it up to suit what you have on hand, what you like to eat, and how many people you are serving…keeping in mind grilled veggies make great leftovers and are almost as good eaten at room temperature as they are when they are eaten fresh from the grill)

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 small carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large sweet red, yellow, or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet potato (I prefer Garnet Yams), peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into four wedges (I used a sweet Vidalia onion)
  • other possible add ins or substitutions: mushrooms, halved tomatoes, green beans, snow peas…
  1. Combine the olive oil, honey, Balsamic vinegar, oregano and minced garlic or garlic powder for the marinade. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag; add the vegetables. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the drizzle; cover and set aside.
  3. Place vegetables on a grilling grid (I don’t do this…I place the veggies directly on the grill, and loose a fair number of asparagus spears, skinny carrots and zucchini).  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes (adjust for each veggie) on each side or until crisp-tender. Note: The onion wedges will probably fall apart.  That’s OK.  Just grill the slices (the slices that don’t fall through the grill, that is).  As soon as each slice is nicely brown and feels soft, transfer to platter and drizzle with some of the second marinade mixture.
  4. Transfer to a large serving platter. Drizzle with the second “marinade” mixture.
  5. Serve, or if desired, place in warm oven (250 degrees) to stay warm until needed

So now you know what you will be grilling, what should you have for dessert?  S’mores (or S’mores Bars?), Frozen Bananas (always fun), or my personal favorites, Fresh Blueberry Pie or a Mixed Berry Pie?? Have some fun and search my recipes!

Outdoor grilling rocks! Hope you are enjoying both cooking and dining outside.  Next up, grilled artichokes! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen again today.  I love it when you pop in!

 

22 Oct 2010 Breakfast Biscuits

These homemade breakfast biscuits are bigger, better, prettier and tastier than anything you’ll find at a fast food place or diner, and probably have a lot less fat. How can you resist these?  Don’t be scared.  They go together pretty quickly, and the payoff is enormous. Make customized versions, and you’ll fast become a legend in your own kitchen!

Start with this  recipe as a guide, then customize, customize, customize. Use whatever meat you have on hand, with bacon, sausage and ham being perennial breakfast favorites (and seem to make most people swoon).  The Breakfast Biscuit pictured above has no meat, only onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I’ve made the Breakfast Biscuits exactly like the ones below,as well as sausage and olive breakfast biscuits,  Honey Baked Ham breakfast biscuits, and the veggie biscuits above.  I want to incorporate asparagus and mushrooms in the next ones. Note, most veggies will need to be precooked (leftover from dinner?), but the tomatoes can be fresh picked.  Now, I am not endorsing this, but one of my friends told me she made these with refrigerated biscuit dough and they worked out very well…

This recipe makes 6 breakfast biscuits, and they are big. If you have a chance to get medium eggs, do so, I found the large eggs were just a tad too large, some of the whites spilled out of the biscuits, but no biggie.

Breakfast Biscuits

For the topping:

3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (or substitute any cooked veggie, or none at all)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely diced cooked ham (or sausage, or bacon…salmon?)

For the biscuit dough:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into bits (I grate frozen, or very cold, butter into the flour)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups grated Münster, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar/Jack mix or Mozzarella mix (or whatever you have on hand, use it all up!)
6 eggs (medium or small work best)

In a large skillet cook the bell peppers (or other veggie) and the onion in the butter over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, stir in the ham, and remove the skillet from the heat. (This can be made 1 day in ahead, if needed.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the biscuit dough:

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Gather the dough into a ball, on a lightly floured surface knead it gently 6 times, and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an approx. 7-inch round, form a 1/2-inch-high rim on each round by turning in the edge of the dough and pinching it until the shell measures approx. 5 inches. This does not have to be perfect, but a high outer crust will help contain the egg. The rustic look is great! Transfer the rimmed rounds to 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Divide the cheese among the shells. Top with veggie/ham mixture. Now, make a well in the center by pushing the filling to the rim (this step is important!).

Original directions: Crack and drop an egg carefully into the well of each shell. Bake the bicuits in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the egg yolks are just set.

My directions: Following the original directions produced  hard-boiled eggs, which made the biscuits easy to eat (and pleasing to the kids because they were, most definitely, finger food–they turn out like small pizzas!) BUT, I like soft eggs, so I cook the biscuits without the eggs for ten minutes.  Then I carefully crack an egg into the center of the biscuit and continue cooking until the egg yolk is set, but still soft (usually 3-4 minutes more), and the white is completely cooked.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this morning. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

02 Sep 2010 Fresh Tomato Tart

Fresh Tomato Tart

It’s been a long, cool summer here in California.  I’ve enjoyed it, loved it actually, but I did begin to wonder if we’d EVER “suffer” from our usual abundance of garden grown tomatoes.  Finally, the end of August, beginning of September 2010, we have an abundance of tomatoes.  My neighbors and Facebook friends have been asking for recipes to use up their tomatoes.  I have two good ones.  The Fresh Tomato Lasagna that I posted earlier this week, and this Fresh Tomato Tart which was a staple at our house last summer.  This year I’ve made it once, this afternoon, to welcome my daughter home for a quick 18-hour visit. I used 6 of my dry-farmed garden tomatoes.  I had better make another one, like I said, we finally have an abundance of organic, garden grown, dry-farmed tomatoes.  (I dry-farm my tomatoes every year.  The tomatoes are smaller, but oh so sweet and flavorful.  To dry-farm your own tomatoes, as soon as the fruit begins to set, stop watering.  YEP. No water. At all. Ever.) BTW…, I made this once without the feta cheese (not something I always have on hand) and it wasn’t nearly as good. My older daughter has substituted goat cheese for the feta, and she likes that.  But I hate (no, I loathe) goat cheese, so that doesn’t work for me. The inspiration for this recipe was from a 2009 Cooking Light magazine.  I used the cheese mixture from one of their recipes (can’t, for the life of me, remember which recipe), but then I changed everything else to get this…

Fresh Tomato Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 2 cups thinly sliced tomatoes (five or six medium tomatoes, discard the top and bottom slices) 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves 1 Tablespoon thinly sliced fresh oregano (or pinch of dried) salt, pepper 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 1/2 cup crumbled feta 1/4 cup grated Parmesan AND 1/4 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano (OR, 1/2 cup of just one cheese) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an unrimmed cookie sheet with cornmeal, oil or spray (I prefer to use the cornmeal). Unroll puff pastry, thin out a bit by rolling, then prick all over with a fork. Place in hot oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towel. Roll towels with tomatoes, and set aside for tomatoes to drain while you mix the cheeses, basil and oregano together in a bowl. Remove puffed pastry from oven. Sprinkle 2/3 of cheese/herb mixture over hot pastry. Place drained tomato slices on top of cheese. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sliced green onion, and remaining cheese/herb mixture. Return to oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Thanks for stopping by both my kitchen, and my garden, today.  It’s been a fun summer, but I am ready for fall.  If you make this, let me know how you like it!

29 Aug 2010 Fresh Tomato Lasagna

Every morning, every good, calm morning, I browse the food blogs.  Most mornings I print off a few recipes.  The recipes then sit around for awhile and I revisit them from time to time.  Eventually, I do try some of the recipes.  Very few of the recipes I repost “as is”.  Some recipes show promise and I work with them for a bit (I have been working on a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies for a few months now).  I probably post (or plan to post) about 50% of the recipes I test.

This morning I found this recipe.  This afternoon I printed it off, picked two pounds of tomatoes from my garden, and went to the store for some fresh mozzarella.  This evening I made the recipe (since our temperatures have finally dropped about 25 degrees in the last two days, I was OK with turning on the oven for 45 minutes).  This lasagna was creamy, cheesy and fresh tasting,  lighter than regular lasagna, but still rich.  Since there are so few ingredients in this lasagna that, if you decide to make it, be sure your tomatoes are the BEST and your olive oil is the best you can get.  Although this pan of lasagna looks very small,  it would certainly serve four people.

The original recipe can be found at SortaChef, One Hot Cat in a Woodfired Kitchen.  I changed the Bechamel Sauce to more closely resemble one I have made many times before and really like the flavor of (adding nutmeg, allspice and Parmesan cheese).  I also added some chopped fresh basil (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Jeanne) and oregano, and changed the method a bit.

Fresh Tomato Lasagna

2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (don’t use tomatoes purchased at the supermarket)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, sliced thinly or shredded
4 Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
3-5 cups water at 150º (use half hot tap water and half boiling water)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (more or less to taste)
approx. ¾ teaspoon salt

For the Béchamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk is traditionally used)
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Pour 3-5 cups very hot water (about 150 degrees) into a loaf pan or casserole dish and slip the no-boil noodles in one at a time. Let noodles soak for 15 minutes.

Make the Béchamel sauce. Heat milk in microwave for one minute. Melt butter in a quart-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is barely melted whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat. Whisk in one third of milk and incorporate thoroughly before adding the next third.  Be sure the sauce is smooth before you add more milk. Once you have successfully added all the milk and the sauce is hot and smooth, add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk in the egg.  Turn heat back onto medium and cook sauce for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

Slice 8 ounces of Buffalo mozzarella (or other fresh mozzarella) into ¼ inch pieces. Slice the tops and bottoms off of the tomatoes and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the rest of each tomato into ¼ inch rounds. Coarsely chop the basil and oregano.

In glass loaf pan build the lasagna in this order:

  • A layer of uncooked tomato slices, pack as many in there as you can.  Drizzle with your finest olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt, 1 t. basil and 1/2 t. oregano.
  • 1 lasagna noodle
  • ¼ of the mozzarella
  • ¼ of béchamel sauce spread evenly to all edges of the pan
  • Continue the sequence with remaining noodles and filling, finishing with a layer of tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, basil and oregano.

Bake at 375º for 40-45 minutes, until béchamel has puffed up and the edges are bubbling.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen, and my garden, today!