Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas in July: Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad, Vegetable Napolean, and Tomato "Caviar"

A sampling of the week's bounty with the addition of the fresh mozzarella...

Heirloom Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil Salad
A simple and timeless classic...

It doesn't get much easier than this.
Slice tomatoes, mozzarella, and chiffonade basil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with white wine vinegar
and olive oil and you have a meal - or the perfect beginning to one.
Serve with lavosh crackers, crusty artisan bread, or just a fork!
Tomato Caviar

Tomato caviar is essentially the seeds and their gelatinous coating. It is used when a tomato flavor is desired but a more delicate approach is needed. It is also a great way to offer a vegetarian alternative to caviar while maintaining the visual component. Remove the outer skin and serve atop blinis with creme fraiche.

Vegetable Napolean with New York Strip Steak

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I do tend to eat like one (and blog like one). So in an effort not to leave out the carnivores, I prepared a NY Strip (Ribeyes are a great alternative - and possibly my favorite) with a vegetable napolean. For the napolean; Oven roast red peppers at about 475 degrees (grilling is even better). While the red peppers are roasting, thick slice the other vegetables - eggplant, squash (cut on the bias = at an angle so that the slice is longer), and heirloom tomatoes. Marinate the eggplant and squash in a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt (not too much because the soy is salty) and pepper. When the peppers are charred mostly black remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 375. Place peppers in a different dish and cover with a lid or plastic wrap to allow the peppers to steam. In about five minutes the skins should come right off, remove seeds and skins and cut into 2-3 inch wide strips. Drain marinade off of the eggplant and squash and roast in a baking dish or sheet tray in a single layer for ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for handling. When cool enough to handle stack and layer the vegetables including the red peppers and tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, feta, or your favorite cheese. When you are ready to serve them reheat in the oven until the cheese begins to melt and serve alongside a seared or grilled steak of your choice. This may seem time consuming but is rather quick and the napoleans can be made a day in advance or cooked on the grill for an excellent grill kissed flavor.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Make this salad using the same technique described above for the napoleans. Rather than stacking the vegetables cut into chunks and drizzle with vinegar and oil, salt and pepper, and add basil or another favorite fresh summer herb. The salad in the picture is made with fresh mozzarella, but would be wonderful with feta or goat cheese.
Have Fun and Enjoy Savoring the Summer Flavors!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Computer Crash with a side of Panzanella

Well it has been a little trying of late with regards to posting. My computer crashed and without having a dedicated computer I am limited by time constraints and lines at my apartment's media center - which means less posting for now. However, my saving grace is my new friend and amazing food photographer Ben Pieper - who is now photographing my creations. Lucky for all of us because Ben has the eye, skill, and culinary knowledge to translate the beauty of this local bounty into mesmerizing images. I make and style the food and Ben works his magic behind the camera. Check out his website... For this week I am posting on Panzanella - or bread salad. From my CSA I've used green beans, cherry tomatoes, walla walla onions, and basil. The French Farm bread comes from local artisan bakery, Farm to Market, and is available in most grocery stores including every Hen House. To make this easy and tasty recipe gather:

Green Beans with stem ends snapped
Cherry or other large heirloom tomatoes cut into chunks
Walla Walla or Red Onion (or any sweet onion will do) shaved as thin as possible
Good Artisan Bread from Farm to Market or Fervere torn into chunks (about an inch in size), toss the bread in olive oil and toast in an oven at 400 degrees until just toasted on the outside and the inside is tender.
Basil Chiffonade
Red or White Wine vinegar or Balsamic (White Balsamic is better but either will do)
Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard
Fresh Mozzarella (optional)
Cured Meats (optional)
Salt and Pepper
See instructions below:

Some items from my CSA.

Hand crafted hearth baked French Farm Bread from Farm to Market.
To Prepare:
Blanche Green Beans then cool in ice bath. Cut tomatoes in half and place in mixing bowl, add basil chiffonade, and cooled green beans, add diced fresh mozzarella and cured meats. In a smaller mixing bowl, blend 1 TBSP dijon with 1/4 cup olive oil and a few splashes of the vinegar. Mix well and stir (gently) into vegetables. Add bread chunks just before serving. This can be served as an entree salad or as a side. And is a great base for other veggies such as summer squashes.