From the Garden


There are very few days left this season when you’re going to find the humble, but beautiful garden tomato.  Enjoy it while it lasts by taking every opportunity to eat all you can.

A variety of tomatoes, chopped (enough to top however many toasts you’re serving up)
Basil, fresh and chopped (probably about a 1/4 of a cup)
salt/pepper
Garlic, a few cloves, chopped
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Focaccia Bread

Marinate the tomatoes for a few hours by drizzling with olive oil and vinegar.  Just before serving slice the bread and in a skillet, drizzle olive oil, and add the garlic and heat over medium-high heat.  Throw the slices of bread in and cook for a minute or so on each side until golden brown.  Top with the tomatoes and basil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and you have yourself your last veggie indulgence of the season.

With a little one, I’ve been making a lot of easy and quick meals.  You know—–your same old staples with a twist.  Here’s one: take feta, fresh tomatoes from the garden, a tortilla or two and throw it on the skillet over med-high.  Magically delicious.

Last night Trevor was out for a fantasy football draft and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  With tomatoes overflowing on my bush outside, courtesy of the extremely hot weather we’ve had these past few days, I decided to put them to good use.  A quick bath in olive oil and balsamic gives the tomatoes and amazing flavor with minimal effort.

Enough tomatoes to fill the number of rolls you will be serving
Rolls, split in half
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Garlic
Fresh Basil, chopped
Mozzarella (fresh)

Chop the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil, vinegar, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the basil.  Allow to marinate for a few minutes.  In a skillet over med-high heat coat the bottom with olive oil and throw in 1-2 cloves of minced garlic.  Toast the bread (cut side down) until crisp.  Add a slice or two of the cheese to the bread and the marinated tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

The walking cast is off!!!!!!!!  My foot is healing well and I am back in commission.  I can’t tell you how liberated I feel!  Needless to say, having the cast on seemed to slow down my ability to be in the kitchen as much as I’d like.  Now that I’m back, I hope to have many more recipes and tidbits to share with you.  Here’s one to start:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Tomatoes
Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

For the Tomatoes: Chop the tomatoes, basil, and garlic and combine.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic until well coated.  Top the chicken with this mixture and serve immediately.  Deliiiiiiiiiiicous.

(Parmesan Chicken recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa)

After watching Disney’s Ratatouille, my Husband has been obsessed with trying to find Thomas Keller’s recipe from the movie to try to recreate its splendor.  Having never tasted Keller’s original, I find it hard to compare.  Nevertheless, I think he did a fantastic job.  The flavor was wonderful and the arrangement was pretty darn close to perfect.  Since I have a broken foot right now it’s made it a bit harder to make meals for us and it’s nice to have a husband that loves good food as much as I do.  Kudos to you, Hubby.

• 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
• 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
• 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
• 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, divided
• 1/2 c. finely diced yellow onion
• 3 tomatoes (about 12 oz.), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 bay leaf
• 1 zucchini (4 to 5 oz.) sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
• 1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 oz.), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
• 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 oz. ), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
• 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
• 1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves
• 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers cut side down on a foil-lined sheet. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

Reduce the heat in the oven to 275 degrees.

Down the center of the skillet arrange a strip of alternating slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and Roma tomatoes, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled.

Mix 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons olive oil in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the vegetables.

Cover pan with foil and seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.

For the final topping combine the reserved tablespoon of sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Drizzle around plate. Serve hot.

If you don’t like tined, pickled beets, don’t let this recipe put you off.  I don’t particularly care for them myself.  I believe that beets get along much better with the sweet side of things rather than the salty brine that usually accompanies them.  Fresh out of the garden (and free of brine), these bad boys get thrown in the oven (or on the grill) until tender and mixed with bright citrus and tangy feta cheese.  What more could mixed greens ask for?

5-6 beets
1 orange liqueur, peeled and cut into small segments
Feta
mixed greens
vinaigrette dressing
olive oil

In a 375F oven, roast the beets, drizzled with the olive oil for about an hour until fork tender. Let cool, peel, and cut into bit-size pieces. Mix with the orange segments, and the ratio of mixed greens and feta desired. Add a splash of your favorite vinaigrette and you have a bright and delicious salad.

That’s not even half of what I pulled out of the garden today.  What do I do?  Well, I usually give away a bit, and then use it as side dishes (read: pan fried with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes) and cook it into muffins.  Orrrrrr you would add it to your roasted vegetable mix for the Sofrito Salad.  Happy Squash Season.

Next Page »