April 14th, 2013

what’s new

OOPS!  It’s been…oh…maybe a year and a half since I last visited.  OOPS!  Shall I write a super long post to tell you all that’s happened in the past little while?  No?  Ok, I’ll sum it up:

I went to work…a lot. I went away for work…for so long. I forgot how to use WordPress. I forgot how to cook.  I forgot how to take photos.  I forgot how to write.  I came back from being away for work.  I got busy getting ready to go away for work again.  And then I didn’t.  And now I am again, but in the meantime, I’m posting on this flipping blog because I love it and I miss it and I don’t want to forget about it ANYMORE! SO forgive my hiatus, and welcome back (Mom).

Here’s what’s new: I’m growing stuff on my patio.  Food.  To get back into blogging, I’m taking photos (on my crummy iphone) and over-processing them so they look cool!  I hope you enjoy, I know I do!

 

September 18th, 2011

melon caprese

This is the third post in a series on How to Use 3lbs of Heirloom Tomatoes.  See the first post here, and the second post here.

According to…well…some article in some reputable magazine somewhere that I can no longer find, caprese salad is THE salad of the summer. If you don’t know what caprese salad is…well…please get with it, you’re a decade late. I’ll tell you anyway because I’d hate for you to not know – Caprese salad is basically the combination of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and sometimes a touch of balsamic vinegar (though I sometimes prefer mine without). It’s truly something special. So special, in fact, that everyone everywhere is doing a caprese of some form – elegant with colorful slices of giant heirlooms and fresh mozzarella, or rustic with chunks of bright red tomato and cubed mozzarella, or bite-sized with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini (tiny rounds of fresh mozzarella), or uber-modernized with sphericized globules of tomato and cheese flavor (www.thebazaar.com)

Since basil is quite likely my favorite green thing, I was obviously going to have to caprese my heirloom tomatoes (yes I did just create a verb out of the word caprese…this is my blog…I will do as I please with the English language…everyone else does, word?.). A few problems with this plan though:

1. Caprese is kinda over done. Like a said, it’s THE salad of the summer. I would be unoriginal if I did a classic caprese.

2. Melon. (“Huh?”) I have too much melon. (“So what?”). I need to use up my melon. (“What does that have to do with caprese salad?”). Exactly. (“Huh?”)

Melon Caprese Salad (“Oh…okay…cool”).

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So, you’re thinking I just added melon to a caprese and called it original, right? Too easy! I switched out the cheese too. A real splurge too – burrata (basically mozzarella plus extra cream!). I understand if you’ve never had burrata. It’s hard to find, kinda fancy, and therefore expensive. But if you do one nice thing for yourself this summer, do this: skip your Starbucks for a week and go buy some burrata cheese (don’t worry, your pumpkin spice lattes will still be around later this fall…your heirloom tomatoes will not). Trust me, one bite of burrata and you will die of pleasure (or caffeine withdrawal) and go straight to creamy, cheesy heaven (I heard they have pumpkin spice lattes there, too!) Oh and by the way, burrata in Italian means “buttered”…now do you believe me?   Thought so!

So, you could stop right there and have a beautiful and delicious new rendition of THE popular summer salad. BUT, if you have guests coming over, you might as well go all out and really knock their flip-flops off. So, what goes really well with melon? Prosciutto. Bingo. Add some ribbons of prosciutto to the top of the salad and you’ve achieve a whole new level edible nirvana. You’re welcome.

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Melon Caprese Salad

Serves 4

 

4 heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cantaloupe

1 medium-sized ball burrata cheese

2 slices prosciutto, cut into ribbons (optional)

basil, chiffonade

olive oil

sea salt

 

Slice, or roughly chop tomatoes and melon and arrange on serving plate.  Using a spoon, scoop small spoonfuls of burrata cheese between pieces of tomato and melon.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Scatter ribbons of basil and prosciutto over the top of the salad to finish.  Viola!  Enjoy!

September 15th, 2011

tomato watermelon salad (twisted)

This is the second post in a series on How to Use 3lbs of Heirloom Tomatoes.  See the first post here.

Tomato watermelon salad is kinda a big deal in the foodie world right now, but it didn’t used to be.  A couple years ago, when I first stumbled upon one at an overpriced Mediterranean restaurant in Manhattan Beach, I was cautiously intrigued.  See, I generally associate all things watermelon with red plaid tablecloths, seed spitting contests, the overly cliché fruit salad bowls inside watermelons with jagged edge cuts, and watermelon-flavored jolly ranchers (which make me gag), so I don’t go out of my way looking for watermelon (unless I’m running 20 miles on a hot summer day).  This watermelon salad caught my attention simply because of the unique, but appealing list of ingredients:  watermelon, yellow tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh mint, and honey dressing.  Now, didn’t that watermelon just achieve a whole new level of sophistication?  I mean…yellow tomatoes…fresh mint…that’s fancy!

And it was a very fancy salad (Manhattan Beach doesn’t tolerate anything that isn’t fancy, actually, so there!)  The obvious Mediterranean pairing of tomatoes with salty feta cheese was beautifully complimented with the addition of sweet, crisp watermelon and creamy honey, and the mint brought a bright and fresh flavor to the whole thing.  Brilliant!  And delicious, of course!

So when my farm boxes started coming overloaded with heirloom tomatoes and watermelons, I knew I’d end up making my own tomato watermelon salad. Timing was such that when I had watermelons and tomatoes, I had no feta. That’s pretty much the story of my life.  I did, however, have some cotija cheese leftover from some roasted corn tacos (yum!).  Cotija is a crumbly, salty, Mexican cheese that is the object of my current cheese obsession.  I thought it might work in my tomato watermelon salad since it has some of the same properties as feta  – crumbly, salty, with a bit less bite.  Conveniently, I also had some limes hanging out in the fridge, just waiting for their moment to shine (they were admittedly jealous of my previous post about lemons).  At that point, having already stepped out of the (veggie) box, I went crazy and dug out my cayenne pepper…just because.  Finished it off with some mint from my garden and a drizzle of honey (only because my watermelon was sitting around for too long waiting for me to appreciate it, and lost some sweetness).  Delicious!  And brilliant, too (if I do say so, myself)!

 

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Tomato Watermelon Salad

 

1/2 miniature seedless watermelon, chopped into 1-inch chunks

2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup cotija cheese (or queso fresco), crumbled

1 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1 lime

zest of 1 lime

pinch of cayenne pepper

sea salt (to taste)

honey (to taste)

few sprigs of fresh mint, chiffonade

 

Combine watermelon and tomato chunks.  Drizzle lime juice olive oil over the tomato and watermelon; toss lightly to distribute the juice & oil.

Top the salad with crumbled cheese and lime zest.  Season to taste with a pinch of cayenne, salt.  Drizzle a bit of honey over the top for a bit of extra sweetness, and top off the salad with fresh mint.