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Archive for the ‘bread’ Tag


Molly’s Tomatoes

Yesterday, my Friday started out like a dreadful Monday in disguise. It was pouring, I was running late for work and I had a flat tire. In retrospect, this wasn’t too bad. I called in late, pulled up my sleeves and youtubed: how to change a tire. I was mildly amused by the number of videos there were for this topic. After watching a few I thought I was fully-trained, if not an expert, on how to put on those silly-looking donut wheels. To make a long, miserable story short – my spare also turned out to be flat, the tow truck took 3 hours to pick me up, and it took 2 hours to get my wheel changed  - never in my life had I felt so much relief in returning home and closing the door behind me.

Before going to bed last night, I finished Molly’s book: A Homemade Life. If you haven’t already bought it, you need to go and pick up a copy. In her book she has a chapter appropriately titled and dedicated to happiness, which apparently is achieved by slow-roasting tomatoes for six hours. I was convinced. After my miserable chain of events, I set out to make this recipe on Saturday morning, and ran errands while the tomatoes did their thing in the oven.

mise en place

Molly’s recipe calls for coriander, which I didn’t have, but I sprinkled some dried thyme instead, and added couple cloves of minced garlic for good measure. I cook under the illusion that anything roasted should have garlic in it. Ultimately though, I was happy that I found a recipe for the large bowl of tomatoes idly resting on the dining room table, just waiting to be used.

tossed in olive oil, thyme & garlic

The dish couldn’t have been easier to put together. I sneaked a taste of a couple the quartered tomatoes, put the rest in the oven at 200 degrees F, and went on with my errands. *I knew I wasn’t going to take long, but if you’re going to do this, I recommend using the cook-time feature in your oven so that it could turn itself off automatically.

ready to combine

After six hours, your entire house will take on the wonderful scent of the roasted tomatoes and lemony thyme. In order to make it a meal, I toasted a few slices of a day-old baguette, topped them with a healthy smear of fresh goat cheese, and a couple pieces of the slow-roasted tomatoes. Molly was right, this is happiness.

roasted tomato, goat cheese crostini

As she describes in her book, the possibilities for flavoring or using these tomatoes are virtually endless. Tomorrow, for instance, I can’t wait to wake up and throw a couple of these in with my scrambled eggs. I can then layer a few more pieces inside my sandwich for lunch, or toss them in with my salad – you get the idea.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

approx 1 cup of roasted tomatoes

Components

  • 2 lbs roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thyme, to taste (approx 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Wash and dry tomatoes. Quarter them and scatter them on a large baking sheet.
  2. Gently, using your hands, toss the tomatoes with the oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake at 200 degrees F for 4-6 hours or until tomatoes crinkle at the edges and shrink by about half.
  4. Pull them out of the oven, let them cool and eat as desired.

notes: Recipe adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Roma tomatoes are best for this recipe, but any tomato will work just as fine. You could go longer than 6 hrs if you’d like, I actually went 7hrs when I made these and they were excellent.

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deliciously wrinkly

According to the atmospheric noise generated by this random-number generator, these three commenters will be receiving a pack of mahlab in the mail.

Congratulations to Hélène, Katie and Hannah, respectively, and thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed me with their support. 

healthy, happy cows

Hi. I’ll have 8 oz of the free-range-no-antibiotics-natural-no-artificial-growth-hormone-happy-cow steak. No; not that one, the one behind it and to the right, please. Sound familiar?

It’s sad that the barriers between industrialization and gastronomy have been breached, but it’s the truth. After reading Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilema, I’m scared, or rather disgusted, to buy any other meat. I’ll usually pass on the massaged cattle lavished with all-they-can-drink sake, unless the parents are paying, and simply go for the healthy, happy cow instead. Slightly more expensive than the hormone-injected alternative, but I make it stretch to fit the occasion. If it’s dinner for two, I’ll break open a bottle of wine and enjoy a nice steak perhaps alongside some pureed parsnips or celery root. If it’s for a party, I’ll serve it as an appetizer and share it with my guests.

mise en place

Steak crostini with parsley pesto and goat cheese is an appetizer I came up with while in college. I was invited to a dinner party and was expected to bring something grand – usually what happens when friends find out you like to cook. I had to strike a balance though: too fancy and I would’ve been thought of as showing off; too simple and I would’ve risked disappointment.

season like you mean it

A good quality steak can do wonders if executed properly. Once your meat leaves the butcher, it becomes your responsibility. Season it well, let it sit at room temperature before cooking, don’t over cook it, and allow it to rest before slicing. These four points along with some good judgement can go a long way when preparing meat.

pesto oil to good use

I originally made this dish with regular pesto because that was one of the things I had in my fridge before the party. In retrospect it was passable, but a bit too overpowering for the steak. I tried it again by pulsing parsley into my pesto and it was wonderful. You get a slight herbal note from the basil, but at the same time you’re greeted with a clean, crisp flavor from the parsley.

putting everything together

I used a whole wheat baguette when I made the appetizer last night and thought it was fantastic. This was also not part of the original dish, but I felt that it added an appealing nutty component to the crostini. On a side note, we’ve really come a long way in terms of whole wheat products – they don’t taste like cardboard anymore.

Steak Crostini

The reason why I added two thin slices of steak to each appetizer as opposed to one thicker slice is because it makes the crostini easier to eat. If you’re serving this at a party, you definitely don’t want your guests struggling with a big hunk of meat while they’re mingling and sipping on cocktails.

Steak Crostini

yields approx 18 crostini

Components

  • 1 8 oz steak
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley pesto*
  • roasted peppers, garnish
  • 1 fresh baguette

Putting them all together

  1. Allow steak to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt & pepper and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until medium rare.
  3. Allow meat to rest before slicing.
  4. Slice the baguette on a (~1/4 in slices), brush with some of the basil oil and broil until golden brown.
  5. Once all the components are ready start by smearing a little more pesto on the toasted baguette slices.
  6. Top with a little goat cheese and two thin slices of the steak.
  7. Garnish with diced roasted peppers.

note: To make your own parsley pesto simply replace some of the basil with parsley in your favorite pesto recipe or pulse some parsley into some high quality store bought pesto and call it a day.

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Tastes like way more than a sandwich

Although I’m sure many of us enjoy the rich flavors of a 6-hour Bolognese sauce (the way nonna used to make it) or the flaky homemade texture of Baklava, there are just not enough hours in the day to indulge in these treats on a regular basis. Since I would never advocate resorting to fast food, there are always ways around this pickle. I knew I had to create a variety of dishes that I could rely on when time was breathing down my neck. College was the perfect place to develop this habit because it wipes your bank account clean and works you till the wee hours of the morning.

One of my favorite go-to dishes (and the one I decided to feature in today’s entry) is focaccia sandwiches. I make the focaccia at home using store-bought pizza dough and keep it in the fridge for easy access throughout the week. Also, the topping combinations for focaccia are as endless as the ingredients you can pair with it. A panini press is not required; but if you have been thinking about getting one lately, you definitely should (it’s probably one of my favorite toys in the kitchen!). Before I got mine I used toast the sandwich on a grill pan or in the toaster oven if I was feeling particularly lazy.

Focaccia Recipe

other go-to dishes of mine include:
- Pasta alla Zarina (Spinach Pesto Pasta)
- Chicken Piccata
- Low-fat Vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries, cereal, almonds & flax seeds (my usual breakfast)

From: Rome, To: You

This entry is dedicated to Raquel, my friend who thinks making focaccia out of a box is OK.

Romans are credited with an array of modern marvels, from the arc to democracy; but how easily do we forget the gastronomic contributions they’ve brought forth to the culinary world. The taste of artisan bread perfumed with sprigs of rosemary and topped with a few crystals of sea salt is considered perfection in the eyes of gourmands around the globe. A predecessor to the pizza, focaccia’s extensive history has turned it into a versatile canvas for all sorts of delicious ingredients. Zesty sun dried tomatoes; briny olives; earthy crimini mushrooms, you name it and focaccia will deliver.
For me, caramelized onions, charred red bell peppers and creamy goat cheese stand out as favorites. Also, in my recipe, you will notice that store bought pizza dough has replaced the 20 minutes of hard labor kneading and hours of proofing required to make focaccia dough, which is essentially a pizza dough; so without further ado, lets cook.

Roasted Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion Focaccia

Roasted Red Pepper & Caramelized Onion Focaccia

Components

  • 28 oz. pizza dough, store bought
  • ¼ – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsbp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary, dried
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienne
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Place the pizza dough in a bowl with a little bit of oil, cover and allow to proof in a warm dark place (inside a microwave does the job perfectly).
  2. In the mean time, coat a sauté pan with olive oil and cook the sliced onions for 30-45 minutes on low heat until they’re sweet and their flavors are concentrated. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar, cook for another minute and set aside to cool.
  3. Salt the red bell peppers and place under the broiler until slightly charred. Then sauté them with olive oil and garlic for 7-10 minutes and set aside to cool.
  4. Coat a 10”x14.75” baking sheet (or one of comparable size) with olive oil and fit the proofed pizza dough. Sprinkle with the rosemary and make indentations along the entire dough to create nooks for the toppings and extra virgin olive oil to sink into.
  5. Top your focaccia with your cooled toppings and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: Add a pinch of salt to the onions while cooking to help break down the cell walls, get rid some of the moisture and concentrate its sweet flavors.

Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on the focaccia before baking for an authentic Italian taste.

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Now that you’re a pro at making your own bread, which always sounds impressive, explore its endless possibilities. Turn it into sandwiches, serve it as a side course, an afternoon snack, or dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an unforgettable taste – enjoy!