vegetables on bread

bruschettaThis is obviously from a few month ago when the farmers market was in full swing and I was always buying too much wonderful produce and then trying to decide what to do with it. I would often settle for an easy classic, vegetables in vinaigrette on garlic toast otherwise known as bruschetta. Usually considered an appetizer, but to me it is jut an open-faced sandwich.

The top picture is good old heirloom tomatoes with balsamic and basil. The second was a little more interesting,  marinated grilled eggplant, it sounds odd but was really very good. I especially liked it with my homemade labneh (Greek yogurt left to drain until it is the approximate consistency of cream cheese) to cut the acidity of the vinaigrette a little.

the best toasted cheese I ever ate

Get some good bread, toast, spread with poached garlic butter and top with slices of Bulgarian Kashkaval cheese put back in the oven to melt the cheese. Assemble sandwich and top with the tomato relish…best ever

What is the secret? I don’t know. The poached garlic butter? The Bulgarian cheese? The rustic and toothsome white bread? The sweet and tangy tomato relish? It was a spontaneous concoction, yet it turned out to be pure deliciousness.

how to make Tomato Relish

14oz can of diced tomatoes, 2/3 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 clove garlic finely chopped, 2 spring onions finely chopped, handful of sun-dried tomatoes finely chopped, dried red pepper flakes to taste

Heat the vinegar and sugar in pan over heat and stir until dissolved, then boil for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, chopped garlic, chopped spring onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and dried red pepper flakes. Bring back to a boil then reduce to simmer for 35 minutes. Cool.

cover recipes

marinated goat cheese toast…designed to visually represent one’s glaring inadequacies. Kind of the way a chart, table or info-graphic of your love life would.

Rationalizations (for the cover recipe, not my love life):

  • “I don’t think the goat cheese that I found at whole foods was quite the right kind. I need to go to France”
  •  “I marinated it in all walnut oil. It is expensive and was not worth it. I should have used olive oil.”
  • “My under-the-stove apartment broiler is crap.”
  • “I used whole wheat bread for the croute which is per the recipe but what was I thinking? French people don’t eat whole wheat bread!”
  • “That frisee on the plate is much prettier than my laziness-baby spinach out of a bag.”

Recipe for Salade de Fromage de Chèvre Mariné

1 brick and a brown plastic tarp please

panini brickI wanted to make panini but did not want to buy a panini press or some small electric appliance to try to fit into my apt’s limited cabinet space. Aside: I will make space for the waffle maker I got for xmas! With limited space you must have priorities.

Anyway…The recipe actually suggested a foil covered brick and although I was not sure about this I decided I could make make the 95 cent investment to try it out.  I headed to Home Depot and while I was there I wanted to buy something to cover up my outdoor furniture for the winter so I purchased a brown plastic tarp. I did feel a little odd buying one brick and tarp. I felt it necessary to explain to cashier why. I don’t think she cared though.

Anyway, I picked kind of a square brick and used my cast iron grill pan and it workedpanini fabulously. Cheap and effective. I highly recommend it. My foil was a little wimpy so I suggest using heavier duty foil. I just washed it off when I was done and put it away, foil and all. I don’t think the same foil will last forever but at least for one or two more sandwiches.

The recipe calls for you to thinly slice some cucumber and red onion and do a quick pickling with vinegar, sugar and salt. You can leave them in the pickling mixture for an hour or 24. I liked it. A fresher crunchier version of pickles on your sandwich.  I just made my own honey mustard, as I already have both ingredients: honey and mustard. I made my own thousand island dressing also. That required a few more steps. I just had to boil an egg and very finely chop some olives and onions…and yes, thousand island contains mayonnaise and the recipe came from my Betty Crocker cookbook.

more hummus

chicken and lime tortillaSo the other hummus I made was for this… the recipe calls it Chicken and Lime Hummus Tortillas. The hummus has a combo of lime juice and fresh mint and is really good. The chicken part consists of kind of boring meatballs… but like I said the hummus is good and it calls for avocado which is always yummy.  The flavors are subtle.  This recipe is for hummus from scratch because it calls for lime juice instead of lemon, sesame instead of olive oil, but the usual chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame seed paste) and garlic, then add fresh mint and a little paprika.

The chicken is just ground chicken, bread, eggs, sauteed onion, some mint and parsley and minced garlic, then shallow fried.

Fear of habaneros!

I fear habaneros. I distinctly remember when my grandparents moved to Arizona, for xmas that year they sent some habanero peanut brittle, needless to say I really had no idea what I was biting into! Youch! Now I eat many more spicy things and often include chili peppers in my cooking, but I still avoid the oh-so scary habanero.

Enter the Rick Bayliss’s Mexican Kitchen cookbook and a recipe for Spicy Yucatean Beef “Salad” Tacos (Tacos de Dzik), which calls for his Essential Chopped Tomato-habanero Salsa. It sounded good and I just didn’t want to be a wimp and substitute a milder pepper. I decided to go for it.

First, I had to go to 3 grocery stores before I found any at a Whole Foods, my resolve was wavering….then I realized that I really needed/wanted gloves (I told you, habaneros are scary and I once tried to sleep with my hands in a bowl of ice water after dicing serranos!) So, Whole Foods does not have disposable latex gloves… I do find big thick latex-free purple kitchen gloves. Great! They are like armor!

The thickness of the gloves does make it a little hard to mince the very small pepper but I felt really safe….Anyway, now is the the time to admit that I really am a bit of wimp, so although the recipe called for 1/2 a pepper, I only used 1/4 of one. (mistake!)

I had steamed the beef roast ahead of time and just pulled it out if the fridge and let it warm to room temp while I chopped up the salsa ingredients, then shredded the beef and mixed them all together.

This is a really nice summer meal, it is beef but actually light and refreshing, with a little crunch from the radishes in the salsa. And guess what, I was too big of a wimp! No burn at all! It was actually a little bland! I will now follow the recipes in the future and use the suggested quantities. I will continue to use the giant purple gloves when cutting peppers.