CtBF -Cherry tomato crostini with herbed goat cheese

Where would we be without friends? I was all set to make another recipe using my cherry tomatoes from the garden, when someone (Katie) mentioned the roasted cherry tomatoes for this week. So, in fairly typical fashion, I did a twofer.

The other recipe (thank you Smitten Kitchen) is for cherry tomatoes roasted with pearl onions – all served over croutons with white beans. I’d made really yummy black beans, so thought I’d substitute.

Ours are roasted alone, but with garlic and fresh herbs. Of course, both preparations rely on good olive oil, salt and pepper. Both are also roasted in a very similar time frame. They go from this…IMG_0922

to this… in about 3/4 of an hour.

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They end up with some seriously deliciousness in each pan. That juice really adds to the dish. I thought that it was fun to have the combination of the heirloom yellow pear tomatoes as well as the sweet 100s.

This recipe also includes a home made herb cheese. I didn’t happen to have any goats milk yogurt around (really?), so I picked up a nice, mild, soft goat cheese, and added herbs from the garden. Always a good thing – herbs from the garden! I used thyme and rosemary in this version. IMG_0925

So, the final prep. Toast. Slather herbed goat cheese on one slice. Pile on black beans on the other.IMG_0926

And finally – top with the roasted tomatoes. I also topped the goat cheese ones with thin strips of basil.

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This was some serious yumminess! Both dishes were delicious – and I have to admit the CtBF recipe was almost gone by the time we were finished with dinner. It made a really terrific dish for a relaxed evening. The others? They were great too. Seriously, how can you go wrong with fresh garden tomatoes roasted to develop their sweetness. Just a different dish than fresh (also good!).

I think the punchline is that it’s a great go-to dish. I’m kind of sorry I shared my earlier ones when I had too many! OK, not really, but I could happily make a bunch more!!

I have to take down my plants. Between the heat, and probably just running out of gas, my plants are done. It’s a little sad. But it’s also ok, because I can get whatever kind of tomatoes they have at the roadside stand, and that’s a good thing too. There’s still summery goodness to be enjoyed. If you’d like to find out what our other bloggers thought of the dish, you can find links to their posts at cookthebookfridays. We have bloggers from all over north america and around the world cooking together through My Paris Kitchen. It will be fun to see how they fared!

 

 

CtBF Apricot crumble tart

Since Katie can try using her phone for a blog post, why can’t I?

I made this tart what seems like a couple of weeks ago. The apricots from our tree were long gone, but was able to find some at the market. It’s a little late in the year for the southwest.

But I love a tart, and this one seemed like a great idea. Crust, fruit, a crumble topping.


This tart looked beautiful when it came from the oven.


Just like the photos. Was it phenomenal? Not so much. Part of it was really the fruit, or maybe most of it. Each element was yummy. And we tasted it with whipped cream, ice cream and all by itself. Crust and topping were both great.

So, not a true favorite, but a fantastic concept. Maybe it was even better with the apricot kernel ice cream. I’ll look forward to seeing what other bloggers thought about their tarts.

CtBF| Buckwheat crêpes with ham, cheese and egg

I feel like these have been everywhere recently – certainly in some food magazines or online. I’ve never had one, don’t often make crêpes, but it was one of the intruiging  recipes in the book when I first paged through it.

This is actually two recipes. The buckwheat crêpes. And the “galette completes”. Apparently buckwheat crêpes are called galettes, while those made with white flour are just crêpes. It’s a little confusing, because I’ve been making galettes that are pastry, filled with savory or fruit filling – maybe it’s really the folded over edge?

I made the batter 1st thing in the morning, and it ended up with a nice 4-5 hour rest. I was a little skeptical (yes, I peeked at a few blog posts first), so decided that since I was hungry, and was worried that they might not be good, it would be good to try them for brunch rather than waiting for dinner or a later lunch.

The batter is very simple, 1.5 c buckwheat flour, 2.25 c water, a bit of salt and a couple of eggs. It is supposed to be the consistency of heavy cream. I found that it was fairly easy to get the batter in the pan, spread to make a semi-large crêpe. I found that if I let them cook a bit long on the first side, they were a little too crisp and were difficult to turn over.

But, assuming that the cheese, egg and ham would kind of hold it together, I decided not to be concerned.

I didn’t have too much trouble with my egg sliding around – but did have a challenge because I didn’t have a lid that would fit – or I didn’t search one out at first…

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I used some very thin black forest ham that I found. I didn’t think I’d really love proscuitto. I did have some Jarlsberg cheese, so used that. I broke my first egg when the lid slipped and smashed it… very sad. I ended up switching out lids, but at the end of the effort – I cheated and turned on the broiler – I just couldn’t get the eggs to cook without burning the bottom of the galette.

 

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The one that broke – not too beautiful. I thought that the most difficult part was folding over the sides to make a square – because the galette crisps up, it just wasn’t simple. And I’m sure part of it was that the crêpes were not the super large size shown in the book.

All said and done – these were tasty. Seriously. But then again, when isn’t toasty cheese, ham and egg? I’m not 100% certain that I would make these again – though I have more batter. I wish I spoke/read French, because it would be fun to read the menu pictured in the book. There would undoubtedly be some interesting combinations mentioned. I can pick out asparagus, I think salmon, pine nuts… who knows. I imagine that these are pretty versatile and can use up some of the leftovers that might be hanging out in the refrigerator.

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This was a fun recipe to try. I think that I may leave these for a visit to a crêperie (I know of one in Coronado Island – so on my next visit), but very interesting and fun to attempt these. You can see how others fared with this recipe at Cook the Book Fridays. And if you would like to cook along with us – pick up My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.

 

 

CtBF -Raw vegetable slaw with creamy garlic dressing

Running a little behind – kind of the usual thing this time of year. I’ve probably explained before, but in any kind of retail construction, this is the busy season. We have to complete our construction so that the facilities can be in use on time, ensuring that all of our customers can fulfill all Christmas and Holiday wishes. I’m already worried about October and November, though also worrying about the heatwave in the west… there’s always something! But of course, it keeps me out of trouble – well, except it keeps me in trouble with my blogging. I get sidetracked on a regular basis.

For whatever reason, I didn’t get this salad made early. I did, however, make it on Friday – but then the weekend got away from me – mostly because we had a family get-together since one of my nieces was in town. Since I’d arranged it for someone else’s house, and I know she’d be craving Mexican food – that’s what I was up to on Saturday – with the festivities themselves on Sunday… so oh well!

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Back to the yummy slaw. Because I am often behind, and sometimes a little lazy, I decided to take advantage of the pre-prepped veggies at the store. Cue slaw mix and broccoli slaw mix – I did manage to cut up a crispy apple into matchsticks, however. I also added the chopped hard boiled egg – a new twist for me. I’m not sure that it was particularly essential – but then again, I haven’t made this recipe without it. You’ll need about 6 cups of veg for the dressing with 1 c mayo.

The dressing is simple to prepare. The recipe says to let it sit for a couple of hours if you have them. I didn’t, but we’ll get back to that. The creamy version is a simple mixture of mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, quite a bit of garlic, a bit of dijon and a fair amount of black pepper.

We had this with some grilled steak for dinner – oh, with some fresh corn, grilled alongside. This was very good, and we enjoyed it. I liked the apple – it was a nice crunch, and reminded me of slaws growing up – my mom would add crushed pineapple. The broccoli slaw added some additional crunch. And I think that the option of adding toasted almonds was a good one. Though didn’t this time.

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We ate this over a couple of days. And the flavors mellowed for the next day’s meal. That’s what made me remember that the dressing was supposed to sit longer. I thought both were good, and while some might be concerned about the high level of seasoning in the dressing – it both mellows with the wait, and gets calmed down a bit by all of the vegetables.

I may just make a bit more – and possibly try the vinaigrette option – it’s so nice to have a salad in the refrigerator to grab quickly on these busy summer days.

This is yet another great recipe from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. You can check out what our other Cook the Book Fridays bloggers thought about this recipe by following this link.

Garderning in the AZ high country – June edition

This year, June has been a bit more variable than usual – mainly in that we had beautiful weather until mid-month, which allowed us to enjoy a lot of plants that start suffering in the heat, but also warm enough so that sun-loving plants would thrive.
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One of my all-time favorite flowers is Lobelia. It won’t last forever in the heat, but it is so gorgeous, that I always try to add some, and keep it going.

My brother and sister-in-law told me about a gardening method – the Mittleider Method – that was really developed to increase food production for people around the world. From his site Growfood.com:

Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider, world-renowned international agricultural consultant, developed this method of gardening while conducting family garden-size agricultural training and program development in 27 different countries. The Mittleider Method is based on 55 years of study and gardening experience.
After 20 years of growing flowers and vegetables commercially, Dr. Mittleider embarked on a program of sharing his expertise with gardeners and would-be gardeners around the world. In 1964 he was asked by Loma Linda University in California to take an extended trip to study the diets of the people in developing countries. He traveled through the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.
He found that the diseases, insects, and nutritional deficiencies were similar in all countries visited and that the agricultural problems closely resembled those in the United States. He concluded that the solution to their food problems simply required carrying out the recommendations of experts in plant nutrition and following scientific agricultural practices.
Thus he developed the Mittleider Method of gardening—an easy-to-use method that allows gardeners to raise an abundance of vegetables and other crops on almost any soil, in practically any season, in almost any climate, and virtually at any elevation.

I’ve been using his fertilizer in the garden – though not as consistently as I should. I found myself running out, so was even able to order the formula online. A little more manageable for me, but it’s certainly possible to mix your own. There are specific micronutrients to put into the mixture – as far as I know they have to be purchased on line – though certainly not sure.

Even with intermittent use, the results are spectacular!

Once the heat started, the herbs finally took off – the basil is amazing! The tomatoes took off too – the plants are now 6’tall. And we have our first tomatoes and peppers of the season!

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Looking forward to a summer filled with yummy items from the garden. I am planning on making some grilled shrimp & cheese stuffed guero peppers, and maybe a little salsa or tomato salad to go with (or we might just eat them out of hand – I’m surprised they lasted long enough for a picture – we eat the tomatoes by the handful all summer!). The Thai chiles and Thai basil I have growing will make for some great dishes too. I might just make some spicy Thai basil jelly again this year…

The flowers started out beautifully – we might be in a bit of a slump – we had seriously HOT weather last week (110s). It takes a toll. Not as many flowers at the moment, but they will mainly come back, and others will start coming to the forefront.

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Hope your gardens are doing well – and check out Dr. Mittleider’s website. Certainly interesting information, and terrific particularly for small kitchen gardens.

CtBF – chicken lady chicken

This chicken, as David describes it, is supposed to be the best of all chickens when purchased from “the chicken lady” in Paris. I can see that. I first started buying rotisserie chickens in Australia because it was so much more practical to do that than heat up the apartment – and they were delicious! I lived on the Gold Coast (on the beach!! I thought it would likely be my only opportunity with the cost of beachside residences in the US). It was a wonderful time filled with scuba diving, and long walks on the beach and amazing sunrises. Oh, and “roast dinners”, and particularly chickens. 

Now, I vascilate between roasting my own, and the immediate satisfaction of a freshly cooked rotisserie chicken. What I find is that the purchased ones are great at them moment. But lack nice texture once cooled. 

Anyway, I was intrigued by the recipe. David suggests that the chicken can be cooked on the grill. The first time I made it – I got a US sized half chicken, and did just that. 


Well, as it turned out, I got it too hot (and the chicken was too big, I think). It was really good, and the not-burned bits of skin were delicious. It was pretty good. 

Since I’d made this early, I decided to try another one – but this time as a beer can chicken. You can almost never go wrong with one – the chicken bastes itself, and it’s difficult to burn since no part of the meat touches the grill. I marinated it again, and put the whole thing together. Did my normal thing on the grill… Um


Well, the honey in the marinade just really is difficult to manage on a grill, no matter what. The marinade actually laquered the skin. Looks better in the photo on the grill than it really was. 

So. I loved the process (even though I don’t often love marinated meats). I thought it was fun and charming, but I suspect that the 2 times that I made this will likely be the last. The chicken was good, we enjoyed it. It was fun to make and experiment with. I suspect others who resorted to their ovens had more success. You can find out what they thought here

I’ll be looking forward to seeing how their chickens turned out – I hope you’ll visit them and see for yourself!

CtBF – Fattoush

This salad is described as “dressed with a pungent lemony garlic dressing and a jumble of ingredients”. The main differences are a sprinkling of ground sumac and shards of toasted pita. It was suggested that we would love it above all things.

As it so happened, I was in the Valley, and so could run to the Penzey’s to pick up said sumac. Little did I know until I got home that sumac is the #1 ingredient in Zatar. I might have just switched, but what the heck?

The dressing turns out to be very similar to the typical lemony vinaigrette that I make. Olive oil, lemon, salt, garlic, dijon. The jumble consisted of romaine, scallions, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh mint and some radishes. I skipped those because this is just not a radish household. The 2 or so that I would have needed for the scaled down recipe would have meant food waste for the remainder. I’m trying. Seriously! I absolutely adore when I get to go out to the garden to pick herbs fresh to use right then. What a great “farm to table” experience – when you really don’t happen to have a farm close by.

I did not make the pita shards either. I end up with too many different partially used bread items – again, skipping the food waste. But I did pick up some Naan  because I wanted to have it for hot dogs or other wraps. (One of the most inventive food trucks in the valley also has a small brick and mortar shop – well, probably 2 now. They make delicious and inventive hot dogs, wrapped in Naan instead of buns – genius!). Since I was grilling some chicken too – I thought that it might even be a good way to eat the meal – scooping the salad and chicken into a bite of Naan. I digress… In any event – no pita.

Super straightforward.

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It was good. It was particularly good with the chicken. And a nice start-of-the summer salad.

Did I really concentrate on the sumac? No. But I’m probably going to make David’s hummus today – and I can add some there! Maybe it will be amazing. Or it will become yet another jar of spice that I don’t use. But it’s all about trying new things. So, if you want to see how other CtBF members tried out the sumac (or not), please check them out here.