GOING NAKED… AND MY HUSBAND LOVED IT!

Obviously, I am talking naked tomatoes. Obviously. Another almost non-recipe that went from spotting on a site to preparing and blogging in record time… The source for this little gem is the video blog Food Wishes, hosted by Chef John. I’ve been following his site for a long time, he always posts interesting stuff, but I admit to rarely watching the videos. I am a very impatient person. Give me the recipe, if possible with just a photo or two, and I’m a happy camper. But, I must say whenever I watch his videos, I feel happy I did. He is a natural teacher, concise, and very witty. Anyway, these naked tomatoes intrigued me. I read his post while we were away in Portland. We landed back in town, and stopped at the grocery store on our way home. I made a beeline for the fresh produce stand. Not a single cherry tomato to be found. However, gorgeous grape tomatoes said hello to me, so I asked “do you mind if I take your clothes off?”

naked-grape-tomatoes2

NAKED GRAPE TOMATOES
(adapted from Food Wishes)

a bunch of grape tomatoes
salted boiling water
ice water bath
a little patience and loving care
extra-virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic, or sherry vinegar)
dried thyme to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Make two very small and not too deep incisions in each grape tomato on the side opposite of the stem.

Drop them in salted boiling water for just a few seconds. The moment the skin starts to curl up, remove them quickly and dump them in ice water until cold.

Carefully peel off the skin, one by one. Be Zen. It is good for you.

Add them to a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, thyme (or another herb of your choice), salt and pepper. Pour over the tomatoes, cover with plastic and leave at room temperature until serving time.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositenaked

Comments: I will not lie to you, peeling small tomatoes is a labor of love. But worth it. If you have a dinner party, these would be amazing as appetizers. Grab a toothpick, pop one of these naked cuties in your mouth, repeat. I also envision them served over crostini, a nice smear of ricotta underneath, maybe even baked ricotta. Have you ever had baked ricotta? Here is a recipe for you, just to make things easier. Both Phil and I loved these tomatoes, the resulting texture is wonderful! The dressing, instead of slipping off the tomato skin, permeates delicately through its flesh. Is that sexy or what?

dinner-servedDinner is served: Turkey Portobello Burgers, avocados,
and Naughty Grape Tomatoes… 

naked-grape-tomatoes-from-bewitching-kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

TWO YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

FIVE YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

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TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE

The salads we make at home are so simple that they never make it to the blog.  A little bit of slicing and dicing, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and nothing else. But this recipe from a recent issue of  Food and Wine, is definitely worth talking about. I had never sautéed nuts to add flavor to a vinaigrette, and was amazed by the outcome. I adapted the original recipe to include Neo, the single cucumber  produced in our backyard. You know, The One. We are good at biochemistry, my friends. Or so we hope. Gardening? Not so much…

tomato almond

TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil, in chiffonade

In a medium skillet, cook the almonds in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about
 7 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; reserve the almonds for the salad. Immediately whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and agave nectar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Allow it to cool to close to room temperature.

Spread the tomato and cucumber slices on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.  On a serving platter, scatter half of the almonds 
and top them with 
the tomato and cucumber slices. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the remaining almonds and fresh basil.  Serve right away. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first adjective that came to my mind when I tasted the salad was “intense.”  The toasted almond flavor permeating through the oil is a real game-changer. Other nuts could be used instead. Consider  a macadamia, pistachio, perhaps a hazelnut version. I must make it again soon to profit from summer tomatoes, still so juicy and delicious. Not much hope for another homegrown cucumber, but there’s always next year…  Next time I will slice the cucumber a bit thinner. Other than that, it is a winner.  If you check the original recipe in Food and Wine, you’ll notice it called for several types of fresh herbs, but I only had basil around, so that’s what went into it.  I already feel the sadness of summer leaving us. Might as well make batches of tomato salad while we can. With a tissue nearby in case I get too emotional…

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette, Bewitching Kitchen

Grab a pin and share away…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

TWO YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

SIX YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

 

 

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EGGPLANT TOMATO STACKS

This is pretty much a non-recipe, but a few details made this preparation so delicious, I must share. First of all, you’ll need to use the best juicy large tomatoes you can find. We got heirloom tomatoes that turned out perfect. Slice them thick, no skinny slices. Same goes for the eggplant slices, and once you grill them, 2 minutes per side and you are done. This will preserve some of the eggplant texture, it won’t go all mushy on you.  I often make the mistake of over-grilling eggplant. It gets bitter and limp. No bueno city.

Eggplant Stacks

EGGPLANT TOMATO STACKS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1/4 cup olive oil
juice of half a lemon
Herbes de Provence to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 big Heirloom tomatoes
1 medium eggplant
4 slices of mozzarella cheese

Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk well to emulsify.

Cut the eggplant in thick slices and brush each side with some of the dressing.  Reserve.  Slice the tomatoes, place over a platter and brush each slice very slightly with the dressing.  Reserve.

Grill the eggplant two minutes per side on a very hot grill. While hot from the grill, assemble the stacks, starting with a thick tomato slice, then a slice of hot eggplant on top. Add a slice of mozzarella, continue stacking the veggies. Top with a thin mozzarella slice, and drizzle any dressing leftover on top.  Add a tad more salt and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the non-recipe, click here

Comments: Sometimes simplicity is all you need in life. I didn’t anticipate making a post about this dish, but considering how much we both loved it, I had to share.  Resist the idea of melting the mozzarella on top by running the dish under a broiler or something.  It’s all a play with contrasting temperature and texture. The tomato will be just barely warm from cozying up with the grilled eggplant, and that will intensify its taste in a delightful way. I said it once, but will say it again, do not grill the eggplant to death. Assemble the stacks, bring them to the table, and pair them with any main dish you feel like it. I suppose two of these stacks could work well as a light meal. If you have some bread with it, even better. Some leaves of fresh basil in between the layers would be a nice touch, which unfortunately I thought about only a couple of hours later.  Such is life…

I hope you’ll give this a try before summer is over…  (typing this last phrase just about sent me into a crying fit. I am such a sensitive creature…)

ONE YEAR AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

TWO YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

FIVE YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

SIX YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

CAPRESE SALAD WITH CELERY AND TOASTED WALNUTS

I got the inspiration for this salad from Lidia Bastianich. In a recent cooking show she came up with a refreshing celery-mozzarella combo to which toasted walnuts were added for crunch. Lidia mentioned something I fully agree with: celery is a very under-utilized veggie. I know many people don’t like it because of its fibrous and harsh texture. However, if you use the best celery you can find (no need to search for the gigantic creature of my recent past) at the perfect stage of ripeness, and slice it thinly, chances are most of your objections to this stalky creature will go away. Some chefs recommend peeling it, but I don’t see that happening in our kitchen.  I find celery refreshing, bright, and use it all the time. For this salad, I adapted Lidia’s basic idea to make a departure on the classic Caprese, a favorite with us.

Caprese Celery Salad

CAPRESE SALAD WITH CELERY AND WALNUTS
(adapted from Lidia Bastianich)

perfectly ripe tomatoes, sliced
fresh mozzarella, sliced
celery stalks, thinly sliced
toasted walnut halves or pieces
lemon juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Make a simple dressing mixing olive oil, lemon juice, mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Amounts are pretty flexible, I add a lot of lemon juice probably 50/50 with the oil. Make enough to coat all the pieces of celery and have some extra so you can drizzle all over the assembled salad. In a small bowl, mix the celery pieces with the dressing and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and mozzarella to a serving platter,  place the celery and dressing all over. Scatter toasted walnuts, sprinkle salt to taste (Maldon flakes are a great option here).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We loved this salad so much, I’ve been making it regularly now. Toasted hazelnuts go very well too, and sometimes I make the dressing with walnut oil.  The combination of celery with nuts is superb, I hope you’ll give it a try.  Now that the weather is wonderfully hot, this type of salad is the side dish to go with almost any protein of your choice. Roast chicken, grilled meats, grilled salmon. No need for anything else if you ask me…

Lidia’s show has everything I’d hope FoodTV Network would offer, but it doesn’t.  In our town it is broadcast by PBS. I set our Tivo to tape it and maybe twice per week there is a new episode waiting for me. She is very knowledgeable, fun to watch, and as a bonus often suggests the perfect wine to pair with her meals. I was surprised to learn that one of her restaurants is located in Kansas City, a couple of hours from home. Something to keep in mind if we ever decide to go for a special weekend trip to the “big city.”

ONE YEAR AGO: Oh, my God! I think I saw something!

TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Hoisin-Grilled Chicken and Soba Noodles

THREE YEARS AGO: The Manhattan Project

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot “Nib” Orzo

FIVE YEARS AGO:  A Sticky Situation

SIX YEARS AGO:  The Garden