FROM OUR GARDEN TO YOU

Two side dishes, tomatoes and eggplant, from our garden to the blog, thanks to the efforts of my beloved husband, who is turning out like a pro in all things backyard – new lawn (Zoysia), ornamental grasses, flowers, veggies, he’s done it all this year!

TOMATO “PONZU” SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the dressing:
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice from 1 blood orange, strained (or regular orange)
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
tomatoes, any kind you like
fresh dill
flake salt

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk well.

Place the tomatoes in a serving bowl, preferably in a single layer, and pour the dressing over the top. Leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then sprinkle dill and salt, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you will be totally blown away by this simple way to serve them. Ours were so juicy and flavorful! Truly spectacular, a great year for tomatoes in Kansas.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT WITH BUTTERMILK-ZA’ATAR SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

NO AIR-FRYER?
No problem: bake in 400F oven and increase time

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt, full-fat
1/2 tsp za’atar
olive oil to drizzle

Whisk the oil, lemon, salt and pepper.  Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score the surface with a very sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Brush the oil mixture on the surface.  Place the eggplant, cut side up, in the air-fryer. 

Air-fry at the highest temperature (mine is 390F) for about 20 minutes, until golden and cooked through.  

As the eggplant fries, make the sauce by mixing all ingredients except the olive oil. Top eggplant with the sauce, add a little more za’atar, and serve. 
  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I should give full credit to my friend Elaine, the Sourdough Queen, who recently got an air-fryer and has been trying all sorts of goodies using it. She raved about eggplants, so I decided to try it myself. She actually air-fryed it whole, and it works great too, so keep that in mind. Our air-fryer is small, one eggplant divided in half barely fits in the beginning, but as it cooks it shrinks a bit. The texture was amazing. I realize the picture with the sauce on top does not look appealing, but you have to once again trust me: the taste was divine! Looks like 2021 will be the year of posting not-so-good-looking pictures in the Bewitching Kitchen. Oh, well… there are worse problems in life.

ONE YEAR AGO: Lady Bug Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Five-Stranded Braided Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Green Olive Salad

FOUR YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

SIX YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!  

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

NINE  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

TEN YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME AND CARDAMON SAUCE

Once again I turn to Joanne’s blog for inspiration. Like me, she also loves Ottolenghi and adapted this recipe from his new cookbook, Flavor. His method calls for high-temperature roasting of sweet potato slices coated in maple syrup and spices. I changed things around a bit, as I am absolutely set on roasting them low and slow (after trying the method described in this post of my recent past). You can conceivably make the sauce and the potatoes days in advance to finalize the dish quickly before meal time. I served it alongside grilled chicken breasts. They worked so well together that I decided to feature both recipes in a single post.

SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME & CARDAMON SAUCE
(adapted from Joanne’s blog)

for potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes, cut crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
olive oil to rub potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
5 tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes, blended until smooth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp lime juice
1 cup water
2 tsp finely chopped dill

For the sweet potatoes. Heat the oven to 300F. Rub them with oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and slow roast for 60 to 90 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool, peel the skin off and slice it into 1 inch thick rounds to proceed with the recipe (can be made a couple of days in advance).

Make the sauce. Combine the olive oil, jalapenos, shallots, and a pinch of salt in a large saute pan over medium heat, cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cardamom, cumin, lime zest, and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes so the flavors can combine, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 425F. Add the sauce to a shallow baking dish that can hold all the potato slices in a single layer, if possible. Place the slow-roasted potatoes on top of the sauce and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Close to the end of roasting time, sprinkle dill on top. If you like a little more color development, use the broiler.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was absolutely delicious, and if you spread the preparation by roasting the potatoes the day before, it is a breeze to put together. I actually find myself slow-roasting sweet potatoes and saving them, still with the skin, for all sorts of uses later. Cardamon and lime in the tomato sauce? Winner combination. I intend to make a roasted tomato soup pretty soon with those basic flavors. Stay tuned. And now, as I promised, the main dish we had with these wonderful potatoes.

BONUS RECIPE

GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients, except chicken (of course). Whisk well until brown sugar is dissolved. Place chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and add the marinade. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, but if you have time allow it to sit for 4 hours or even longer.

Heat grill, and cook around 6 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice on the bias, and serve, preferably with those amazing sweet potatoes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ONE YEAR AGO: Sweet Potatoes in Tahini Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: 30-Hour Leg of Lamb with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

THREE YEARS AGO: Maple-Grilled Pork Tenderloin over Lemony Zucchini

FOUR YEARS AGO: Danish Rye Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Best Sourdough Recipe

SIX YEARS AGO: Mini-Quiches with Duxelles and Baby Broccoli

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

NINE YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

TEN YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

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