Sharing meals with friends and family is one of life's greatest pleasures. Featured here are some of the simple, yet wonderful, celebrations that take place in our home on Any Given Sunday throughout the year.
Today's harvest was still pretty good even though we are nearing the end of the season in Santa Fe -- lots of Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, a ton of bell peppers and two nice sized calabacitas squash. So far, we've made sausage, onion and pepper sandwiches, a roast chicken with veggies, and tonight we'll have pasta with the rest of the tomatoes and eggplants. All wonderful end of summer meals, perfect for when the days are still warm but nights are chilly!
When your garden is overflowing with way too many cherry tomatoes, this is an easy solution that doesn't take much work at all. Just line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice 100 or so cherry tomatoes in half. You can use your finger to wipe away most of the seeds but don't worry about them too much (they are tiny and do not effect flavor at all). Place the halved tomatoes on the cookie sheets with sliced side up. Finely chop 6 garlic cloves to spread evenly on top of tomatoes, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar if you wish. Place both trays in a 250 degree oven rotating the placement of racks twice during while they bake so each one has time on the upper and lower rack, and roast for an hour or until they shrivel and condense in size. Allow tomatoes to cool, then place in an airtight glass jar until near the top, then fill jar with olive oil. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Use them on pasta, in salads or soups, on crostini, or however else you want to. The flavor intensifies as they roast so they become intense tomato flavor bombs.
I've been racing back and forth between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara quite a lot lately, which means there are many half-used food items in my fridge or pantry or cupboard at any given moment. And since I have officially decided to make 2010 the year of making everything from scratch and to not waste anything, the situation has led to some unexpected culinary treats. Here is one of the most simple solutions - turning stale bread into delightfully flavorful (and useful!) breach crumbs -- and you also get to use whatever herbs you have in the bottom of your crisper drawer too!
Using a stale half loaf of rosemary lemon bread from a local bakery that we left in our bread drawer all week, and some fresh sage, rosemary and thyme that was left in the fridge, I was able to put away two loverly pint-sized jars of breadcrumbs for later use over potatoes au gratin or a homemade soup.
Just cut the bread into 1" cubes and place in a large bowl. Chop all of the herbs into tiny, confetti-like pieces Sprinkle bread cubes with salt and pepper to taste and all the herbs Drizzle all ingredients with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and toss by hand until bread is well coated but not too moist Place herbed cubes on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 oven until slightly browned and crisp Allow cubes to cool, then pulse in a bowl of a food processor until they become crumbs Store in an airtight jar (like a canning jar) for up to two weeks or freeze until you need to use them.
This goat cheese souffle recipe is from "Vegetarian Supper from Deborah Madison's Kitchen," which is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. I was always intimidated about making souffles since they seemed difficult and challenging but Deborah's technique makes the process much easier than you would think. This is a no-fail souffle. Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS Butter, plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, for the dish 1 1/4 cups milk or cream Aromatics: 1 bay leaf, several thyme sprigs, 2 thin onion slices 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons flour Salt and freshly milled pepper Pinch cayenne 4 egg yolks 1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, preferably a Bucheron or other strong-flavored cheese 6 egg whites Several plump thyme sprigs, leaves only
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish or an 8-cup gratin dish and coat it with the Parmesan. Heat the milk with the aromatics until it boils. Set it aside to steep for 15 minutes, then strain.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. When foamy, stir in the flour and cook over low heat for several minutes. Whisk in the milk all at once and stir vigorously for a minute or so as it thickens, then add 3/4 teaspoon salt, a few twists of pepper, and the cayenne. Remove from heat. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until well blended, then stir in the cheese. Don't worry about getting it smooth. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks, then stir a quarter of them into the base to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest, transfer to the prepared dish, then put in the center of the oven and lower the heat to 375° F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and just a bit wobbly in the center. Remove, scatter the thyme over the top, and serve immediately.
Thanks to our friend, Jane Handel, who brought us a big basket of apricots from her tree when she visited for dinner last night, we now have 4 pints of apricot jam all put up and ready to eat (well, we actually have three and a half jars left — we ate quite a lot of it for breakfast today). Just peel fruit, remove the seeds, cut into small chunks and cook in a heavy bottomed pan with about 1 cup of sugar for every two pounds of fruit for 45 - 60 minutes. Place cooked fruit into sterilized canning jars and follow manufacturers (or other) canning instructions. Nothing could be easier!
We have good friends here for the weekend to celebrate Independence Day and for our third annual trip to the opening of the Santa Fe Opera, which took place last night. The Magic Flute started at 9pm and ended at midnight so we all slept in this morning but woke us famished, so I made a frittata from things we had on hand in the frig. I don't fuss over making frittatas at all and always use whatever is on hand -- they are so versatile you really can't go wrong.
Today's version is here: 8 large eggs 3/4 cup heavy cream Salt, pepper, and crushed red chile pepper to taste Two large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and spun dry 3/4 lb. mild Italian pork sausage (bulk, not links) 6 to 8 oven roasted tomatoes, chopped (see previous post for recipe) 8 ounces crumbed feta cheese
Cook sausage in a heavy, 12" cast iron skillet. After it is fully cooked, remove from pan and drain off all the fat. Preheat over to 375º F. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, cream seasoning and whisk until fluffy, then add spinach, feta, sausage and roasted tomatoes and lightly toss until barely incorporated together, but making sure all ingredients are coated with the egg & cream mixture. Pour everything back into the cast iron skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium heat until egg mixture begins to cook and hold together. Remove from burner and place skillet in the heated over and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The frittata will puff up and become golden brown on top. Slice into 8 servings like you would a pie. Serve hot or warm.
When the Roma tomatoes become plentiful in summer, I find as many ways to make them last as I possibly can. In addition to make my Nana's marniara sauce with them (in the archive of this blog), I love slow roasting them in the oven. They last a week or so in a sealed container and are great to eat on salads, on bread, or in soups. Enjoy!
Slice 20 to 24 plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Using your finger, remove all seeds and inner membrane so just the meaty part remains. Lay them cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet large enough to hold them all. Drizzle each tomato with extra virgin olive oil and a tiny amount of balsamic vinegar. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper and a teaspoon or so of sugar. Sprinkle again with finely minced fresh garlic, then bake at 250º F for 45 - 50 minutes. Eat warm or allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the frig for up to one week.
Sometimes, the very best desserts are those you leave alone, get out of the way of, and just eat. That is certainly the "recipe" for tonight's figs — we'll drizzle a few tiny drops of balsamic and will slice off a few chards of parm - maybe...
I owe the inspiration for this recipe to Heidi Swanson, who adapted it from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin (the US version of which, just came out last week). We make a lot of soups in our house and usually make and freeze a lot of stock but now are in love with the idea of making homemade bouillon. It is very easy to make and each batch makes a lot, so feel free freeze what you won't use right away (and, of course, to give some away). Thanks Heidi and Pam!
Homemade Bouillon from 101cookbooks.com by Heidi Swanson
This recipe requires a food processor. I have a 8-cup / 2 liter / 2 quart model, and needed every cubic inch of it. I found the best approach if you are tight for space in your food processor is to add a few of the ingredients, then pulse a few times. The ingredients collapse and free up more space for the next few ingredients. If you don't find yourself using much bouillon, I will suggest making a half batch of this. And for those of you wanting to do a version with no salt, freeze the pureed vegetables in small amounts - say, ice cube trays, just after pureeing them. Introduce salt in whatever amount you like later in the cooking process.
5 ounces / 150 g leeks, sliced and well-washed
7 ounces / 200g fennel bulb, chopped
7 ounces / 200g carrot, well scrubbed and chopped
3.5 ounces / 100 g celery
3.5 ounces / 100g celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped
1 ounce / 30g sun-dried tomatoes
3.5 ounces / 100g shallots, peeled
3 medium garlic cloves
9 ounces / 250g fine grain sea salt
1.5 ounces / 40 g flat-leaf parsley, loosely chopped
Place the first four ingredients in your food processor and pulse about twenty times. Add the next four ingredients, and pulse again. Add the salt, pulse some more. Then add the parsley and cilantro. You may need to scoop some of the chopped vegetables on top of the herbs, so they get chopped. Mine tended to want to stay on top of everything else, initially escaping the blades.
You should end up with a moist, loose paste of sorts. Keep 1/4th of it in a jar in the refrigerator for easy access in the coming days, and freeze the remaining 3/4 for use in the next month. Because of all the salt it barely solidifies making it easy to spoon directly from the freezer into the pot before boiling.
Start by using 1 teaspoon of bouillon per 1 cup (250 ml), and adjust from there based on your personal preference.
Makes roughly 3 1/2 cups.
Inspired by Pam Corbin, The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.