Thursday, December 27, 2012


I seem to have been able to fix the issue I had with the site. I will post again shortly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Farro Salad

I work at a farmer's market most Saturdays, and have a booth next to one that represents a shop that's around the corner from my house. They sell marvelous salads. This is my take on my new favorite addiction: Farro Arugula Salad. It's easy to make and so fresh and delicious. It's a pleasant reminder of the end of summer, with just enough fall feel to it. 

I could say that I know a lot about Farro as a grain, but I'd be lying. I had to look it up. In most instances, it refers to it actually being spelt. I found Farro in the bulk grain bin at Whole Foods. To cook, the recommendation is a ratio of 1:5 farro to water. Cook for 30 minutes. I brought my water to a boil, added the farro, briefly returned to a boil, and simmered over low heat for 30 minutes. The farro goes from a small, rice shaped grain to a puffed grain. Drain off any excess water that was not absorbed during the cooking. 

I'm sorry I've been off doing other things and neglecting this blog. The fridge died for close to a month and there's nothing that says abandon the kitchen than having a non functioning refrigerator! 

Farro Arugula Salad
Inspired by Simply Fresh

1 cup farro, cooked 
1 cup chick peas, drained
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup arugula, torn
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Cook farro (see above) and allow to cool. Place in large mixing bowl. To that, add 1 cup chick peas, chopped sun dried tomatoes, golden raisins, olive oil, herbs, arugula, salt and pepper. Toss with a spoon until evenly coated. Serves 6-8. 

Farro and Arugula Salad

Sun dried tomatoes I got at the market. Very colorful.

Ready to mix the salad in the bowl.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garden Schmarden

On the first day of summer, my garden gave to me: a carrot and a beet.

On the second day of summer, my garden gave to me: two small pumpkins, a carrot and a beet.

On the third day of summer, my garden gave to me: three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

On the fourth day of summer, my garden gave to me: four dying cuke plants, three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

On the fifth day of summer, my garden gave to me: five lima beans, four dying cukes, three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

On the sixth day of summer, my garden gave to me: six fire ant bites, five lima beans, four dying cukes, three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

On the seventh day of summer, my garden gave to me: seven towering sunflowers, six fire ant bites, five lima beans, four dying cukes, three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

On the eight day of summer, my garden gave to me: five hundred striped paste tomatoes, seven towering sunflowers, six fire ant bites, five lima beans, four dying cukes, three dead cilantros, two small pumpkins and a carrot and a beet.

I could go on, but this is what I do to entertain myself while weeding in the garden. It's been a long, hard, hot summer. Fire ants be damned.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bahn Mi

This is one of my favorite summer sandwiches. The term Bahn Mi is Vietnamese for bread in general, but this style of sandwich has come to define the name Bahn Mi. In my many lifetimes, I have had opportunities to work in strange parts of Atlanta (and New York for that matter). One of my favorite was an office right off Atlanta's Buford Highway, a road that gives our city its international reputation. There are a number of blink-and-you-might-miss-it restaurants from virtually any country you can imagine. My co-workers and I would frequent one Vietnamese place in particular (just down the shopping strip from our favorite Chinese restaurant) owned by a feisty woman named Suzanne. She married an American soldier and came over after the end of the war. She would tell the best stories about her resourcefulness and we could not disagree. Gang members would try to shake her down and failed. Come for the pho, leave with a story. Here's one of the sandwiches she served to perfection. 

Bahn Mi

2 baguettes, sliced lengthwise, but not completely through (you will stuff the sandwich)
1 l lb. pork tenderloin
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup grated peeled daikon radish
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
3 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce 
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cucumber thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise

(Vegetarian option: Use tempeh instead of pork)

Combine shredded carrot, daikon, vinegar, sugar and 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to a day before). Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a baking pan with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking. Mix the 1 1/2 tsp. sugar and chili garlic sauce together and spread 2 Tbsp. of the mix over the meat. (I leave a little at the end without the chili for the children). Bake the tenderloin for approximately 20 minutes, or until the meat thermometer registers 155 degrees). Remove meat from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool, cover it and refrigerate. Mix mayonnaise and the remaining chili mixture and refrigerate. When ready to prepare the sandwiches, spread mayonnaise and chili sauce on the sides of the baguette. Slice the pork and arrange in the bread along one side. Drain the carrot/radish mixture and place some in each sandwich. Continue with cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro and green onion. Cut each sandwich into equal portions. Should serve 8. If you're cutting carbs, make this as a salad without the bread. 

Rub pork tenderloin with chili garlic sauce and sugar before cooking

This is the chili garlic sauce I use

Daikon, carrot, vinegar and sugar

Fixings for the Bahn Mi

The perfect spicy summer sandwich

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recipe for RIGHT NOW!

Bizarre formatting on my previous post. 

In any case, I have another dish that is perfect for NOW! Fresh corn is in season, as are fresh tomatoes. I can't say that my cilantro is in good shape. Let's say for now that it's reseeding itself and by fall, I should have a bumper crop. So, to take advantage of two of the finest crops that you absolutely, positively must eat now, I give you: 

Corn and Tomato Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Corn and Tomato Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2006, Credit to Lovoni Walker


3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from about six small ears of corn, cooked)
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup finely chopped red onion

In a blender, puree the following: 

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled
salt and pepper to taste

Place corn kernels, chopped tomatoes and red onion in a mixing bowl. Add dressing just before serving and toss to cover. Serves six to eight. 



We've been up to a lot around here. 
Tipping canoes

Celebrating birthdays

Getting over a fear of swimming in the lake

Crashing. My first thought was "Camp, it does a body good." 

Making pickles

Cooking pickle brine

Getting four inches of rain in one day and finding a sunflower keeled over

And doing something I've never done before: composting pickles

Our summer's been one interesting day after another. The heat has been part of it, with Atlanta breaking an all time record of 106 degrees. I know in most parts of the country there's been similar stress, and for some friends in the Mid-Atlantic region, a week without power. My hat's off to those folks. I would have lost it.

One of the side effects of the extreme heat with no rain in sight, is that the cucumbers have either died outright or turned bitter. I didn't know that about cukes until a farmer at the market told me he'd be ripping his out this week because the cukes are bitter. Which brings me to pickles. I love, love, love making this particular recipe for pickles. I think I did 50 jars of them last year. This year, bupkus. I realized too late after making six jars last week that the cucumbers were bitter. Worse than the vinegar I was trying to brine them in. Blech. So, this morning, I dumped all of the cucumbers into the compost. Sad times around here.

But, I encourage you to test some cucumbers and make this for yourself. They are a marvelous addition to your dining. They're refrigerator pickles, so you keep them in the fridge. You can put them up, but I find that it makes the cucumbers kind of soft. They make awesome gifts.

Kinda Sorta Sours
Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: At least one hour
Makes approximately eight quart jars


3 sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 cucumbers per jar, for a total of about a dozen large cucumbers
16 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
6 cups water
6 cups cider vinegar
3 cups white balsamic vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1/3 cup of Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. celery seeds
1 Tbsp. pickling spice

Prepare jars for canning by thoroughly cleaning with hot soapy water. 

Prep cucumbers and onions and garlic in advance. Start with adding the garlic to each jar, then the onion slices and then the cucumbers. You will need to leave room at the top for the brine once it's ready. Have extra cucumbers ready for topping off the jars once the brine soaks down into the jar.

In a large non-reactive pot, combine the water, vinegars, sugar, salt, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer four minutes to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat.

Slowly ladle the brine into each jar, allowing it to settle into the jar. You may want to use a chopstick to move the contents so that air escapes the jar. Fill the jar to the top, adding cucumbers as needed. Top with remaining brine to the 1/4 inch fill line on the jar. Wipe rims of jar with a clean, wet rag. Place lids on the jar and screw down. I take this opportunity to flip the jars upside down for a minute to get the brine to the bottom. Allow jars to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Market Conundrum

I work most Saturdays selling cheese at local farmer's markets. There are six of us who do this all around town. Sometimes they're able to bring stuff back to the shop and sometimes there's stuff to share. Like these:

Pattypan Squash. And here's my market conundrum: I see these and don't have a clue what to do with them. I think they're so pretty that maybe I shouldn't bother cooking them, but then, that wouldn't be right either. Then I'm wasting an opportunity to try something new. That's part of my problem as a gardener. I like the pretty pictures in the seed catalogs and wind up buying seeds for things that I either decide not to grow, or worse, grow things that I hesitate to eat (like radishes). I want to like these things, and mostly I do, but some of it goes back into the composter as result of my wishy-washiness. So, I have a plan. I'm going to roast these with some olive oil, salt and pepper. A friend said to stuff them, but I don't know what to stuff them with. I will also cook the one eggplant that I've grown so far. And the beet greens. Here's hoping the boys in my life will give it all a try.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To Bean or Not to Bean....

Of course, the answer is to bean. I suppose the more pressing question is why you should learn how to cook beans from, well, beans, rather than opening up a can. I can tell you 299 reasons why. I bought a can of Garbanzo beans while on vacation in Colorado in the only store in town. $2.99 for a can of lovely chick peas. $2.99! For that, the beans should have put on a dance or something. Sheesh. Dried beans are an inexpensive way to add low-fat fiber to your diet. My brother in law (the reason for purchasing the wildly expensive chick peas) adds them to his salad every day. And he eats an insane amount of salad each day (mind you, no dressing).

Play around with the dried beans you purchase. Some are straightforward (pinto, lima, navy/white, kidney). Others are more exotic: cranberry, Anasazi, flageolet. All are worthy competitors to the beans in cans.

So, there are a few ways of getting from dried bean to bountiful bean perfection.

First: Let's call it Jen's Method. You take a large sauce pan that has a lid and put your quantity of beans in and cover them with water, putting the lid on top. Turn your stove on high (don't leave!) and wait for the beans to come to a boil. Boil for one minute. Turn off the heat, and let the beans sit for one hour on the stovetop, covered. After one hour, drain the beans, cover again with water (and add any aromatics you might like) and keep covered at a low simmer for 45 minutes to an hour and a half (test beans at 45 minutes by removing a few from the pot with a spoon, allowing them to cool, and pinching them with your fingers). Jen is my neighbor who channels Emeril Lagasse's Cajun/Creole cooking. Her red beans and rice are the things parties are made of.

Second: Overnight Soak. You take a large bowl and put your beans in it and cover completely with water. Allow the beans to soak overnight. They will absorb the water and plump up overnight. In the morning, or when you're ready to cook them, drain them. Place the beans in a large sauce pan with a lid and again cover the beans with water (add any aromatics you might like, such as sliced garlic or onion). Bring them to a boil covered, boil for about one minute, and reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for 45 minutes to an hour and a half, checking the beans at 45 minutes.

Third: Pressure Cooker. I don't happen to have one, though early childhood memories indicate I took the steam tick-tocker off the top of one when my mother was cooking potatoes. I got yelled at as the family anticipated an explosion of potatoes on the kitchen ceiling (it didn't happen). My friend Susan has a pressure cooker and she swears by it. If you have one, use it for beans!

Apologies for the dark photos. The lighting in the hotel/apartment kitchen was subpar for photos. 

Anasazi beans with pulled pork and beet salad

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another Episode of Name this Veggie

As I left the Sandy Springs Farmer's Market today to pull the car around and load up the tent and cooler, I walked past the Taylorganics booth. They still had some odd produce out before closing up their booth. I spotted this. It's almost as tall as some toddlers I know. It isn't celery, though by its stalks, you might think it was. Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oh the Babies

Spring is here, and with it, the arrival of babies, wedding showers and other festive occasions where mayonnaise seems to reign. I asked a hostess of a long-ago bridal shower for this recipe. Apparently it was so easy she just rattled it off from the top of her head, while I scratched it onto a piece of note paper. I brought it out to celebrate the arrival of a friend's newborn girl (I saw her today and she's spectacular!) 

I love bringing meals to new parents. Why? First off, I received an abundant bounty of meals after both of my boys arrived home from the hospital. Second, because the afternoon we left the hospital with my second son, my mother said she and my father would be there for dinner and asked me what I was serving. Really? Just what every new mother needs to be doing. Duh, leftovers, Mom. 

This dish would be perfect for any springtime gathering. It's easy to make components ahead of time and assemble it right before you need to cook it. And my apologies for only getting a shot of it before it went into the oven. My husband baked it while we were at our Cub Scout meeting and when we came in the door, it was no longer worthy of a photo. 

Hot Chicken Salad Pie
Thanks to Nancy Godfrey

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes plus 20-25 minutes baking at 350 degrees


2 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed*
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated onion
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. salt
1 small jar chopped pimientos, un-drained
1 9-inch pie shell, baked
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed potato chips

To prepare, use a large mixing bowl and blend cooked chicken, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, grated onion, chopped pecans, pimientos and salt. Stir well to blend (you may refrigerate this covered until ready to finish the "pie.") Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie shell (either the pre-made ones that come in their own pan, or one that you roll out into your own pan, or even your own pie crust) about 10 minutes at 350 degrees to brown it before putting filling into it. Cool pie shell slightly and pour chicken salad mixture into the pan. Sprinkle top with cheddar cheese and then top with crushed potato chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned on the top. Makes 6-8 servings. 

* I am a devoted follower of Ina Garten's method of cooking chicken for chicken salad. Use split breast with the bones in. Bones add flavor that you wouldn't get with a boneless chicken breast. Salt and pepper the skin before cooking in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes (meat should reach at least 155 degrees with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast). Chill cooked chicken for at least an hour in the refrigerator before attempting to remove from the bones. Remove breast meat from the bones and chop for the recipe.

Hot Chicken Salad Pie, pre-baking

Monday, April 16, 2012

Toombs County's Finest

Vidalia Onions are one of my favorite things about early summer. The onions come from Middle Georgia, Toombs County. The soil there is particularly suited for growing onions. They're mild and slightly sweet. Some say (and I have tested this theory in my childhood) you can eat them like an apple. 

Vidalia's are a finicky addition to the pantry. They are very soft skinned, and don't hold up over time. One way you can preserve them is to tie them up in the legs of pantyhose and tie a knot at each onion, so they don't touch one another (vital). Then, you hang the pantyhose legs in a dark, cool closet. That way, you can get a couple of months out of your onions. Otherwise, they're a blink-and-the-season-is-over kind of vegetable. 

This is my number one favorite way to cook Vidalias.

Veggievangelist's Baked Vidalia Onions

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes in the oven


Four medium sized Vidalia onions, sliced into 1/2 inch slices, separated
2 Tbsp. butter, plus 2 Tbsp. (optional)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
Approximately 20 butter crackers (e.g., Ritz Crackers)

Cut onions into 1/2 inch slices and separate the rings. Heat large skillet over medium heat with 2 Tbsp. of butter. Add onion , stirring frequently, as the onions begin to caramelize. Add salt and pepper. Cook approximately 8-10 minutes over medium to medium-low heat. Onions should look lightly browned, and will start to look translucent. Remove from heat. Transfer cooked onions to a baking dish. Crush crackers over the onions, add extra butter to the top (optional) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Vidalia Onions

Slice into half inch slices and separate rings.  Sorry if the photo's a bit blinding. 

Casserole pre-oven

Casserole ready to eat

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Name that Veggie!

A lot of the local farmer's markets open this coming Saturday. I'd like to challenge you to go to one of your local farmer's markets, wherever you may be, and buy a vegetable you don't normally prepare and give it a go. Widen your repertoire.

Do you know what this purple lovely is? It's got a mild taste, very crunchy, and is a great addition to a tasty salad. Boy #1 describes it as a "white carrot."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring's Here, Bake a Lemon Pound Cake

I love lemons and springtime. This is one of my favorite go-to cake recipes. In part, for its simplicity, and also because it's so delicious. It's a caloric splurge. And, as a bonus, it also freezes well.

Veggievangelist's Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 60 minutes (give or take a few)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 cups cake flour (King Arthur and Swans Down make fine cake flour)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Place oven rack in the center and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10 inch fluted tube pan (or bundt pan). Tap out excess flour.


Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Break eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat on high speed until fluffy. Add sugar, beating on high speed, and then add butter. Continue by adding lemon extract, lemon zest and sour cream. Mix until smooth. Reduce speed on mixer to low and gradually beat in the sifted flour. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour batter into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly. Take both hands to hold the cake pan and gently tap it on the counter five times, to settle the batter. Bake in preheated oven for one hour (60 minutes), or until a test knife comes out clean.

Syrup for Cake:

1 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup 10x powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. softened butter

Combine lemon juice, powdered sugar and butter in a bowl. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

When cake is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan. Invert onto serving platter and slowly drizzle with the lemon syrup covering completely; allow it to cool further before serving.

Egg Fanatics

We tried natural dyes last week to test out, but these work really well too.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy. 

Veggievangelist's Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parsnips: The OTHER Root Vegetable

Truth be told, I've never given a lot of regard to parsnips. I'm certain they were never a part of the vegetable lineup served by my mother. I know my own interest in them is recent, and leaned more towards "another veggie to throw in the chicken soup." A few weeks ago, while waiting for my son to get his hair cut, I came across this recipe in the local paper's food insert (and yes, I did take the section of the paper with me). I tried it and was pleasantly surprised that the boys tried them; Boy #1 really liked them. We did them again last night and the response was the same. It says serves six, but it really served four, with me eating way more parsnips than I thought possible. 
Parsnips: The Other Root Vegetable

Not pretty, but very tasty 

Parsnips have a particularly pungent aroma when cut

Sprinkle the cayenne from up high to ensure even coverage

Really, really delicious

Glazed Parsnips
Adapted from Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hands on: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6
2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into finger-size lengths
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put parsnips in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and arrange parsnips on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and sprinkle with cayenne and rosemary. Bake 20 minutes or until parsnips begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve hot or warm.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring's a Springing (Cough, Cough)

We don't seem to do spring halfway anymore. Some years, it's a leisurely waltz towards full bloom. You could drive by someone's house for a few weeks and enjoy the budding azaleas, the dogwoods, the daffodils, all staggered to keep you interested. This year, not so much. Today's pollen count is over 8,000 and you can literally see a green haze in the air. It's making life temporarily miserable. I went out into the garden Friday afternoon for a bit and gave up and got in bed. It's a full on assault. Some of the redbuds that went into bloom late last week are already going green with foliage.

But, all this means that herbs in the garden are popping up. This recipe, developed by my Aunt Sally Hale, is a perfect intro into spring dining. It's light. It's colorful. It tastes so fresh. I hope you like it.

Aunt Sally's Sweet Bulgur Salad
Adapted from The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook


1 cup cracked bulgur wheat
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries or dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint


1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 generous tsp. sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad, put the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and just cover with boiling water. Set aside for two hours. Then, drain well and pat dry, if necessary, with a clean dishtowel. Mix all chopped ingredients into the bulgur. For the dressing, in a separate bowl or jar, combine the lemon juice and sugar. Stir or shake until sugar dissolves. Slowly mix in the olive oil. Pour mixed dressing over the salad and stir well before serving. Makes about 8 servings.

Spring's here. I can hardly breathe. Habersham County, GA 3/18/12. 

Add boiling water to bulgur wheat just to cover

It absorbs the water and gets nice and fluffy

The herbs are coming back! 

Delicious in every way

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thank You for Being an Enabler

My friend Helen is a dear soul. She went to see her in-laws over President's Day weekend and came home with a present for me. Her in-laws live in Virginia near someone who is a mushroom farmer (his mushrooms supply the very chic restaurant Le Cirque). Said mushroom farmer had two extra bags of chanterelles in peat and Helen brought a bag to me. So, this is an experiment. I've soaked the bag in water for an hour, and now have it on a stool in a closet down in the basement (I'm also aging a piece of cheese down there, so this means I've got a really moldy basement). Between the cheese and the mushrooms, I can see I'll be taking a few trips downstairs over the next few weeks.

Before the lights went out. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Don't Talk Smack About Me While I'm Standing Next To You

Bunco was last Friday. I appreciatively call it "Drunko," when it's been an especially trying week. There's nothing like commiserating with your girlfriends over a spread of appetizers and a few bottles of wine. I won the kitty of $17, and took home a prize that I like (theme: White Elephant gifts from Christmas). Batting 1,000.

A handful of people know that I'm an apprentice cheese maker at CalyRoad Creamery, not far from my home. We make a fabulous aged goat cheese called Big Bloomy that is divine. I made the following roasted tomatoes to pair with a Big Bloomy for Bunco. I love, love, love this dish. It's super easy to make, but everyone oohs and ahhs over it. Really, it's simple. Which brings me to the title of this entry. I walked into the kitchen to find two very dear friends, Surabhi and Tracy, talking smack about how it could not possibly be easy to make this dish, and that I was essentially fibbing about it. If you can turn tomatoes over, you can do this. I promise.

Pomodori al Forno
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September, 2008

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 15 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes
Non-Active cooking time: 2 hours to cool


1 cup (or more) olive oil, divided
2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or majoram
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh Italian parsley
Aged goat cheese (such as CalyRoad Creamery's Big Bloomy, or Bucheron)
1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil into 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with herbs, sugar and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using a fork or tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over a second time. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate when soft (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes), about 15-45 minutes longer.

Layer cooked tomatoes in a medium sized bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Do Ahead: Cover, chill up to five days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices. If you have any left over, stir into pasta sauce, or use as a pizza topping.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recipe in Reverse

There are those who love recipes so much that they want to take something they like and then reverse engineer it for home use. I am not that person. But, I very much wanted to do that with this recipe. My friend Helen brought over some Five Seed Almond Bars from Trader Joe's for a snack one afternoon. They were marvelous. So much so because I felt certain that I could make them myself. So, I did what anyone else would have done, which is Google the title. Low and behold, a very talented "Lakata" had posted her version of the recipe.

Since then, I've made these a number of times. Some with great success, some with not so much glory. There's a trick to them, but not so much that you yourself couldn't do it. In fact, I encourage you to try these because they make an awesome snack for school.

Five Seed Almond Bars
Adapted from "Lakata," as published on Epicurious

Makes Three dozen

1 1/8 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup quick oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 stick melted butter (4 oz.)
1 egg
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain flax seed oil (available in the health food section of Whole Foods)

1 cup of seed mix: flax, sesame, pumpkin, poppy and sunflower (1 oz. each seed, approximately 5 oz. total)
1/3 cup slivered, toasted almonds


Measure out the seeds and almonds in a small bowl and set aside. You will need to work with them quickly, so have them ready to go.

Put the first set of dry ingredients in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds, until the raisins are finely chopped. Add the liquid ingredients and process for about 30 seconds until the mixture forms a ball. Add the nut mixture and pulse the food processor a few times to lightly mix. This resulting mixture is very dense. Work quickly so you don't burn out the motor on your food processor.

Turn mixture out onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly using a wet spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees in the oven after about six minutes. The bars will firm as they cool. Cut using a pizza wheel, and allow to cool a bit longer before removing from the pan. Store in an airtight storage container, or freeze.

Seeds and nuts set aside
Dry ingredients

Now wet

About to become brick mortar

I won't say what my six year old said this looks like. Wet the spatula to help spread. 

I cut mine with a pizza cutter, but really, any good knife will do. 

The perfect snack