Tomato Explosion

Tomato Explosion For the past week, despite the best efforts of my chicken and the ground squirrels, I have been experiencing a tomato explosion in my garden. Home grown tomatoes are one of summer’s best things. But, as much as I am thrilled to have them, I am running out of ways to eat them.

My favorite way to eat tomatoes is semi bruschetta style or what some may call tartine. I fry a slice crusty bread in olive oil until it is golden brown on both sides. Then I lay alternating slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella on the bread and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil. Finish it off with a little salt and some fresh pepper and you have the best lunch in the world. But even the best lunch can’t be eaten every day.

I’ve also sliced my tomatoes up and served them on a platter alongside some ripe avocado slices with a drizzle of Italian dressing for an easy dinner side dish that goes well with anything coming off of the grill on a hot night. Of course there have been many sandwiches made with thick tomato slices adorning them. And so on…

I could make a tomato tart. But, I feel like exposing these beauties to heat would be a travesty. I have posted a number of tomato recipes on the blog over the years so I figured I would go back and take a spin through the archives. (I have also been doing this with the back issues of magazines that I have saved. It’s made coming up with dinner ideas a bit easier. And, it’s helped jump start my cooking brain again..) I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of tomato recipes that I haven’t made in a while. It’s like what’s old is new again and the Tomato, Chile, Melon Salad is calling my name!

I am slowly making my way through them all and the good news is my tomato pile is getting more manageable but the green ones still on the vine tell me that there are more coming…if the squirrels don’t get them first.

Here’s my list of recipes. Read more…

Mushroom Poblano Tortas

Mushroom Poblano TortasMushroom Motivation
As someone who loves to cook, it doesn’t take too much to get me excited enough about something to give it a try for dinner. Right now I feel like I’ve reached the end of the culinary internet.

I make dinner almost every night—I would say 95% of the time. But, in the past, whenever I felt like I just couldn’t muster the strength, I knew we could hop in the car and go out to eat or to pick something up. In the past almost 5 months, that hasn’t really been an option. Sure, takeout has been available, but that can get pricey quickly. All of this adds up to me having done a lot of cooking. I mean A lot of cooking. And, for the first time that I can remember, I am not very excited about cooking anymore.

My sister is in the same boat and she cooks more than I do. Both of us have cooking fatigue and I am sure we are not the only ones out there feeling this way. The arrival of summer produce has helped. But, it still feels like an ordeal to come up with what to have for dinner—or any other meal. And the other mouths in the house are not always helpful when it comes to ideas.

Over the weekend I made a Mushroom and Poblano Torta recipe that stoked my cooking flame because it was something I never made before; and if you make enough of the filling, you have options for meals the next day. It’s always good to have options. The original recipe called for coriander in the beans, I tried it that way and I also tried it by swapping out the coriander for cumin. I prefer the cumin version. The coriander was just too strong for me…

If you decide to give this a go I would recommend doubling the mushroom poblano and onion mixture. It makes great quesadillas or tacos for lunch or would be super in an omelet or egg scramble for breakfast.

Mushroom Poblano Tortas
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball Read more…

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta TartineGroundhog Day
Until yesterday, I had no clue that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s be real. I even struggled to try to remember that it was Wednesday today. Every day feels like the same day on repeat. It is, in fact, groundhog day. I don’t really feel there is much of a difference between Tuesday and Saturday and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

So, Memorial Day…

Theoretically, it is the unofficial beginning of Summer. Any other year we’d be packing for a tournament and figuring what to throw on the grill when we got home. This year? *Sigh*

I’m sure you all will forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm. It’s becoming harder and harder to be excited about what I am making for dinner. Call it culinary lethargy. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just as some restrictions are slowly being lifted around the state, stone fruits are starting to make their appearance in the produce department. Hurray!

Yep, the arrival of cherries, apricots, and early peaches and nectarines are just the thing to get me excited again. In fact, these two recipes got my mouth-watering to the point of embarrassment just by looking at them. Grilled Apricots with Burrata, Country Ham and Arugula can also be made with plums, peaches, and pears (depending on the season). And our recipe for Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine is the bomb.

From there it was not hard to picture snacking on either while enjoying this weekend’s warm weather on my back patio, cold beverage in hand…Voila!

Memorial Day Weekend saved!

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine Recipe 

Read more…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie PiesPumpkin Perspective
Halloween is here and I am just not feeling the Halloween spirit. I’m thinking that it’s because our priorities are focused elsewhere this week. Maybe it’s because most of the Bay Area is worried about having power or, worse if their house is still standing. It’s probably more important to have candles to see at night versus candles to put in your pumpkin. I’m just sayin’.

It is kind of a bummer, though. I actually had plans to make fun treats and dress up like I usually do. But, I no longer have the will nor the energy. This past weekend wore me down mentally. At one point there was fire 4 miles to the south of me and fire 3 miles to the west of me with air tankers overhead. With those ridiculous winds, you just didn’t know where it was going to pop up next. It’s the unpredictability that drives you nuts. Thankfully, my home was not threatened but I got a tiny taste of what they are going through in Healdsburg and the surrounding areas. My heart goes out to everyone. I can’t even imagine the stress and heartbreak…

I may still try to make the Whoopie Pies that I had planned on because, you know, stress eating. Whoopie Pies, I have been told, are an East Coast thing. I love them—though I couldn’t tell you where I was the first time I tried one. The traditional version features a chocolatey cakey cookie that is filled with vanilla-flavored cream. Kinda like a giant, soft Oreo. The recipe I was planning to make for Halloween have pumpkin cakes with a cream cheese filling. Anything with cream cheese filling is a winner in my book. And, I have made these before and I know how good they taste.

Here’s hoping conditions improve and the fires can be put out quickly. In the meantime, if you have the will and you have the power, give these treats a go. I am fairly confident they will improve anyone’s mood.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 1 dozen 4-inch Whoopie Pies Read more…