Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And now, tomatoes

Alissa's going to have even more of these than peppers, and I'm obsessed with vine-ripe, farmer's market tomatoes. Here are some recipes.


Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes
(Recipe courtesy Maria Sinskey)

8 (1 by 1-inch) bread cubes
8 medium-small ripe red or yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata or nicoise olives
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Increase the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the cores from the top of the tomatoes and cut the top off the tomato 1/4 of the way down. Reserve the tops. Slice enough of the bottom off each tomato, so it stands up, but don't cut through to the seed. (If you cut too deep, patch the hole with the piece you have just sliced off, by placing it in the bottom after you've hollowed it out.)
Using a melon baller, carefully scoop the inside of the tomatoes out, taking care not to penetrate the sides and create holes. Collect the balls of pulp and chop coarsely. Press the juice and seeds through a strainer. Add the strained juice to the chopped pulp.
In a bowl, mix together the tomato pulp, Parmesan, olives, olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic. Toss with the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit until the bread cubes have soaked up most of the moisture.
Season the interior of each tomato with salt and black pepper. Stuff each tomato with 1 bread cube and as much as herb olive mixture that you can pack in. Top with the reserved tomato tops and stick a toothpick through the center of the top to keep it from sliding off while it bakes. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a roasting pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle the tops of tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until bubbling and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil
(Recipe courtesy Scott Conannt, copyright 2004)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, (about 2 tablespoons)

In a wide pan over medium-high heat, heat 1/3 cup of olive oil until quite hot. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (I always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes finely. (This will be easier to do as the tomatoes begin to heat up.) Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, stack and roll the basil leaves into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade.
Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Take the pan off of the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

Cook's Note: Here is a good tip for peeling and seeding tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes into the pot and cook for about 15 seconds, and then promptly move them to the ice water. (Do this with the remaining tomatoes.) Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

Tomato "Carpaccio" with Arugula and Herb Salad
(Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello)

For the vinaigrette, use whatever herbs you like, but I recommend a mixture of 50 percent basil or parsley. The vinaigrette can be prepped but not assembled ahead of time, since it does not benefit from a long maceration period.
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups red and/or yellow tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 to 3 tomatoes)
5 ounces Sweet 100 tomatoes, cut ½, 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 large red and/or yellow tomatoes, about 8 ounces each, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (about 6 cups) fresh baby arugula
2-ounce chunk Parmesan

For the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, shallots, and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Add the chopped herbs. Stir in the diced tomatoes and Sweet 100's and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble: On a round platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes in concentric circles, slightly overlapping the slices and alternating colors if using both red and yellow tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the tomatoes from the vinaigrette over the sliced tomatoes, leaving some of the vinaigrette in the bowl. Toss the arugula in the bowl with the remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the arugula in the middle of the platter. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan over the tomatoes and arugula. Pass freshly ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature.

More green peppers

these are from

1 1/2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 quarts plus 1/4 cup water
1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine, reserving about 1 teaspoon for
1 small red onion, chopped fine, reserving about 1 teaspoon for garnish
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
tortilla chips as an accompaniment

cherry peppers for garnish if desired

In a large saucepan let the beans soak in cold water to cover for 1 hour, drain them, and in the pan combine them with 2 quarts of the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the beans at a slow boil for 1 hour, or until they are tender.
While the beans are cooking, in a large heavy skillet cook the bell pepper and the onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Drain the beans, reserving 1/2 cup of them, add the remaining beans to the bell pepper mixture with the remaining 1/4 cup water, and simmer the mixture, covered tightly, for 15 minutes, or until the beans are very tender. In a food processor blend the mixture with the vinegar and salt to taste, pulsing the motor until the mixture is combined well but not puréed smooth. Transfer the dip to a bowl and stir in the reserved 1/2 cup beans. The dip may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Garnish the dip with the reserved bell pepper and onion and serve it with the tortilla chips.
Makes about 3 cups.

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup tomato, finely diced
1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, diced onion, tomato, green bell pepper, and oregano. Add the salt and pepper, and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, salt, and pepper. Shape into eight 4-inch round, flat patties. Place a spoonful of the vegetable filling in the center of one patty, top with a second patty, press down firmly, and shape into a round, carefully sealing the sides by pinching together. Repeat with the remaining patties.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the sliced onions until lightly brown. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Brown the hamburgers for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked to medium; return the onions to the pan and heat. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

adapted from a recipe courtesy of Cathy Lowe (also found on

Haven't tried this, but I hear Alissa will have a wealth of green peppers in a bit.

4 red, green or yellow bell peppers, tops sliced off and chopped up
2 cups leftover rice or couscous
1 cup leftover chopped turkey (cooked ground turkey would probably work)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 scallions, chopped

Slice off tops of bell peppers, remove seeds and discard. Chop up the bell pepper tops and place into a large bowl. Add rice or couscous, chopped meat, dried basil, parsley, chopped pepper tops, chicken stock and scallions. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Stuff each pepper with filling and place in a square baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender

Green Pepper and Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray (from

2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch dice
3 vine-ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 a palm full

Combine peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley in a bowl with your fingertips. Squeeze the juice of the lemon with the lemon half sitting upright. This will help prevent the seeds from falling into the bowl. The lemon juice will spill down over the sides of the lemon and the seeds will remain with the fruit. Squeeze the juice evenly over the salad. If the lemon is under-ripe, microwave it for 10 seconds before you cut into it. Next, sprinkle a tablespoon of vinegar over the salad -- just eyeball it. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the salad, add the salt, pepper and cumin. Toss again. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I haven't tried this yet, but it looks yummy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 beefsteak tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large lemon, zested, about 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg yolk
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven 450 degrees F.

For the baked stuffed tomatoes you need to make 4 tomato cups out of
your 2 tomatoes. To do so, cut a very thin slice off both ends of each
of the 2 tomatoes, this is to create 4 flat bottoms. Then cut each
tomato in half across its circumference. You should have 4 cup shapes,
using the thinly sliced side as the bottom of the cups. To create a
cavity, use a melon ball scoop to remove the seeds and pulp from the
wide, fleshy side of each tomato cup. You don't have to be too fussy
about this. You are just trying to create enough room to hold the
filling. When scooping take some care not to puncture through the
bottoms of the cups. If you do puncture it, don't worry, it is not the
end of the world, just keep moving forward. Season the inside of the
tomato cavities with salt and pepper. Reserve the seasoned tomato cups
while you make the filling.

In a small mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest,
cilantro, parsley, garlic, scallions, Parmigiano and season with salt
and pepper. Taste the mixture. This is your last chance to adjust the
seasoning. Once you're happy with the flavor, add the egg yolk and mix
thoroughly. Divide the filling between the 4 tomato cup cavities,
pushing it into the cavity with a rubber spatula or spoon. Drizzle
some extra-virgin olive oil into a baking dish. Arrange your stuffed
tomatoes in the dish, transfer to the hot oven, and bake for 15 to 17
minutes. The stuffing and the tomatoes should be fully cooked and the
top should be lightly brown.

Blasted Chicken

I got this one out of a Sarah Moulton cookbook, but the book is at home so I can't remember the name right now.

3.5 lb chicken (or close to that)
olive oil
granulated garlic

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle chicken with olive oil, then rub in. Season with salt, pepper and garlic.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes. *Note...I roasted an almost 4.5 pound chicken last night, and just added 15-20 minutes to it and it was fine.*
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yum. The skin gets nice and crispy, and the chicken is really tasty. And, it takes no time at all, which means you could make roast chicken after work.

Also, decided to take Alissa/Gwen's suggestions and I made a yogurt sauce for the berries...vanilla yogurt, vanilla extract, a little brown sugar and a lot of cinnamon. I put it in the bottom of the bowl (or tupperware container) and added sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Yum.

I've got three orange tomatoes I need to do something with (yay farmers market!). Any suggestions, other than just slicing and eating?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

orzo with snap peas and summer squash

Another installment in my obsession with pasta salad, part 87 million...

I was watching a cooking show on PBS this weekend -- it turned out to be Everyday Food, which seems to have some connection to M*rtha St*wart, which makes me like it a little less -- that had a bunch of really good-sounding Greek recipes, and one of them was this one. I didn't catch the whole thing and am not exactly sure about amounts of the main ingredients, but I have a feeling you can't go too wrong. The woman making it didn't seem to be measuring much, and she did give the amounts for the dressing. Just guessing, though -- for some reason, the website doesn't have the actual recipe for this one posted. I blame Martha.

Cook 1 box (?) orzo. When water is boiling, toss into the same pot a bunch of halved snap peas with the strings removed and 2 small yellow squash, diced into medium pieces. (Not sure how long the water was boiling before the veggies went in, but I think they stay in just long enough for them to be blanched, so I'm figuring the orzo was at least half-cooked.)

When veggies are tender but still crunchy, drain whole thing in strainer and return to pot.

Into the same pot, add 3T lemon juice, 2T olive oil and 2T grated parmesan.

Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Green beans

It's also the season for fresh green beans, and I've got a bunch of those in the fridge, too, that I'll cook tomorrow for dinner. How are you cooking your green beans these days?
We do it a couple ways in our house:
Steam them
Stirfry with sesame oil and some soy sauce and chili flakes (but that's too hot for Gaby)
Cook in a pot of water with some olive oil and salt until soft
Or...Ernie's favorite...cook in a pot of water with some bacon pieces, until soft. Of course, that's the least good for you, but it's the tastiest.


So, I know I'm the only person I know who likes beets, but it's the season for the things and I've been craving them.
Tonight I steamed a bunch (just wash, trim the tops and bottoms, cut in half, and put in the steamer), and tomorrow when they're cooled, I'll make a salad:

Beets, peeled and sliced thin (the skin will just rub right off after they've been steamed)
Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and just a little lime or lemon juice (I prefer lime)
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss to coat

I still can't find my salt and pepper shakers, but I do have some in the cabinent, so I'll quit being lazy and start cooking for reals now.
Anyone else eat beets? How do you cook them? You can also roast the greens of the beets, they taste a little like kale and are good with white beans, tomatoes and onions, all roasted together. C'mon...someone out there has to like fresh beets...they're good for you...and they turn your fingers pink (and it's natural, unlike marachino cherries)...and they make you pee pink, too, if you eat a bunch. Gaby loves that.

Strawberries, blueberries

I've got one carton of strawberries and two of blueberries in the fridge right now, and I need to do something with them in the next few days before they go bad (and before I go to the farmer's market). Any suggestions?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cooking again

Now that our kitchen is half put away, we're cooking again. :) I'll start posting more recipes when I can find cook books and baking dishes and things like that.
But, last night, we ate a new kind of fish -- grey sole -- which I baked in the oven with some lemon slices, butter and granulated garlic. Yum. Set the oven to 350 and cook, covered, for about 20-25 minutes. We'll be eating grilled wild salmon later this week. Oh, the wonders of the Whole Foods fish counter.

So, let's have it. What have you guys been cooking lately.