Friday, May 24, 2013

Tomatoes: My New Favorite Side Dish

I was telling my friend Karen about how I had 3 pounds of tomatoes in the oven, and she asked me how I got good tomatoes this time of year.  I confessed that I did not.  I bought the hydroponic romas, which leave a bit to be desired by way of texture and flavor this time of year, but are fairly passable.  I do not think she believed me that this oven treatment makes them divine.  

(For the record, it's totally possible that they would be more divine if it were prime ripe tomato season, but I'm probably not lighting the oven to bake them at that point.  Plus they are already great, so they don't really need it.)  

We are AT THE LAKE HOUSE for 4 glorious days.  Alas, the weather here is calling for snow overnight, says our neighbor, so it seemed like oven roasting something was reasonable. The lake house does not have AC, which means I mostly do not bake when we are up here in the summer.  Lighting your oven when it's 90 degrees inside is not a fun time with no AC.  I'm actually thinking it's a good reason to figure out this crock pot bread thing everyone is doing.  But anyway, the tomatoes. 

To be honest, I am not even sure if this counts as a recipe, but let's just pretend it is, because it is DELICIOUS. 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes


3 pounds of roma tomatoes, quartered
3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 275
  • Lay the quartered tomatoes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt
    • I line mine with aluminum foil since we have no dishwasher up here
  • Bake the tomatoes in the low heated oven for about 3 hours.  You can go more, if you like.
  • I finished these at 375 for about 15 minutes to get the dark crispy edges


Monday, May 20, 2013

TheKitchn & White Appliances

During TheKitchn's reader request week, they answered my request about awesome looking white ranges!

TheKitchn is one of my favorite blogs so I was super excited that they answered my request.  I think this one above is my fave of the bunch.  Although, one of the commenters suggested the White Ice line from Whirlpool which is looking pretty snazzy.

I am committed to keeping my freebie white range for the rest of the year, though I'd love a newer prettier one with more bells and whistles.

Thanks TheKitchn!!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Puff Pastry: Best Thing Ever

Happy Mother's Day!  My gift to you is a rant about puff pastry and why it's so awesome.  AND!  A recipe.

Puff pastry is a freezer rock star.  You can buy it months in advance, pull it out and have it be ready for toppings in 10 minutes.  Plus, you can turn it into a dinner or dessert that everyone loves, because it's difficult not to love something so full of butter.

I am a huge fan of the puff pastry from Trader Joe's, specifically, for two reasons.

  1. It only contains flour, butter, salt, water and sugar.  NO HYDROGENATED OILS!    
  2. It's pre-flattened.  I've bought stuff at other stores that's folded in half, and you have to thaw it and roll it or worry about breaking it if you don't let it thaw enough.  
OK, so now we have "freezer friendly" "makes dinner fast" "not full of weird stuff" and "easy to work with".  Are there any downsides?  Well, yeah, it's full of butter, so it's not exactly the heart healthiest of foods.  Still, I think the benefits outweigh the risks for an occasional treat or fast dinner. 

Asparagus Romesco Tart

A few weeks ago, I happened to have some puff pastry and some homemade romesco in the freezer.  I had some time, but not a lot of energy, so I thawed out both puff pastry sheets on the counter and made the asparagus romesco tart (above) and a tasty strawberry cardamum tart for dessert. 

My family was super happy with the results, and I got to feel like I made something complicated and exciting for dinner, when really all I did was smear some stuff on some other stuff and bake. 

So basically I got a bunch of the self satisfied happiness of cooking without a ton of effort.  Love that!

Yummy Tart

Strawberry Cardamum Tart

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry dough, thawed for about 10 minutes
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed cardamum
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment. 
  3. Microwave the strawberry preserves for about 30 seconds, until they are spreadable. 
  4. Slice the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the sugar and crushed cardamum.
  5. Spread the preserves over most of the tart, leaving an edge like you would for a pizza. Don't push hard and don't bruise up your pastry. Don't spread it on very thickly.
  6. Arrange the strawberries over the top of the preserves.  Drizzle on the sugar, cardamum, strawberry juice stuff from the bottom of the bowl.  Try your best not to eat the last 3 strawberries and lick your fingers.  fail.  OMG it's so tasty. 
  7. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the pastry is puffy.
  8. Take it out of the oven and let it cool while you eat dinner (maybe 20 minutes?).  The resting time will let the preserves solidify up a bit. 
  9. I slid mine off the silpat with a pizza peel and used a pizza wheel to slice it into 4 to serve. 
Note: I bought cardamum seeds out of the pods and I just crush them up with the flat of my chef's knife, and maybe run the blade through them a few times.  If you buy the seedpods, crush them to get the seeds out, then crush again and run your blade through them.  I do not buy the preground stuff because I think it tastes like dust, and the seeds, when crushed, taste like delightful heavenly wonderfulness. 

I could *easily* have eaten half of this.  It was delicious.  Cardamum and strawberries are amazing together, and this was super easy.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Taking the Easy Way (Grapefruit Walnut Salad)

I love magazines and cookbooks.  When I am starting to feel stressed and freaked out, I almost compulsively buy magazines at the grocery store.  They represent leisure for me, in a big, big way.

April is one of the busiest months of the year where I work, so of course, I bought 2 cooking magazines that I barely had time to read and didn't get around to cooking anything out of them until, well, May.  (Hi May!  Nice to see you!)

I bought a copy of Cooking Light this month. Their version of this recipe looks much prettier than mine, and was probably tastier, because I totally cheated.  I am not complaining, it was pretty tasty.  

Here is my cheater version.  It only really serves 2.

Grapefruit Walnut Salad

  • 1/2 ruby red grapefruit
  • 2 cups of roughly chopped butter lettuce 
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts 
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Slice the peel and pith from the grapefruit.  I sliced a few sections out of it and pulled the membrane off by hand.  It was not super pretty, but it was tasty enough for me. 

Arrange the chopped lettuce on a platter and place the grapefruit sections around the plate. 

Sprinkle on the walnuts and crumble the feta cheese over the top.

I did not bother to make dressing.  I squeezed some of the remaining grapefruit over top, drizzled on some olive oil, and then salt & pepper to taste.