The tomatoes I wait all summer long for have finally arrived! And one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is to combine them with fresh peaches. Our dinner last night was a salad of heirloom tomatoes, peaches and Burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream (if you have a Trader Joe's grocery nearby, you can find Burrata there). The salad was followed by pizza on the grill.
We've been enjoying an unusually mild summer here in Minnesota with cool evenings and low dewpoints... perfect weather for dining outdoors!
• Heirloom tomatoes (I used Red Zebra), sliced into wedges
• Fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into wedges
• Good-quality balsamic vinegar
• Extra-Virgin olive oil
• Sea salt
• Burrata cheese
• Fresh basil, torn or finely sliced
1. For each serving, combine equal amounts of tomatoes and peaches on a salad plate. Drizzle with (approximately) 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1teaspoon olive oil.
2. Place Burrata cheese (1/2 of a large ball) on top of the tomatoes and peaches. Scatter fresh basil over fruit and cheese.
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• This recipe appeared previously in August 2009. Every now and then I am horrified (more than I care to admit) when I look back at older Passions to Pastry posts and see the photograph that accompanies a recipe. I would like to think that my photography skills have improved since then and am ever so slowly updating those photos.
"... I got this recipe for Tomato, Orange, and Avocado Salad from my friend and neighbor, Debbie. I treasure my neighbor! I would literally drop everything if she called and asked me to dinner. Truly, the best meals I have ever had were shared efforts enjoyed on my neighbor's patio."
I classify this Tomato, Orange, and Avocado Salad as a "summer salad"; that's because I think you should only use sweet, flavorful, fresh from the garden, summer tomatoes -- heirloom, preferably. There's nothing better.
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 avocados, large dice
• 2 tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cut into large dice
• 2 oranges, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
• 1 small red onion, sliced into rings
• 10 to 15 black olives, pitted
• 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Whisk together the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss the diced avocados and tomatoes with half of the lemon juice-olive oil vinaigrette.
2. Arrange the orange slices on a platter. Scatter the red onion slices over the oranges and drizzle with the remaining half of the vinaigrette.
3. Spoon the avocados and tomatoes on top of the oranges. Top with black olives and almonds.
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I found this recipe for Charred Corn with Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette on Lynn Rosetto Kasper's The Weeknight Kitchen. This salad screams summer. I found that I liked it even better the next day, after the basil vinaigrette really infuses the corn and tomatoes, and with a big handful of arugula thrown in.
+ Charred Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
• adapted recipe from Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon via The Weeknight Kitchen
• 6 ears corn, shucked
• Canola oil, preferably cold-pressed
• Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
• 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
• 1 garlic clove, grated
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
• 1 (10-ounce) container small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1. For the corn: Preheat an outdoor grill.
2. Brush corn cobs with the canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the corn on the grill and char each side. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Stand each ear up, stalk end down, in a wide, shallow bowl and, using a knife, slice the corn kernels off the cob. Set aside.
3. For the vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil and garlic until the basil starts to break down. Add the vinegar. Continue pulsing while adding the oil in a steady stream, then process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, and red onion. Drizzle the basil vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
+ Toss in fresh arugula, if desired.
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Beans, beans, and more beans... we've been eating them practically every night now for weeks. I should plant my beans in stages; not three packages of seeds all at once. I say this every year, but I continue to do as I've always done. Would someone please remind me next spring not to do this?
At least this week my entire garden has finally begun producing! I now have tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, jalapeños, and zucchini ready for the picking, giving me a more diverse dinner menu! I probably devote too much of my garden to zucchini plants, with their huge leaves invading the other vegetables in my garden. But I love them and can make breakfast breads, pancakes, stuffed zucchini boats... and more. Tonight I made Zucchini and Tomato Quiche; a recipe from the Parisian pâtisserie of Gérard Mulot.
This recipe calls for Crème Fraîche, as many savory French custard tarts do. I've always made my own (recipe HERE) but only occasionally, when needed. I seem to be using it more and more, and now have Crème Fraîche on hand at all times. If you like baking French clafoutis this time of year when fresh cherries and berries are plentiful, you should be doing the same.
This creamy tart's leftovers make a great breakfast!
• • • Zucchini and Tomato Quiche • • •
adapted recipe from Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie by Linda Dannenberg
NOTE: I always fully bake my tart crusts before filling with custard. The original recipe calls for a partially baked, pale golden crust. It's your call...
• 1 recipe Pâte Brisée baked blind in a 10 1/2-inch-to-11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (recipe HERE)
• 2 small zucchini, rinsed, ends trimmed, and thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 small garlic clove, minced
• Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 3/4 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
• 2 fresh basil leaves,chopped
• a sprig fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 ripe plum tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice (I used several cherry tomatoes from my garden)
PREHEAT OVEN to 400˚F
1. Blanch the zucchini slices in salted, boiling water for 3 minutes; immediately drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake zucchini to remove as much water as possible, then turn out onto several layers of paper towels; pat dry.
2. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and minced garlic; season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, using a metal spatula to frequently turn the zucchini. Do not allow zucchini to brown.
3. In a medium size bowl, whisk to combine the eggs, milk, crème frâiche, basil, and cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Scatter the zucchini slices evenly over the bottom of the tart crust. Sprinkle diced tomatoes evenly over the top of the zucchini. Slowly pour the custard over the tomatoes and zucchini. If you cannot pour all of the custard into the tart shell, begin adding additional custard by spoonfuls after 5 minutes of baking, until it is all used up.
5. Bake until the custard is just set and the top is beginning to turn golden, approximately 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove tart ring. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.
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Honestly, this is a tart that should really be made at the height of tomato season. Since cherry tomatoes are all that fill this buttery tart shell, having the best-tasting ingredients possible will really make it shine. After the winter we have endured, and with more snow and below zero temps predicted, I am just so desperate for the warmth and tastes of summer. Ignoring my better judgement, I succumbed to temptation and made a tart with cherry tomatoes. Large tomatoes are something I never purchase out of season, but cherry tomatoes will have a sweetness to them even this time of year, and the long slow roast in the oven concentrates the flavor and sweetness of these little tomatoes even more. This tart is certainly the way to go if you are craving fresh tomatoes like me.
I am showing the recipe below just as it appeared in Food & Wine magazine. In the tart I made, I veered a bit from the recipe below by substituting a favorite tart dough recipe from Alice Waters (recipe HERE)... Bon Appétit
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
• 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
• 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
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My timing is a little off here. It's November. Thanksgiving is next week and I'm sharing images of an alfresco dinner that took place on our neighbor's patio in August. There are no more thoughts this year of dining under the stars. But I'm in the middle of a project -- making drapes (very nice actually ;-) for the large, arched window at the front of my daughter's house. As is the case with most things I do, it is taking longer than expected.
So I'm rummaging through old photos and recipes I've meant to share. And since this August dinner was at the height of summer's glory, many of the meal's ingredients will be sub-standard if purchased now. But I suggest that you keep this recipe for Crab Cakes with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing and Marinated Tomatoes and Corn tucked away for next year; it's the best thing I've eaten in a long time!
Crab Cakes with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing and marinated Tomatoes and Corn
... recipe HERE
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I wish it could happen more often. For a brief time, everything seems perfect. It's a content feeling I would like to capture more often than I do. I just need to be thankful when it does happen.
For me tonight, it was that rare, perfectly gorgeous, late summer's evening. Warm. A gentle breeze. Beautiful light. The yard was stunning; the way it is this time of year (especially knowing what lies ahead for Minnesota in winter). The Pee-Gee hydrangeas are slightly tinged in pink. There are copious amounts of heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, beets, and zucchini in the garden. The blue cabbage are massive. I couldn't imagine being anywhere other than my backyard at this moment. Oh... and there was pizza on the grill! Yes, it was all pretty perfect.
The Pizzas: One of the pizzas I made was Roasted Eggplant & Onion. I slice unpeeled Classic and Japanese eggplant about 1/2-inch thick, then cut the slices of Japanese eggplant in half; quarter the slices of Classic eggplant. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Toss eggplant with a VERY healthy drizzle of olive oil in a sheet pan with 1-inch sides. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding another drizzle of olive oil if eggplant seems dry. Peel one or two large, sweet onions and cut each into large wedges. Keeping wedges intact, transfer the onions to the eggplant. Continue to roast, stirring often, and adding more olive oil if vegetables seem dry. I add the onions after the eggplant because they tend to burn easily at high heat -- and they roast faster than the eggplant. It's important to stir the mixture often. When vegetables are roasted to your liking, remove from oven and sprinkle generously with fresh thyme leaves. Season to taste with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
To make pizzas on the grill: I use a recipe from Wolfgang Puck for the pizza dough (recipe HERE). After grilling the pizza dough disks on one side (over low heat), flip and drizzle top of pizza dough with olive oil. Cover with some eggplant-onion mixture and dot with slices of fresh mozzarella. Close the grill lid and "bake" the pizza until dough has browned on the bottom and cheese has melted.
I also topped pizza with corn and my garden, heirloom tomatoes. The recipe I used was Herbed Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad from theKitchn (recipe HERE). For the pizzas I left out the goat cheese that is called for in the recipe, and added fresh mozzarella when grilling the pizzas.
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Barely a day goes by that I am not making a bowlful of fresh tomato salsa. My garden tomatoes are in over drive right now and I have been mixing up salsa, what seems to be, non-stop with no end in sight.
My own special preference -- I ramp up this salsa with additional garlic. This is also a rare instance when I choose to use Early Girl tomatoes over my coveted heirlooms. I don't have to peel the Early Girls and their juiciness is to a minimum, which is exactly what I want in my salsa. Save those flavorful and juicy heirlooms for a big Caprese salad!
This week, breakfast for me has been a pan seared, multigrain tortilla topped with scrambled eggs and fresh salsa. A bit of sour cream stirred into the eggs is a nice touch and a garnish of fresh avocado slices is a highly recommended addition. And did I say healthy?
adapted from Gourmet | August 1998
• 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, preferably Early Girl
• 2 large, fresh jalapeño chiles, seeded and cut into a tiny dice
• 1/4 cup finely diced onion (preferably white)
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. Quarter and seed the tomatoes. Cut into a 1/4-inch dice and place in a a medium-size bowl. Add the jalapeños, onion, cilantro, garlic, sugar, and lime juice. Gently mix the ingredients together. Store salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Up until now I have considered this the perfect summer; cool temps and low dew points. Not necessarily the kind of weather in which garden tomatoes thrive, but instead, the kind of weather that is perfect for baking tarts made with the fleeting stone fruits and berries of summer. As of today, that will all be changing we are told. Record heat is headed Minnesota's way the entire upcoming week.
I will ignore my desire to turn on the oven and bake a pie or crisp. It's all about keeping cool and comfortable this week.
This chilled summer soup of garden tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cucumbers should do the trick.
recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
RECIPE MAKES 6 - 8 SERVINGS
• 3 cups peeled and seeded ripe tomatoes
• 2 medium-size ripe cantaloupes, seeds and rind removed
• 2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded (reserve 1/2 cucumber and chop for garnish
• Grated zest of 1 small orange
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
• 1 cup dairy sour cream or Crème Fraîche
1. Combine the tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cucumbers in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Stir in the grated orange zest and chopped mint. Whisk in the sour cream or Crème Fraîche. Chill.
3. When ready to serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with chopped cucumber. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.
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Summer is for salads -- at least at my house. I make salads in the fall, winter, and spring, but the majority of those don't resemble the salads I make throughout the summer. In the cooler months I'll combine greens with toasted nuts and dried fruits, fresh pears, apples, or oranges, and toss with flavorful vinaigrettes; salads that are served as a first course, or a side.
But the salads I prefer during the summer months are meals in themselves -- when it's hot outdoors and I feel like a simple, no-cook meal.
This Tuna Salad with White Beans and Arugula is one of my favorites this time of the year. The salad's ingredients, which combine quickly, are tossed with nothing more than a good quality, extra-virgin olive oil. Easy enough!
+ Tuna Salad with White Beans and Arugula
adapted recipe by Robbi Bartolotta
• Three 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil, drained and lightly flaked
• One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
• 1 small red onion, finely sliced
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 large handfuls of arugula
+ Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. The salad can be held at this point in the refrigerator. Right before serving, add the arugula and gently fold into the salad. Adjust seasonings and oil.
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