Tag Archives: tomato

“Caprese” Sandwich with Goat Cheese

Goat Cheese Caprese

Goat Cheese Caprese

First off, let me apologize for the significant reduction in the frequency of posting on this blog. We began a new business venture last year and that has taken up a lot of my bandwidth. I will continue posting here but the frequency will be 1-2 posts a month.

This recipe was born really out of the desire to use up ingredients that were in the fridge. As you know, we are big fans of pizza in our house and lately we have switched to using grape/cherry tomatoes for Margherita Pizza since you can then get bite sized tomato pieces everytime you eat a slice. Plus, the flavor is actually pretty good. The idea came from, believe it or not, a railway station pizza from “Alice” in Florence (that was probably the best pizza I had in Italy). Anyway, after the last pizza session, there were a lot of tomatoes left over, as was a significant amount of goat cheese from the Kale Cranberry Salad (recipe here) and some french bread.

NOTE: Before I get the purists riled up, let me state this is not a Caprese sandwich. A true Caprese uses Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil. However, it definitely is a close cousin to it.

Anyway, back to the story – when life gives you cheese, tomatoes and bread – you make sandwiches. Which is exactly what I did. I made a little salad using Grape Tomatoes and then using Goat Cheese, made a sandwich. The result was pretty good and well worth a try. The salad was simple – Grape Tomatoes (sliced in thirds), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, shredded Basil leaves and some salt and pepper. The bread was a French Baguette and the cheese was Chevre.

Give it a try. I think you will like it.

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The humble Grilled Cheese sandwich

 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/Tomatoes

Post countdown. Post number 93. Seven till a 100.

If you have kids, you know how to make a Grilled Cheese sandwich. Along with Peanut Butter and Jelly, and, Mac and Cheese, the Grilled Cheese sandwich forms the holy trinity of kid-friendly foods in America.

While our kids love them, my wife and I have had mixed feelings about Grilled Cheese sandwiches. On the one hand they are really simple to make. On the other hand, is there really much nutritional value in them? They really are just carbs and fat when you think about it. So we have been sneaky. When we make Grilled Cheese sandwiches for the kids we either put sliced tomatoes while grilling in them, or serve them with a side of veggies.

The problem with putting sliced tomatoes in Grilled Cheese sandwiches is that it makes them soggy. So when my wife recently forwarded me this recipe(click here) for a sandwich, I got the idea of trying a similar treatment for a Grilled Cheese sandwich.

I took two slices of whole wheat bread and put a little bit of butter on them. Then some sliced tomatoes and salt and pepper. Topped them off with some shredded cheese. So at this point I had two open sandwiches or “pizzas”. On low heat and using a little bit of olive oil I toasted each on the bread side, on a frying pan till the cheese was just starting to melt. I then stuck both slices in the oven and broiled them till the cheese started to bubble (NOTE: Don’t broil too long or you might burn the bread. See my picture above as a cautionary tale). That’s it. At this point I could eat each slice separately or, close them up cheese side to cheese side and eat the sandwich. I chose the latter. It was good and the tomatoes were not soggy.

 

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Okra Indian Style aka Bhindi Masala

Bhindi Masala (Okra Indian Style)

Post #92.

Our local Farmer’s Market (McKinney’s Chestnut Square) yielded some nice fresh okra on a recent visit and so I decided to make this classic Indian dish.

Right out of college I was working in Chennai. For the first time in our lives, we were having to fend for ourselves in a culinary way. Thankfully a lot of my friends were good cooks and adventurous and so I acquired a great many recipes along the way. This recipe below was taught to me by an old friend Chanda Bhakt.

I had crashed and burned before trying to make okra but somehow I could never get the okra to cook properly without completely disintegrating or turning mushy. Chanda showed me the error of my ways. She pointed out that the way to do justice to okra is to first deep fry it separately and then add it to the sauce. It maintains its integrity that way. Made sense.

A few years have passed since I learned that lesson and I am older (not necessarily wiser) now and on a mission to degrease Indian cooking and so I decided to tackle this classic. Instead of deep frying okra I pan-fry/roast it with very little oil in a non-stick pan. I have got pretty good results with it.

This is a simple dish, made best with fresh ingredients. Here goes. Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS (enough for 4)

1 Tbsp cooking oil (I use Olive Oil)

1 lb okra – washed and dried and then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. Discard the end that attaches to the stem.

1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 medium onion – finely diced

2 medium tomatoes – finely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic – minced

1 inch ginger – peeled and grated

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp red chili powder

Salt to taste

STEPS

1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a non-stick pan on medium/high. Pan fry all the okra till it is browned nicely.

2. Remove the okra from the pan and on to a plate lined with paper towels. Soak up as much grease as you can.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in the pan on medium/high heat. Add onion and fry till it starts to brown.

4. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Add the spices. Cook on medium heat till the tomato is pulpy.

5. Add the okra and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Adjust salt and serve hot with a bread of your choice.

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My produce has no taste (but it sure looks pretty) – part 2 – Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

A few months back I had listened to a program on NPR where Barry Estabrook (the author of “Tomatoland”) talked about how Industrial Farming has essentially “destroyed” the tasty tomato. Here is the link. Please do listen to the program if you can – well worth it.

Anyway, the lack of taste of my raw vegetables is a source of constant annoyance for me and I am sure a lot of you. When you make a Margherita pizza where the tomato is supposed to hold court but as soon as you taste the pizza you feel like launching a revolution and sending the tomato to the gallows then it clearly is not a good situation. I personally think that the tomato is probably the most egregious example of industrial farming gone bad though I am sure there are many others.

Fed up with the rather sorry tasting tomatoes that I was using, I decided to make a trip to my local Whole Foods the last time I made pizza and see if I can get my hands on some heirloom tomatoes. According to Gary Ibsen’s “Tomatofest“, an heirloom tomato is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of it’s valued characteristics. To my delight, Whole Foods had not one but five different kinds of heirloom tomatoes. Some of them were either so yellow or green that they didn’t even look like tomatoes. And they were expensive – about $3.99/lb. While they all looked rough around the edges and not the picture perfect tomatoes that I was used to buying I decided to go for them. There was a helpful guide that helped me select the variety I would use.

Came back home, washed the tomatoes, took the picture above, sliced them up and bit into a slice. It was good. It tasted like a tomato should taste like. If tomatoes were cars, I’d say that the standard store bought tomato is a Toyota Camry while the heirloom is more like a Mini Cooper. Happy to say that there was much singing and dancing around the fire that night because the Margherita pizza finally tasted like what a Margherita pizza should taste like.

Next time you are making a tomato-based recipe, try heirloom tomatoes, you might be surprised.

P.S. One exception as far as blandness goes are canned tomatoes. They don’t taste too bad in general. It probably has to do with flavorings and preservatives added to make them last and taste good.

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