Prawn and Tomato Stew

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I was gifted the cookbook Falastin by a dear friend, and I’ve already made many recipes from it. The authors are Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, and the book is all about the food of Palestine, published in 2020.

From the book, “There is no letter “P” in the Arabic language so “Falastin” (pronounced “fa-la’steen”) is, in one sense, simply the way “Falastinians” refer to themselves. But this word is also about geography, history language, land, identity, and culture. Falastin is a celebration of this culture: the recipes and stories, the food and the people of Palestine.

I chose to make an enticing prawn and tomato stew, made with fresh tomatoes. It’s hearty, warming with the spices, but also has a fresh element with the cilantro pesto.

I don’t mean to disrespect the great Sami Tamimi, but 3 ingredients in this dish caught my attention – the use of cilantro, ginger, and dill together. I am familiar with cilantro and ginger together in Asian cuisines, but the dill really confused me. Not being a huge dill fan I omitted it. I would not have been surprised if it was mint instead of the dill, but there it is.

Prawn and Tomato Stew with Cilantro Pesto
Serves 4

Cilantro pesto:
1½ cups cilantro (30g), roughly chopped
1 green chile finely chopped
⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp pine nuts (50g) lightly toasted, reserve 1 tbsp for garnish when serving
1 lemon finely grate the zest to get 1½ tsp, then cut into wedges for serving
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (80ml)
salt and pepper

9 oz cherry tomatoes (250g)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
1 large yellow onion (1¼ cups / 180g) finely chopped
4 garlic cloves crushed
¾-inch / 2cm piece of ginger (1½ tbsp / 15g) peeled and finely grated
1 green chile finely chopped, with seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 2 tsp ground coriander instead)
1½ tsp cumin seeds lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with 1½ tsp ground cumin instead)
8 cardamom pods lightly crushed in mortar and pestle (if needed, substitute with ½ tsp ground cardamom instead)
1 cup dill leaves (20g) finely chopped (I didn’t use)
2 tsp tomato paste
6 plum tomatoes (2¾ cups / 500g) roughly chopped
1¼ cups water
salt and black pepper to taste
1⅓ lbs shrimp (600g) peeled

To make the cilantro pesto, combine cilantro, chile and pine nuts into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the pine nuts are roughly crumbled and incorporated with the cilantro and chile. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the lemon zest, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to combine, then set aside.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until blistered and charred on all sides. Remove tomatoes from the pan and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasinally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dill and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the plum tomatoes, water, 1½ tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then decrease heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, uncovered, or until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have broken down.

Pat the prawns dry and mix them in a bowl with ¼ tsp of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Put 2 tsp of olive oil into a large sauté pan and place over high heat. Once hot, add the shrimp in batches and fry for 1 minute on each side, until cooked through and nicely browned. Set each batch aside in small mixing bowl while you continue with the remaining prawns. When the sauce is ready, stir in the prawns and charred tomatoes and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, to heat through.

Serve either straight from the pan or spoon into wide shallow bowls.

Scoop out the cardamom pods if you like, they are there to flavor the dish rather than to be eaten. I couldn’t find my pods, so I opted for ground cardamom.

Dot the stew with about half of the pesto and pass the lemon wedges and remaining pesto in a bowl alongside.

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of pine nuts on top.

This dish is outstanding and I will be making it again. The flavors are marvelous. The pesto, made with jalapeño and lemon in lieu of garlic, is wonderful, and pairs so well with the shrimp and tomatoes.

Pineapple Gazpacho

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The first time I had pineapple gazpacho was in St. Lucia in the Caribbean. We stayed at Sugar Beach resort, which was beautiful. One day my husband and I signed up for a farm-to-table adventure, which ended with a five-course meal provided by the hotel’s chef.

The whole meal was stunning, but the gazpacho was especially memorable. Maybe because we participated in picking the pineapple in the field.

Or maybe because I got to play chef in the “cold” room of the hotel’s kitchen where prep work is done. I actually put the gazpacho together without knowing any ratios. But I must have done well because the chef approved.

After I placed all of the ingredients in a large bowl, the Chef put everything in a vitamix, and puréed it. Using a very large chinois, the soup was then strained.

At that point we left the prep kitchen and moved into the main kitchen where the chef prepared some sashimi for us, as we watched him cut up the kingfish, which was to be our main.

Eventually we were seated on the outside deck with a view of the ocean, crisp white wine in hand. Then here came the pineapple gazpacho. Isn’t it beautiful!

IMG_5544

It was topped with chopped baby shrimp, cucumber, tomato and a few cilantro leaves, then drizzled with a little oil. So today I’m going to duplicate this gazpacho, if I can, although the tropical ambiance won’t be the same.

Pineapple Gazpacho

3 slices white bread with the crusts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 medium-sized pineapple, peeled
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded
1/3 cup crème fraiche
Small bunch of cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt

Soak the bread in the cream in a bowl.

Chop up the pineapple and place in a heavy-duty blender. Add the cucumber, crème fraiche, cilantro, and all of the remaining ingredients. Add the cream-soaked bread and blend until very smooth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight for the flavors to mingle.

Pour the mixture into a sieve like a chinois and strain well.

Taste for seasoning. It should taste like a fabulous blend of pineapple and cucumber, with a little zing from the hot sauce. It shouldn’t be salty or sweet.

Serve chilled.

The gazpacho is thin, but not watery. It’s very satisfying, and perfect for lunch, or like in St. Lucia, a first course for dinner.

Roasted Jalapeño Salsa

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The recipe comes from the blog Living the Gourmet. The founder of this blog is Catherine Cappiello Pappas, but two other contributors include her son and daughter.

I’ve made the salsa once before, and wanted to make it for the blog so I can share the recipe. I was a bit skeptical at first because it’s not traditional, but it’s wonderful.

I served it with some chicken fajitas, but it would be fabulous with fish!

Roasted Jalapeño Salsa

12 large jalapeños
2 Roma tomatoes
2 heads garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, or your preferred roasting setting.

Start by preparing the jalapeños. Remove the stems, then slice them vertically around the core of seeds. Discard the seeds and stems. Roughly chop the jalapeño slices and place them in a medium-sized bowl.

Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then place them in with the jalapeños.

Slice the garlic heads crosswise and bang on them to release the cloves. The intact peels are fine, you just want to remove the root. Add the cloves to the jalapeños mixture. Toss the mixture with the oil and salt, then place it in a baking/roasting dish. Roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Let cool, then pinch the peels off the garlic cloves and place the garlic in a food processor; discard the peels. When you’re done, add the roasted jalapeños and tomatoes to the food processor. (If you are able to, pinch off the tomato peels and discard them as well.)

Place the remaining ingredients in the processor and pulse, until the desired texture. I like it a little chunky, not smooth.

This salsa is very good served alongside a black bean dip with chips, which I did before.

If you want to see the individual salsa ingredients more, chop them by hand instead of using the food processor. But the flavor is so good, I don’t mind the slightly mushier texture.

Ms. Pappas also recommends it as a crostini topping, or omelet filling. (Both with feta or goat cheese!)

I see endless possibilities with this salsa!

Herbed Ranch Dressing

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Years ago, while eating lunch at a restaurant with my older daughter and her husband, my son-in-law nearly fainted when I ordered ranch dressing for my salad. Knowing my snobbiness towards what I would call “American” foods, like Velveeta, he “threatened” kiddingly that he was going to “tell people!”

Yes, I ordered ranch dressing for a basic side salad; I knew what I was getting because we’d been to this restaurant. The other options were bottled dressings much worse than ranch.

However, if ranch is home-made, just like other dressings and vinaigrettes, it can be pretty wonderful.

This herbed ranch recipe comes from Emily and Matt Hyland, who own a pizzeria, called Emily, in Brooklyn, New York, with a new location in West Village; both restaurants feature wood-burning ovens. These are the young owners:

Emily, the pizzeria, was one of the first to serve ranch dressing… with their pizzas. Their ranch, called Ranch Dressing With Fresh Herbs, is in their cookbook, Emily, published in 2018.

The original Emily ranch recipe was adapted by Julia Moskin, and published online at The New York Times. Julia states that “Ranch dressing and pizza are still a controversial combination, but chef Matt Hyland’s dressing is uncontroversially delicious.”

A good ranch dressing like this one is especially wonderful on a classic wedge salad so that’s what I made.

Herbed Ranch Dressing
Yield: About 1 1/3 cups

¼ cup chilled buttermilk, more as needed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup store-bought mayonnaise
Salt, to taste

In a blender, process the buttermilk, garlic, pepper, chives and parsley together until the herbs are minced and the mixture turns pale green. Add the mayonnaise and process just until smooth. If desired, thin with additional buttermilk to get the consistency you want.

I used a product I’ve fallen in love with – garlic in chili oil. I don’t have to peel garlic, and I like the zing the chili oil offers.

Taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.

For the wedge salad, cut an iceberg lettuce into four quarters, after doing any necessary leaf trimming. Place the quarters upright on a plate. Add some dressing, and leave it on the platter for those who want more. Then add sliced tomatoes, chopped purple onion, and bacon bits.

I added Italian dried sofrito, for fun. You could always add coarsely ground black pepper and cayenne pepper flakes.

I personally don’t think wedge salads need cheese. At American restaurants, however, bleu cheese is common, as well as bleu cheese dressing instead of ranch. Each to her own.

To me, if the ingredients are high quality, even if it’s just a salad dressing., chances are that the recipe will turn out well. What I don’t like are ingredients like powdered garlic and onion, and fake dried herbs. Use real ingredients, people!

Sausage, Salami and Cheese Tart

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I’ve had this recipe quite a while. I recognize it from Bon Appetit, which was my favorite food magazine. The cut-and-paste method was my way to save recipes. Until computers, of course.


As you can see, I thought the recipe was very good, but I needed to add onions and garlic to the tart next time. That time never came until now; I decided to substitute mozzarella with fontina, and make a couple of minor adaptations.

Sausage, Salami and Cheese Tart
Printable recipe below

1 refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces Italian sweet sausages, casings removed
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
5 ounces finely chopped Fontina
3 ounces diced Italian salami, such as Genoa
4 ounces grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unfold crust on work surface. Press together any cracks in dough to seal crust. Place crust in 9” diameter tart pan with removable bottom; fold in excess dough and press, forming double-thick sides that extend about 1/4” above rim of pan.

I used a 10” deep-dish pie pan. From all of the comments on this recipe online, the egg and cream mixture overflowed, so I wanted to avoid that mess. Plus I chilled the crust first.

Pierce crust with fork. Bake crust 5 minutes; press with back of fork if crust bubbles up. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the sausage with the onions and garlic pepper. Break up the sausage so that there aren’t any large pieces. Lower the heat if necessary; you don’t want much browning.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and onion to a bowl and allow to cool. Add the fontina, salami, Parmesan, and basil to the sausage mixture. Toss gently to combine. Then gently place in the prepared crust.

Beat eggs, cream, nutmeg and white pepper together to blend, then pour the custard over the sausage and cheese mixture in crust. I was so smart and made the pie pan larger so all of the egg and cream mixture would fit and not leak, but I was using my left hand for my “pouring” shot, which already isn’t coordinated, but with the help of recent surgery… a significant amount was poured in between the pie pan and crust. See it?!!

Bake tart until filling is set in the center and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes and serve. Fortunately, despite the leakage, the pie sliced well.

Depending when you make this tart, serve with a tomato salad, or a simple green salad.


Or an arugula and tomato salad!

If you don’t have any fresh basil on hand, you can thin some basil pesto with olive oil and drizzle it over the baked tart or on the serving plates.

 

 

Salad with Liver

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When I purchased the book, Alpine Cooking, I knew all of the cheesy recipes would jump out at me, like liptauer. What I didn’t expect to entice me was a beautiful green salad topped with sautéed calf liver and fried onions.

Here are some of my own photos from our family’s time visiting the Alps in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Notice we’ve only been there during the warm months!

I rarely cook liver at home. It’s just the two of us, and the “other” won’t eat liver. So if I make a paté or foie gras, we have one friend and a son-in-law who will join in on the feast. Outside of that happening, I have to eat it all myself.

Occasionally I get a hankering for good ‘ole beef liver, served with onions and eggs. It’s fabulous for breakfast.

In the case of this salad, however, I didn’t mind making it and having it all to myself. At least there was some lettuce involved!

Tyrolean Liver Salad
Tiroler Lebersalat

Crispy onions:
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 yellow onions, sliced into very thin rings

Dressing:
1/4 cup white balsamic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad:
1 pound calf liver, but into 3/4” slices
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2/3 cup beef stock
Mixed salad greens (mesclun, baby gem, radicchio) for serving

Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels. In a heavy pot or a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it registers 320 degrees to 340 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (I used my electric deep fryer.) When the oil is at the correct temperature, dredge 1/4 of the onion rings in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess before transferring to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining onions, working in batches.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine both vinegars, the salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and whisk in both oils; set aside. (I just shook the ingredients in a jar.)

Generously season the liver with salt and pepper. In a cast-iron pan over high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers. Pan-fry the liver slices, turning them over only when you see a nice golden-brown crust forming on the bottom. Stir in the garlic and herbs, followed by the beef stock. Continue to cook over medium heat until the stock has reduced to a sauce consistency and the liver has softened, another minute or so.

Arrange the salad greens on four plates, topping each with a portion of liver.

Spoon the warm dressing over each plate and top with crispy onions. Serve immediately.

The braised liver was tender and very good, surprisingly. I’ve never braised liver, but I also didn’t cook it nearly as long as the recipe suggests.

I served the salads with rye crackers and German Tilsit cheese. Outstanding.

This really is a fun salad. Of course you have to like liver.

I enjoyed the fried onion rings, and included ripe tomatoes just for some color.

And if you’ve never had Tilsit, get some!!!

Schug

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I’m so excited! I’ve discovered a new condiment called Schug, and my husband even loves it!

It originates from Yemenite cuisine, but has spread in popularity throughout the Middle East, from what I’ve read. It’s typically used over falafel or shawarma, but it can be used on fish, eggs, and just about any meat.

So what is schug? It’s a really bright green mixture of jalapeño peppers, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. I’ve seen recipes with cumin; some also list cardamom, and some list coriander. I’m using both. If you want to read more about schug this is a good article here.

Schug

8-10 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
10 small cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground white pepper
1/4 olive oil

First remove the stems of the jalapeños. Holding them vertically with a latex-gloved hand, slice the flesh of the jalapeños downward, avoiding the inner seeds. This technique works well with all kinds of peppers if you want to avoid seeds as well as the membrane.

Place the jalapeño slices, the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and all of the spices in a food processor.

Add the olive oil and process with the pulse button. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Leave some texture in the sauce.

Place the mixture in jars; it can be frozen.

When you’re about to use it, it can be thinned with a little more olive oil first.

What I’m doing with the schug today is drizzling it on a salad of tomatoes, beets, and fresh mozzarella.

Tomato, Beet and Mozzarella Salad with Schug
Serves 2-4

3 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
Equal number of beet slices, from a jar, drained well
Equal number of fresh mozzarella slices
Schug, thinned with some olive oil

Layer the tomato, beet, and mozzarella slices on a serving plate.

Generously drizzle the salad with schug.

Sprinkle the salad generously with flaked salt.

I can also see the sauce mixed with mayo or sour cream, or even a bechamel to create creamy schug!

Mediterranean Dip

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This raw vegetable and feta dip is perfect for a party before fall weather hits. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I found the recipe for this Mediterranean-inspired dip. I’d typed it in MS Publisher, and recently found it on my computer. Typically I’d have added some notes, and certainly show credit, but nothing.

Honestly, I changed it so much that it’s not the same recipe, but has most all of the original ingredients. This recipe intrigued me because the ingredients are puréed.

On this blog I have made a layered Mediterranean spread, which is a Greek version of Southwestern 7-layer spread. Nothing is puréed except the hummus Layer.

I’ve started a new thing lately, when I serve a dip to a small group. I like to have guests serve themselves from the main bowl into their own little bowl. That way, they can double-dip, drool, and spill their chips in the dip, and it doesn’t affect anyone else!


Mediterranean Dip

2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed
2 garden-ripe tomatoes, cored, coarsely chopped, seeded
2 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted
2 ounces black olives, pitted
5 ounces baby spinach (about 4 loosely packed cups)
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt*, strained
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces feta or goat cheese
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
Finely chopped purple onion, optional
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Toasted pine nuts, optional
Pita chips, or pita crisps, or pita bread

Before I began, I prepared the cucumbers and tomatoes and let them drain on paper towels.

I even dried off the olives and feta.

Pulse the cucumber, tomatoes and olives in a food processor, but don’t overprocess. Transfer to a colander to drain. I used paper towels to “dry” up the mixture as much as possible, before finishing the dip.

Clean out the food processor, than add the spinach, yogurt, olive oil, garlic and salt and purée. Add half of the feta cheese and purée again. The mixture doesn’t have to be completely smooth.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a large bowl using a rubber spatula. Crumble in the remaining feta, lemon juice and oregano. Give it a stir, then add the cucumber-tomato-olive mixture.

Fold until smooth, check for seasoning, then place in serving bowl.

If desired, sprinkle dip with finely chopped purple onion, chopped parsley or toasted pine nuts. Or all three!

Have you ever had naan dippers?! They’re perfect for this dip, as well as Stacy’s simply naked pita chips – a favorite of mine.

I also cut up some cucumbers and red bell peppers for serving.

This dip is fabulous, and much prettier than I expected it to be. Just whatever you do, don’t eat the dip hovering over the serving bowl!!!
(Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)

* To drain yogurt, I just turn it upside-down on paper towels in a colander; it gets much firmer after two hours.

Chef JP’s Tomato Pie

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A while back I did a post on my favorite green beans. Yes, that’s what I called the post. It’s green beans with shallots, onions, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and toasted pine nuts, and it’s an exquisite dish. There are so many different ways to prepare green beans, and I’ll try more, but I’ve concluded that this way is my favorite way.

The recipe came from cookbook Sunshine Cuisine, published in 1994, and authored by Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier, who moved from France to Florida and basically fused French and Floridian cuisine, served in his restaurant The Left Bank. I didn’t realize that Sunshine Cuisine had been a James Beard nominated book, and since then he’s written two more cookbooks.

The reason I bring all of this up, is that in my green bean post, I’d lamented the fact that the chef basically disappeared. And he had, temporarily, but thanks to a recent comment on that post, (July, 2020) I was able to find the chef on his YouTube channel, plus it appears he still has his cooking school and website! He’s pictured in the above right photo. Older, but still alive and kicking! You can read his bio on his website here.

And boy is he entertaining! Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier is definitely French, but he sounds like he’s from the Bronx, with a touch of Louisiana Patois! And he kind of yells, in a passionate way. “If you use crap ingredients, you gonna get crap food!”

The first YouTube video I watched was his most recent, making a tomato pie. The tomato slices were layered with breadcrumbs, Havarti, caramelized onions, and pie crust, cooked in a skillet, then turned upside down at the end, during which time he was making the sign of a cross multiple times. Funny guy.

These are photos from the YouTube video:

In the same video he spent about five minutes griping about how he went to 3 stores, and couldn’t find good fresh tomatoes! And his video was posted on July 16th, 2020. “New Jersey tomatoes are the best. But tomatoes in Florida? The worst.” Then he adds that New Jersey tomatoes are probably good because of all the mobsters in the ground, adding that Italian flavor to produce!!! You seriously should watch him.

Chef JP’s Tomato Pie

1 tablespoon sweet Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
6 large Tomatoes cut into slice ¼ inch thick
1 ½ cup fresh Bread Crumbs, mixed with garlic, parsley and fresh thyme
8 slices Mozzarella or Havarti Cheese
1 ½ cup Caramelized Onions
1 prepared Dough
4 ounces Goat Cheese (Frozen for 2 hours)
2 tablespoons Pesto fairly liquid

Preheat Oven to 400°.

Melt butter and the oil in a 10 inch oven proof skillet; add the tomatoes slices evenly to cover the entire surface. Core the tomatoes first.

Top the tomatoes with the fresh bread crumbs.

Then cover with the sliced cheese.

Then top with the caramelized onion.

Finally cover the entire pan with the prepared dough, tucking dough edges against the side of the skillet.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Place a large plate over the pan and invert the tart onto the platter.

Grate the frozen goat cheese.

I didn’t do this part. I wanted to taste the Havarti more. He did also add finely chopped parsley to the top, and I should have done that to make it prettier.

Let the pie rest until warm and serve.

Chef JP did a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the plate before slicing a piece of pie, and also added a drizzle of pesto mixed with olive oil.

The results were amazing. I also didn’t put a yellow tomato in the middle, I opted for red.

When you cut into the pie you can see the caramelized onions above the crust, the Havarti layer topped with the fresh breadcrumbs, and the tomatoes.

I will definitely be making this pie again next summer.

Corn-Tomato Salad with Tapenade

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Did I need another French cookbook? A resounding NO, but when I read about this one, Dinner in French by Melissa Clark, published in 2020, I knew I would love it.

I love personal stories, so the introduction in this book was a great read. Ms. Clark tells the story about how her Great-Aunt Martha and Uncle Jack “dragged” her parents to Europe, and they fell in love with France. After she and her sister were born, the annual trips to France continued, sometimes renting houses, other times exchanging houses, which allowed them to stay put for a month AT A TIME, in various regions of France.

Ms. Clark writes about her cooking, “It’s all right there, rooted in my New York-Jewish-Francophile DNA. And my cooking ends up playfully and unmistakably French. At our house, the conversation might be in English, but dinner’s in French.”

According to Ms. Clark, “This salad is all about the contrast between the sugar-sweet corn and the salty olive tapenade. Since many commercial tapenade shamefully neglect to include anchovies along with the olives and capers, I like to make my own.” I do as well.

I did learn a trick from the author. She suggests microwaving whole corn cobs, 5 minutes for four. I simply wrapped them in a towel first. What I didn’t expect was that the husk part came off in basically one piece. No corn silk with which to deal. Fabulous trick.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad with Tapenade

For the tapenade dressing:
1 1/2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
4 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels sliced off and reserved
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

Flaky sea salt, for serving
Sliced baguette, for serving

Combine the olives, basil, parsley, capers, oil, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic, and pepper in a blender. Pulse to form a coarse paste. Taste, and add more lemon juice if it tastes flat.

Toss the corn kernels, tomatoes, red onions, basil, and parsley together in a large bowl. Fold in just enough tapenade to coat the vegetables.

Sprinkle the salad lightly with flaky sea salt, and serve it with the remaining tapenade and some bread alongside.

There is actually quite of bit of tapenade “dressing” for this salad, so you can always spread it on the bread while enjoying the salad.

I also think white beans would be really good in this salad, along with the corn and tomatoes.

But as it is… fabulous. And a great idea to use tapenade as a base for a dressing. I added a bit more lemon juice.

This salad would be a perfect picnic salad, served alongside grilled chicken, ham sanwiches, or sausages.