Summer Cheese Board

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I know, I know, it’s September, but it is technically still summer. I’ve been wanting to do a summer cheese board for some time and also show the grapes we grew! We were so excited to see them grow this year since we only planted them two years ago. It’s a pretty productive vine and I have no idea what to do with so many green grapes other than cheese boards and snacks. They were a challenge to photograph, mostly hiding behind the leaves, and being on the northern fence, it was almost always bad lighting. When light did reach the grapes, it was like a giant spotlight, and when it didn’t, it was all so dark. And green. But hey, here they are. After 6+ years creating on this blog, this is the first blog post without a recipe! I’ll post a list of what I have here for fruit and cheese because the Humbolt Fog with peach on a slice of baguette is amazing! I had fun arranging the cheese board with the end of summer fruits. I know strawberries don’t produce much into the summer in some areas, but in my backyard they just keep going and going, it’s one of those every-bearing varieties. The plums and peaches are truly reaching the end of the season here, when I was buying them the clerk said get them while you can because this is it. So this is it. End of summer folks, Autumn begins September 23rd. Soups are on the horizon!

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Summer Cheese Board

Panzanella

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Hello tomatoes! Wow it’s been such a cool summer that it has taken a bit longer for them to ripen in the garden, but last week all four plants decided it was time. The yellow Taxi tomatoes along with the Sungold cherry tomatoes were the first on the scene, followed by Black Krim, and lastly the Brandywine. I’ve been wanting to make this Panzanella for a while, and since I had made a loaf of No-Knead bread a couple days prior it worked out great. Most recipes say to put the bread cubes in the oven, but I opted for the skillet which went pretty quick and ya know, fried bread? So good. You could serve this as a side dish or appetizer, or it makes a great vegetarian meal when you want something light. 

And speaking of serving, I received sample dishes from Carthage.co Stoneware which you see here and they are just beautiful! The large white plate is the Dadasi Dinner plate in chalk and the dark bowl is the Zaghwan Soup Bowl in Old Silver. I think they both look great but especially love the Zaghwan bowl with these bright colored tomatoes. And the prices are quite reasonable for high-end ceramic dishes. You can read more about these hand-crafted ceramics here. They have a nice weight to them and they’re a pleasure to photograph. I’ll be back with more tomato and/or zucchini dishes this month. Until then I recommend this Panzanella, enjoy!

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Panzanella

  • 3 cups baguette or rustic bread, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste

  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

  • 6 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls (or shredded chunks of fresh mozzarella)

  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

  • Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl mix together the bread cubes with olive oil and salt. Add a bit of olive oil to a  large cast iron skillet and heat on medium, when warm place the cubes in a single layer, tossing as needed until crisp on all sides. When done place the bread cubes on a plate and allow to cool a bit. 

To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the Dijon and vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil.

Cut the tomatoes into chunks and then add them to a large bowl, add the mozzarella, bread cubes and the basil leaves (but leave a few to top the dish), add some salt and pepper and stir gently. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Top with remaining basil leaves. Serve at room temp.

Zucchini + Herb Ricotta Tarts

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Zucchini and Herb Ricotta Tarts. I’m looking for all ways to eat zucchini lately. This is the first time we’ve grown zucchini and wow! it grows quickly, seems every 3 days or so there are a couple more to pick. It’s easy enough just to grill but I want to try some new ways to prepare it. I pickled some last week and they came out great. I’d like to get that recipe in a post soon, but you might start calling me The Zucchini Lady, ha ha. This tart dough is different than other doughs I’ve made, you make it with melted butter which is the opposite of 99% pie doughs out there as they use cold butter, but I thought I’d give it a try because with this dough you don’t have to roll it out, you simply press it in the pan. It was much easier and faster to make. You just mix it in a bowl by hand in one minute. Done. I was surprised by how much I liked it! Really nice texture, almost like a cookie type texture. I would make this again no doubt, but for savory tarts I would cut back on the sugar and add more salt, other than that it’s a winner. This Zucchini + Herb Ricotta Tart is super delicious, we had it with a side of Radicchio salad, it’s good for a lunch or light dinner. Oh and pan size, you can make one 9” tart or make a few smaller ones, I used a 6” tart pan and two 4” tart pans, the math doesn’t quite work out on that but it worked for me! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Enjoy :)

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Zucchini + Herb Ricotta Tarts

  • 1/2-1 whole zucchini sliced 1/8” thick

  • 1 cup ricotta

  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano 

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Tart dough (recipe below)

In a bowl combine the cheeses and fresh herbs with some salt and pepper. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture into the prepared tart pans, then arrange the zucchini slices on top. Drizzle with some olive oil to cover all the vegetable. Lightly salt. Bake at 400°F for 25-35 minutes until just browned.

Tart Dough

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter

  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or 1 1/2 tablespoons for less sweet)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine butter, sugar and salt, then add flour and mix with wood spoon until just combined. 

Distribute the dough on the bottom of your tart pan(s) and press the dough evenly over bottom and sides. You can use a floured cup to press it if necessary (i just used my fingers). Cover the tart shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once chilled, with a fork prick the shell all over and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. Then add filling and bake as directed.

Tart dough adapted from Chowhound

The 7-Minute Egg

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When it comes to boiling eggs, minutes really matter. I only recently discovered this. My whole life I’ve been starting them in cold water, bring to a boil, cook for an unknown amount of time, which resulted in a hard-boiled egg that was sometimes ok. But then I was watching Salt Fat Acid Heat recently and Samin mentioned the 7-minute egg, and it looked really good, not as runny as soft boiled but not hard boiled either. You start the eggs in boiling water. This makes an enormous difference. Not only the quality of the yolk, but the texture of the white, it’s fully cooked and kinda velvety, not rubbery which I thought all boiled eggs were just like that. And after 7 minutes you put them in an ice bath for a few minutes. Since I’ve been using this method the shell comes off the egg perfectly, no more moon craters of the past. The cooking times range from 6-12 minutes, with 12 minutes being hard boiled, everyone finds their favorite somewhere in-between, but I’m sold on 7-minutes. And, I made another video! If you like you can follow my Youtube channel here and Vimeo here

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Sous Vide Egg Bites

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“Oh no! Not another kitchen gadget!” That was my response when Jeff suggested we get a Sous Vide. But the more I read about it the more I wanted it. The Egg Bites were fun and easy to make, but where the Sous Vide really excels is for cooking chicken breasts. Because of the precise temperature control the meat will cook remarkably consistent. And it’s also good for cooking steak followed by a quick sear. When I was researching what to make with the Sous Vide I came across this recipe for Egg Bites, apparently made popular by Starbucks. This recipe is for 6 servings, so you can make ahead, refrigerate and reheat them. It looks a bit like a science-lab, and with food sealed you can’t smell anything cooking so it tends to not feel like cooking at all. But the results are impressive and it’s been a good addition to our kitchen. One note on the jars, you want to make sure they are loosely secured so a little air can release (or they will explode!), when you tighten the lid, loosen it then tighten lightly with two fingers. If the jars float and will not stay on the bottom you will have to fix the lids, once they are sealed properly you will see some air bubbles rising and they will stay on the bottom of your container. The final result is a perfectly creamy cooked egg dish, similar to baked eggs, but not one part of it is overcooked. 

Oh and I just came across this article about Sous Vide which is pretty silly about men trying to impress women with their mad cooking skills, more interesting comments on David Lebovitz Facebook post here, it’s not for everyone or for every type of cooking, but it really is amazing for certain things like meat. And Egg Bites too!

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Sous Vide Egg Bites

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 2 strips of bacon cooked, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Oven-dried tomatoes
  • Fresh basil (or any herb you like)
  • 6 four-ounce mason jars

Preheat water to 172°F

Butter mason jars and set aside. In a blender mix eggs and cream until combined. Use any variation of ingredients you like, I made three using cheese, oven dried tomatoes, basil, and three with Gruyere and bacon.

Place bacon, herbs, cheese in bottom of jars, pour egg mixture in each jar, top with a bit more cheese, loosely secure lids on jars, submerge in water (if the jars float the lids are on too tight, adjust and they should remain on bottom of container releasing air bubbles), cook for 90 minutes, remove from jars and serve or place in refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Adapted from Anova

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Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I don’t think I cooked rainbow chard before moving to the west coast. I probably didn’t cook much of anything when I come to think of it. I’ve been making it this way for some time since it has become such a favorite side dish around here. It’s very easy to prepare and tastes great,

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