September 12, 2012
Sometimes, things just make sense. Like when two fantastic food concepts smash together in just the right way.
Fried green tomatoes are crispy and golden and fantastic by themselves… but stack them with fresh mozzarella and basil and a good heavy drizzle of balsamic reduction, and it’s the most unique and hearty caprese salad I’ve ever seen. And just look how pretty.
Can’t you imagine serving this as an appetizer at a dinner party, arranged willy-nilly on a big platter with basil leaves and balsamic scattered all over? But it’s simple enough to make for lunch today. Because the tomatoes are baked for a while, it doesn’t matter as much that tomatoes are sneaking out of season as we speak. Just get on it and make these ASAP before they’re all gone until next year!
August 30, 2012
This is the kind of dish that completely depends on high quality ingredients: fresh, gorgeous tomatoes and excellent butter.
I first encountered Cœur de Bœuf tomatoes, a cousin of the American beefsteak tomato, at Ô Chateau in a lovely salad preparation. Its uneven ridges create very small pockets of seeds inside the fruit, so the flesh is not nearly as watery as other tomato varieties. Substantial and fleshy, this variety is perfect for slicing thick and eating raw.
I can’t get over how pretty these slices are, arranged on a big plate — like big tomato flowers.
August 23, 2012
An old sweetheart of mine once gave me one of the most interesting compliment I’ve ever received: “I’d like to see you eat a salad. It’s hard to eat a salad gracefully, but I bet you could do it.”
He’s not wrong. About salad, not about my ability to eat it. Salads are, in general, kind of a messy affair. Especially the ones with those pretty and colorful artisanal lettuces that you don’t want to chop that are juuuuust bigger than one mouthful, meaning you get dressing all over your lips trying to get that forkful of unruly greens into your stomach, messing up your lipstick in the process. And don’t even get me started on frisée.
This is the antithesis to those messy, albeit often lovely, lettuce salads. You can eat the entire thing with a spoon. It’s crisp and cold from the raw corn, the chickpeas bring a lovely nuttiness, and the avocado melds with the lemon and olive oil to form a lovely creamy mouthfeel. I toss mine together in about five minutes flat.
August 22, 2012
Have you ever made a laminated dough? Laminated doughs are the ones that have alternating thin layers of fat and thin layers of dough, resulting in a very flaky, delicate end product. Pâte feuilletée, or puff pastry, is one such dough.
I made puff pastry once, just to see if I could do it. It was in the heat of a Santa Monica summer, and I had trouble with the butter melting and not having enough counter space for all that rolling, but I did it. Every cookbook, blog, and cooking show I’d ever seen suggested that I just buy puff pastry, and now I knew why. It was fun to tackle the challenge, but honestly, it’s not worth the time and effort when there are quality all-butter puff pastry doughs that you can just buy.
But I’ve never really given up the fascination with laminated doughs. It’s a brilliant technique that creates a texture that isn’t reproducible any other way. That’s why I was so excited to find this recipe, which creates a beautiful layered dough without the painstaking folding and prolonged chilling needed for pâte feuilletée. The fact that it uses not butter, but another of my favorite fats, sesame oil, adds to the appeal.