Thursday
Jul262012

{ tomato-ly refreshing }

Thrusday, July 26, 2012

{ Balsalmic Bathed Tomatoes }

 

Starving one night in Miami, we stopped by Pollo Tropical, a fast-food grilled chicken chain.  The chicken was quite dry (at least, the pieces we had) and not a huge fan of raw tomatoes, I almost passed up the balsamic tomatoes the girls had ordered as a side.  Good thing I didn't because they were incredibly tasty!  I've recreated the recipe so they can be enjoyed outside of South Florida.  Ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes macerated in sweet, oniony balsamic vinegar is the perfect summer salad.  You'll be hooked with every juicy cold bite!  

 

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 2 pounds ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes, cut to 1½-inch pieces
  • 5 ounces red onion (about half small onion), sliced into long thin wedges
  • 3 green onion stalks, cut at a diaganol in ¾-inch pieces
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves OR cilantro (both are wonderful, cilantro shown in photos) 
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place diced tomatoes, red onions, green onions and basil in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, water and sugar, mixing until the sugar completely dissolves.  Pour over tomato mixture.
  3. Sprinkle salt and black pepper over tomatoes.  Use a spatula or large metal spoon to gently fold together.
  4. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, covered or fitted with a lid.  Allow tomatoes to macerate overnight for best results.  The tomatoes will have absorbed all the sweet, oniony balsamic goodness.
Sunday
Jul222012

{ sunday's heavenly french toast }

Sunday, July 22, 2012

 

Heavenly French Toast }

 

There's no better way to wake up on Sunday mornings than to piping-hot French toasts topped with creamy cold butter and sweet maple syrup! 

 

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 (1-inch) slices of day old brioche, raisin bread or white bread (I prefer bread from Chinese bakeries for their soft and chewy glutinous texture.  They hold up very well for French toast, and best of all, you can ask for it unsliced and do it yourself with a serrated knife.) or 6 slices of commercial-grade bread such as Home Pride or Webers white bread
  • butter, to griddle

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well then add half & half, vanilla extract and sugar.

  2. Lay bread slices side by side in a shallow pan, large enough to just fit all 4 slices.  Evenly pour half & half mixture over bread slices.  Turn slices over to absorb the custard.  Keep turning until it looks saturated.  Allow bread to soak for 45 minutes in the pan.  If bread slices are 1-inch thick, at the end of 45 minutes, they should have absorbed up all the custard (2nd photo below - no liquids left!).  *Note: if using 6 slices of commercial-grade bread, they will soak up nicely within a minute.  Careful when handling slices because the centers become very soft.  I use both hands to pick up each side of the soaked bread to not stretch the delicate centers.  
  3. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Have a baking dish ready pre-warmed in the oven;  this will keep the cooked batches of French toast from getting cold before serving.

  4. On a griddle over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter until melted.

  5. Carefully pick up a French toast slice and place in skillet.  Add another toast or two, if it fits.  Turn heat down to medium.  Cook the 1-inch slices on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.  1 to 2 minutes for the thin, commercial-grade bread.  Transfer cooked toasts to the warm baking dish.  Place in oven to keep warm.

  6. Add another tablespoon of butter to the griddle.  Heat until melted.  Cook remaining French toast until done.  Repeat with every slice, storing in oven as you work.
Thursday
Jul122012

{ (ever)green thumb }

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rosemary is a beautiful herb as a plant and to incorporate into recipes.  The evergreen leaves are amazingly fragrant.  Gently brush your palm along some rosemary tips, place palm under your nose and take a deep breath.  Pew!  It's really lovely... but pungent ;)

Tired of buying herbs at the supermarket for $2.99, I bought a Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, at Home Depot for $5.99 (Home Depot is one of my favs, they have a great selection of plants and are usually cheaper than most other nurseries).  Finally, I got around to planting Blue in our yard under some serious heat today.  Not the greatest idea.  Face dripping with sweat, I could barely see the rock-hard soil I was shoveling away at.  It didn't help using a plastic shovel either! After digging a hole 2x her width, she was planted in.  I packed the ground and all around with Vigoro garden soil, also from Home Depot, so she'd receive some nutrients.  After stable and planted, Blue was doused with a good drink of water.

Rosemary is an easy shrub to grow, and grow quite wildly.  This particular upright variety of rosemary tends to have thicker stems and hardier leaves than other types, and is great to cook with.  Tuscan Blue's can grow up to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide.  Today, lil' Blue stands 1-feet tall and 9-inches across.  Can't wait for her to grow into a monster!  Stay tuned for updates and future recipes she'll be used in!

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