My Perfect Supper

Everybody has one. For some it might be simple and for others it could be quite gourmet.

For me it always have to involve tomatoes in some way. And beef.

There is just something magical about that combination that really works for me. Any combination will do: from meatloaf and ketchup all the way to a more “high-brow” Beef tenderloin stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes! I love it all!

Somewhere in the middle of homespun and gourmet is where my simple, perfect supper is:

perfect supper

Grilled steak with juicy sliced fresh tomatoes (Big slices of “brandywine” variety are best but really any tomato works) and a simple potato salad, best enjoyed on a perfect New England summer evening, on the porch.

 

What’s your idea of a perfect supper?

Parrot Head

I am a card-carrying member of the “parrotheads” elite.

And if you think I raise and breed birds you would be wrong.

For those who don’t know a “parrothead” is a big time fan of Jimmy Buffett’s music. We even have our own wiki page here!

So after having attended over 6 shows and many related events over the years, you would think I would have the lyrics to one of his most famous songs, “Cheeseburger In Paradise” perfectly memorized. Well I do, but recently I cleared up some grammatical confusion.

See I thought he was saying ” …not zucchini fettuccine or bulgar wheat…”  but what he was really saying was “not zucchini, fettuccine or bulgar wheat “

Small difference (see comma marked in red above) but it means the difference between 3 food items ( Zucchini AND Fettuccine AND Bulgar Wheat) instead of two food items. (Zucchini Fettuccine AND Bulgar Wheat)

Phew! glad I cleared that up!

zucchini 2

Actual “zucchini fettuccine” lightly sautéed in olive oil with fresh tomatoes, herbs, garlic,onions and a little feta cheese on top!

 

In case you want to verify the lyrics or maybe even catch a show…. www.margaritaville.com

Mother’s Day On The Porch

This year Mother’s Day also turned out to be the “season opener” for her deck. And nothing is better than an early evening supper on the porch of corn and tomatoes…

And of course I brought her “flowers” (the edible kind!)

rose

The next morning we enjoyed last night’s leftovers in a whole new way…a savory breakfast bread pudding!

I simply cubed up about 8 slices of good quality bread ( something alike a “pullman loaf” but really anything you have would do) and let them get all toasty and dry in a low oven for a few minutes. I piled them into a sprayed oven-proof dish and threw in all the rest of the leftover corn and tomatoes. I added some generous dashes of dried oregano, a couple good pinches of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, some pats of butter ( maybe like 4) and about 3 ounces of sharp cheddar. (Some grated and some chunked.) Now the wet stuff: whisk 6 large eggs with about 2 cups whole milk and make sure to use the back of your knife down the corn cobs and get all that delicious “milk” hiding in the cobs.  Pour it all over the top of everything.

Into a preheated 375 degree oven – covered tight with foil- for about 20-25 mins. No peeking under the foil. Remove the cover when the liquid is firm and edges just starting to take on some brown. (this is nice and easy to see in a glass baking dish!) Let it baked uncovered 8-10 mins longer just to dry out the top a bit as needed. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit, just like lasagna, this is better served warm and not piping hot!

Read about my other “corn and tomato” adventures here!

Gordon, Are You Reading This?

Anybody who might have read my early (as in first) post will know that I am a big “Gordon Elliott” fan from way back. His long-time-ago show “door knock dinners” was a favorite of mine! This is the one where he surprised folks by knocking on their door and making dinner out of whatever was on hand. Kinda like “cabinet stew!”

If you are not familiar with Gordon – all you need to know is that he is the genius producer behind many famous cooking or cooking-related shows. Most recently his daytime series “The Chew.” I am an avid fan of this show which started airing in September 2011 – a full year after I started my blog in May 2010. Sometimes I watch it and comment to my husband “hey I just made that not too long ago” and think what a coincidence! Of course if it something common like burgers – which everybody makes all of the time, than it is bound to come up. But if the coincidence is something a little more unusual like perhaps Swedish Meatballs or American Chop Suey – than I have to wonder….”Gordon, are you reading my blog?”

Okay before you think I am a narcissist maniac, lets just consider the possibilities. (After all in this “get a record deal from a YouTube video sensation” world we live in – anything is possible!) Since I linked to Gordon’s production site back in May 2010 – it is entirely possible that his IT guys informed him of the link back to him, and he has been reading along with other my other approximately 70 other regular readers ever since. (A girl can dream can’t she?)

Well if you are reading this Gordon – let the record show that the street goes both ways. Here is an adaptation of something I just saw on the show recently – Chef Michael Symon cooking eggs inside an avocado half. His were a little undercooked as he was doing a “five in five segment” and he used the whole avocado half. I think my changes to this recipe were a good idea. See what you think…

Slice thin and make a big hole!

sliced avocados

In retrospect I would have made the avocado slices with the hole even thinner to allow the egg to cook easier. It really depends on your preference of egg – I like my yolks not too runny – so longer cook time for me.

eggs cooking in avocado

Standard “eggs in a hole cookery” – but use a cover to help them cook through.

final dish

Served on a bed of hash browns laced with chopped cooked bacon. (bacon optional for you vegetarians) Topped with a quick warm “salsa” of cherry tomatoes, basil and onion and sprinkled with Feta cheese.

P.S. I also noticed that not long after I discovered “www.foodimentary.com” which lists all the weird “food holidays” (like “national chocolate cupcake day”) the show started talking about them too. Coincidence? I think not!

Heirloom Pie

the stars

I recently acquired a small batch of heirloom tomatoes from the local farm stand and after thinking about BLTs and Panzanellas, I settled on pie. “Pizza Pie” that is! Basically a cross between a white pizza and a Margherita pizza, I piled on slices of the fresh tomato on top of a crisp thin crust, that had been spread liberally with a garlic- cheese white sauce.

Fresh basil snipped from my back yard pot, gave the pizza that undeniable flavor and freshness. A touch of sea salt and cracked black pepper were the only finishing touches. A drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil would also be a nice addition.

The White Sauce

I simply sautéed some finely minced garlic in butter until soft and very fragrant. At this point I decided to make a classic roux by adding some flour and browning it for a minute. But if you wanted to make this gluten-free (and use a gluten-free crust) you could skip ahead to adding some “half and half” then stirring in a slurry of arrowroot to thicken it. Add in some finely grated Parmesan cheese. Whisk and cook until desired thickness – you can add more milk/cream to thin or more cheese to thicken.

Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate any extra for up to 5 days.

(oh and yes it is yet another post about tomatoes!)

Tomato Problem

Have you ever noticed how many posts I do that involve tomatoes? ( 75 so far) Specifically have you  read all 6 of my previous posts professing my love for tomatoes? (and some great recipes featuring tomatoes)

I might have a problem. A tomato problem. But the problem isn’t that I try to eat a tomato or tomato product at least once a day, and it isn’t because I grow enough tomato plants each summer in the garden to produce for a small army. (unless of course it rains or is a heat wave all summer like this one)

The actual problem is coming up with a catchy blog topic to disguise the fact that I am posting my 76th entry featuring tomatoes….

ahhh... never a more beautiful sight than tomatoes and basil!

ahhh… never a more beautiful sight than tomatoes and basil!

This meal couldn’t have been easier. I just tossed the cubed, fresh tomatoes and torn basil leaves with a little oil, red wine vinegar and S&P. Than I grilled up a medley of chicken pieces and chunks of veggies all coated and seasoned too. (kinda like a kabob without the stick) When it all comes off the grill, just toss it into the bowl on top of everything and watch the hot stuff warm the tomato juices and release the basil fragrance! Yum!

Serve warm as is, or over rice or pasta.

Whatever you do, this is an easy “one bowl” dinner that is sure to impress the tomato-lovers in your life!

tossing in grilled veggies and chicken

Be My Valentine

Some folks get flowers. Some get chocolates. Some just a card. Or maybe just something unexpected  - a dreaded task done for them around the house or maybe a nice dinner.

For me – it was a sandwich.

My husband knows the way to my heart is through my stomach and the best sandwich for me always involves beef and tomatoes! Of course it being February in New England – the tomatoes are fairly pathetic but any tomato is better than no tomato in my book.

Broiled Steaktips with tomatoes, spicy pepperoncini rings and crumbled feta

Broiled Steaktips with tomatoes, spicy pepperoncini rings and crumbled feta

For anybody following along…you might remember the last time I posted a love story about a very similar sandwich!

ok now you can bring on the chocolate……

Bruschetta Burgers

One night while on the way home from work in downtown Boston, I remembered that we had no buns for the burgers I was craving that night for dinner. What to do? I definitely didn’t feel like getting in the car after a long train/bus commute home to go to the store for just one item. In such a big city you think there would be a small grocery store or two, but no. Only one in the whole city and it was way across town.

So I improvised, popping into one of those sandwich places that are normally so crowded during the day but not at all at night as busy commuters rush home. I am not going to openly plug them but they make their own flat bread in brick ovens for the sandwiches and are famous for making custom salads too. I was excited to buy fresh, hot, tasty, flat bread for my burgers.

All the way home (Resisting the urge to immediately tear into the warm bread. ) I modified my burger plans to “fit” the bread. I decided to make the burgers thin; so two patties per bread. The bread is rectangular so this would work better. Than I remembered I had some provolone cheese so I knew I would reheat the bread and get the cheese all melt-y  before adding the burger patties.

But then I decided regular ketchup would never do. Too pedestrian for such a gourmet approach to a burger.
Since I had tons of fresh tomatoes still coming out of the garden I knew “fresh” was the way to go…

A classic “bruschetta” of chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, thin sliced red onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

Add in as much as you like and enjoy a “bruschetta burger!”

Labor of Love

It seemed very fitting to spend my labor day making “sauce” for the freezer out of the abundance of tomatoes from the garden this year. Although my plants caught a tomato blight and leaves started turning yellow and spotty in August; I still managed to reap pounds of tomatoes from my 12 plants.

Mostly heirloom varieties (Brandywine, Mortgage Lifters) but a couple common varieties too. (Early Girl, Best Boy)

A lot of folks might swear by the more popular “Roma” variety for their sauce-making. They are prized for the large amount of flesh versus juice, resulting in a thick, rich sauce. But I personally think any tomato is a great tomato. And you can read about my “tomato problem” here. It is all about how much love you put into it.

My recipe is different every time and I don’t measure, but it always includes some basics….

Tomatoes, onion, garlic, a grated carrot or two for extra sweetness and this time I included some mini sweet bell peppers that I happened to have on hand. Also always included but not seen here is: red chili flakes, a small can of tomato paste, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a parm rind and herbs: oregano, basil and marjoram. Fresh is best but dried works great too! (No the bags of apples and pears were not included – they just made a good backdrop for the photo!)

First the labor…

Some folks blanch/peel the tomatoes first – ummm… too much work for me. Some strain out the seeds – do it if you want. I don’t mind all that extra fiber and I “whiz” it all up at the end anyway. TIP: Drain the scraps as you cut and use the extra “tomato water” in the sauce – no waste!)

Next comes the love….

This is the onions, garlic and finely grated carrots slowly softening in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Go low and slow; careful not to put too much color on the garlic.  Add in your finely diced sweet bell pepper and saute some more. (This gives it a little undertone of “cacciatore.”) Add in the chili flakes and the tomato paste and let that toast a bit too.  Than add a few generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce (my secret weapon) and a little water to de-glaze the pan. Than you are ready for all those tomatoes!

Cook it slowly for several hours, with a leftover Parmesan cheese rind to add richness.  Tasting and adjusting seasoning along the way. If  using fresh herbs, I like to add in the last hour of simmer AFTER I have used my immersion blender to blend all but the parm rind up. That way the sauce and herbs keeps its “fresh” flavor. If I am using dried herbs I add them way back when I add the tomato paste and chili flakes to sort of “toast” them too.

Now the reward… ( A couple of gallon bags of sauce for the freezer!)

Meatloaf # 225

Fair-warning: This is a tomato-lovers meatloaf.

I consider meatloaf the ultimate in “cabinet stews.”   You can hide put anything into them; use up all kinds of odds and ends!

My plain Irish husband secretly wishes I would just stick to one boring, plain meatloaf recipe but over the years he has learned to be a good sport about my experimentation and many versions. I can’t help it – I am all about variety!

Someday I am going to compile all my versions into a book titled: 365 days of meatloaf!

really it is just another version of “corn and tomatoes!” 

The recipe

Based on crazy odds and ends that I had in my kitchen at the time

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs -The loaf was a very moist and but not very firm – perhaps more bread crumbs for a firmer loaf?

1 tsp seasoned salt ( I like Penzey’s brand)

3 springs of fresh basil, leaves only – chop fine (about 2 tablespoons)

3 springs of fresh oregano leaves – chop fine if leaves are large (about 2 tablespoons)

small onion grated (yes GRATED)

1 6oz can of tomato paste

1/2 cup of  tomato juice (you could use a V8)

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix lightly but thoroughly and put into a loaf pan. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 45mins or so until done. It should smell good and the edges will be a little crispy. Use a meat thermometer to be sure, and remember it will be pink in color no matter what because of the tomato juice and paste!

I served it with oven roasted potatoes and corn. Simply tossed with oil, S&P, and some dried herbs of your choosing. Start the potatoes with the meatloaf and add the corn in about halfway. Toss a couple of times during cooking.

Breakfast With A View

For those of you who read about my “dinner in the most beautiful dining room in New Hampshire” in the past, you will most likely recognize this venue. It is the same wonderful screened in porch. Why would anybody go out to a restaurant brunch when you can gaze upon acres of lush, flowering gardens, woods and a pond complete with waterfall and “Monet” bridge! Oh and the food is pretty good too!

Sunday Brunch on the porch

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, cheddar and chives, served with sun-dried tomato focaccia bread.

This lovely spot happens to be at my mother’s house and when we visit we always eat on the porch whenever possible and I usually try give her a break by doing any and all cooking/clean-up.

The sliced tomatoes  and the bread were leftover from last night’s “corn and tomatoes on the porch” dinner. The chives grow wild in her garden. I simply went out and plucked a handful. The cheddar is kept in the freezer for when I visit. (Mom doesn’t eat much cheese, but she stocks it for my visit because I am such a cheese addict! Thanks mom!) And she always has fresh eggs ready for our visits.

Simple, delicious and beautiful! Try it sometime!

Perfect Party Salad

Are you looking for a light, refreshing salad to serve at your next summer party? Something different from the standard potato and pasta salad?

Well not to toot my own horn but…”toot toot”….I have got just the thing for you!

Rice salad with veggies and a lemon-basil dressing.

I served this alongside some grilled pork tips that I marinated overnight but those could just as easily be fish, chicken, beef or turkey – whatever floats your boat!

But back to the salad…

Fresh, light and lemony – This can be made the night before (perfect party food!) and than just toss and re-season before serving. It would be nice to garnish with some lemon wedges, a fact I didn’t think about until after I took the picture. A food stylist I am not.

I used some of my favorite veggies – partly for taste and partly for color. (Zucchini and yellow bell pepper respectively)

Of course no dish is complete unless I can find a way to get tomatoes into it!

However can you guess what is missing? And I didn’t even miss it…. CHEESE!  Add some at your own option. Some crumbled feta might be nice.

The recipe

Serves A LOT – like 10-15 servings. Cut in half if you are not having a party.

2 cups raw rice cooked via your favorite method to yield about 6+/- cups cooked rice, cooled

1 medium zucchini, sliced thin (think “mandolin”) lengthwise to create ribbons, but you could just as easily dice.

1 large sweet yellow bell pepper, fine dice

3 small tomatoes, diced

2 cups chiffonade cut basil leaves (loose pack, measure after cutting)

3 lemons, zested and juiced. Will need about 3/4 to 1 cup juice.

1/2 + 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or other oil of choice

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Fresh minced garlic to taste, I like a couple teaspoons.

Plenty of salt and pepper

Combine the cooked rice, zucchini, lemon zest, yellow pepper and tomatoes by lightly tossing. Now gently stir in the 1/4 cup of oil to just moisten things.  In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and some salt/pepper. Now pour this dressing over the rice and veggies. Add the basil and gently fold to combine. You don’t want to bruise the basil leaves. Taste for seasoning – add more salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour – longer if your cooked rice was still a little warm.

Production Notes

I used a nice white, long grain, Basmati rice and made sure to cook it carefully so the grains would be separate and fluffy. You could use your favorite rice instead – even brown! But I think a “sticky rice” (like sushi rice) might not make as nice of a fluffy salad.

A Love Story

My story begins with a Ciabatta roll. Still warm from the local bakery.

Next a judicious amount of “submarine sandwich dressing” on both sides of the roll.

I like to put the delicious house-made roast beef from McKinnon’s against the dressed roll, so the spices and oil can blend with the meat.

Next up: Picante Provolone cheese. (I never skimp on the cheese!)

Shredded iceberg lettuce is the only way in my book. Take the time and you will be glad you made the effort. It allows the juices to circulate through the sandwich instead of acting as a shield!

Thinly sliced green bell peppers just really amp up the fresh flavor.

And of course the tomato. I have a problem I know, I am addicted to them.

For a little spicy, vinegar kick – my sandwich would not be complete without some Pepperoncini. If you have never had these little beauties than are not living right!

A little salt and pepper completes this affair for me. “Hey Sandwich King, eat your heart out!”

Now if you don’t mind I need to be alone with my lover.

Sweet Tomato Pie

Nope not a typo.

I didn’t mean to write sweet potato pie. I actually meant tomato.

I was perusing a recent  issue of “Fresh” magazine published by the Hannaford chain of grocery stores when I came upon a recipe for “Southern Tomato Pie.” I was intrigued. And since I have an obsession with tomatoes, I had to try this.

It seemed so unlikely with its mayo-yogurt-cheese topping. Kinda weird frankly. Perhaps a sign of my age but it didn’t even occur to me to Google it until tonight; at the post pie-making/tasting stage and pre-blog posting research stage.

If you Google it and tell Google to leave off any findings with the word “pizza” (because let’s face it a “tomato pie” usually means “pizza.”) you get a reasonable 450,000 +/- results. How is it that almost half a million folks have some kind of mention or image of tomato pie and I have never heard of this delicacy? What other tomato delights lurk out there waiting for me I wonder.

Okay enough talk… here is the link to the original recipe. (let’s give credit where credit is due.)

Here is what I actually used. (I made a few subtle changes – like two varieties of fresh basil instead of dried. Full fat cheese instead of the light it called for. I also added a pinch of salt with the pepper, which was not in the original recipe. There is one other kinda big substitution – can you guess? Hint: it’s initials are MW.)

And here is how pretty those tomatoes looked before the topping went on!

…and here is what it looked like coming out of the oven!

And here it is right before it hit my stomach!

Conclusion:

DELICIOUS! I will be making this again – it would be a great brunch item. But of course I will add a smidge more cheese just because…well…just because!

Mr. Weber’s Last Supper?

Remember Mr. Weber? We got him last year. You can read about that adventure here.

Since then we have been putting him to work. But he was a little tired and rusty when we got him. Even with his new cover to protect him – he has seen better days.

Sunday I decided to get him out and make some dinner, I noticed the wear and tear and thought this might his last supper.

I faithfully fired him up, watched him smoke a bit and chug into action.

I put him to work on some baked potatoes and some brisket that I seared first and braised longer in a juicy foil setup.

But as we sat back and enjoyed a late summer evening dinner together, I realized that Mr. Weber is still the one for me.

This will not be his last supper.

One Perfect Tomato

Anybody who knows me, knows the way to my heart is with a ripe tomato.

Ask my mother – since she is the source of the most beautiful tomatoes.

She sent one home with my husband the other night. One perfectly ripe, luscious, beefsteak tomato from the local farm near her. Organic too!

(I love you mom if I haven’t told you lately)

It was a long day at work and an even longer night after that at school. When I arrived home and set my eyes upon that beauty, I knew just what I was having for a late dinner.

A tomato like this deserves fresh herbs from the garden – even if you have to use a flashlight to get them.

And lucky for me I had a supply of fresh Pecorino Romano cheese on hand!

Good olive oil, cracked black pepper, splash of balsamic vinegar and some toasted bread crumbs all mixed with some quality linguine made for a simple, yet satisfying late night supper!

Just slice, chop, boil, sprinkle…                    ….and serve!

Full disclosure:

Recently I had mixed up a batch of toasted bread crumbs and grated Romano cheese that I keep in the freezer for on-demand “chicken parm” coating and thought that would be a terrific way to add some flavor and texture to my impromptu pasta – so yes, there is grated Romano cheese and Romano shards in this dish.  Cheese on cheese is how I roll.

Three Goddesses & Lunch

We spent Easter Sunday in the presence of Three Goddesses at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Ceres, Pomona & Flora (grain, fruit and flowers respectively) – shown below

Along with these ladies we saw a few spots of early spring blooms -


And some things not in bloom but very old…

… Back at home for lunch, we enjoyed a trio of three delicious things …

Tomato and Feta tart with Brussels Sprouts salad with roasted apples and toasted walnuts.

and a sweet treat at the end of cinnamon pear and banana coffee cake.

Special thanks to Lydia  (pantry goddess) for inspiring this menu!

“Philly Style” White Pizza

Full Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way to endorse the new Kraft brand Philadelphia Cream Cheese line of “Cooking Cremes.”

However…I did get a free sample handed to me the other day as I exited the subway. (“T” for those of us from Boston.)

Ironically, I had just seen a magazine ad for this new product from the Kraft family a few days ago. So clearly the marketing campaign is working.

Now for those of you under the illusion that I eat totally organic and never any processed foods…you may want to cover your eyes now. That means you mom. I know you raised me better than this but I can’t help myself; I am intrigued with all things food and will try most anything at least once. And frankly I like some of it. In moderation of course. At least I am willing to admit it.

So I gladly held out my hand for the free sample of the 10 oz Italian herb flavor Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Creme with coupons for more.

My mind immediately started ticking – what could I make with this?

Since I already have a love for all things white-sauce, creamy and cheesy, I had no problem thinking of things.

Pizza

Could I spread this on a pizza shell? Would this work and would 10 mins in the oven be long enough time for this product? I checked out their website and only found 1 recipe for pizza – essentially a Margherita pizza with a white sauce. (Philly Creme)

So I used 5 ounces as my base and added my own variation on toppings.

I added tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, cooked chicken and fat-free feta.

Of course I brushed my pre-baked thin crust, front and back, with a tablespoon of olive oil first and drizzled another tablespoon on top of the toppings just to keep things moist and yummy.

Into a well-preheated 450 degree oven – on to the screaming-hot pizza stone. (This is the secret to a crispy crust.)

10 minutes later a warm, toasty delicious and fairly healthy (low-fat) dinner!

(Kraft- you can email me for an address to send the royalties! Or at least some more coupons!)

Suggestions:

Leave off the chicken and add some thin sliced green bell pepper for a vegetarian option!

Black olives make everything better – add some!

Use a whole wheat crust for a nutritional boost!

I think some leftover blanched broccoli would be delicious!

More tomatoes = more juicy pizza – you decide how many!

Quiet Supper

Last week at my mom’s house was a sad week.

My dad passed away after battling cancer. He went in peace at home with family and friends around.

After a few days of visitors and arrangements I found myself wanting to make a hot supper for my mother while she worked late in her home office finishing up some things.

If you know my mom, you know she eats extremely healthy and often makes dinners of salad, fruit and veggies. She single-handily kept my father healthy. Not an easy task with a large, sausage-loving man. So I thought she would enjoy not only the pleasure of someone making a meal for her, but a hot one as well.

I checked out the fridge and found a couple of summer squash and of course she had a supply of tomatoes on hand. That and a box of pasta was all I needed to put together a simple, hot and satisfying meal to enjoy together late in the evening after a hectic couple of days.

I sliced the squash into 1/4″ thick rounds and laid them out like a deck of cards in a glass baking dish. Then I sliced the tomatoes the same and laid them on top. I made a quick “vinaigrette” of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, plenty of minced garlic and lots of dried Italian seasoning. No salt and pepper as she prefers none and folks can add it at the table.

Into the preheated oven of 375 degrees until the squash is cooked and the tomatoes all juicy and roasted. Meanwhile I boiled a little Dreamfields pasta. Scoop the hot flavorful veggies onto the hot pasta and sprinkle salt, pepper and cheese to taste.

Sad but okay, we ate in the new silence of the house; thinking about dad and enjoying a quiet supper on a cold evening in March.

He will be missed.

Scrambled “Stew”

Eggs are a lovely vehicle for just about anything.

I stop at almost nothing when it comes to combining eggs and other foods.

Whether it be Quiche or scrambled or even fried eggs.

Last weekend I was poking around my mother’s refrigerator for some breakfast and was inspired by some fresh asparagus in there. I immediately visualized sautéed asparagus, garlic and tomato with scrambled eggs. I decided to add a diced potato instead of the tomatoes to the eggs. That way the tomatoes wouldn’t become sauce; I wanted to have a “whole tomato” experience instead of a “saucy” one!  (Although that can be delicious as in my “Breakfast Bruchetta” )

I decided to cut the tomato in wedges and just warm them in the same pan I cooked the eggs in with a pat of butter and a shake of dried basil. Like a warm tomato jam.

Now, I am not the first to invent the “veggie scramble.”  Certainly you can get scrambled eggs on every level – at the local diner with bacon, cheese etc or in a high-end restaurant brunch with salmon. But I am reminding you… that anything in your “cabinet” (or fridge) can and should be considered!

Tomato Confessions

I am always raiding my mother’s tomato supply. I know she doesn’t mind. I secretly thinks she keeps a supply on hand to feed my tomato addiction.

I could be addicted to worse.

Last weekend I literally took a tomato when she wasn’t looking. I couldn’t resist. She had three on the counter just begging me to take one. I took it and secreted it away in my bag before anybody noticed. A tomato that good has to be enjoyed in private with wonderful, simple accessories like sea salt, good olive oil, luscious bread, olives, cheese, soppressata and fresh basil if you have it – that kind of thing.

I think she has good tomato karma.

She always gets the most amazing tomatoes. Year round even! I think she has a secret source. A tomato dealer.
She always has the organic ones still on the vine. All ripe and juicy, bursting with flavor.

Summer is no problem – I grow my own or supplement with farm stand purchases. But winter is a sad time for me. Every time I go to the store in the winter all I see are those off-season, pinkish, tasteless hot-house varieties. I think they actually wax the skin- yuk!! But I can always relay on mom. And since I visit a lot, I can usually secure the “goods” at least once a week.

Last night’s dinner consisted of:

Stolen tomato, toasted and torn olive roll, Parmesan cheese, soppressata, olive oil, drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of dried oregano, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Mom’s reply to this post sent via email…..

” Just so you know, I reported you to the Tomato Police!!  Not only that, you shouldn’t be putting salami on my vegetarian tomatoes!! (I had to look up soppressata) “

Leftover Lamb!

…makes for great cabinet stew!

…or in this case… “Lamb Bruschetta!”

Besides everything tastes better on top of toasty bread.

The recipe:

1 pint or so of cherry tomatoes, split and placed in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, S & P, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Roast in preheated 400 degree oven for 10- 12 mins.

Meanwhile chop the leftover cold lamb into bite size or even smaller bits. Go ahead and chop the leftover roasted veggies like mushrooms and onions that were served with the lamb the first time. My lamb was cooked medium-rare the first time so it could withstand a little more cooking – about 4-6 mins – in the oven mixed in with the already hot, roasted tomatoes. If the lamb was medium-well to begin with I might have cooked it for only 3-4 mins – just enough to get it hot.  I wouldn’t want to overcook lamb that was perfect to begin with.

Throw some big split Italian loaf or French loaf into the oven for a few mins to get it all crisp and toasty. I didn’t put anything on the bread since the lamb and tomato mixture is so juicy to begin with.

Scoop the hot mixture onto the toasty bread and sprinkle a 1/4 cup of crumbled feta onto the top. If you have some fresh herbs on hand like parsley or basil or oregano – throw that on top to brighten things up. (sadly I didn’t have any.)

“Weeknight lamb” just became delicious and quick “weeknight bruschetta!”