Perhaps you’ve heard me bemoan the ubiquitous Caprese Salad and all its incarnations?
Caprese grilled cheese, caprese kabobs, caprese bruschetta, caprese pasta salad, caprese pizza, caprese schmaese. But when I was challenged to come up with a tomato dish by our friendly Creative Cooking Crew, forgive me but I turned to those very Caprese ingredients. After all, there truly is something magical about the classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella and basil. Especially in summer. And what better way to bid farewell to the fabulous Summer of 2014, than with Caprese Summer Rolls – light, fresh, refreshing. These hand-held bites capture summer’s waning days in a tidy rice paper wrapper.
Sorry but I really am tired of the Caprese Salad and all its incarnations. Caprese grilled cheese, caprese kabobs, caprese bruschetta, caprese pasta salad, caprese pizza, caprese schmaese. But when I saw a photo of cherry tomatoes paired with cherry-sized mozzarella and edible flowers from a restaurant called “Salt” I just had to make my own version. The idea of the colors alone had me hooked.
After all, there truly is something magical about the classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella and basil. Especially in summer. And of course, with limited ingredients in the dish, the best quality of each component is required. Heirloom cherry tomatoes from the farmers market. Flowers and herbs from my own garden. Balsamic vinegar, gran riserva. Fresh mozzarella crafted in the Italian style. My favorite fruity olive oil from California Ranch.
Roast Leg of Lamb Medallion, Curry Quinoa Crust Over Steamed Spinach
Curried Heirloom Tomato Salsa with Mint
Avocado & Serrano Chile with Lime
So here’s the challenge: Cook a leg of lamb as the main-course to serve at a dinner party for 8 people using no more than 10 ingredients (excluding salt & pepper) with a prep time of under 30 minutes (not including cooking times). It must be healthy, lean, and nutrient-rich – using only “good fats” and “good grains.” The folks at Tri-Lamb are sponsoring this “Lean on Lamb” challenge for cooks in Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington DC with a focus on healthy ORIGINAL recipes for entertaining.
So, as is Taste With The Eyes style, I was looking for harmonious colors, various textures, and memorable flavors to create a vibrant lamb entrée for my guests. All ingredients had to be commonly available, so while the dish is not exotic per se, it is alluring and appealing on a hot summer evening. Heirloom tomatoes add a seasonal element, while the curry adds a bright sunny quality, spicy serrano gives it just enough kick while fresh lime juice (from my tree) brings the tart acidity balance…
You’ve heard the expression “like a kid in a candy store?” Well that kid was me this past weekend at the Farmers’ Market in Palos Verdes. If it looked tasty, I bought it. No restraint whatsoever. From Japanese eggplant to okra to heirloom tomatoes. And asatsuki, carrots, red serranos, beets, patty pan squash, spinach, garlic, Anaheim chiles, Thai basil, mitsuba…I had no plan, no recipe in mind. I was simply vegetable-crazy.
8-layer farmers’ market fantasy
curried fresh carrot juice sauce with blanched okra & mitsuba
grilled green & yellow patty pan squash
sautéed spinach with sesame, garlic, soy sauce
crispy polenta cake
fire-roasted anaheim chile
fresh goat cheese & asatsuki
cumin dusted grilled beet
spicy smoky heirloom tomato & thai basil
roasted japanese eggplant, maldon smoked sea salt flakes
Tofu Salad à la Provençal
Heirloom Tomato, Tofu, Olive, Sweet Pepper, Scallion, Anchovy, Mitsuba
Garlicky Tamari Vinaigrette
WANTED: Colorful summer salad recipes with flair! Drab dull ordinary salads need not apply. Does your salad have what it takes? One that incorporates esoteric flavors and uses summer crops at their peak. Will it make us feel satisfied on the hottest dog days? We’re looking for salads that go well with cold-dry-pink-wine. Must be full-flavored, nothing wimpy! Willing to experiment. Unlimited opportunity. Apply soon, before summer passes us by.
Sliced Green Zebra & Orange Heirloom Tomatoes
Fresh Burrata Cheese
Pistachio, Caper, Shallot, Green Peppercorn Relish
Chiffonade of Fresh Basil
Inspired by the July issue of Food & Wine magazine, this is one of many crazy good recipes we prepared on our recent vacation in Oregon. The issue featured “best new chefs & their simplest recipes.” Right up our vacation alley!
It would be dream-come-true to always have fresh truffles in my kitchen. Preserved truffles are the next best thing. Truffle Carpaccio is a preserved truffle product from Italy. It is made with summer truffles (tuber aestivum vitt), olive oil, and salt. It can be served on toast, tossed with olive oil and pasta, or for an intense flavor combination try a teaspoonful on top of a grilled rib-eye steak.
This makes a delightful first course: Slice heirloom tomatoes (blot excess moisture), place on a baking sheet, top with a little sea salt and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place until the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Top each tomato with a teaspoon of truffle carpaccio. Serve with toasted buttered baguette, garnish with chives.
tomato & truffle carpaccio bruschetta
Toasted baguette rubbed with garlic, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and topped with chopped heirloom tomatoes tossed with truffle carpaccio and a little salt.
The truffle aroma is heavenly.
Gourmet Attitude in Manhattan is an importer of fresh truffles. They recently launched this line of truffle delicacies called “la BOUTIQUE de la truffe” which includes the Truffle Carpaccio, Truffle Honey, and White Truffle Cream. We paired the Truffle Honey with panko-crusted chicken breast and paired the White Truffle Cream with angel hair pasta. Truffle heaven!