Hello Dear Readers! Just wanted to let you know that I’ve written a guest post today for the blog NewlyWife. If you’re tired of the same old tuna sandwich and looking for a way to jazz it up, then you’re going to like this post. I had a few step-by-step photos left over from the post so I created a super short stop motion video to give you a sneak peak of this tasty sandwich. Check it out!
There are certain foods and recipes that food bloggers go crazy for—donuts, cupcakes, homemade marshmallows. And while those items are tasty in their in own time and place, the food trend I can’t stop talking about is homemade ricotta.
A few weeks ago I decided to make a vegetable tart that required ricotta. Instead of heading to the store for a tub of overpriced, sub-par ricotta, I decided to test what I had been reading on so many food blogs: ricotta is both easy to make and much more delicious than store-bought. Making my own ricotta for this veggie tart might not have been the most sane decision considering (1) I had never made ricotta before and the tart recipe hinged on its success (2) I would still have to go to the store to buy buttermilk and heavy cream to make the ricotta (3) my in-laws were coming for dinner in T-3 hours. But as is usually the case with me, the lure of making everything from scratch squelched any rational thinking.
Armed with Jennifer Perillo’s recipe that my friend Bethy had blogged about, I simmered milk, buttermilk and heavy cream, let it sit so the curds could develop and finally drained the whey from the curds.
Less than an hour after beginning the ricotta, I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew! It had worked! The ricotta was warm, creamy, rich, smooth, and delicious. The tart was successful and only on the table half an hour later than planned.
The ricotta recipe yielded more than I needed for the tart, so I incorporated it into meals and snacks throughout the week: scooped alongside oven-roasted peaches for dessert, smeared on bread with marmalade for a snack, and as a layer in these roasted vegetable bruschetta for a family party.
For this version of bruschetta, rub raw garlic onto toasted bread and top with a generous scoop of ricotta. Arrange roasted vegetables on top of the ricotta, sprinkle with feta and garnish with fresh basil. I roasted the vegetables in the oven, but you could probably save yourself some work by grilling them instead. And while you’re at it, double the amount of veggies and use them in my Farfalle with Grilled Vegetables and Fire Roasted Tomatoes recipe.
I may have been a little late to the homemade ricotta bandwagon, but I sure am glad I hopped on.
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1” dice
2 colorful bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds and stem removed
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1” dice
4 small-medium tomatoes, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
one loaf of French or Italian bread, sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to brush bread
2 cups homemade ricotta
½ cup crumbled feta, to garnish
several basil leaves, to garnish
Prepare the Vegetables
Preheat oven to 450°F. For easy clean up, line a 9×13 inch pan with aluminum foil (or grease the pan well). Place the eggplant in the pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir to coat the pieces with olive oil. Roast the eggplant for about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. Add the zucchini chunks and drizzle with more olive oil if needed. Stir and return to the oven. After 15 more minutes, stir the veggies again and check to see if they are soft, blistery and browned. If not, return to the oven and check every five minutes.
While the eggplant and zucchini are roasting, place the bell pepper halves cut-side down in a small roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place them in the oven alongside the eggplant and zucchini and roast until skin blisters and begins to blacken, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove bell peppers from the oven and cover dish with aluminum foil. This helps steam the bell peppers and makes the skin easier to remove. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove foil from pan and use your hands to remove the skin from the bell peppers as best you can. Slice the bell peppers into strips and then into 1 inch chunks.
Place the tomatoes cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are tender and being breaking down.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the onions and bay leaves and sauté until soft and caramelized, at least 25 minutes. Stir frequently and add more oil as needed.
Alternatively, grill the vegetables until tender and slightly charred.
Assemble the Bruschetta
Toast the bread slices until golden brown either under the broiler, on a grill or in an electric toaster. Rub the raw garlic clove over the surface of the toast and brush with olive oil. Spread a generous amount of ricotta over each slice of toast and top with roasted vegetables and caramelized onions. Sprinkle a teaspoon of feta on each toast and garnish with fresh basil.
Essen, Trinken, Treffen—Eat, Drink, Meet, I translated the the words on the window of a soon-to-open restaurant. So it’s going to be a German restaurant, I thought. This is either going to be a hit or a miss. A year after first discovering the restaurant, I can tell you that Leopold’s has been a hit.
With just the right balance of kitsch and culture, Leopold’s has become a hip spot to sample German beers or chow down on Alpine comfort food. Waiting more than an hour for a seat is not unusual, so pop in as soon as the doors open for dinner at 5:30 pm or do what Emily does and have a drink at Tonic across the street while you wait.
These days, you’ll find me eating the goulash as my entrée and the flatbread as my appetizer. Since I’m not always up for braving the wait at Leopold’s, I created my own version of their flatbread so I can enjoy it at home. With it’s crisp crust, melty cheese, salty prosciutto, peppery arugula and sweet caramelized onion, this flatbread is pretty hard to resist.
But wait…there’s more!
Oftentimes when I’m choosing which photos to put on my blog, I get a case of Lead Finger Syndrome and scroll through the photos really quickly, which makes the photos look like a stop motion video. I get a kick out of it every time, and I thought it would be fun to create a stop motion cooking video. So here you have it—not only my first stop motion video, but the first video I’ve ever created for Tomato Tango.
And in the spirit of the upcoming Academy Awards, I’d like to thank iMovie for enabling me to actualize my dream of creating a video; my tripod for being as solid as a rock click after click; and the plastic baggie that shielded my camera from what could have been a sticky situation. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.
Makes two 14-inch flatbreads. Serves eight as an appetizer or 4 as a light main course.
Recipe Source: Dough and caramelized onions adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s Pissaldiere recipe.
2 cups (11 oz.) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for brushing on the dough
1 cup (8 oz.) warm water (about 110°F)
For Caramelized Onions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound yellow onions, sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons water
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
4 slices prosciutto, sliced into ½-inch strips
1/2 cup packed arugula leaves (or 2 generous handfuls)
Make the Dough
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and water and process until the dough forms a ball around the processor blade, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a food processor, stir together the flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil and the warm water. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are well incorporated, using your hands if the dough is difficult to handle with a spoon.)
Dust a clean work surface with flour, turn dough out onto surface and knead lightly to form a smooth ball. (Knead the dough a few minutes longer if you did not use a food processor to make the dough.) The dough will be slightly tacky. Place dough in a lightly-oiled medium bowl and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, 1 to 1½ hours.
Make the Caramelized Onions
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions, salt and brown sugar. Stirring frequently, cook the onions for about 10 minutes or just until they are beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking and stirring onions until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in the water. This will make more caramelized onions than you need for the flatbreads, so save the extras for salads, sandwiches or whatever else you like.
Assemble and Bake the Flatbreads
Preheat oven to 500°F. With floured hands, divide the dough into two pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Brush each ball with olive oil and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
With well-oiled hands, shape one piece of dough into a 14 x 8 inch oval, using fingertips to dimple and stretch the dough into the proper shape. Top the dough with several grinds of pepper and half of the caramelized onions and Gruyere. Bake the flatbread for 10 minutes, remove from baking sheet and place directly on rack for 3 more minutes or until bottom is well-browned. While the first flatbread is baking, shape and top the second flatbread.
After removing the flatbread from the oven, top with half of the arugula and strips of prosciutto. Slice into pieces and serve.
This recipe is a keeper: I’ve already made these flatbreads four times in the last two weeks and I’m sure I’ll be making more of them this week. Thanks to the third (and final) cookbook I received for Christmas, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I’ve discovered a new favorite in our household. Ottolenghi pairs the flatbreads with barley and mushroom ragout, but I’ve been serving them in lieu of roti with our dal (lentils) and saag (mustard greens). There’s no questions that it takes plenty of practice to master roti, but these flatbreads can be mastered by even the novice cook on the first or second try.
The main difference between these flatbreads and roti is that the flatbreads incorporate yogurt (instead of water) and baking powder (as oppose to no leavening agent). I’m no kitchen scientist, but I believe the yogurt gives the dough a soft texture that is easier to roll out than the roti dough I was making. The baking powder kick-starts the rising process of the dough, so breads do not rely solely on steam to make them rise.
These versatile flatbreads adapt well to many cuisines. Serve them alongside a spicy Pakistani or Indian curry; filled with roasted lamb, tzatziki and Greek-style salad; or topped with jack cheese, black beans and salsa.
Makes: 4 flatbreads
Time: 30 minutes active; 90 minutes total
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup yogurt
2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil (to cook the flatbreads)
Make the Whole Wheat Yogurt Flatbreads
Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the yogurt into the well. Stir the yogurt into the flour until it is fully incorporated. You may need to use your hands. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky; add more yogurt if the dough is dry. Knead the dough on a clean surface for one minute and refrigerate for one hour.
Heat one to two teaspoons of ghee, butter or oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Dust your hands, rolling pin and a work surface with flour. Divide the dough into four equal portions, rolling each portion into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into flat round about 1/8th inch thick, using a conservative amount of flour as necessary. When the pan is hot, place a dough round on the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the flatbread is browned and has no raw spots. Remove flatbread to a covered container or cloth to keep warm and continue cooking remaining flatbreads, adding more ghee, butter or oil to the pan as necessary.
The flatbreads are best the day they are made, but will reheat moderately well for three days.
Whenever Sam and I need a quick lunch and don’t have any lunch food in the fridge, we like to visit La Boulange, a local French café and bakery chain. I vacillate between ordering the beet salad and the nicoise salad, but Sam always orders a cup of French onion soup with an open-faced sandwich. He loves French onion soup, and the idea to make French onion soup at home has been mulling in my mind for over a year. Now that it is finally Autumn, I decided to scratch this recipe off my mental “To Cook” list.
Caramelized onions and beef broth are rich in themselves, but spike them with vermouth, brandy and Worcestershire sauce and you have a soup that is positively luxurious—and that’s not even counting the bubbly gruyere and bread on top. French onion soup screams après ski, and I’m already planning to tote this soup along on our family trip to Tahoe this Thanksgiving. Since the soup base can easily be made ahead of time, I’ll freeze it and let it thaw during the car ride. When it’s time for dinner, I’ll reheat the soup, top with toasted bread and cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly.
French onion soup is often salty or heavy, but this version is simultaneously clear and complex, thanks to the secret ingredients (vermouth, brandy and Worcestershire sauce). After eating this French onion soup for both lunch and dinner, I can’t help but think that the La Boulange version pales in comparison. I must not dismiss it too quickly, though, because it was what inspired me to make this soup in the first place. Now that we’ve discovered the secret of making French onion soup at home, I guess we’ll be sticking to the salads at La Boulange.
Use the best quality beef stock you can find. I was very happy with Better than Bouillon brand beef stock. The recipe below calls for broiling the entire pot of soup, but feel free to use single-serving ovenproof dishes if you prefer.
Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.
6 fresh parsley stems
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 black peppercorns
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock or broth
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
12-14 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
1 cup grated Gruyere (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 ounce)
Make the French Onion Soup
Make the bouquet garni: place parsley stems, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf on a small square of cheesecloth, gather up the edges and tie closed with a piece of string.
Place a large ovenproof heavy saucepan, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-low heat and melt butter and olive oil. Add the onions, salt and pepper and stir to evenly coat onions with butter and oil. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 15-18 until onions are soft. Stir the onions occasionally.
Add the pinch of sugar to the onions, stir, increase heat to medium and cook uncovered for 15-18 more minutes, until onions are deeply browned. Stir frequently and scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Watch the onions carefully because this is the step where they tend to stick to the pan.
Once the onions are caramelized, add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the beef stock, vermouth and bouquet garni. Bring the soup to a bowl, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni. Stir in the Cognac and Worcestershire sauce.
Preheat oven to 350*F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Place bread on a baking sheet and brush both sides of the bread with melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, flipping bread over halfway through, until both sides of bread are golden brown, Remove bread from oven and rub with cut sides of garlic clove.
Cover entire top of soup with the toast. Sprinkle Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano on top of toast and bake soup until it comes to a simmer, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Broil soup for about 1 minute or until cheese is golden and bubbly.