Salad from a City Garden

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Remember yesterday?

Remember that haul of produce I brought home from my city community garden plot? All of it—the lettuce, the chard, the beets, the tomatoes and whatever else I gathered—is washed/bagged/roasted/drying/sitting in a hydrator.

Are you interested in how I saved the lettuce/chard/etc? There’s a way to do it. I can tell you about that later if you want …

But for now, let me tell you about my lunch.

-Lettuce from the garden.

-A half of a beet from the garden, roasted.

-Cherry tomatoes from the garden.

-A half of a zucchini from the garden, roasted.

Greek Salad Dressing, made with oregano from the garden.

-Boiled eggs, from our backyard hens (Oh, please. Who do I think I am? Jayme Jenkins?).

Pickled red onions, pickled myself!

-Green lentils and bulgur – okay, I didn’t grow them but at least I boiled them myself.

-A slice of bread I made using my wild yeast sourdough starter.

I’m full. I need a nap.

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First Big Harvest from Community Garden Plot

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

This …

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

This is what it’s all about. The seeds planted in April. And replanted in May. The battles with bugs. The constant fretting over the weather. The worry while on vacation. This haul is worth the wait, worth the time, for sure.

Red and golden beets. The last of the lettuce. Most of the red and yellow chard. A big ol’ yellow squash. The first—the very first!—cherry tomatoes. Thyme and dill. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention this is all in a 15′ x 30′ urban community garden plot. Call me a city farmer.

It’s not like we haven’t harvested anything at all up until now. Not true. We’ve snipped plenty of herbs. Fresh dill sprigs went into some homemade pickles a few weeks ago, for instance. We’ve pulled up a beet here and there. Just this Monday we took home three larger-than-intended zucchini and a couple of yellow squash. And, we’ve had lettuce for months.

But now, the last week in July, is when everything comes together.

Look for a whole lotta zucchini recipes coming your way.

Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in South Beach

March 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

Where’s Dainty been these last few days? Not blogging, obviously. It think it’s a misdemeanor to blog while in the big warm world of South Beach. We jetted away last week to find some relief from this lagging winter.

While down there, I had to make good on a bet. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers, I owed Jennifer a meal at the Fountainebleau Hotel – a fabulous haven for the young and rich who want to be seen. We just wanted to check out the glitz.

After a little research, we found that Scott Conant had a restaurant in the compound call Scarpetta. Scott Conant – he’s one of the judges on Chopped, the one who practically had someone cuffed and thrown into jail for including cheese with a fish dish, apparently a big Italian food no-no. You don’t know me if you don’t know how I feel about such restrictions. Wanting to learn more about the man’s culinary viewpoint—and secretly wanting to put cheese on fish while on the guy’s turf—we decided that Scarpetta would be it.

The restaurant  – dimly lit, private, modernly comfortable. The front-of-house girls – Jennifer even called them vacuous to their faces and they giggled. The waitstaff – well-trained. Although our guy looked vaguely like a thin Charlie Sheen. We were seated on the veranda, which typically has ocean and pool views but was enclosed due to high winds. Maybe our seating had something to do with 50 Cent and his entourage dining inside. Who knows.

Anyway … I’m not going to tell you about our entire meal – I’m sure there are enough reviews out there for your reading pleasure. You can assume it was great. If it wasn’t, I’d write all about it. What I’m going to tell you about is my appetizer, which – and I’m not kidding – may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Burrata atop heirloom tomatoes. I will forever remember this dish, and here’s why.

A burrata is a fresh cheese creation consisting of a solid mozzarella shell and mozzarella and cream interior, served at room temperature. It takes a caprese salad and makes it look like McNuggets. The burrata is like a pillow of dairy with a creamy dairy filling. This topped a thick slice or two of fresh heirloom tomatoes, perhaps lightly tossed in evoo – it was a little hard to tell after I cut into the burrata, but more about that later. When I ordered, I was skeptical of the “fresh heirloom tomato” bit, but silly Northerner that I am, Florida can grow fresh produce during the winter. I do wish they had specified which tomato variety they used. I know they’d have to change out the menu frequently if they did that. Perhaps the waitstaff could relay that info as the “heirloom tomato of the day” like the “fish of the day.”

Now, about that burrata – this was a mozzarella that must have just begun to form and was immediately served to us, it was that fresh. And delicate. So, so delicate. Cutting into the burrata released a small dose of warm cream, coating the ripe yet firm tomato. Someone’s Italian grandmother was in the back making this. I just know it. So, there was this small bite of rich and creamy cheese contrasting with the bright light tang and texture of the thick slab of tomato. The taste and texture could make me believe angels exist, it was that good.

I had wanted to save a small corner of the burrata to put on my turbot entree, but I just could not leave a drop of it for later. I must learn to make burrata.

Dainty Rates: The burrata – off the charts.

Bulgur with Tomatoes and Kale

February 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sometimes dinner is just a bowl of gussied-up bulgur. Not that bulgur is meaningless or anything. Not in the least. It’s a whole grain, high in fiber, packed with good nutrition—it’s awesome just for that. Throw in its great taste and texture, it’s a real winner.

But when I say “sometimes dinner is just a bowl of gussied-up bulgur,” I mean some days you just don’t want to put a lot of effort into the evening meal. Aside from pulling a box of frozen somethin’ out of the freezer, fancified bulgur is an easy solution.

Two weekends ago at the Somerville Winter Farmers Market, one of the vendors—she sells Middle Eastern prepared foods—shared a quick-and-easy bulgur recipe with Jennifer and I. Having just come home from a long weekend in Vermont, we decided to take mealtime easy and whip up the bulgur. Jennifer prepped the dish, I stood by and watched. Full credit goes to my favorite chef.

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 TBS evoo
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small bunch kale, washed and roughly torn
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • feta cheese

-Chop onion. In a medium pot, saute onion in olive oil over medium until somewhat translucent. Add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until bubbling, then turn down to a simmer. Let simmer gently while you prep the kale.

-Add kale to tomato onion mixture, and try to combine with tomatoes, but don’t try too hard. Cover. Let simmer away for 15 minutes.

-After 15 minutes, kale should be mostly cooked. Stir in a cup of bulgur. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. The bulgur should soften and expand during that time.

-Dish up in bowls as a light meal or spoon alongside an entree. Top with a sprinkling of feta cheese if you wish (and I wish).

 

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