Monday, August 16, 2010

Green Bean and Roasted Tomato Salad

Roasted tomatoes are one of the things I like to put in the freezer for soups and adding richness to winter fare. This morning, early, before the temperatures rose, I roasted a pan of tomatoes. I packaged most for the freezer, but saved back 10 juicy halves for this salad. The green beans are from my pitiful garden and the proportion of beans to tomatoes could certainly be altered.

Green Bean and Roasted Tomato Salad

10 roasted tomato halves (recipe here)
1 generous handful of green beans, topped and tailed, lightly cooked in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then drained
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 shallot, minced (or use the white end of green onions)
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste, and maybe some fresh basil or oregano

Mix all ingredients gently, taking care not to break up the tomatoes too much. The tomatoes themselves have oil on them so no more oil is needed in the dressing.

Salmon Rice Salad

Last night my husband and I went out for dinner to the Creek Restaurant in French Creek. This was a belated anniversary celebration. We ordered a seafood platter for two. It came with Caesar Salads to start. They were on the small side, but that's okay because the platter was enormous. Four crab legs, four large breaded Fanny Bay oysters, a casserole of creamed shrimp and scallops, a salmon fillet and a piece of halibut. Plus vegetables, rice and two potato croquettes accompanied by flatbread. We didn't finish it all. Instead we brought home about half of the rice and the salmon. (Yes, we ate the rest.)

Today is blisteringly hot and I decided to make dinner this morning while the kitchen was cool. I flaked the salmon, added the rice and a few odds and ends. This will accompany a chilled zucchini soup and a roasted tomato and green bean salad for dinner. The amounts given below are enough to serve two, and I didn't measure anything, so you'll have to play with the ingredients. I didn't want a mayonnaise based salad, but something lighter. This is the result, and I'm pleased with it.

Salmon Rice Salad

1 large salmon fillet (you could poach one or use canned salmon)
1 cup cooked rice
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin or cooking sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

That's it. Toss it lightly, taste and add more of whatever you think it needs. Chill and enjoy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rustic Beefsteak Tomato Tart

I've made this tomato tart twice in the past month. It's that good. Hearty and filling enough for a meal with just a green salad accompaniment. I like the free-form shape. Cheesy tomatoes, basil, black olives and capers - what a great combination!

It does take some time to make - the pastry must be done ahead, but it could lounge around for a couple of days in the fridge. The tomatoes need to drain for at least 45 minutes and I was surprised at the amount of water under the colander. Not draining them would result in a soggy tart. But don't let the steps deter you. They are easy enough and the result is fantastic. The recipe is from Fine Cooking (August/September 2006).


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (the original recipe called for all white flour, but I think the whole wheat adds to the rusticity)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
11 Tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5-6 Tablespoons water (I find Canadian flour always needs more liquid so I used 1 beaten egg plus the water)

NOTE: When I say Canadian flour, I mean as opposed to American or Ecuadorian flour. Someone told me once that our flour is made from harder wheat. I know that when we lived in Texas and in Ecuador, the amount of liquid in recipes was correct, but since returning to Canada I've always added more.

Combine the flour, cheese, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne in a food processor. Blend to combine. Add the butter all at once and pulse until the butter pieces are about the size of rice grains. Add the liquid while pulsing in short bursts just until the dough starts to come together. It might look crumbly but when pressed together it should compact. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather with your hands into a rough ball. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and gently press into a flat disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.


1 1/2 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes
kosher salt
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tablespoons roughly chopped pitted black olives
12 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons capers, drained and patted dry, roughly chopped if large
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Core the tomatoes, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and stack them in a colander set over a bowl. Let drain for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour. (Longer doesn't hurt.) About every 15 minutes, turn the slices gently and tilt the colander to let the juices drain freely.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment to fit a rimmed baking sheet. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm to become pliable, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the parchment lightly with flour. Set the dough on top and roll into a 14 inch round that's 1/8 inch thick.

Sprinkle two-thirds of the cheese over the center of the dough round, leaving a 2 inch wide band around the edges. Scatter half the olives and half the basil over the cheese. Arrange the tomato slices on top so they overlap slightly, making a solid layer. Sprinkle on the remaining basil and olives, the capers, and the rest of the cheese. Season with pepper and drizzle the olive oil over top.

Fold the edges of the pastry over the edge of the filling, pleating it as you go so it forms a neatly fitting round edge. Bake until the dough is lightly browned, turning the pan halfway through baking, about 40 minutes total. Let cool 15 - 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

I'm adding a link to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Click on over for more wonderful and tasty ideas.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer Chicken Thighs

This recipe came about because of what was in the fridge and on the counter. The fresh basil and diced fresh tomatoes seem more summery and light than cooked tomatoes. The bright flavour of the tomatoes and basil mingled well with the creamy mushroom sauce simmered with the chicken thighs. This was easy, and surprisingly good.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt, pepper, dried herbs
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine, optional
1/2 cup chicken broth (increase the chicken broth if not using the wine)
2 Tablespoons cream
1 large tomato, cut into small cubes
handful of fresh basil leaves

Pat the chicken thighs dry and season them with salt, pepper and herbs. I used a Victorian Epicure pizza spice on mine, but a combination of oregano, thyme, and other Mediterranean herbs would work well.

Heat 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs. Place them in the pan and leave them without turning or lifting until a good sear is obtained - 2-3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Remove from pan.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and when hot, saute the onions and mushrooms until soft. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds or so. Don't let the garlic brown. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the lovely browned bits that give so much flavour. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Return the chicken thighs to the skillet and cover. Simmer until tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and taste for seasonings. Place in wide serving dish and sprinkle with fresh tomato and torn basil leaves.

I cooked up some pasta to go along with this - it was great for sopping up all those lovely juices.