Monday, September 23, 2013

heirloom tomato toast

fall is definitely in the air, and the transition of seasons is becoming apparent at the farmer's market. amidst the fall vegetables, there is still summer produce yet. these beautiful heirloom tomatoes won't be around much longer. a perfect way to let their flavor stand out is with a simple preparation of heirloom tomato toast.

start out with a great crusty bread. my favorite loaf for this is a traditional San Francisco sourdough. slice it up, with approximately 1/2" thickness.

pick your favorite color heirloom tomatoes. red, yellow, green, and even purplish brown hues will all stand out at the table. gently cut the tomatoes into roughly 1/4" slices.

basil is up next. if your leaves are really small, you can leave them whole. for larger leaves, roughly rip them into smaller pieces.

toast your bread slices until they start to brown at the edges. take a raw garlic clove and rub it across one side of the toast. the garlic clove will start to diminish, almost like you are grating it along the toast's coarse surface. this step infuses the toast with a strong garlic flavor.

give the toasts a good drizzle of a quality extra virgin olive oil.

top with tomato slices and basil. for a seasoned touch, grind some fresh pepper and sea salt on top of the tomatoes.

there you have it. almost a non-recipe in its simplicity, but it is nonetheless a delicious and simple appetizer. should you be in the mood for something a bit fancier,  you can jazz up with say,  a scoop of fresh ricotta, some fresh shavings of parmesan cheese, or some capers.

an extra drizzle of olive oil on top is delicious, and feel free to switch the herb. as summer comes to an end, basil will not be as abundant. stock up now and then use a drizzle of pesto later.

heirloom tomato toast with garlic and basil

makes 4 appetizer servings


4 slices crusty, sourdough bread
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced in 1/4" slices
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste


1.   toast sourdough bread slices until the surface is no longer soft, and the edges are just beginning to brown.

2.   take the garlic and rub the cloves along the top of the bread. it will almost be like you are grating the garlic onto the bread, as you will see the clove diminish. use about 1/2 clove per slice - more or less to your tastes.

3.   drizzle the toast with the olive oil, and top with the sliced tomatoes.

4.   garnish with the chopped basil, and salt and pepper to your tastes.


- to take it up a notch, try spooning fresh ricotta, parmesan, or capers over the toast.

- no fresh basil, but have some pesto stashed in the freezer? a drizzle of pesto would be a great stand in.

Monday, September 9, 2013

concord grape and melon pops

this was my first time splurging on concord grapes at the greenmarket. i wish i had not waited so long to try them! their concentrated and juicy flavor is a real summertime treat. they are delicious eaten fresh, frozen, or blended up with a sweet melon in my recipe for concord grape and melon ice pops!

i bought an adorable small melon called a sprite melon. it is very similar in flavor to honeydew, only a bit crunchier and without the green coloring.  if you don't have sprite melons in your area, a honeydew melon would work perfectly-it will just have a brighter green hue.

once i tried the concord grapes, i knew their flavor would be a sweet pairing for the melon.

start off by seeding the melon, and chopping the flesh into pieces. you'll be blending it up, so the uniformity of the pieces doesn't matter.

rinse the grapes and separate them from the stem. you'll need roughly 2 cups of melon and 1/2 cup of grapes for the recipe.

combine the melon with the juice of one lime, or about 2 tbsp. add 1 tbsp sugar (this will help the ice pops release from their molds) and blend well in a blender (i used an immersion blender).

once the melon mixture is smooth, reserve half to the side. 

add the concord grapes to the remaining half, and blend until the mixture is smooth except for some grape skin 'confetti' pieces.

if you are using the zoku pop maker, pour in the grape and melon mixture to fill the molds about halfway. let it freeze a bit, and then you can pour the plain melon mixture up to the fill line.

if you are using traditional pop molds, you can either keep the plain mixture refrigerated while the grape section is freezing, or you can just combine the two and make the pops in one color.

once the pops are done freezing, you can remove them from the molds. either enjoy immediately, or store them in a container in the freezer. depending on how much of each mixture you add and how firm the first grape mixture is, you can achieve a perfectly divided ice pop, or a more free form line.

melon recipe base inspired by zoku quick pops book
concord grape and melon ice pops
makes 6 zoku ice pops (about 1 1/2 cups liquid)


9 oz chopped sprite or honeydew melon (about 2 cups)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (from one large lime)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3 oz concord grapes (a generous 1/2 cup)


1.   combine the chopped melon, lime juice and sugar in a blender.

2.   blend until the mixture is smooth. reserve one half of the mixture and place it to the side.

3.   add the concord grapes to the remaining melon mixture in the blender, and blend until there are no more chunks of grape (pieces of skin are ok).

4.   fill the ice pop molds (either zoku or traditional freezer molds) halfway with the grape/melon mixture. let freeze completely.

5.   once the grape/melon mixture is frozen in the mold, pour the plain melon mixture into the molds, up to the fill line. let freeze completely.

6.   once the pops are completely frozen, remove from the molds and enjoy!


- if you refrigerate the blended mixtures before making the popsicles, they will freeze faster.
- if you don't want to wait for the mixtures to freeze separately, just combine them for a bright purple colored pop

Monday, September 2, 2013

squash blossom pizza

its been awhile since my last post, but i am bringing the blog back with this beautiful recipe for squash blossom pizza. the blossoms from zucchini are so vibrant and fiery in color, and they will make your pizza look like a masterpiece.

ive always wanted to buy squash blossoms, but the only way i had heard of them being cooked was stuffed with ricotta and fried. last summer i had the opportunity to try them baked on a pizza, and i couldn't wait to try it myself!

i am trying to find my perfect whole wheat pizza dough. for this recipe i used smitten's overnight recipe - white whole wheat flour was swapped for all of the all purpose, which needed some extra liquid to make for a springy dough.

squash blossoms are very delicate, but easy to prepare for this pizza. rinse them gently under cool water, and then look to the inside of the flower.

depending on the type of blossom you buy, it will have either a pistil or stamens to remove from inside. simply pinch them off with your fingers.

cut the blossoms in half lengthwise, and they are ready for pizza making.

slice your zucchini and tomatoes into thin pieces. a mandolin works nicely here if you have one, but otherwise a chefs knife will do the job as well.
roll or press out the dough with your fingers on a parchment-lined, olive oil-ed pan. layer the toppings on: zucchini, tomatoes, then blossoms on top. if you like, a sprinkling of coarsely grated parmesan cheese on top is a nice salty accompaniment.

ricotta is a common filling for these delicate flowers, making them the perfect choice for this pizza. just drop spoonfuls of strained ricotta all over the pizza where dough is exposed.  
bake the pizza until the bottom crust is browned and the cheese melts.
let cool slightly, cover with the chopped basil and slice into pieces.

squash blossom pizza with zucchini, tomatoes, and ricotta
makes 1 - 9" x 13" pizza


1 recipe overnight pizza dough, at room temp (see recipe below or sub your favorite crust)

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
5-6 squash blossoms, rinsed and halved
1 cup ricotta cheese, strained
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano, optional
6 large basil leaves, chopped - for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste


1.   preheat oven to 450 degrees F. grease a large baking sheet -about 9"x13"- with olive oil.

2.   spread out pizza dough evenly on the baking sheet. layer on zucchini and tomato slices, followed by the squash blossoms on top.

3.   place spoonfuls of ricotta cheese all over pizza, where the dough is exposed. take care to not cover all of the blossoms. if using, sprinkle grated parmesan on top of pizza.

4.   bake for about 10-15 minutes until crust is lightly browned on the bottom, and the cheese has melted.

5.   sprinkle chopped basil over the whole pizza, slice and serve!

pizza dough based on smitten kitchen's overnight recipe:
makes dough for 1 - 9"x13" pizza


3/4 cup warm water, divided
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
~1 tsp olive oil, to coat bowl


1.   start off by pouring a half cup of the warm water into a large mixing bowl. (use a stand mixer if you have one)

2.   sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm water and let sit for 10-15 minutes. the yeast should look foamy with plenty of bubbles.

3.   add in the flour and salt and mix with a spoon until a dough starts to form. add the remaining 1/4 cup water slowly, stopping when the dough is soft, but not super sticky.

4.   knead the dough for 5 minutes on low speed in a mixer, or for 8 minutes by hand. once the dough is smooth, transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.

5.   cover the bowl of dough, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. it should rise for at least 8 hours.

6.   when you are ready to make the pizza, take the dough out about 30 minutes early to let it come to room temperature.
-   for fresh tomato slices on pizza: blot the slices with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid that could make your pizza soggy. 
-   if using fresh ricotta, strain it in a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. straining the ricotta will get rid of any excess liquid that might seep onto the pizza.