Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts

August 27, 2014

When Life Gives You Overripe Bananas...

The only thing to do is to use them up!

Years ago when I worked onboard the Love Boat, crew members would routinely request bananas from the galley whenever they had a craving for baking. Bananas were plentiful in Africa... but they still went brown after a few days of being stored onboard. In such cases (and depending on the chef...) they were often up for grabs rather than getting tossed out with the garbage.

The ship was equipped with small crew kitchens called ripostos. (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling... I've never figured out where the term came from.) 

Spelling aside, I was never a fan of cooking in these ripostos -- mainly because they never seemed to be up to my standard of cleanliness. Plus, we had a whole crew of kitchen staff who served us three meals a day. Nevertheless, I occasionally wanted to bake something. Anything.

I acquired a small oven (on par with the looks of a child's easy bake...) and somehow I was allowed to use it in my tiny cabin. Along with my own coffee maker, it allowed me to have a homey feel when I started to get claustrophobic about eating in the same dining room as hundreds of other people.

I love having no-fail recipes. My no-fail recipe onboard was an apple cake made with an insane amount of oil and a fridge milk-tart (admittedly, I failed numerous times on the latter one until I figured out the difference between corn starch and corn meal. DUH.) I don't think I had a no-fail banana bread recipe at the time, but eventually, I found one on land. This Banana Banana Bread one is in my favorites and is insanely quick and easy.

So quick and easy in fact that yesterday, after lunch, I commented to the sailor how rotten the bananas looked on the counter, and within minutes of him suggesting I make banana bread, the ingredients were mixed and in the oven.

An hour later.... Banana Banana Bread. Baked in and served on vintage Pyrex, of course.


March 23, 2014

Cast Iron and Pizza

A few years ago, when the Sailor and I moved into an apartment downstairs from my mother, I slyly tried to manipulate her into letting me 'borrow' one of her many cast irons pans. We were still building up our kitchen arsenal and I didn't yet have many of the things I needed for my tiny kitchen. We were already borrowing several other things from her in the meantime, so I didn't think she'd noticed if I added one of the cast iron pans to the list.

She cleverly retorted, 'The cast iron stays upstairs.' 

That week, we bought ourselves our very own cast iron pan. A few months later, a brand new round griddle pan (minus the ridges) made its way into our kitchen collection -- courtesy of my mother, who said that the Sailor could now have his own dish to fry up bacon. 

Sure enough, that griddle has seen a lot of bacon grease. 

This weekend, I discovered that it's also the perfect vessel to use to bake a pizza. 

We eat a lot of pizza... and going out for the stuff isn't cheap. We haven't found a great place that delivers here, and some days, you just want pizza now. Plus, the Sailor is picky about the amount of sauce on his pizza. The only way around this is to make our own. So, in an effort to get out of my cooking rut, and also to try a new recipe every week, I decided to finally make pizza.

Whole Foods here sells fresh dough for $3 -- cheaper than a slice! (I know, I know... I could make it even cheaper, but let's go the convenient route for now, shall we? If you want to make your own dough, I found this great recipe with detailed instructions here.)  

Once I got the dough home though, I realized I didn't own a pizza stone, or even a chintzy pizza pan. After living in such a small kitchen for years, I dislike having things that are only good for one or two dishes, even though I now have more space to store them. Pizza pans are right up there. But a cast iron griddle? You can make a lot more than bacon in that thing. Like pizza, for instance. 

We halved the dough, since the skillet isn't that big and proceeded to bake a homemade pizza in our oven. It was the perfect size for the two of us and we still had a leftover slice to split later. 

The crust didn't cooperate with us on one edge, and I think I probably should have put the spinach below the rest of the ingredients. Never mind all of that -- the pizza tasted delicious and it didn't stick at all to the cast iron griddle. Best of all, who needs a pizza stone? Win win.

February 27, 2014

Cooking up a Recipe Organizer

As much as chaos often contributes to my creative process, eventually it has to give way to a little order at some point. 

Years ago, when I lived in the UK, I didn't really know how to cook. I hadn't amassed the cookbooks I have now, and the Internet certainly wasn't as readily accessible, especially at home. Instead, I had a few recipes scribbled in journals and on index cards given to me by friends and family. I also took to checking cookbooks out of the library and then handwriting the recipes I wanted to try out.  

I had a little journal that I used to keep track of which recipes I tried. My rule was that the recipe couldn't go into the cooking journal until I actually made it (and of course it had to be successful...) The problem was, I had way more recipes I wanted to try than the ones I'd actually made, and nowhere to put them.
Some things never change -- even across an ocean. For a long time (too long) I've collected a stack of recipes in a pile, thinking I'd eventually do something with them. Eventually finally happened. Around Christmas time, when I couldn't find the recipes for the cookies I wanted to bake, I knew I had to sort these things out, pronto

Last week, I finally got so fed up with the pile of recipes, that I commandeered the kitchen table and threw everything on top of there to sort out the paper mess. 

I found a few neat blank books at a craft show in Pennsylvania before we moved, from ReNewed Intent. They had all kinds of re-purposed blank books -- I picked out two that were recreated from old cookbooks. You can shop ReNewed Intent right here on Etsy. 

All I did was sort out the recipes according to category. Once that was done, the rest simply fell into place. 

I used the larger book for everything from beverages to side dishes to main courses. The smaller book holds general how-to cooking info and homemade condiments recipes. I simply pasted the recipes onto the pages. All you need is a glue stick, really.

For the recipes that were too big to glue onto the paper, I created little folders at the start of each 'chapter' to simply shove in the folded full-page recipes. I even made little tabs for each chapter.

I found another blank book to use for my pile of scrumptious dessert recipes. I found this one on clearance at Michael's -- I'm still not sure what brand it is; it's similar to a Smashbook, only it has a three-ring binder in it. I love the ready-made pockets at the front and back -- they're perfect for those little booklets I seem to collect out of magazines.

For a year I had a subscription to Food Network Magazine and I found that I would end up ripping out a few recipes and then recycling the magazine. Most of those recipes take up a few pages -- especially their 'mix and match' ones (which I love!) This blank spiral bound book was perfect. I simply punched holes and attached the full-sized recipes. 

Not to be left out, my trusty everyday bamboo recipe card holder still holds many of my favorite weekly recipes. But now I finally have a place to stash the recipes that either don't get used as often, are too big for the box, or ones I still want to try. 

I feel gloriously organized at the moment!

Now all I need to do is start cooking something from those recipes... 

January 12, 2014

Soup's On! (and on... and on... and on...)

I don't remember having a ton of actual toys growing up, but living on three acres of forest land meant that I had an amazing backyard at my disposal. 

It also meant that I got a little creative with nature and the tools we had on hand. I remember using a giant five gallon plastic bucket and the garden hose to make soup. There were twigs, rocks, floating leaves and even some dirt thrown in the mix. Random berries growing around the property made the 'soup' look even tastier.

Thankfully, I knew better than to actually sample my soup, but I had fun throwing things together and imagining that I was a chef. 

When I first tried my hand at real cooking, some of my soups had that same dirt-like appearance. I had a number of soup disasters -- I suspect the dirt soup may have actually been more palatable. Borscht ended up all over my Pepto-Bismol pink walls in England when I tried to grate the beets. Broccoli soup turned into a gooey mess. In Ukraine, where I ate soup three times a day, every day, I added too much salt when it was my time to cook. WAAAAYYY too much salt. In South Africa, I didn't bother with any kind of soup because the Sailor wasn't really into it. 

By the time that I relocated back to America though, I was determined to eat healthy and shop frugally. I grew tired of finding half dead vegetables in my drawer and wasting leftovers. 

Soup found it's way back into my kitchen. Soup is AMAZING. Seriously. A small cup is a great compliment to a meal and a large bowl with some bread or crackers is enough to fill you right up all on its own. (And warm you up in the winter!)

Sauté a little onion, add some vegetables, some leftover rice and cooked chicken and some basic stock, and voilà, you have Chicken Rice Soup. Are those veggies getting mushy? Sauté those and add a little broth and milk and then puree, and you have soup. Thankfully, these days, the Sailor actually requests (and then eats!) soup, so I make it now on a regular basis. 

I used to try to plan my soup meals and then I'd shop for every ingredient that I didn't have. It wasn't the most frugal plan. I still ended up with food rotting. Then I started challenging myself to make something with what I already had in the cupboard and fridge. Obviously, I still shop. The other day, I had to buy onions, because I knew I needed those for soup, and my stash had run low. But it's amazing how long I can go between shopping endeavors when I think creatively about cooking.

The other night I had a bit of a soup marathon. Within an hour and a half, I'd made three different soups. I had half a bag of carrots that needed to be used, so I made carrot and coriander soup, but I just halved the recipe (if at all possible, I usually try to double soup recipes and freeze them... but for the sake of carrots that would go to waste, I whipped up half a batch!

I also found a frozen bag of roasted veggies from a dinner we hosted a while back. I always cook too much... and then I end up throwing it in the freezer, not always knowing what to do with it. This time, I saved the beef broth from the roast as well. I cooked both together, pureed the mix with my hand blender* and then added some milk (or cream if you prefer) and salt and pepper. While the result doesn't look much more appetizing than brown applesauce, it was DELICIOUS. And healthy! I know exactly what was in the veggies and broth because I cooked them all from scratch to start with. 

Besides, soup gives me a great excuse to store the leftovers in vintage Pyrex. Win win. 

Finally, I found a bag of parsnips in a pile in the fridge. I bought them for Christmas dinner and then totally forgot to cook them. (In my defense, they were hiding under the spinach and that half bag of carrots...) I found a recipe for Parsnip and Parmesan soup in my favorite soup book:  The New Covent Garden Soup Company's Book of Soups. (I've had my copy since the late 90s, and you can be assured it will continue to be a staple in my kitchen arsenal.

While I didn't have Parmesan, I at least had cheese. Substituting is not a crime. Throwing out a whole bag of parsnips would have been. 

Soup's on.  

 *Hand blenders are absolutely necessary in my book for soup making. I make a lot of pureed soups because I personally think the flavors blend together better than if you don't puree them. If you have a small kitchen, and don't even have space for a regular blender, then a hand or immersion blender is perfect! You can do the same things as with a regular blender (except maybe chop ice cubes...). I wouldn't recommend pureeing a soup in a regular blender unless it's completely cooled off. With an immersion blender, you can just whip the stuff right in the pot! I recently replaced my old hand blender with this one from Cuisinart.

September 8, 2013

Life, Lemons and Pie

I love lemons. Seriously. I used to beg my mother to let me eat lemons whole. I'd sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on them sometimes, but most of the time, I'd cut them up and stick the slice in my mouth and pucker up. 

Nowadays, my taste buds are a little bit more refined. I'd rather eat my lemons in a cake, pie or cookie than simply raw. I still crave them though. I even dream of having a lemon tree of my own someday. Is that weird? 

Tree or not, last weekend, over Labor Day, I realized how many lemons I actually had laying around. I also realized what a hankering I had for Lemon Meringue Pie. 

When life gives you an abundance of lemons, what else is there to do but make pie? 

Years ago, I found a copy of the Joy of Cooking: All about Pies and Tarts on sale at a craft store of all places, and I grabbed it on a whim. I've never regretted it. It's been my go-to recipe book for all kinds of pies -- and it's never failed me. Every single thing I've made from there, sweet or savory, has been delicious.  

While I couldn't find the actual recipe from the book available from Joy of Cooking online to share with you, I did find this one from Better Homes and Gardens that looks deliciously similar and just as tasty, if you are craving your own pie. 

 Don't be put off by the meringue -- it's deceptively simple if you follow the recipe! 

The only thing better than baking the pie is sharing it with friends and eating it, naturally. Spontaneous pie picnics over holiday weekends really are the best (especially when the pie is eaten out of vintage Pyrex, of course.) 

August 28, 2013

Simply Wine and Cheese, Please

My last post about tea reminded me so much of living in England that I thought I should explain how I got there. At the end of my third year of college, I was offered a 10-month internship overseas. Of course I said yes.

Having already volunteered two summers in Scotland, and decidedly blasé about postponing my college graduation for a year, I picked a flatmate and before I knew it, I found myself bashing around London as they say. 

I hardly knew how to cook, and the internship stipend proved meager at best. Luckily, the office where I worked had a cheap canteen and enough staff who recognized a foreigner living on pennies, that I got invited out often enough.

Young, impressionable, and thirsty, I spent a good portion of my time overseas in British pubs with my new friends. (I also lived in a house with no heat, so over the winter and when friends were too busy to accompany me, I bundled up and trudged the few meters up the road to my local establishment and spent hours writing in my journals, on my own, while nursing a soda. True story.)

When we weren't at the pub, often we gathered at someone's home for a wine and cheese evening.

It was the thing to do for any sort of event: house-warming party, a leaving-do or anniversary. Sometimes people hosted them for no reason at all except to hang out with friends. People came and went as they pleased, and in between we all drank wine and ate cheese. 

Simple as that. 
This week, a local friend had a birthday and I volunteered to host a wine and cheese gathering on her behalf. It's been a while since I've done a soirée of sorts (last December actually) but I was confident I could pull it off quickly and easily. Besides, I've moved into an apartment with a kitchen that is made for entertaining.   

I gathered the necessary nibbles and drink, and then the night before proceeded to Google 'wine and cheese party'. You know, in case I missed something.   

Clearly I had, because that day, when I mentioned that I was hosting a party, the wine clerk said he'd be terrified. He wouldn't even know where to start -- he had a hard enough time picking out cheese, let alone trying to pair them with the wine. 

Driving home, I started to panic. What was all of this pairing nonsense? I said I would host a wine and cheese -- is a wine and cheese in America different to all of the ones I've been to in the UK?! In all of those years, had I never been to a PROPER wine and cheese party? 

I didn't actually know everyone on the guest list. More panic. Maybe they're really posh... what if they think I'm a total wine and cheese dunce?

Google affirmed my fears. Every site I pulled up listed ways to pair the wine with the cheese and how to arrange the cheese on a board. I saw list upon list of which wines went with which kind of cheese and I got a little dizzy. Then they all said 'make sure to label' each cheese. And above all, only have 3-5 cheeses.

Forget that, I thought. 

The day of the party, I set up a lovely spread -- it was my friend's birthday after all, so I made the same coconut cake* that I made this past Mother's Day. I used the thrifted vintage snack sets (they were a huge hit) and I decided to do things the way I learned in England years ago.

I opened a few bottles of red and white, put some non-alcoholic beverages next to them, and unwrapped more than the recommended quantity of cheese and crackers. Of course I arranged everything nicely, but I didn't worry about which cheese was at 12 o'clock and which one was next to it. 

I certainly didn't worry about which wine went with which cheese.

Admittedly, at one point, I had both printer labels and toothpicks in my hands and I contemplated writing out the names of the cheese. The moment was brief. There would be no sad little white flags skewered in my cheese. 

When the time came for people to actually tuck in, I simply pointed to each cheese and said what they were. I figured that anyone coming later could ask me (I'm usually the one hovering by the food table in any case) or they could ask someone else. What better way to meet new people than to strike up a conversation with the person standing over the cheese?

I added a few chopped veggies, hummous, grapes, olives, nuts and dried fruit to the table spread. Chocolate also made an appearance, as did some summer sausage. But the cheese was still central -- so was the wine. 
And the only word I heard all night over the din of party chatter was 'delicious'.  
So, there really was no need to panic. My wine and cheese was a success. 

Now that it's over, I'll share my secret rules with you: 

1. Eat cheese
2. Drink wine
3. Be merry

Seriously. It's not that complicated. Don't be scared off by what Google says you should or shouldn't do. You can have an elegant wine and cheese, casual wine and cheese, or anything in between. Generally, no matter what you do, unless you're serving wine aficionados who misread the invitation to read: 'wine tasting', you'll be fine. 

Above all, make sure you have enough for leftovers, because the only thing as nice as a wine and cheese party, is an encore with a few friends a day or two later. 

(* I altered the recipe for the coconut cake by using sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened and then halving the sugar.)

August 25, 2013

Tea Time

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I had been playing along with #7vignettes on Instagram and I promised to show you the photos. I had so much fun styling photos for the online 'event'. The theme for the first day: coffee/tea. 

Having caffeine running through my veins daily, of course I went with the coffee theme. 

Here's what I posted:

 And here's the story behind it: 

Coffee symbolizes some of my favorite things -- not only the drink itself! My thrifted vintge whole bean grinder, my Italian stovetop espresso pot (wedding present from a dear friend) and gifted Transcarpathian cups and saucers to remind to return to Ukraine someday. (All but one has survived several Transatlantic moves.)

Soon after I posted the photo, I started to realize how much tea I'd been drinking as well. 

Maybe I've been missing the British Isles lately, or maybe it's because I sipped so much tea while I was under the weather a while back. 

Or perhaps it's simply that I have so many cute tea cups and despite having a larger kitchen now, I'm still sticking to my small kitchen rules: everything must be fully functional.

Or maybe it's because I promised myself over New Year's, that I was going to have a Chilled-Out 2013, and this has turned into one of the craziest years of my life. Tea seems to have a calming effect on me when I need to chill out. 

Whatever the reason, I'm definitely having more tea these days. 

I still drink coffee like it's going out of style -- we'll always be friends. We were together long before tea introduced itself to me and if you told me I could only have one or the other for the rest of my life, coffee would win hands down.

But since I don't have to choose, there's room for both in my life (although the mug cabinet is definitely getting crowded.) Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go and boil the kettle.

Which would you choose? 

August 19, 2013

Fig Frenzy

I think I have fig fatigue -- brought on of course by this weekend's fig frenzy. 

In my entire life, I've eaten fresh figs only a handful of times. They are intrigueing little bundles of goodness though, so naturally I jumped at the chance to go fig picking with a friend. Within 30 minutes, I had a bounty of figs (and mosquito bites!)

Motivated by the fact that figs go bad very quickly, I set off to make the most of my fruity finds as quickly as possible. 

I tried my hand at canning years ago when I lived in England. My raspberry jam was a gooey mess that needed to be consumed within a week. Looking back, I'm sure I didn't use pectin, or even proper canning jars. I don't remember ever sealing anything. I've never bothered to can jam since. Besides, I usually receive a stash of yummy homemade jam over the holidays from other friends and since the Sailor and I don't eat it everyday, I don't really feel the need to make my own batch. 

Chutney, however, is in high demand in our household. It really is such a versatile condiment, in my book. You can serve it with meat, use it on a sandwich, or simply eat it with a nice cheese.

I made peach chutney the other week, and this weekend, I tried my hand at fig chutney. I found this recipe from David Lebovitz and it turned out fig-fantastic. 

One pound of figs makes about two cups worth, so you can easily just keep it in the fridge and consume it right after making it. I kept a little bit out to eat that night, and then canned several small jars worth to save for later. I have a feeling they're not going to last very long though. 

Apparently I wasn't alone in my preserving party -- this past weekend was National Can-It-Foward Day. Even if you missed it, there's still plenty of time to can all kinds of good stuff. Ball has a great PDF on the basics of canning here.

{I see you eyeballing my Pyrex bowls at the top. The small Gooseberry pink cinderella bowl cost me a whole $1 recently, as did the Town and Country mixing bowl at a local thrift store. I already have the same small Gooseberry bowl in my collection, so I'm thinking that perhaps another giveaway is in the blog's future? What do you think? In the meantime, you can see more Gooseberry goodness here.}

August 13, 2013

Vintage Snack Sets

Despite my love of dishware, I don't actually have a full set of dinner plates. The Sailor hinted at throwing a housewarming party at some point now that we're settled in, but I certainly don't have enough of any one style plate to serve more than two people at a time.

I'm still searching for a few more of the turquoise plates (oh plates, why do you elude me?!) But since they seem to be scarce, I figured I'd better have Plan B ready because I well and truly despise plastic plates and cups. (They have their place at a picnic, but for most occasions, nothing says 'you're not worth the risk of breaking my dish or my extra time for clean-up' to your guests than getting served on a throwaway plate.)
Never mind the plate problem: while my current kitchen could easily swallow my old one, I only have a four-person table. Seating is still a challenge. Obviously, one can mix and mingle at a party without formally sitting down at a table, but frankly, most guests also like to eat -- and drink. And there's no getting around how awkward it is to hold both your beverage and your plate while trying to eat with your hands. 

Then I discovered these vintage snack sets. I've noticed them before in my travels, but I've always passed them up. Apparently, though, they are quite popular in the South. Perhaps I'm simply noticing them more since there's not as much Pyrex to look at here, but they are EVERYWHERE! And fairly cheap, too. 

What better way to throw a party, where guests can mix and mingle? I certainly could have used them for last year's holiday party.

Over the weekend, I found a mix of 16 Federal Glass and Anchor Hocking trays and cups at both thrift stores and antique stores, for about $25 total. I'm sure you can get them even cheaper, but I thought less than $1.50 per set was a bargain. In some cases, single plates were even cheaper at antique stores than the thrifts! You can't even get plates at a department store that cheap. (Besides, if you did, would they be this cool?)

While some of the glasses aren't the original ones that matched the trays, they still look wonderful together -- if you are a purist and want to start collecting them yourself, there is certainly no shortage of them on eBay in their matching set boxes. It's fairly easy to figure out which cups match which sets.  

These snack sets would be grand for any party -- I've never been to an event where I've seen them in action, but I hear that people still use them for baby and bridal showers and meet and greet gatherings. I plan on using mine for sure! 

What about you? Have you seen these lovelies in action in the past or present?

{Total side note: This tray befuddled me at first since it has two indentations. I couldn't figure out why anyone would carry two glasses, but then someone pointed out to me that one is an ashtray! There's even a lip on the side for a cigarette. I don't smoke, but I could imagine a gaggle of gals in a different era, playing a game of Bridge under a cloud. Non-smokers -- that extra indentation would be perfect for dip, sauces, or anything you want to keep separate from other food!} 

July 10, 2013

Sauerbraten Success

Late last night, the Sailor and I feasted on the marinated sauerbraten, salted boiled potatoes and red cabbage.

Here's the basic recipe, adapted from my thrifted copy of The Art of German Cooking, by Betty Wason. (More on this fascinating lady later. First the food.) 

I marinated my two-pound chunk of meat in a beer mixture for the Bavarian style of sauerbraten (apparently there are several ways to make this dish -- the main thrust is that the meat needs to marinate in a vinegar type mixture, including wine or even buttermilk). In addition to a few cups of Belgium dark beer, I added water, a bay leaf, lemon, tomato, onion, and several whole cloves and whole peppercorn and let it sit in the fridge for two days, turning the meat several times. 

After two days, I strained the marinade, dredged the beef in flour, and then browned it on the stove top in butter.

Next, I added one cup of the strained marinade, a sliced lemon, a little sugar and some salt and then simmered the roast for two hours, turning the meat halfway through cooking. (Next time, I'll add more of the strained marinade -- I didn't think there was enough liquid in the pot while it was cooking.

Of course if your roast is larger, it will probably take longer to cook. I think my own sauerbraten could have simmered even longer, even though the meat was already falling apart.

For gravy, I skimmed the juice and mixed it in with a little sour cream... just in case the rest of the sauer / sour ingredients aren't enough for you!

The recipe called for potato dumplings and red cabbage to go with the sauerbraten... and while I'm ambitious and wanted to have as authentic a German meal as possible, I simply didn't have the energy to make dumplings.

I made salted potatoes instead. 

The potatoes were nothing fancy... but the red cabbage was probably the hit of the meal. I'll post that recipe later, but here's a sneak peak: 

While the Sailor and I agreed that our usual standard roast with chutney was slightly better, the sauerbraten got accolades all around. I knew it was definitely better than average when we both reached for seconds of everything.

I suspect my high school German teacher would have been proud of the sauerbraten success. (Probably more so had I actually translated the recipe from German... Ja?)

July 7, 2013

Menu Planning

About a week ago, after I'd cooked probably five different dishes in the span of two days, the Sailor looked at me and said he was surprised I wasn't cooking up a storm in the new spacious kitchen. 

Apparently he missed the whirlwind going on behind him (the kitchen island is strategically located near enough to the TV that I can still watch whatever is on, even when I'm cooking, but the Sailor can't see me.) 

So this weekend, I decided to cook up another storm, but first I needed to plan the menu. Every so often, I go through my countless cookbooks to figure out what I can either make with the ingredients on hand, or to make a shopping list for the future menu.

This week, roasts were buy one get one free at our local grocery store. My go-to recipe involves Mrs Ball's Chutney, which is particularly hard to find in this hemisphere. It might be a while until we can find a store that stocks it, so I knew I needed to find another roast recipe in the meantime. 

I perused a used copy of The Art of German Cooking that I picked up at a thrift store a while back. German food is something the Sailor gets excited over, so I figured I might find something worth cooking in this 1967 volume. 

The cookbook didn't disappoint. I found a recipe for Bavarian Sauerbraten -- a giant rump of beef marinated in beer, lemon, tomato, onion, cloves, peppercorns and a bay leaf. 

Say no more. I knew this had potential to be the recipe. 

It needs to marinade for 2-3 days, but in the meantime, I'm salivating. 
I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm hoping this won't end up as Kitchen Disasters III.

Fingers crossed.

June 30, 2013

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad

Years ago, over lunch with a friend, I ordered only a tomato mozzarella salad at a South African restaurant. 

When the food arrived, I stared at the few slices of tomato and chunks of mozzarella with dismay. Surely there was more to this dish? 

Admittedly, it was delicious, if not a little light. I occasionally have quite the appetite (the Sailor often refers to it as 'the Monster'...) so naturally I found myself hungry again within the hour. 

I decided I wouldn't bother ordering such a salad ever again. 

It seems I've missed out over the years, because this salad really is a delightful compliment to a meal, or a light dish all on its own.

This week at the local grocery store, I found myself staring at their strategically placed marketing ploy: a living Basil plant, vine ripe tomatoes, and a ball of mozzarella all within reach of one another.
I fell for the bait. 

This whole week, I've been eating the combo as a salad, feeling very Italian, wondering why I waited so long to try this again. 

It's so simple -- yet so delicious. Simply chop the tomatoes and mix with the mozzarella and a few basil leaves. Sprinkle olive oil over the top, add fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. I like to add a few garlic slices to mine for an extra kick. 

Add an Italian wine, and voila: your summertime lunch or light dinner. 

(*Bonus points if you serve your salad on a vintage Pyrex plate.)

What's your latest summertime favorite dish?