Tomato salad, variation one

Every time I eat a tomato I think about how sad it is that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen don’t.

While eating tomatoes may be keeping TD and I from being professional athletes and/or super models, if shunning night shades is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

In fact, we eat a lot of tomato salads nearly year round.  During the summer we eat the ones we grow and the rest of the year we stick to the smaller grape and cherry varieties because I think they taste better than other store bought offerings.

It should be no surprise then that when I spied a recipe for tomato salad with pine nuts and pomegranate molasses in May’s Bon Appetit I immediately added it to our Sunday dinner plans.

Per the recipe’s author Kamal Mouzawak, apple cider soaked golden raisins make this recipe just a little bit extra.  The pomegranate molasses is a bonus but you could also use that great balsamic molasses you can find at Trader Joe’s.

I diversified the herb select just a little in my version mostly because I can’t resist adding mint to everything.

I also snuck in some avocado.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain why. Really, this is less a recipe and more a set of guidelines to riff on.

Add a grilled protein and dinner is done!

Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses

Kamal Mouzawak, Bon Appetit May 2019

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C golden raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 lb small tomatoes, some halved, some left whole
  • 1/2 small red onion or shallot (my preference), very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 C basil leaves, torn if large (can sub-in mint and/or Italian parsley)
  • 2 TBS pomegranate molasses

Directions

  1. Combine raisins and vinegar in a large bowl.  Marinate until raisins soften, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to colander.  Sprinkle about 1 tsp salt over tomatoes and let sit for 5 minutes or so, allowing tomatoes to release and drain some of their juices.
  3. Add pine nuts, tomatoes, red onion and oil to bowl with raisins.  Season with salt and toss gently to combine.  Add basil and toss once more.
  4. Transfer salad to a platter and drizzle pomegranate molasses over it.

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

I’m an unabashed fan of Instagram.  Unsurprisingly, most of the content I consume outside of friends stuff consists of cooking/baking, house design and cats.  Thinking about it, I may follow more cat than human accounts.  If you follow me on the Gram (oh God) [@tmhostess], you’ll know that this basically mirrors the content I produce.

Like the technologically advanced game of telephone that it is, one of my favorite aspects of Instagram is discovering new to me accounts.  One such discovery a couple of years ago was Tiegahn Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.  Her food styling is so good that I enthusiastically followed her account for months just for its gorgeous aesthetic before I realized I could actually make everything she posts.

I know, I’ve never claimed to the be the quickest horse in the race.

I’ve made it a goal to experiment with yeast for the next few months (when my kitchen is finally warm enough to proof dough) and Tiegahn’s cheesy swirly rolls were at the top of my list.

This recipe is rich with possible variations but I went with parmesan and pesto for these Easter dinner rolls.

The dough is supple and incredibly easy to work with (I made some slight tweaks to it in an attempt to develop the dough’s flavor just a snidge).

The second proofing is subtle, but worth the time.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a pan full of cheesy, chewy rolls.

There will be enough to share.

But I wouldn’t blame you a bit (and I definitely wouldn’t tell anyone) if you decided not to.

Make these!

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

adapted ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 packet (about 2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 TBS honey or sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 basil pesto
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk on low until just warmed.  Remove from heat, add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, gently add milk and yeast mixture.  Then add honey/sugar, eggs, butter and 3 1/2 C of flour.  Give it a few rounds on low until things are generally combined.  Add-in salt.  Switch to dough hook and combine on low to medium speed until dough forms (4 to 5 minutes).  If dough is super sticky, add-in remaining 1/2 C flour a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Turn dough into the bowl, shaping into a ball allowing entire surface to be coated in olive oil.  Wrap bowl in with plastic and allow to rise in a warm, dry place (I used the laundry room) about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  5. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Turn-out dough and roll into a 10X16 inch rectangle.  Spread a thin, even layer of pesto over surface. Top with even layer of cheese.  Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Starting with the long edge of the dough, roll dough carefully into a log keeping the roll as tight as possible.  When you reach the edge, gently pinch into dough.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve piece (cut dough in half, each half into thirds and each remaining piece in half).
  8. Place rolls, spiral side-up into prepared pan (I like three rows of four). Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.  Serve warm.

 

Cleopatra (Vineyard) Cake

Does your mom like wine?  Of course she does.  That is why you should probably make her this cleopatra/vineyard cake for Mother’s Day.

I’ve made my devotion to Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh no secret around here, exhibits: damn cake, tahini cookies and chocolate Krantz cakes.  I recently spent a very enjoyable afternoon going through their book Sweet cover to cover earmarking recipes to try.

Intruiged by a cake with grapes, their cleopatra cake was first on the list.

According to the authors, the recipe came from Mr. Ottonlenghi’s friend who found the original in Gourmet magazine.  Got and Ottonlenghi then adapted it for Valentine’s Day, coronated it Cleopatra cake (on account of the grapes that serve as jewels on this crown of a cake).

The grapes are a lovely addition, but this really is a wine-forward cake.  Like, WINE forward.  The recipe calls for a specific dessert wine called Carte Or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  I did a little research before I went hunting for it locally and while it seems well known in Europe (and a favorite of Nigella Lawson), it’s not as common in the U.S.

So, I substituted a nice muscat-based dessert wine.  One word of warning: if you decide to make this cake, be prepared to use the whole bottle.  I did not play close attention to the amount the recipe calls for when I bought the wine and was surprised when called to drain every last drop of the bottle into my measuring cup.

But, come on, your mom is worth it.  As I mentioned, this is a wine forward cake…kind of like your grandmother’s holiday rum cake.  It is rich, fragrant and very indulgent.  As such, a little goes a long way so this would be fantastic to bring to a Mother’s Day brunch.  As a bonus, because this cake is so fortified, it will stay fresh (nay, dare I say even get better) for a few days.

And happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  I raise a toast (wine, cake or both) to you all!

Cleopatra (Vineyard) Cake

Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh in Sweet

Ingredients

for cake

  • 4 C (500g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 C (300g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (170g) unsalted butter, at room temp plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 C (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tsp)
  • finely grated zest of 1 orang (2 tsp)
  • scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 C (450ml) Carte Or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise wine (or other dessert wine made from white grapes)
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) red grapes washed and halved lengthwise

for sugar crust topping

  • 5 TBS (70g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/3 C (70g) granulated sugar
  • 3 /12 ounces (100g) seedless red grapes, washed and halved lengthwise

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch round 4-inch deep angel food cake or chiffon pan, tapping away excess flour.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter, olive oil, lemon and orange zests and vanilla seeds and beat for two minutes on medium high until smooth and fluffy.  Add the eggs one-at-a-time beating well after each addition.
  4. Turn the speed to low and add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the wine.  Repeat with the remaining flour and wine, finishing with the final third of flour and continuing to beat on low speed.  Once combined, pour into prepared cake pan and scatter the grapes evenly on the top.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. To make the sugar topping (while cake is in the oven), place the butter and sugar in a small bowl and beat with a wooden spoon to form a thick paste.  When the cake has been in the oven for 20 minutes, quickly but gently remove it and dot the sugar crust evenly over the top, breaking it into small pieces as you go.  Scatter the grapes evenly over the top and return to oven.
  7. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees F.
  8. Bake cake for another 35-40 or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.  The cake can either be served strait away or stored in an airtight container.

Ruth Reichl Said to Make These

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently discovered Ruth Reichl.  Earlier this year, a friend recommended Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, by the former Gourmet Magazine Editor in Chief (among many the other accomplishments including four James Beard Awards).

Actually it wasn’t so much a recommendation as it was a reference to the book the friend assumed I had already read.  Again, embarrassed.  So, in turn, I’m assuming everyone else already knows (and has known for most of her more than 40 year career) who she is.

But, just in case not: she’s wonderful.

Anyhow, in April of this year, Epicurious ran a feature by Ms. Reichl titled “I’m Ruth Reichl, and These Are the Best Recipes from my Gourmet Years.

Knowing what I had learned just before this article came out, I was ready to take her word for it and, went straight for the first of two dessert recipes featured in the article: a Raspberry Crumble Tart by Ruth Cousineau featured in the August 2006 edition.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the recipe calls for six, yes 6 cups of fresh raspberries (that’s four of those little containers these expensive little jewels usually come in).

Looking between my tart pan and the bowl of berries, I couldn’t quit figure out how I was going to get them all in there.  Me of little faith.

The next notable thing about this recipe is that the fruit does not get sweetened.  Here are in ingredients for the raspberry filling: raspberries.  There is some sugar in the crumble on top, but none in the fruit.  Again, me of little faith.

Finally, there is the crumble.  To be clear, you could put crumble on an old sock and I’d eat it.  With enthusiasm.  But, I at least, generally think of crumble as a topping on something homey and unrefined.  On an elegant tart? Well.

You don’t need to hear it from me because Ruth Reichl already said it–but I’m going to say it anyway: trust the process.  To begin, your house will smell like everything early spring and summer hint at being: tangy, sweet and full of promise.  Then there is the tart itself, as inviting as it is sophisticated.  Sweetened only by the berries, the filling is bright, clean and gorgeous against the crumble rich crust.  Serve it with a generous dollop of real whipped cream and nobody will remember the meal (or anything else) that came before it.

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Gourmet Magazine, August 2006

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 C cold vegetable shortening (butter works just fine here if you don’t have shortening…don’t sweat it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 to 7 TBS ice water
  • 3/4 C whole almonds (3 ounces), chopped (TMH–I used blanched almonds because I already had them)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 (6-ounces) containers fresh raspberries (6 cups)

Directions

Make dough:

  1. Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Transfer 2 cups mixture to a bowl and drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evenly over it (reserve remaining mixture). Stir gently with a fork until incorporated.
  2. Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.)
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make topping while dough chills:

  1. Add almonds and sugar to reserved dough mixture in a bowl and rub together until some large clumps form.

Assemble pie:

  1. Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out disk of dough into a 14- by 13-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pan to reinforce edge. Fill shell with berries and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake tart in pan on baking sheet until topping and crust are golden and filling is bubbling, about 55 to 60 minutes (loosely cover with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool tart completely, about 45 minutes.