Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

17 March 2014

Fast and Frugal: Roasted Potatoes with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Thyme



It seems appropriate to do something with potatoes for St. Patrick's Day, seeing how it was the potato famine that drove my Irish ancestors out of counties Carlow, Cork and Wexford across the Atlantic to New York, and eventually Wisconsin.

03 March 2014

Seven (Edible) Reasons to Dream of Summer Farm Markets

Northern Wisconsin's abbreviated growing season makes it hard to eat fresh and local year-round, although we are faring much better this year, thanks to hoop houses that many area growers have installed on their farms. We have two winter farm markets.

I dream of summer markets, though, especially with the Daylight Savings Time and the spring equinox only days away.

Here's what I'm thinking about as I dream:

Big Juicy Tomatoes
Favorite Way to Eat: Sliced, on a breakfast tartine, with cheese, avocado or cucumber.


24 February 2014

A Dozen Fresh Must-Have Items in My Refrigerator

Red and white cipollini onions from Immerfrost Farm.
Availability of fresh, locally-grown produce has waxed and waned over the 20 years since my husband and I moved back to our hometown. In 1994, we could not find casual restaurants that served anything but fried food. Thankfully, over the years a new generation of owners and chefs took over area restaurants and most emphasize healthier cooking with local ingredients.

06 August 2012

Tomato Tartines for Breakfast

We live in a late-19th century home on a slight ridge near a river and a wetland. We have lots of trees on our little hill. As a result, our property is also home to rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. We've had frequent deer, bear, muskrat, turkey, porcupine, raccoon and fox sightings as well, and yet we live less than a mile from downtown. Most of the time, I love this crazy neighborhood with its mix of very old and newer homes, and think of my yard with its motley crew of critters as the peaceable kingdom.

But I'm pretty sure it's those sneaky squirrels who are enjoying my garden this summer. They have an odd ritual: Eat half the tomato, squash or other vegetable and then leave the rest on the deck or porch steps. They do this all the time. I know they like to position themselves on a hard surface when they eat, and I don't blame them. It's a lot easier that way. But I swear, sometimes they just do this to get to me. It's sort of a "Nah nah nah nah nah, I'm eating your harvest!" Or maybe it's some weird kind of offering, a sign of affection. I'm not really sure.

It is discouraging, but fortunately, I have ample access to tomatoes at area farm stands and farm markets, and the local Italian market makes a great effort to offer local and regional produce. And when tomatoes are in season, I have them for breakfast.

Tomato tartines! Breakfast doesn't get any easier or tastier. Here's my technique:
  • Toast two pieces of Udi's Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread and then slather them with Smart Balance; you can add a bit of cream cheese, too, and sprinkle on minced onions. Or dill.
  • Cut two thick slices of tomato and place atop the bread. Spread with mayonnaise.
  • Then add Parmesan cheese, or, in the case above, cheese with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Zap in the microwave until the cheese melts.
I was in a hurry (it was, after all, Monday) or I'd have gone outside to pick some fresh basil. Bacon bits are a nice addition, too. In the past, I have topped the tartines with salmon and capers, too, or black olives. 

How do you make tomato sandwiches? True sandwiches or open faced tartines? Here's an open-faced version that sounds good. Or, try a more classic sandwich approach.

Here are some ideas from other tomato lovers. But I want to hear from you!

(Thanks to Christine and Kalyn for whetting my appetite.)



16 November 2008

Stuffed Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Red Pepper

In her later years, Grandma Annie seldom traveled but when she did, it was often to come to the aid of her oldest daughter who underwent a series of surgeries at mid-life. During those extended trips, my mother (a younger daughter) would haul us across the river to Annie's house in Frenchtown to "check things." These trips usually took place after school and they always seemed to be on gray November days.

We'd enter the cold, empty house, the day's mail in our hands, and quickly turn up the furnace. While my mother checked every room in the deep, narrow house, we children would huddle in the living room waiting for the heat to kick in. The furnace provided a gentle, lulling sound, a sort of comforting white noise that still soothes me today. I would eagerly sift through Annie's mail for the latest women's magazine so I could read the fiction. Those were the days before stories about orgasm and geriatric sex replaced quality short stories or novellas.

While the house was empty without Annie, her spirit always seemed to remain there as it lingered for many years after her death. Late afternoon, that time of deepening darkness, was a cozy time at the old house with the incandescent lights providing a yellow glow.

When Annie was in residence, this was the time she retreated to the kitchen to make soup, salad and sandwiches for the evening meal. I did this yesterday, as night fell, preparing a quick meal of cheese sandwiches and cole slaw. As always, Annie was with me, whispering those memories in my ear. I wonder what she would think of my concoctions?

Stuffed Cheese Sandwiches with Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Basil

  • 8 slices of roasted red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough or Italian bread
  • 2 thicks slices of gouda or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 slices tomato
  • 4-8 basil leaves
  • butter


Coat the pepper slices with olive oil and roast in a 450-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Set aside. Butter the bread lightly on all four sides, then layer with cheese, pepper, tomato and basil leaves. Melt butter in a skillet, and toast the sandwiches until both sides are golden brown.

Next time, I'll layer the sandwiches with sautéed onion slices for extra flavor.

I served this with cole slaw to which I added chopped cranberries and grated Granny Smith apple. I think an olive medley would have been a better choice.

23 March 2008

Poulet Provencal (Roasted Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives)

They say it is spring, although you would not know it here in Wisconsin. I may hear cardinals and mourning doves in the morning, but what I see is snow and more snow, although patches of brownish-green grass have finally begun to show through here and there.

Easter began blustery with flurries and I had no idea what we'd eat for dinner. We are both still recovering from longish bouts with the flu and worse yet, suffering from acute cases of cabin fever.

Searching for a new way to make grilled tomatoes, I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe at Epicurious. Then I noticed it was from the March Gourmet, which for some reason I have two issues of - a good thing, because I can never get enough of this fabulous variation on chicken from the South of France. The recipe calls for all my favorites: tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives, herbes de Provence and fennel seeds. Did I mention chicken?

I added some potatoes to the vegetable mix to please my husband, and I stuffed a quartered lemon inside for additional moisture. These two ideas came from the readers comments on the Epicurious site.

This was possibly the best Easter meal I have ever made. I knew I did not want ham this year, and by happy coincidence, I'd picked up the chicken yesterday.

March was a trying month for me, with several big projects and an auto accident to cope with (I'm fine and my car is fixed already). But a good meal, some scented candles and bouquet of daffodils cheer me today.

Better days lie ahead. I am planning three trips, one for work and two for pleasure. Soon I'll be able to walk outside and enjoy warmer temperatures. Maybe.

18 April 2007

Cheddar and Sun-dried Tomato Muffins

Sometimes you cannot get a recipe out of your head. It was that way with these muffins. I kept thinking about them, then obsessing about them, and the longer I refrained from making them, the more they - uh - ate away at me.

But then I am a fool for anything made with sun-dried tomato and basil. And I like beer bread, although it's not something I eat often.

Still I had to make this one. It's from the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Cheddar and Sun-dried Tomato Muffins, Made with Ale and Basil


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups pale ale beer
  • 1 ½ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 6 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
  • 3 tablespoons reserved oil from jar of sun-dried tomatoes


Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 12-muffin tin or two 6-muffin tins with baking spray.

Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and basil leaves. Set aside. In a second bowl, combine eggs, ale, cheese, tomatoes and oil. Fold this into dry mixture.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 22 minutes.

Hmmm. Not bad. A little dry. But I'd either try paper muffin cups or use butter and flour to coat my muffin tins because I could not remove these from the pan without breaking them.

I'd also use a sharp cheddar next time and increase the amount of basil.

This recipe has potential.

05 February 2007

A Basket, Tomatoes and True Love

My first gifts of food were, not surprisingly, from my maternal grandmother.

I am speaking not of the Lady Baltimore cakes she made for our birthdays, but the first food gift for my home, the one that made me feel like a grownup. It was my first semester away at college, and Grandma Annie gave me a cheese sampler basket, probably from Wisconsin's own Figi's.

A humble gift, to be sure, but one that delighted me and started me on a lifelong passion for baskets. There was also a cookbook that Christmas, but that is for another post.

Recently I weeded down my basket collection to a mere dozen. Of course, the first basket stayed with me. As you can see, I filled it with cherry tomatoes for the photo above.

I will never let go of that basket.

Since I love tomatoes so much — and since Grandma Annie did, too — it is only right that I matched the basket with tomatoes.

On Jan. 30, I reviewed Laura Florand's delightful "Blame it on Paris," a book in which tomatoes (and other salad ingredients) have a minor but essential supporting role.

Let's put it this way: In Laura's book, tomatoes demonstrate the potential to stand between two people in love. Who knew?

But, I have a solution. A variation on a previous theme, you might say.

You can read about it at Laura's blog, starting Tuesday, Feb. 6.