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Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

I’m not sure there is a better summer salad than this gorgeous and light panzanella. You can use any tomato and you can even Sandra Lee it up and use croutons from the store. I had a loaf of cheddar & garlic bread to use… but my friends ate most of the croutons before I assembled the salad. So I mixed in the store bought ones. Just as good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups of baby herb salad blend or arugula
  • Croutons, recipe follows (or use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Croutons

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

For the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

For the salad: Lightly salt the tomatoes & cucumbers and drain in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the croutons & dressing (or let sit 15 minutes).

For the dressing, whisk together vinegars, salt, pepper, garlic & olive oil. Set aside.

In a bowl combine the tomatoes, arugula, onion, basil, salt, and pepper and dressing. Add the croutons and toss well. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Turkey & Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Now you see them, now you don’t…

These meatballs are really satisfying and disappear pretty quickly! I have used ground turkey & chicken and both are equally delicious. Don’t skip the sauce… it is a must. Serve warm or at room temperature (or eat them cold out of the fridge like me).

INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • canola or sunflower oil

For the sauce:

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small Fresno chili, deseeded
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. To prepare the peppers for the sauce, quarter them with a sharp knife and shave off the white parts and the seeds. Put them in a roasting tray and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt, then roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Transfer the hot peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Once they have cooled down a little, you can peel them, although it isn’t essential for this sauce. In any case, place them in a blender or food processor with their roasting juices and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Process until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set aside.
  2. For the meatballs, place a heavy non-stick frying pan over a high heat and throw in the corn kernels. Toss them in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes, until lightly blackened. Remove and leave to cool.
  3. Soak the bread in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble it into a large bowl. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the oil and mix well with your hands.
  4. Pour a shallow depth of sunflower or canola oil into your heavy frying pan. Allow it to heat up well and then fry about a teaspoon of the mince mix in it. Remove, let cool a little and then taste. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper in the uncooked mixture to your liking.
  5. With wet hands, shape the mince mix into balls, about the size of golf balls. Brown them in small batches in the hot oil, turning them around in the pan until they are golden brown all over. Transfer to an oven tray, place in the oven at 400F and bake for about 5 minutes. When you press one with your finger, the meat should bounce back. If unsure, break one open to check that it is cooked inside. Serve hot or warm, with the pepper sauce on the side.

Chargrilled Broccoli with Chili & Garlic

Another Ottolenghi win… simple ingredients and delicious leftover!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chilies (Fresno), thinly sliced
  • coarse sea salt
  • black pepper
  • lemon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Separate the broccoli into florets and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes – don’t be tempted to cook longer! Remove immediately to a bowl of ice water, then drain and leave to dry completely.

Once the broccoli is dry, toss with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place a grill pan on high heat and leave for 5 minutes until smoking hot (or grill on your outdoor grill). Grill the broccoli in batches on the hot pan, turning to get lovely char marks on all sides.

While the broccoli is cooking, place the remaining oil in a small saucepan together with the garlic and chilies and cook on a medium heat until the garlic begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chilli burn – they will continue cooking in the hot oil even when off heat.

Pour the garlic and chili oil over the hot broccoli and toss well. Season to taste and toss in lemon wedges. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Chargrilled Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill & Capers

 On my most recent trip to London I came across a foodies paradise – Ottolenghi. When I walked in the front door my eye didn’t know where to look first! Beautiful floating layers of salads, whole grains, breads and OH MY desserts had my mouth watering. This cauliflower salad is a perfect example of why Ottoleghi is so successful – he brings bright and satisfying flavors to the simplest of vegetables.

I can’t get my nose out of his cookbook so expect lots more from Ottolenghi on The Fifth Tine.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon French whole grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A good handful of arugula
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • sea salt
  • pepper

DIRECTIONS

You can make the dressing in a food processor or by hand (we used the processor). Mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding half the oil in a slow trickle. You should get a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the cauliflower to a large pan of boiling salted water and simmer for just 3 minutes. Drain and run under a cold tap to stop it cooking further. Leave in the colander to dry well, then put it in a mixing bowl with the rest of the olive oil and some seasoning. Toss well.

Heat a ridged griddle pan over the highest possible heat and leave it for 5 minutes or until it is really hot. Grill the cauliflower in batches – don’t over-crowd the pan. Keep turning until they are nicely charred all over and transfer to a bowl. While the cauliflower is still hot, add the dressing, dill, spinach and tomatoes. Stir together, taste and adjust seasoning again.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

My Bricklayer’s Coffee Table – Rustic & Refined design

Reclaimed wood coffee tables are perfectly rustic & refined. Stylish, practical, beautiful and nearly indestructible, these eco-friendly tables can only get better with time. Last summer I came across a beautiful bricklayers coffee table in my favorite magazine, House Beautiful. After some research and realizing it was a pretty trendy table, I knew I had found the solution to my large living room and dwarfed coffee table dilemma.

Update: This turned out to be so popular I made a few for friends and ended up with an Etsy store. Haute Habitats has many custom reclaimed wood furniture pieces. Check our store out!

I love a good project and nothing gets me more energized than having something to plan, create & construct. It helps to have a multi-talented friend who also likes a good project and just happens to be a great welder – lucky me :-). With his help, this table came together almost painlessly (except for the 2 weeks it took to rust the iron to my satisfaction).

The wood I chose is over 250 years old and from an old barn in upstate New York. I originally bought the wood for another project – my wood wall (another House Beautiful inspiration). It’s not as hefty as the Restoration Hardware version – but this wood has a ton more character and it shows.

I’ve spent hours putting things on it and taking them off. I’ll soon have the right combination of “stuff”, but I adore it naked. It’s full of texture and character and smooth enough to run your hand over without any splinters. It’s strong, beautiful and one of a kind.

Nope, you can’t have mine (loved the nice offer I already received). Drop me an email and I’ll get you to the right guy.

Ancho Turkey Chili

There are a few kitchen gadgets that I do not own… it’s a shock to me too. I see TV chefs putting all kinds of fun things through a food mill and magically there is a beautiful fresh tomato puree with no skin or seeds – can’t I make that happen with a food processor and sieve? The ricer is another contraption I could use to turn out some light and beautiful mashed potatoes – but I don’t really like mashed potatoes.

Soups and sauces are more my thing and there have been many blender blow-ups of hot bisque all over my kitchen. It’s time for an immersion blender – that is a gadget I will use and won’t take up a ton of space. On Christmas Day I opened the box and instantly put it to use for my pork roast pan sauce. I noticed my Dad eyeing the “boat motor” he spent hours shopping for (thanks mom) and his brain was ticking. He’s quite a good cook and has been experimenting with dried chiles for chili and soups… this would be a perfect way to get those chilies pureed.

Since I have been looking for anything to puree lately – I decided to give his method a shot in my healthy turkey chili. I’m a changed person. Really I am. The intensity you get from the dried chili puree can’t be achieved with chili powder alone. The combination of both with the fresh toasted spices is a crazy ride on the flavor boat.

I love this gadget and round 2 with poblanos & chicken is coming soon!

Cooks Notes: You can use a blender to puree the chilis – be sure to push through a sieve to remove any pepper skins. If you don’t have whole spices – use the same measurement of ground spices.

Ancho Turkey Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (85/15)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • One 15 to 16-ounce can beans – black pinto kidney mix, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

Make Ancho Puree: Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any of the skins.

Toast the spices: In a small, dry skillet, toast the seeds over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often. Keep watch to ensure the seeds don’t burn. When the seeds are fragrant and slightly darker, transfer them to a plate. Cool the toasted seeds, then grind them in a spice mill.

Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until the vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turkey and saute until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey with the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to blend. Add the chili puree, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to blend. Add the broth and beans. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors blend and the chili thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cilantro, cheese & sour cream.

 

Tarte Flambée: Alsatian Bacon & Onion Tart

It’s impossible to go wrong with a crispy pizza like crust layered with cheese, caramelized onions & bacon. The Tarte Flambée is a regional specialty of Alsace, France and when done the right way can take some time. Making the dough, waiting for it to rise and caramelizing the onions is a slow process. However, it can all be done a day ahead at the least (cook the bacon, caramelize the onions and proof the dough and store in the fridge).

I was easily able to find the authentic ingredients but if you have trouble you can substitute as follows:

Fromage Blanc – substitute cream cheese
Creme Fraiche – substitute sour cream

It was worth every minute – absolutely delicious!

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt

Topping:

  • 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into lardons
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup fromage blanc or high quality ricotta
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

DIRECTIONS

For the dough: Activate the yeast by combining the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Stir together and let sit until the mixture becomes frothy and foamy and smells very yeasty, about 10 minutes.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil, salt and the activated yeast mixture. Stir until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

Dust a clean work surface with flour and knead the dough until it is tight and firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the topping: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bacon in a large, wide pan and give it a couple drops of olive oil. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the bacon until it is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve on paper towels.

Add the onions to the pan, season with salt, cover and cook until the onions have wilted and are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook the onions until they are very soft and caramelized. This will take awhile, maybe up to 45 minutes. Stir the onions occasionally paying attention not to let them burn, but don’t rush it! When the onions are really brown and sweet, remove them from the heat and reserve.

Combine the creme fraiche and fromage blanc.

Divide the dough into 4 even balls and roll them out until they are 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. Place them on a sheet tray and bake them in the oven for 4 minutes.

Remove the dough from the oven. Smear each dough evenly with the cheese mixture, place an even layer of the caramelized onions on the cheese and sprinkle the bacon on top of the onions. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Return the dough to the oven until the dough is crisp on the bottom and the toppings are bubbly, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Apple & Vanilla Tart

I’ve come out of summer hibernation… finally. Fall is here and the cooler temperatures have inspired me to get back to the kitchen.

Your freezer section does most of the work for this fast & impressive dessert. If you have a mandolin – it makes the process even faster for slicing the apples. For something so easy to put together (and the oohs & ahhs that followed from the tasters) I think I’ll stop spending hours on dessert!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole sheet Puffed Pastry, thawed & cut in half
  • 4 whole Granny Smith apples, cored, halved & sliced (but not peeled)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot or pear jelly

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

Place puffed pastry rectangles onto a baking pan that’s been sprayed with nonstick spray. Add vanilla, lemon juice & salt to apples. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

Arrange apple slices on the pastry rectangles in a straight line, overlapping as you go. Dot the top with the butter and sprinkle with Muscovado or dark brown sugar.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Warm the jelly and brush over the apples and pastry edge. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.

Lime Bulgur Wheat Salad with Cucumbers & Tomatoes

In Texas we’ve been complaining about the heat for months. It’s been a long summer and my kitchen has gotten a big break – I’ve just not felt like cooking (my absence explained). But when my friend Laura brought over this salad a few weeks ago it was decidedly the thing I was going to make and could enjoy eating in 107 degrees. My inspiration will return in the Fall – already have lots of new things I can’t wait to share.

This recipe is based on the traditional tabouleh salad, a popular Middle Eastern side dish containing vegetables, olive oil and spices. There are a few differences – the use of lime and much less parsley, which I prefer. The base of bulgur wheat and the vegetables makes it super nutritious and a perfect summer side. I like to add grilled chicken or shrimp and make it a meal – but it’s a perfect side dish for my Greek Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Yogurt Sauce.

Bulgur wheat is a natural whole grain food that is quick cooking and very nutritious. It’s high in fiber, rich in B vitamins and has fewer calories, less fat, 4 times the folate and more than twice the fiber of brown rice. It’s nutty flavor is perfect in this Mediterranean inspired salad.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large English cucumber (or 2 medium garden variety), peeled, seeded & diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur (fine)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl add the wheat bulgur and lime juice. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and layer as follows:

1. Cucumber
2. Salt
3. Onion, cumin, coriander & parsley

Refrigerate for 2 hours then remove and add 1/2 cup olive oil. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and feta and mix all together.

Serve as a side dish or make it a meal by adding grilled chicken or shrimp.

Insalata Caprese – Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Salad

In April I planted 5 tomato and a 3 sweet basil plants with this exact picture and post in mind. I’ve cared for these plants like children… and it was worth every bit of work to taste this dish that came from my backyard.

Some of the best meals have few ingredients but top-rate ingredients are essential. All you need is a knife, beautiful vine-ripened summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and great olive oil to have this “salad in the style of Capri” on your table in 3 minutes or less.

Serve alone or with crostini.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, optional
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

On a platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Season salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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