Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

I Love Summer Tomatoes!

I didn’t plant a garden this year, but a friend did, and she has been sharing the bounty! I have garden fresh tomatoes for the first time in years, an I am in hog-heaven!

I put this quick snack together a few hours ago.

Fresh Tomato Bruscetta

 

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

For a Single Serving

  • 6 half-inch slices sour dough bread (or any other dense bread)
  • Olive oil spray
  • Garlic granules
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Put the bread slices on a foil lined toaster oven tray.
  2. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic granules. Turn slices over and repeat on the other side.
  3. Sprinkle with oregano and basil.
    Optional: Toast the bread at 300°–325° to your preferred crunchiness. Skip this if you’re in a hurry or if you want your bread soft.
  4. Top each slice of toast/bread with a slice of tomato.
  5. Sprinkle with more basil and oregano.
  6. Top with slivers of Parmesan cheese. (Feta crumbles are also good if you have any.)
  7. Slide the toast in the oven at about 350° until tomato is warmed through.
  8. Serve with a small bowl of balsamic vinegar. Dip toast in the vinegar before each bite.

Note: if you make more than one serving each person will need a personal bowl of balsamic vinegar. There will be double dipping. 🙂

Larrapin!

 

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July 4, 2012 Posted by | Appetizer, Snacks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once de Guacamayo

Avocados are on my top ten list of favorite ingredients. I wanted to share this recipe last week on Cinco de Mayo (which, by the way, is not a celebration of Mexican independence) but I couldn’t find any good guacs at the last minute. So now, on the eleventh, I’m sharing this Once de Guacamayo recipe.

If you want to make guacamole and can’t figure it out on your own you’ll find recipes that call for 4 or 8 or 12 avocados, and piles of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and more. Unless you’re feeding a crowd it’s way more than you want to make and all that chopping and slicing and dicing is a lot of work for a simple snack.

So here’s my shortcut. Two ingredients. Avocado and salsa. Lime is the essential third ingredient and if I have some fresh cilantro anyone who eats it will swear I made it all from scratch.

Here’s how it goes. Cut an avocado in half by starting at the pointy end and sliding the knife all the way around.

Avocado, Onion, Serrano, and Jalapeno

Twist each half of the avocado in opposite directions to loosen it from the seed.

Twist the sides in opposite directions to pull it apart.

Split Avocado

This avocado is perfectly ripe and ready for anything.

Remove the pit by striking it with the blade of your knife. It will slice into the pit and stick. Twist the knife, still attached to the pit, and pull the pit out of the avocado.

Remove the Avocado Pit

Remove the avocado pIt by whacking into it with your knife. You can see I've already sliced and diced the avocado half on the left. It's ready to scoop into the bowl.

While the avocado is still in the skin, use the knife and slice it one direction and then the other. Make your slices few and far between for chunky guac, and close together in all directions for smushy guac.

Diced Avocado Ready for Guac

The diced avocado goes into the bowl first.

Use a spoon to scoop the avocado out of the skin and plop it in your mixing bowl.  I used a small plastic container that held blue cheese yesterday. (The blue cheese went into meatballs. That recipe will come soon.) It was a handy size for dipping and would be a handy size for leftovers.

Add Salsa to Avocadotg178

Add a couple of spoonfuls of salsa to the avocado.

Add your favorite salsa. If this is all you’re going to do, mix and taste. But if you’re adding more ingredients wait to mix it so it doesn’t totally turn to mush by the time you’re done.

It just takes a small amount of any optional ingredients to make a difference in the taste and the texture. You may need to add another avocado if you get too rambunctious. A little goes a long way when you’re starting with just one avocado.

Jalapenos and Serrano Peppers

Jalapeno and Serrano slices are ready to dice for the guacamole. The Serranos were green when I bought them, but continued to ripen and turn red.

  • Finely diced red onions
  • Finely diced peppers: Jalapenos and Serranos are frequent choices; red bells add color and crunch but no heat; habaneros add color and a LOT of heat.
  • Thinly sliced green onions, including the tops
  • Crushed garlic
  • Garden fresh diced tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Salt and pepper if you must
Avocado soon to become guacamole

The avocado is disappearing under a growing pile of finely diced red onions, green onions, jalapenos, Serranos and salsa.

My essential optional extras are:

  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro

    Lime and Cilantro

    Avocado and options are ready to mix. Lime and cilantro are my essential finishers for any salsa or guacamole.

Gently fold the guacamole together and finish it off with the essential optional extras: a generous squeeze of lime juice and cilantro.

Guacamole

Guacamole mixed and ready for the finishing touches.

When you’re done you can transfer the guacamole from the mixing bowl to a festive serving bowl if you’re serving guests. Or you can just eat it. Which is what I did.

Guac and a Tray of Chips

Guacamole and a tray of chips.

PS – if you end up adding too much heat (like, how could that happen?!) you can add more diced tomatoes. You can also serve it with a plop of sour cream or plain yogurt top. Don’t mix it in, just dip into it as you need to. The dairy will dilute the heat without diluting the flavor.

If you have leftovers, transfer to a lidded storage container. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole and press out any air bubbles. Press the plastic wrap up the sides of the bowl and around the top edge before putting the lid on it. Put it in the fridge.

I’d planned to take a picture of the storage set up, but alas, there were no leftovers available for the demonstration.

Larrapin! Continue reading

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Appetizer | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Roast Chicken Salad with Feta

I roasted a chicken in the “cool” of the morning today and put this together for lunch.

Look yummy?

It was!

Chicken, avocado, tomato, feta, spinach, bacon and a few other odd and ends made up this healthy, tasty, warm summer salad. It was only warm because the chicken was less than an hour out of the oven, but it would be just as good if I’d pulled the chicken out of the fridge to build this.

Starting at the bottom of the bowl, here’s what’s in it.

  • 1 roast chicken thigh
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1 handful torn spinach
  • 1–2 T Athenos Feta
  • 1 slice crispy bacon, crumbled
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Here’s the meat from one cooked chicken thigh.
Add about a half a tomato, diced, and half an avocado, sliced and fanned out.
Next add slices of a green onion and a handful of torn spinach.
Feta and crispy bacon make up the next layer.
Sweet and spicy vinaigrette.

I made the dressing in a recycled pimiento jar. It’s the small jar, the two ounce size I think.

Pour fruit vinegar into small jar with tight fitting lid. I used homemade Cranapple Cider Vinegar. (The red layer in the middle.)
Add an equal amount of olive oil. (Top layer.)
Next add about a teaspoon (or so) of honey mustard, and about a tablespoon of honey. (The botttom layer.)
1/2 teaspoon your favorite herb/s, finely ground.

Tightly cap the jar and shake well. I used about 1/2 of it on this salad. The other half will go on another salad in a couple of days.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Snow Day Minestrone

Thursday, with an ice storm underway and the snow moving in, my daily Chow email came with a recipe for Minestrone.
Minestrone is a hearty Italian peasant soup, made with the vegetables of the season and it sounded perfect for Snow Day. (When the grown-ups have Snow Day it is an official designation and should be capitalized, unlike snow days when the schools close but most of the grown ups still have to work.)

I found there is no “original” recipe for minestrone, but the ingredients were determined by the season and region in which it was made. Minestrone can be a brothy soup with vegetables that still have some crunch to them; or it can be cooked for hours, breaking down all the vegetables into a thick medley of amazing flavors. This recipe leans toward the brothy version.

I skipped the butter in the original recipe and went with just olive oil. I found other recipes that started with diced bacon and then adding the vegetables to to bacon and drippings. I’ll try that next time. This is how my Snow Day Minestrone played out.
Prologue
Early in the day I put 1 cup dried Great Northern Beans (they were the only dried beans I happened to have) in a large saucepan, covered them with water, and brought it to a boil over high heat. Then I got the newspaper and settled down. About 30 minutes later I remembered the beans and ran to the kitchen in time to hear the sizzle of the last of the water evaporating. Fortunately, I caught them before they started to burn, so I refilled the pot and put them back on the stove. This time with low heat. I let them cook for another hour or so and when some were tender and others were still al dente I removed the pot from the heat. You can skip this step if you want to used canned beans.
Act One:  Saute
For the soup, I put my pot on the stove and turned the heat to medium. I tossed in the onions, celery, and red pepper with a splatter of olive oil.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper, tasting as you go. I let them soften and then added the garlic
and stirred it into the mixture for a minute or so. Next came the diced potato and carrot. I scraped the bottom of the pan to include all the good stuff that sticks to the bottom. When everything looked good I poured in the can of tomatoes and the juice and added the bay leaf. I let that cook together a couple of minutes.
Act Two: Simmer
I stirred in the liquid from the cooked beans. I added the green beans and liquid, half the zucchini, the peas and stirred occasionally until zucchini softened, about 10 minutes. Next came the broth, the pasta—I used small shell
macaroni— and half the parsley and let it simmer about 5–8 minutes.  Finally came the cooked beans, the leftover liquid, and the last of the zucchini. And just for fun I threw in a handful of alphabet pasta. The whole pot continued to simmer until the pasta was ready and the last of the zucchini still had a little crunch to it.

Epilogue: Serve

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining parsley, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with grated Parmesan, freshly ground pepper, and my personal favorite, Tabasco sauce. Garnish with crunchy garlic seasoned croutons.

The Players

1 cup dried Great Northern beans
2 T olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced and diced somewhat chunky
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small russet potato, medium dice
2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 medium bay leaf
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
15 oz can green beans
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup small shell macaroni and 1/2 C alphabet pasta
1/2 C finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1/2 bunch)
Grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, for garnish
Garlic Seasoned Homemade Croutons

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bruschetta

Bruschetta – or Fresh Tomatoes on Toast
I went to the farmer’s market yesterday morning and found some really nice tomatoes. They were from Texas, but that was as close as I could get to “home grown” this early in the season. I was in the mood for a late night snack last night and the tomatoes sounded good so I decided to make bruschetta to take advantage of the fresh flavor.
Generically speaking, bruschetta is simply toasted bread, seasoned with olive oil and herbs, topped with tomato and cheese. It can be prepared on the grill or in the oven. Here’s how I made this batch in a toaster oven.

Ingredients:

  • French Bread
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
  • Herb Seasoning Blend*
  • Fresh Tomato*
  • Hard Cheese*
  • Avocado (optional, but yummy!)
  • Balsamic Vinegar*

Directions:

  1. Slice French bread about 3/4 inch thick, and place on foil-lined toaster oven baking sheet. Coat both sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with herb seasoning.
  2. Toast at about 300°-325° just until tops start to turn golden brown then turn & toast the other side. (In a toaster oven close to the heat source this will just take 5 minutes or so.)
  3. When both sides are golden place slices of tomato on top of each slice of toast and sprinkle with more herbs. Top with grated hard cheese and return to the oven until cheese is melted.
  4. Remove from toaster oven and top with slices of avocado.
  5. Pour a thin layer of balsamic vinegar on serving plate and place bruschetta on the plate in the vinegar.
  6. Dig in.

*How tos:

  • To coat with extra virgin olive oil* pour the oil in a small condiment bowl and use a pastry brush to paint with oil. An easier way is to keep oil in a spritzer bottle and spray it on the bread slices. The spritz method also lets you use less oil if you’re concerned about counting fat grams.
  • Basil is the herb* most frequently found in bruschetta recipes. Top tomato slices with fresh basil leaves or sprinkle with dried basil if you don’t have a favorite herb blend you want to use. I’ve created my own herb mix, Janz Seasoning Blend, that I use on practically everything. Basil is one of the prominent flavors in this blend.
  • Some bruschetta recipes call for chopped tomatoes*. However I prefer slices so I don’t lose any when I eat it. It much neater to eat if you don’t have to worry about the tomatoes falling off when you take a bite.
  • I have a cheese grater that I fill with chunks of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano* cheeses. When I fill the grater with different cheeses I automatically get a cheese blend when I use it. Another cheese option is to slice thin slivers of Feta on top of tomatoes.
    By the way, cheese is the reason I line the baking sheet with foil. Small bits of baked cheese can be hard to clean. A foil liner can be tossed. Rinse the baking sheet and you’re done.
  • In the past, I have “drizzled” balsamic vinegar* on the top of each piece prior to serving, but found it hard to “drizzle” and frequently ended up pouring vinegar over each piece. This obviously makes the toast soggy and the flavor can be overwhelming. Plan B has been to pour a bit of balsamic vinegar in a condiment bowl and serve it on the side for dipping. Last night it occurred to me to pour the vinegar on the serving plate before I pulled the toast from the oven. I placed the toast on the thin puddle on the plate and the bottom 1/8th inch of the toast soaked up the vinegar, just enough to provide flavor in every bite without making the toast soggy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures before I ate this tasty snack. However, I still have a couple of fresh tomatoes and as soon as an avocado is ready, maybe tomorrow, I’ll make it again and I’ll add some pictures.

As I wrote this I looked up recipes for bruschetta and found some alternatives with white beans or prosciutto. I’ll give those variations a try and share the results sometime soon.

May 24, 2008 Posted by | Appetizer | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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