When the late summer garden gives up its bounty, it's a great time to make caponata. This flavorful Italian variation of the French ratatouille has been in my recipe box for over 30 years, It keeps beautifully, travels well and is best served at room temp or only slightly warm. I serve it in a bowl surrounded by sliced, toasted baguette or mounded on crackers topped with toasted pine nuts as a bite-sized hors d'oeuvre. You can add fish, like calamari or halibut, to the mix and it becomes a main course. Leftover caponata has even been made into soup with the addition of some veggie or chicken stock! Don't let the list of ingredients bother you—it's super easy once you have them all gathered.
Two of my best friends, Peter and Tari Bowman, moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico many years ago and bought a restaurant on the beach called Daiquiri Dick's. 35 years later, they are still in P.V. running the restaurant and living in Paradise. This 'oh so delicious' pie has been on the menu since day one and according to Tari, it outsells every other dessert, even coconut flan! I love this pie so much that I've had it on my menus at Alchemy Market & Wine Bar and Wren Café. I love it still and serve it when I cater, especially if I am serving a tropical themed menu. It just screams summertime! Daiquiri Dick's restaurant has a delightful cookbook called "Sand In Your Shoes" and this recipe is in the newest edition. Check it out but in the meantime...here it is!
Daiquiri Dick's Key Lime Pie
1 1/2 c graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter
2 1/4 c sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks at room temperature
1 c lime juice
4 T lime zest
1 1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c sugar
1 t vanilla
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix crumbs, sugar & butter together and press into a 10" glass pie plate. Mix together the filling ingredients and pour into the crust. Bake for 20 minutes. While the pie is in the oven, mix together the topping ingredients. Pour over the filling carefully and then bake for 10 more minutes. Chill completely and serve. Garnish with a bit of zest if you like. Makes 12 servings.
A fig is actually an inverted flower that is pollinated by the fig wasp. Wasps hatch inside, mate & then dig their way out. Born wingless, the gallant males die after helping the pollen-covered females escape. These gals find a new immature fig to lay their eggs in and pollinate the new fig with the pollen from the fig they were born in and the cycle continues. Some figs are self-pollinating but I couldn't let such a fascinating story go untold. I am lucky enough to have a friend with a fig tree, a really BIG fig tree. It started producing these jewels about 2 weeks ago and they are still coming in like crazy. I have been serving them at many of my catering jobs, on flatbreads with caramelized onions & blue cheese or on homemade focaccia with fresh mozzarella. Figs don't ship well and must be eaten within a few days of harvesting so a locavore you must become. Here is my current favorite way to eat fresh figs, other than out of hand of course!
Marinated Figs with Fresh Mozzarella
15 fresh figs, any variety
1 lemon, zest & juice
3 T fig balsamic (or reg balsamic)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped
salt & fresh ground black pepper
Cut the figs into quarters and place in a bowl. Zest the lemon over the cut figs and then squeeze the lemon juice over the figs as well. Strip the thyme and sprinkle over the figs. Sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper. Toss with the balsamic vinegar and let marinate for an hour or so. Serve with fresh mozzarella balls tossed with a little olive oil & fresh basil, goat cheese or blue cheese on crackers or sliced baguette. I served them at a Hovey wine event on homemade focaccia with fresh mozzarella and caramelized onions to pair with Tempranillo.
I LOVE heirloom tomatoes and when they really start to produce I feel this overwhelming responsibility to use (save?) them all. Seeing them on the ground under the plants, rotting away makes me crazy. Yesterday, while looking through the photos on my website, I saw the picture of the mixed berry galette and I got an idea... tomatoes are fruits, right? Why not make a savory tomato galette? The idea sounded easy to me especially when using store bought puff pastry instead of mixing up a batch of dough (more time for me by the pool!).
Since there are two sheets of puff pastry in every box, I thought I would put together a Tomato Tarte Tatin also and see which one I liked better. I took all the fixings over to my friend Kris's house (she would be the one with the pool) so we could taste test and see which idea was better. Well, we couldn't decide, they were both delicious. Here are the two styles of EASY Tomato Tarts for you to make and judge for yourself. Be sure to let me know your favorite.
Heirloom Tomato Tarte Tatin
1 sheet of store bought puff pastry such as Pepperidge Farms
3 T unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium-large ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced to 1/4 inch plus a few smaller ones, such as Sun Golds or pear tomatoes, cut in half
4 T panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 T freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
2 t fresh oregano, chopped or torn roughly
1 t fresh thyme, pulled from the stem
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thaw the puff pastry sheet and prick all over with a fork.
Melt butter in a nonstick, oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Put the smaller heirlooms in the pan first and then layer tomato slices on top, slightly overlapping one another, and cook for for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle panko and 2 T parmesan evenly over tomatoes. Top the tomatoes with puff pastry and tuck edges of the pastry into the sides of the skillet, to create a border for the tarte tatin (you might want to pull the edges of t he pastry slightly as you lay it over the tomatoes for better coverage). Put the tarte in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and place a plate over top of skillet. Quickly invert and allow tarte tatin to rest for 5 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper. The tomatoes will be browned and caramelized. Finish with herbs and freshly grated Parmesan, cut into wedges and serve.
Heirloom Tomato Galette
1 sheet of store bought puff pastry such as Pepperidge Farms, thawed
2 - 3 medium-large ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced to 1/4 inch plus a few smaller ones, such as Sun Golds or pear tomatoes, cut in half
2 T sweet hot mustard
3 T panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
a few leaves of fresh basil, roughly torn
1/3 c goat cheese, to crumble on top (about half of a 5 oz chabis)
1 egg, whisked a bit, for egg wash
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a 16 x 16 rectangle. Transfer to a sheet pan and spread the mustard in center of the pastry. Sprinkle with the panko. Pile on the tomatoes alternating the slices and piling the smaller ones up in the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Start folding the edges of the puff pastry into the center, overlapping each fold. You don’t want to cover the tomatoes though. Brush with the egg wash and bake 30 -40 minutes until browned on the top and bottom and puffed. Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle with the goat cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Cut into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
I love beans. I especially love heirloom beans! Rancho Gordo is a Napa Valley company that grows specialty types of beans in the U.S. and Mexico. I was lucky enough to end up with a pound of their ‘Marcella’ beans (a delicate type of the cannellini bean) after a friend recently visited their Napa store. Finding myself with a plethora of garden tomatoes this week, the idea of the combination of the two set me thinking. This bean, tomato and artichoke salad with a basil vinaigrette is my idea of a perfect summertime combination.
Heirloom Bean, Tomato & Artichoke Salad
1 6.5 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, cut in half
4 c heirloom beans (recipe below) or 3 (15 oz) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
2 c tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, all shapes and colors
1/2 c basil vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toss everything together in a large bowl, chill or serve at room temp. For a more substantial light supper salad, add crumbled feta or goat cheese, grilled chicken, good quality canned tuna or cooked pasta!
2 T white balsamic vinegar (sub red or white wine vinegar)
3/4 c ex virgin olive oil
3 T water
1 t dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
2 c fresh picked basil, coarsely chopped
Put everything but the basil in a blender and blend, immediately add the basil and blend for 30 seconds. Thin with a little water or oil if it seems too thick. This will keep in the fridge for a week. Drizzle over tomatoes, toss into salads or use as a sauce over grilled meats or fish.
White Beans (from scratch)
1 lb. dry heirloom beans - just about any type of bean will work
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small stalk celery, chopped
Rinse and sort the beans. Place in a pot and cover the beans and veggies by 2 inches with water and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes and then turn down the heat to low and cook them slowly until they are soft enough to eat, 2 - 3 hours. Add salt to taste at the very end.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"