Monday, July 22, 2013

Good Food Matters

Probably due to heat and lack of rain.
But I grew them
so they are still good and enjoying the favorite
of lettuce, bacon and tomato sandwiches (could eat one every day)
Love this idea of Tomato Towers.
Have my Basil and Avocado is on my grocery list....
I always learn from Nancy.
On my to do list
a trip to Farmers Market
late this year.
Enjoy this idea and her simple but great Buttermilk Dressing....
 
 
Good Food Matters: Fresh and simple tastes, recipes and stories from Chef Nancy Vienneau
 
July 21st, 2013

Tomato Towers

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We are blissfully in the thick, luscious thick of tomato season in Tennessee.
At the farmers’ market, I am agog at the array of bushel baskets, heaped with Bradleys and Brandywines, Lemon Boys and Purple Cherokees. I’m tempted by Mortgage Lifters, if for nothing but cunning name alone, and those crazy striped Green Zebras that don’t taste green at all.
Have you ever tried the red and yellow variegated ones, sometimes called Candystripers? How about those delicate peach tomatoes with the fuzzy skins?
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It makes me not mind the thick heat around here—as long as I can include these gorgeous heirlooms in our summertime dining.
So many tomatoes, so many ways to enjoy them, and a few glorious weeks to indulge in the bounty. Salsas, soups, panzanellas, pastas, deep dish pies and napoleons…like you, I’m ever on the lookout for another tomato-centric recipe.
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Lately I’ve been in a building mode, constructions! inspired by this stack I found on Cooking Light’s website.
Artful towers of tomatoes get vitality (and height!) from myriad ingredients sandwiched between their slices. These structures require almost no cooking: a few strips of bacon fried crisp in the skillet, a half cup of balsamic vinegar reduced in a pot to a syrup.
That minimal stovetop time is a real boon in summer. Eaten with a fork and knife, the tomato towers have a meatiness that satisfies greedy appetites, while being cool and refreshing. They can be elegant. They are fun.
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I’ve taken two different approaches in assembling my towers. The first is a natural–a vertical caprese, brandishing the colors of the Italian flag in tomato-fresh mozzarella-basil. Layer in a sliver of red onion, to give a little bite. I like to use balsamic vinegar reduction–the syrup is deeply sweet-tart and makes beautiful striping over the stack and plate. Use your best olive oil; this is what is was made for!
Going forward, you can get creative; change it up. Maybe add a layer of cucumber or zucchini. Substitute the mozzarella with a slather of ricotta or mascapone. Tuck in a ripple of prosciutto. No basil on hand? Try oregano or thyme.
Tower Two takes a Southern stance, layering elements of my favorite sandwich, the BLT, (actually, the BLTCA: bacon-lettuce-tomato-cheddar-avocado!) under a pour of chive-laced buttermilk dressing. How can you go wrong with that? It could only be improved with some grilled corn, cut off the cob, and strewn over the stack.
Remember–don’t refrigerate tomatoes! Chilling them changes their structure and makes them mealy.
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TUSCAN TOWERS
a variety of ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 ” slices
a few cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, for garnishing
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ inch rounds
handful of fresh basil leaves
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup balsamic syrup
1/4 cup favorite extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper
sea salt
Start with large flat tomato slices as your foundation. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a basil leaf (or two) on top, then a little bit of red onion. Cover each with a piece of mozzarella. Dot with good olive oil and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Repeat the layering, topping with cherry or grape tomato halves and more basil. Secure with a long toothpick or short skewer. Pour olive oil over each tower, along with a zig-zag of balsamic syrup. Serve.
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DIXIE TOWERS
a variety of ripe heirloom tomatoes, icored and cut into 1/2″ slices
a few cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, for garnishing
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp
1/2 avocado, sliced
4-6 slices sharp white cheddar (you may crumble or shred the cheese)
buttermilk dressing (recipe below)
salt and black pepper
Start with a large flat tomato slice as your foundation. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a slice or two of avocado, followed by bacon strip and cheddar. Spoon a little buttermilk dressing over the top. Repeat layers, spooning a generous amount of buttermilk dressing. Secure with a long toothpick or short skewer. Make as many towers as you would like, allowing one per person. Pass a few grinds of black pepper over the lot and serve.
BUTTERMILK DRESSING
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
Pour buttermilk into a non-reactive bowl. Stir in lemon juice and white wine vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit and thicken for ten minutes. If it clabbers, don’t worry. It will become smooth again when stirred or whisked.
Add granulated garlic, salt, pepper, and chives. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate. The dressing will continue to thicken and its tangy flavors will develop. (If you want it thicker, (and richer) whisk in a dollop or two of mayo.
 


     






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7 comments:

Tabor said...

Must try these with my abundanced of tomatoes tonight. Our tomatoes do not taste as good, but I think it is because of the inches of rain when they were ripening. Many fell to the ground when they were not fully red. I anticipate better flavors this week as it is dryer.

Wisewebwoman said...

What a lovely post, so inspiring. We have to grow tomatoes in hot houses here, to make you even more grateful for your outdoor vines!!
XO
WWW

Cape Cod Kitty said...

Wonderful ideas. We are still waiting for tomatoes here but I am going to remember these great ideas. YUM. Let us know what you have tried. I still love the BLT, too!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Tabor, WWW, and Marcia, just returned from grocery and the wet soil looks wonderful.
Bought some white wine vinegar and avacodo's :) thanks for checking in..

Aisling said...

Glad you are enjoying yoru tomatoes - even if less flavorful than in the past. They have to be leaps and bounds better than the cardboard tomatoes at the grocery store. We are still in the "tiny green tomato" stage here in the north. I did enjoy a baby zucchini, sweet fresh onion, and load of perky basil in my scrambled eggs this morning. Fun to have a meal where EVERY bit is from our farm.

Thanks for sharing the tomato tower ideas. What fun!

Balisha said...

Those tomato towers look delicious. I'll be glad when tomatoes are at the farmer's market so I can try them. So many different combinations could be made.
I checked out the website and found so many good recipes.I've had the salad dressing...yum! Thanks for the info.
Balisha

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Aisling and Balisha, thank you.
I had something similar for my lunch today.
Nancy is great...