Friday, July 31, 2009

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

oven roasted tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes: How to reduce 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes into about 3 ounces magic!

Oven roasting tomatoes is a great way to use up your garden surplus or to improve mediocre store bought toms.

These tomatoes intensify sauces, make excellent pizza and salad toppings and enhance just about anything else you add them to. That is, of course, if they make it to your dishes without being eaten first—they’re just sooo good!

I must caution you. Making oven roasted tomatoes is an exercise in patience and willpower. They take hours to complete and will fill your house with intoxicating aroma of caramelized tomatoes, garlic and herbs.

When they are finally done, you will likely be tempted to gobble them all up in one exquisitely delicious mouthful! But you must wait! Because after transforming an entire bowls worth of tomatoes into a just a few ounces of juicy, chewy, tomatoey, sweet yet savory goodness, you will most certainly wish to…. Oh man, never mind! Just gobble them up! Sooo good!


Around 10 tomatoes
4 large cloves of garlic – minced
3 tablespoons of free thyme, marjoram or oregano – minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 275 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Slice your tomatoes in half, and, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh (preserve it and make a nice stewed tomato sauce).

Place the halved tomatoes on the baking sheet, open side up and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, pepper and fresh oregano, thyme or marjoram.

seasoned garden tomatoes

sliced and seasoned tomatoes for roasting

Put the tomatoes in the oven and let them go for about 4 hours or until they have dried up, cooked down and become irresistible. Then, gobble them up… I mean, seal them in a zip lock bag for later use.

oven roasted tomato

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Bread

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread

cinnamon oatmeal fruit nut bread

My dad, in addition to being the number one fan (and often only reader) of this site, was the person who taught me that homemade bread can be easy and is so much better and more satisfying than anything you can get at the store. More than that, though, he has inspired in me a passion for cooking and an ardent desire to master bread baking, and he has given me a lasting impression and model of the quintessential father and man–in other words, something to aspire to. Oh yeah, and what can only be described as an unyielding addiction to pie… he gave me that too. In the unlikely event that I ever have children of my own, if I can be half as good a dad as he was, I’ll still be great. And likely twice as good as your dad! It’s the truth.

I had hoped to spend this summer by his side in the kitchen as his cooking apprentice, building new skills and learning his magic. My dad died in April, and although there are still so many things I want to share with him and I know that I will be always be desperate for his advice, I feel lucky just to have had him in my life. And he certainly didn’t leave me empty handed. Sure, he gave me enough knowledge to make tasty bread, but more importantly, I know he gave me the tools I need to make my way in this life, to be successful and to be a good man.

Oat Nut Fruit bread

Like so many things, I never got the chance to share this bread with my dad, but I know he would have loved it. He would have been proud even if the bread was poor, but, as it happens, it’s delicious.


1 cup of warm water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ tsp yeast

1 cup whole rolled oats

plus ¾ cup of water

3 cups white bread flour

¾ cup white-whole wheat flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1.5 tsp salt

1 tablespoon powdered milk

2 tsp malt powder

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup chopped walnuts

1 apple, finely diced

1 tbs of olive oil



Dissolve 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in the warm water, add the yeast and let it proof.

Place the oats in a small bowl and add the ¾ cup water. Set it aside while you assemble the other ingredients.

Combine the flours, salt, milk powder, malt, 3 tbs of brown sugar, walnuts and raisins in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, and give them a mix.

After the oats have absorbed the liquid (about 5 minutes), add the oats and apple to the mixture and stir until everything is evenly distributed throughout.

ingredients bowl

Add the proofed yeast to the bowl and mix for 15 minutes. The dough should be very sticky.

Grease the mixing bowl with the olive oil, add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1.5 hours.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

oatmeal bread dough

bowl cover

Cover the loaf with a bowl, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and allow it to raise for another hour. 5 minutes before you are ready to put the bread in the oven, cut a # sign into the dough and place a baking pan with 1 cup of water in the oven.

Place the bread in the oven and allow to bake for 10-15 minutes (keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t get too brown). After the bread has browned, turn the oven down to 375 degrees F and place an aluminum foil tent over the loaf. Let the bread bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the center of the loaf reads 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Allow it to cool and enjoy.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

me and dad

oatmeal frut nut bread sliced

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Polenta for Kelly

Cheesy? Yes. Corny? Absolutely. But never tacky!
polenta cake

Polenta! That creamy dish of boiled cornmeal, nearly identical to grits, can be served either hot and soft, like a savory cornmeal pudding, or cooled and firm, like a flourless cornbread. Polenta makes a great breakfast, appetizer, or side but seems to be particularly appealing as a late night snack after a long day of making TV magic.

2 cups course ground corn meal (I prefer Bob’s Redmill)
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar, colbeyjack, parmesan, or your choice of firm cheese
½ cup frozen corn kernels
¼ cup diced green chiles

Combine the vegetable stock, water, and milk in a large stock pot and bring to a boil over high (be certain to keep an eye on it or the boiling milk will cause it to overflow).

Turn the stove top down to medium-high and slowly add the cornmeal, while stirring/whisking constantly in order to prevent any lumps from forming.


Continue stirring for another 5 minutes until the polenta reaches a thickened state (NOTE: if the polenta becomes thick within a minute or so, you will need to add a ¼ cup of liquid, otherwise it will come out dry and mealy). Add the salt, pepper, cheese, corn kernels, and diced chiles and stir for another couple of minutes until the mixture is evenly distributed and the cheese is melted.

Even the polenta out in the pot, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, giving it a little stir every other minute.

pot polenta

Now, you can spoon it up and have a nice hot bowl of steamy polenta, and then transfer all of the contents to a greased baking pan, cover, and place in the refrigerator (on a cooling rack) for an hour. When the polenta has cooled you can cut it up into squares, place them in a ziplock bag, and leave them in the refrigerator as a post-9 o’clock news snack for your roommate.

grilled polenta

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fresh Tabouleh Salad

Tabouleh is found throughout the Middle East and every bite of this refreshing salad is alive with fresh herbs, tomatoes and bulgur wheat. I prefer a higher bulgur to salad ratio than what is traditional and have also made a few other additions to my recipe in order to make it a little heartier. This recipe makes a great accompaniment to grilled salmon, tuna, or steak, or you can simply toss it in a pita with some tahini yogurt sauce and you have a perfect sandwich.

Soulful, nutritious, and delicious, this vibrant salad is always crowd pleaser.

tabouleh salad

¾ cup of bulgur wheat
1 cup of water
1 English Cucumber – split, seeded, and diced
2 Plum Tomatoes - diced
1 Small shallot - diced
1 Bell pepper – diced
1 Clove Garlic - minced
1 JalapeƱo – seeded, fine diced

¼ cup fresh mint - chiffonade
½ cup fresh cilantro – Chiffonade

1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of one Lemon
3 TBS Olive oil
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
¼ tsp Cumin

½ tsp of salt or to taste
1.4 tsp of black pepper


Place the bulgur in a bowl, heat the water in the microwave until boiling, pour the water over the bulgur and let it set for 45 minutes.
bulgar wheat

Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Prepare the dressing after the bulgur has set for 45 minutes and absorbed the water. Combine the dressing with the wheat and stir until it is evenly distributed. Combine the vegetables and bulgur, prepare the fresh herbs and mix into the bulgur wheat mixture.

fresh herbs

Serve with a dollop of hummus and pita. This recipe is also a great addition to a falafel sandwich!