Thursday, May 20, 2010

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Baby, I’m a believer (cue the Monkees). Check these out.

Gorgeous, greenhouse tomatoes. I mean, look at the color. Now, I know tomatoes are very much a “love it or hate it” fruit. As in, I love it but I know lots of people that hate it. I get it. I’ve had one or two run-ins with a questionable cherry tomato, but there are just SO MANY reasons why I love tomatoes (like this one. And this one). But as of today, I have a new love. Slow-roasted tomatoes. I don’t know what it is about roasting that brings out the best flavors in food, but it might just be my new favorite cooking method.

I didn’t exactly cut these tomatoes in all the same size (or shape, for that matter), but I don’t suppose it mattered. I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper, lined up the tomatoes, drizzled them with some EVOO, followed with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a finished with a pinch of sugar. Into the oven at 275 degrees and time for waiting. And waiting. And more waiting. And peeking through the oven door the check progress. And resisting opening the door for fear of releasing the contained heat that is so clearly working its magic. And salivating.

Finally, when I just couldn't stand it any more, I took the tomatoes out and barely waited for them to cool before popping one in my mouth. scorched mouth was SO worth it.

The flavor is so amazing, I don't even know how to describe it. I'm talking sweet, juicy, melt-in-your mouth amazing (I mean, I guess that counts as a description). Disclaimer: Ignore the random pita bread and cilantro on the plate; I had more plate than tomatoes and those were the only two things in my fridge that looked remotely decent enough to photograph.

Batch 2

I was so excited about the outcome of my first batch, that I decided to roast the remainder of my tomatoes for dinner. On the menu, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Basil and Parmesan over Bow-Tie Pasta for Husband and Tomato Omelette for moi (watching my girlish figure...doesn't sound nearly as appetizing, does it.

I basically used the same method as before (tomatoes, sea salt, pepper, sugar, EVOO, hot oven, let it do its thing). When I thought they were about ready (just over 2 hours), I did a little taste-test. And then another one. And another one. And before I knew it, I had eaten half of the tomatoes meant for Husband's dinner. Whoops.

I am really looking forward to more trips back to the farmer's market as we get into summer and tomatoes really come into season (visions of brandywine dance in my head). Until then...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pepper Place Farmer's Market

I’m off to Pepper Place this morning, the official opening day of the Summer Farmer's Market. I’ve only been once and it was 5 years ago, so I’m really pumped. As a result of my latest “you don’t need culinary school you just need to read and practice more” conversation with Husband, I’ve been pouring over Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” and Tom Colicchio’s “Think Like a Chef” (Larousse Gastronomique is next on the list—but you could call it a tad intimidating). If there’s one thing that stuck out in both of these books, it’s the importance of seasonal, fresh, farm stand ingredients. For a girl who has never ventured outside the normal frocery store for produce and dairy, this is a big deal. I anticipate a lot of yummy looking veggies, baby strollers and large dogs (farmer's markets are a family affair, after all). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I love Cinco de Mayo for two reasons: guacamole and margaritas (responsibly, of course). Plus, it's a great excuse to throw a party! I've got a couple last-minute ideas here, with recipes and more pics to come after tonight's fiesta. Enjoy!

I'm no florist, BUT I am good with produce. :) This assortment of bell, serano, jalapeno and habanero peppers piled high in a hurricane glass vase is an easy and efficient centerpiece -- and just look at those gorgeous colors! The best part? When the party’s over, just pop them back in your veggie drawer for future use.

My FAVORITE guacamole in the whole entire world comes from Rosa Mexicano. It's prepared table side in a molcajete, with your choice of mild, medium or hot spices (I always go with hot). It makes me happy. Lucky for me, Rosa Mexicano is kind enough to share the recipe on their website. I URGE you to try it (back away from the green mush at the grocery store)...seriously...I mean it.

These yummy Mexican Sushi bites were another one of Husband's ideas...I'm thinking maybe he should just write this blog...but anyway. These were a lot more time-consuming than I thought and I was running out of daylight, so I only have a few pics to post (and no actual recipes - yet). The fun thing about this unique appetizer is that the possibilities are endless. Fill them with anything from avocado and peppers to Spanish rice with rotisserie chicken...delish!

Last but not least, we're trying out Williams-Sonoma's Berry Margarita mix tonight (I love their mixes-- they are always yummy and easy!) in the BIGGEST MARGARITA GLASS YOU'VE EVER SEEN. Can't wait to post's actually NOT a margarita glass. It's a big bowl that is meant to float candles in, but I always thought that it looked like margs should be served from it. So that's what we're doing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Twitter Feed

Hey guys! Check out my Twitter feed on the right-hand side of the's part of my entertaining blog that I write for Birmingham Magazine, called Southern Soiree. I'll be tweeting both cooking and entertaining tidbits, so be sure to check it out!