Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hot Baked Classic Crab Stuffed Tomatoes

Bone tired, haven't shopped all week and fell asleep in my chair after a long day at work. My darling dear suggested a simple salad to get us through this tough weeknight. In the back of my mind I have been visualizing the huge beefsteak tomatoes he brought me nearly a week ago. Could be sliced for a terrific BLT, except we're out of bacon.  So, there they have sat for several days as I occupy myself with sleep, work, projects, tortilla chip snacks so filling I don't care if I eat dinner or not. Hardly fair for those that depend on me for something for dinner.

Hmm, well, there is a package of Classic Crab in the freezer. A handy ingredient, low cost, tastes pretty good and mixes well with many things. With three very large tomatoes (and a few smaller ones from the garden) I managed to stuff these babies, bake them until toasty and making sure the tomatoes hold their own by not overcooking. Dinner, however late is most welcome, and nearly sexy.  My darling said he liked it better than crab cakes -- imagine that!? A little Buena Vista 2008 Carneros Chardonnay and what a Tuesday night this has been... I could have settled for cold cereal, it was that close.

Classic Crab Stuffed  Tomatoes
Classic Crab stuffed tomatoes

Baked Classic Crab Stuffed Tomatoes
Serves 3
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

3 large beefsteak tomatoes ( and 3-4 small ones)
8 oz Classic Crab, Flaked variety
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, diced
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cocktail sauce
⅓ cup mayonnaise
3 dashes hot sauce
⅛ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese + 1 tablespoon for topping
2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
½ avocado, sliced.

Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and with a spoon, remove most of the core to leave an open shell for stuffing.
Remove Classic Crab from package and drain on paper towels, blotting to remove excess moisture.  Rough chop to smaller pieces.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine Classic Crab and rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stuff each tomato with the mixture and pack down slightly and mound a good amount on the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is golden and sides of tomatoes softened and warmed through. Serve with avocado slices.

Had a few little homegrown ones on hand and stuffed them as well. Great appetizers.

Little stuffed tomatoes
Homegrown, ripe little tomatoes on tray.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sometimes the side is the star -- Herbed Sliced Baked Potatoes

You know when you go onto auto-pilot? Today has been a busy day. Side projects tap my energy and creative juices so just pulling dinner together without a lot of thought and invention is the order of the day. Tonight,  just steak, potatoes and a green vegetable, simple right? Perhaps not.

Steak with Herbed & Sliced Baked Potato
California Chili Moldino Steak and Herbed Sliced Baked Potatoes
A nice thick London Broil, rubbed with Paprika, Roasted Cumin, Dried Onions, Garlic and a bit of Chili California Molido, a pinch of Kosher Salt.  Seared on top of the stove and finished with a splash of Zinfandel in the oven. Just waiting for sides to complete the meal. Fresh broccoli, easy, and no forethought required - steam it silly. But the potatoes needed a little love for more than just baked or boiled standard. Why not slice them up, spread some cheesy, herby deliciousness and bake until browned and crispy skinned. Sounded good to me. The firm flesh of the Yukon Gold potatoes hold up well as the herbed spread flavors the in-between-spaces of the potato. Garlic and herbs wafts through the kitchen. Is it dinner yet?

Happy Saturday, Yo.
Herbed & Sliced Baked Potato Prep
Wash and dry your Yukon Gold Potatoes before applying Herb Spread

Herbed & Sliced Baked Potato
Crispy skin, herbed and luscious insides of this baked potato.

Sliced, Roasted, Herbed Potatoes
Serves  2
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45-60 minutes

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (Flat leaf parsley, Italian Oregano, Sweet Marjoram, Chives)
⅛ teaspoon granulated garlic or 1 fresh garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons Best Foods Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Scallions, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Wash and dry potatoes, make 6-8 slices horizontally cross each potato taking care not to cut clean through -- accordion style.
Mix herb spread ingredients in small bowl, stir to blend thoroughly.

With a spoon, spread ½ teaspoon - ¾ teaspoon of herb spread between each slice of potato. Use all herb spread, re-stuffing between slices to balance out. Use a tooth pick insert to hold slices together and place in baking dish. Bake for 45-60 minutes until browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool 3-5 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And the winner is .......

The lucky number is 6!

Congratulations to JASMINE1485 from Australia!

A copy of the Peko Peko will be shortly on it's way to you. Many thanks to all who helped me celebrate my first year blogiversary.  If you don't win,  you can order a copy at pekopekocookbook.com
The proceeds support tsunami relief in Japan and the cookbook has over 50 recipes to enjoy.

Now, I'm heading back to the kitchen! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last Call to enter Peko Peko Giveaway Sept 15, 2011!

  Only one day left to enter to win this wonderful family friendly Japanese cookbook that supports Japan's recovery from the 2011 Tsunami.  Many thanks to all who have already entered, can't wait to see who gets this hot off the press copy from Blurb! If you don't win, well you can order a copy at pekopekocookbook.com but for a single comment a free copy might just come your way......

For entry details see my Blogiversary Giveaway post.  Good Luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Time for a Cajun Bloody Mary --Tomato Salad!

Summer will officially be over on September 23, 2011 and with that our lucious tomatoes will soon be the insipid, watery, no sunshine flavored shadows of their peak of harvest selves. In the meantime, we've been relishing the most wonderful vine-ripened tomatoes and spoiled with their intense flavors.  Sometimes I hear Bubba, from Forrrest Gump praising shrimp and just substituting tomato in the litany of variations. I've eaten them fresh, sun-dried, oven-dried, in bread, in sauce, in salads, etc., and wonder what is possibly left when my colandar is full yet again.

Bubba: "Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it."

Cajun Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Cajun Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
In my search for inspiration I came across a recipe for a Bloody Mary Tomato Salad which was all fine and good, but I hated the Bloody Mary's my Dad made or those served at the typical Sunday Brunches. Too alcoholic, too peppery or bitter with horseradish, that is until I had a Cajun version at Jazz, a Lousiana Kitchen Restaurant. The rest of their food was just ok but the Bloody Mary blew me away. So, a little Emeril, a litte Bon App├ętit and here we go! This is a great side salad for a brunch, and if you slip a little volka in it, well then, I'm not telling. I also think any leftovers would make a sinful blended bloody mary... Hope you you find something wonderful for your late harvest tomatoes!

Cajun Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Serves 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 1-2 hours

2 pounds vine ripened fresh tomatoes, diced (choose your favorites)
1 pound small grape or lemon drop yellow tomatoes, halved
1 cup inner celery stalks, leaves and all, finely chopped
1 cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup Spanish olives, halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely shredded
2 tablespoons, olive brine
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Cajun Spice Mix (no salt variety)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon celery seeds

Combine chopped tomatoes, celery, red onion, olives and basil in large bowl.
In a smaller bowl whisk together lime juice, prepared horseradish, hot sauce and spices.
Pour over fresh tomatoe mixture and gently  stir to coat with dressing.
Chill for 1 - 2 hours then serve.


Bloody Mary Tomato Salad, Bon Appetit 

Emeril Lagasse's Cajun Bloody Mary

P.S.: Only 4 days left for you to enter the Peko Peko Cookbook Giveway. Just a comment and it could be yours!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fresh Tomato Rolls -- Panini Ripieni Arrotolati

Cecile Brunner  Rose Bud
Cecil Bruner Rose started from Grandma's Climber

  My Dad installed a huge window in Grandma's kitchen so she could look out at her rose garden and gaze past the open fields to the ocean miles away.  Morning sun streaming in as the wood stove warms the room against the foggy cold and fresh bread comes out of the oven, the yeasty aroma intoxicating. My love of bread goes that far back, in this time, barely three, yet the memories are as clear as can be. Pudgy fingers heap sweet butter and blackberry jam on the warm thick cut slices as my darling Grandma fixed herself a cup of tea, preferably Constant Comment.

Afterwards, we'd go out and visit her roses, she would tell me the names as she deadheaded the spent blossoms and coaxed the new buds to bloom. "Let's go check the garden," she'd say as we turned the corner of the big farm house and entered her vegetable garden, "tomatoes should be ripe."  Grabbing her hand and a big colander we would harvest the ripest ones and return back to the kitchen,  possibly to put on a pot of beans.

Grandma's Colandar
Julia's  Colander
When I saw these wonderful rolls in La Cucina Italiana, I couldn't help but be totally immersed in a sensory memory of smells, tastes, and visions of crusty bread and decided to give them a try. I bake bread infrequently, partially because it takes such a long time, and at this stage in life bread is not my best friend.  So, with ambition,  I set aside a whole Sunday, dedicated Panini Pipieni Arrotolati, those rolled sandwiches with oven roasted tomatoes. The smell of the yeast, the smooth elasticity of kneaded bread, just at the right stage to set aside to rise made me think of Grandma's strong arms and flexible fingers.  The recipe says it is a step by step version, but I found that if someone was not familiar with baking yeast breads they might be confused periodically along the way. I also should note that every one's room temperature is different and there is a reason breads rise nicely in 75+ degree, draft free environs. (Mine is decidedly not that warm and some patience was required while waiting for the dough to double in size.) For a special treat, I added fresh basil to the tomatoes and dusted the rolls with black truffle salt just before baking.

Fresh Tomato Rolls
Fresh Tomato Rolls with Basil and Black Truffle Salt
The full recipe is posted online at La Cucina Italiana, Fresh Tomato Rolls. If you are looking for black truffle salt I recommend purchasing from La Buona Tavola/Truffle Cafe in Seattle. Theirs is a 10% concentration and truly sublime.

I hope you can take some time and maybe cook up and relive a favorite memory or two.

PS: 11 more days to enter the Peko Peko Cookbook Giveway!  With just a comment it could be yours!