Posts Tagged ‘ tomato ’

Bruschetta….

Another family staple in my house is bruschetta. You can’t go wrong with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some fresh bread. Throw some cheese on it, and you’ve got a pretty filling sandwich alternative.

The recipe I used to use for bruschetta is sadly no longer online… or if it is, I can’t find it….

I’m horrible at writing down quantities, I just kind of chuck everything into a pan until it tastes right, but here’s my best effort:

Ingredients:

-1 baguette/focaccia bread

-4 cloves garlic (I always double this)

-1 /3 cup olive oil (extra virgin is best!)

-1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

-1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

-Salt and black pepper to taste

-700g roma tomatoes, chopped

Directions:

1. Mince or crush the garlic and add it to the olive oil, set aside.

2. Slice the baguette into 1.5cm slices.

3. Brush the slices with some of the olive oil/garlic mixture. Make sure to reserve 1 tbsp.

4. Put the bread slices oil side up on the top rack of the oven, and broil until the bread browns a bit. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the oven. You just want to dry the bread enough so that it’s not soggy when you put the tomatoes on it. Be careful not to burn the bread!

5. In the meantime, put the remaining olive oil and tomatoes, balsamic vinegar  into the pan on medium heat. Add in the balsamic vinegar and  basil, mixing the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the tomatoes until they have softened a bit, no more than 5 minutes.

6. Spoon the tomato onto the bread slices and serve. Alternatively, you can put the bruschetta back in the oven after you’ve put the tomatoes on, and sprinkle it with some finely grated parmesan or some other low-moisture Italian cheese of choice.

These days I’m trying to stay away from bread, but I still love tomatoes, so I often prepare tomatoes bruschetta style to serve as a side dish. Here they are, and the next time I make proper bruschetta, I’ll add the pic.

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We can make sandwiches… out here on the dance floor…

I thought the lyrics from this guilty pleasure of a song would be an appropriate title for this post.

The sandwich, or as they say in ‘my’ country, de ‘boterham’, shall be the topic of the day. To all those people who knock the Brits for their food, you gotta thank ’em every time you eat one of these babies. They apparently invented them….

Just like pizza, there’s no use boring you with a long entry for this everyday food. My preferred form of sandwich is the panini… but after frantically searching the house, I discovered that our panini maker had mysteriously disappeared….

Here it is:

Guacamole, grilled chicken breast (spiced with chili, rosemary, some olive oil), tomato, belegen cheese and emmental, tomato, scallions (fancy talk for green or spring onions), fresh baby spinach… and bacon wrapped in a tortilla. Delicious and filling!

Cookin’ freestyle….

So… as much as I love cooking, I still don’t have the confidence to cook without a recipe very often. The other day I was grilling mackerel (whole this time) and wanted some yummy quick way to do eggplant on the ‘q. I sliced them up, drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper, and this pre-packaged spice mix, called ‘Secret d’Aromes’ by Knorr, then I sliced up some tomato and grated a bit of romano and crumbled a bit of feta cheese.

I put the eggplant on the top grill at 350F or so, and cooked them for about 3 minutes,  then turned them over and threw on the feta, then the tomato and finally the romano. I love romano/gran padano as a substitute for parmesan cheese just because they have less moisture, making them easier to grate, and keep for a long time.

The eggplant turned out pretty good. The only thing I’d change next time is to spread the oil more evenly, and on both sides of the eggplant.

Pizza Pizza daddy-o!

On Friday I decided to make some home-made pizza. The pizza in Holland is pretty crappy… it tends to be way too salty, overpriced, or both, so a lot of the time, when we have the energy, we like to make our own. I won’t write a long protracted entry about pizza, but I’ll just summarize the highlights.

I found this simple dough recipe on allrecipes.com a while back while I was in Korea. I like it because you don’t have to let it rise, so if you need a pizza in a hurry you can make it within an hour. When you do have the luxury of time, letting it rise is great, it gives the dough a nice texture when it’s baked. I like to throw in some dried thyme and basil into the dough when I’m kneading it, to make things a little more gourmet :P.

Otherwise… my mom insists that the real Italians use balls of fresh mozzarella cheese on their pizza, so that’s what we buy. Since I like to bastardize things, I still throw on a little belegen cheese, because I find the mozzarella a bit bland, but too much gouda would make it way too salty.

As for the sauce, I just take straight pureed tomato, throw in some herbs, salt and sugar till it tastes right, then spread it on my pizza. No need to buy the fancy stuff when you make it the way you like it 🙂

Since I always have a bit of dough left over because I am particularly inept when it comes to rolling out the dough, I also try to do something with it. Sometimes I make a mini pizza, sometimes my sister makes raw pizza (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and sometimes I like to make a pizza pocket. On Friday I went for the pizza pocket. It turned out good, probably my best one in a while… the only thing I need to figure out is how to stuff it in such a way that even when the dough rises a bit, there’s not a ton of air between the walls of the pocket and the filling. That probably involves making a dough with less yeast, I guess.

Where a pear is not a pear….

If you ever find yourself in Cameroon (major exports: oil, soccer players), and you ask a local for a pear, they will hand you an avocado. You’ll be hard-pressed to find what the western world identifies as pear over there. Fortunately, avocados in Cameroon are a pleasant treat. When they’re in season, the avocados are amazing–so rich, they almost taste buttery. Honestly, I have yet to taste a better species of avocado, and believe me when I say I’ve tried many.

The last time I was in Cameroon, back in 2006, my sister and I wound up in a small city called Dschang, in the West province. We ended up at a relative’s house during the rainy season for about a week. As with many households in Cameroon, we had household help, in the form of two young women who were meant to cook, clean and basically dote on us. At that time, being western-raised kids, having people answer our every beck and call for a week was pretty awkward (since then I have gotten used to it!), so if we wanted a snack, we’d go into the kitchen and make one.

The most readily-available thing to eat in the house were avocados… so we made some a-mazing guacamole. Every. Single. Day. We ate it on and with everything – with omelettes, on bread, on crepes, on plantains, on rice, you name it. I think we may have even eaten it with fufu and okra. Most of the time my sis and I were alone in the house with the house help, and our little cousin who eventually started to take a liking to the guacamole. One day toward the end of the week, our relatives came home, and checking on the state of the house, asked the house help about us. I overheard the conversation they were having in the kitchen:

Relative: “How are they doing? Are you feeding them well?”

House help: “Yes, they are eating.”

Relative: “What are you feeding them?”

House help: “Well, uncle, they’re a little strange… all they want to eat is mashed pear.”

My sister and I rofl-coptered after hearing that response. I guess we succeeded in making our mark as the eccentric foreigners in the small town of Dschang. Those avocados were well worth being called weird over.

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Anyway, fast forward to today. My cousin arrived from Dschang and came bearing fruit, in the form of avocados!  A few of them were picked before they were mature enough, so even though they were ripe, they tasted a bit watery and bland. The few that were good produced some amazing guacamole, of course.

The recipe I used is from allrecipes.com… it’s been a family favourite for a few years now. These days, I don’t really stick to the recipe quantities, I just dump things in (yes, it’s as unceremonious as it sounds) until it tastes right, and substitute ingredients when I don’t have them. If you’re looking for an upgrade above the original recipe, use red onion instead of white onion. My sister likes to add a bit of mayo to make it creamier. I kind of think it’s unnecessary, since avocado is full of (healthy) fat anyway, and these ones are very buttery, but try the mayo for something different.