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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Southern Tomato Pie

Last summer, I continually saw people posting about making tomato pies on Facebook.  I had never heard of the tomato pie, but found quickly that it seemed to be a southern thing, and growing up in California wasn't conducive to being exposed to true southern cooking.  I was curious, but the summer got away from me, and I never made one.  I finally got around to it last week, and I'm devastated that I waited this long!  This pie is relatively easy to make and packs a punch with flavor.  My husband said that the flavors reminded him of pizza, and no wonder: it's basically tomatoes, cheese, and herbs in a pie form.  Make this with the freshest tomatoes possible--straight from the vine and sun-warmed.  In a pinch, you can use a premade pie crust, but this crust from Alice Waters has never disappointed me.  It's simple to make and turns out flaky and delicious.  And the rest is really up to you.  I could imagine that this would be delicious with some caramelized onions thrown into the mix.  Change your herbs or types of cheese.  Add a little crispy bacon to the top.  I've even seen it around the interwebs with corn added.  Whatever you do, go make this now.  It's a scrumptious southern treat!

Southern Tomato Pie
Makes one pie/tart

Tart crust
From Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
12 Tbl cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup ice cold water

Tomato Pie
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces ball mozzarella cheese, diced or grated

To Make the Crust:
Combine the flour, salt and butter in your stand mixer.  Mix for about 60 seconds with your paddle attachment.  Add about 3/4 of the water and mix until the dough comes together. (This takes about 30 seconds in the mixer.)  Add more water, little by little, if needed.  Separate the dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.  You'll only need one for this recipe, but you can freeze the second for a later use.

Once it's been refrigerated, take out of the refrigerator and let rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.  Roll out on a floured surface until it's big enough to fit in your tart or pie pan.  Place in the pan and fold the edges over to create a thicker crust (or you could just trim the excess). Place foil in the crust and fill with dried beans or rice.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove the weights and foil and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let cool on your countertop.

To Make the Tart:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Lay your tomato slices in a single layer in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt.  Let sit for about 10 minutes.  While they are draining, combine the mayo, sour cream, cheddar cheese and mozzarella in a bowl.  Place the tomatoes on a layer of paper towels and cover with another layer and let sit for about 5 minutes.(This will help prevent your pie from being soggy.  If your tomatoes are extra juicy, feel free to replace the wet paper towels with dry ones and cover again for another 5 minutes.)

Place one layer of tomatoes in the pie/tart tin.  Sprinkle with about 1/2 of the green onions and basil.  Layer with the rest of the tomatoes and green onions and basil.  Spread the mayo/cheese mixture over the tomatoes.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the pie begins become golden.  If after 40 minutes, the top isn't completely golden, place under the broiler until the top is browned and bubbly.  Let cool slightly, but serve warm.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Sorghum Granola [Secret Recipe Club]

Every month I look forward to trying out new recipes from other bloggers who are part of the Secret Recipe Club.  There's just something about the surprises involved that I love--I don't know who has cooked from my blog, and the other blogger doesn't know that I've been assigned to them until reveal day.  And this month I got an even bigger surprise...I was assigned a vegan blog: We Heart Vegan!  My family has a pretty strong love affair with bacon and sausage, so it's pretty unlikely that we'd go as far as changing our diet to a vegan one, but I've always been fascinated with the vegan lifestyle, partially because of all of the interesting ingredients used to balance the diet.

I wasn't sure that I'd find something that my family would dive into when I was assigned the blog, but Brittany and Julie do a great job at making their recipes simple and accessible for all diets.  I really wanted to make their Black Bean and Avocado Salsa, but I've been traveling a lot this month, and I was just scared it would go to waste, so I settled on something a little more storage- and travel-friendly: Omega Granola.  I'm not sure my version would fit into the Omega part of that title, but what I ended up with tasted delicious!  I had never made my own granola before, and I'll definitely think twice before buying it in the store.  It was an easy process and tasted so much fresher than what I typically buy.

As I mentioned, I did make a few adjustments.  I had a hard time finding some of the ingredients in our local grocery store, so I just omitted them.  I also adjusted the nut ratios since I'm a picky nut eater.  And finally, I used Kentucky's version of molasses: sorghum.  I've never used this ingredient before, but happened to pick some up the week before, so decided to use it.  It's not quite as strong in flavor as molasses is, but it was a great substitution!  (If you're not sure what sorghum is, you can find out more here or check out fellow Kentucky Food Blogger Rona Roberts' book, Sweet, Sweet Sorghum.)

I will be making this again for sure...and I thank We Heart Vegan for introducing me to the vegan lifestyle so gently and beautifully!

Sorghum Granola
Adapted from We Heart Vegan
Makes about 5 cups

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/6 cup uncooked red quinoa (regular would be fine here too)
1 small ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/6 cup sorghum
Pinch of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the oats and quinoa evenly on the sheet.  Place the sheet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir the oats/quinoa and add the nuts and seeds.  Toast in the oven for 6 more minutes.  While the granola is toasting, prepare the wet ingredients.  In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana, sesame oil, vanilla, sorghum, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the granola has toasted for 6 minutes, pour the wet mixture over and add the raisins and dried cranberries.  Mix until most of the granola is wet.  Bake for another 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the baking sheet cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes or until the granola becomes crunchy.  Once it's cooled, break apart (using the parchment paper to help) and store in an airtight container.  This will last a while in the cupboard.  (Mine is going on two weeks and is completely fresh still.)
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lemon-Blackberry Yogurt Loaf

Wow...has it been over two weeks since I last posted?!  It's been a crazy summer, and until last Friday, I was home alone for three weeks with my kids.  And then suddenly everyone started arriving!  My parents arrived on Friday morning for a short visit from California, and my husband returned home after being in Germany and Belgium for three weeks.  I had a great visit with my parents (as did the kids!), but it didn't leave much time for keeping up the ol' blog.  I'm back, though, at least for now, as we leave for England and Scotland for a week on Saturday.  Yahoo!

But in the meantime, I'd like to whet your appetite with this little gem.  I've been working on perfecting this recipe since May, and I think I may have finally hit the nail on the head!  This Lemon-Blackberry Yogurt Loaf is quite simple and great for potlucks and breakfast alike.  If you don't happen to have wild blackberries lying around, feel free to substitute regular blackberries, blueberries or raspberries.  (I happen to have some frozen wild blackberries leftover from picking last summer.)  Or you could just leave them out for a basic lemon loaf--I think the best version I made, though, was with the berries.  :-)  Either way, I recommend doubling your batch because the first cake will go quicker than you'd like!

Lemon-Blackberry Yogurt Loaf
Makes one loaf

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, separated
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup wild blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the inside of a loaf pan with cooking spray or coat with butter.  Dust with flour and tap out excess. 

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the sugar and lemon zest.  Mix with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened.  Add the lemon juice, yogurt, vegetable oil, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and mix to blend.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.  Coat the blackberries in 1 tablespoon of flour and then add them to the batter.  Mix gently until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.  Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Let the cake cool on a wire rack for a few minutes and then remove from pan.  Let it cool completely on the wire rack.

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