Bumper Crop

Bumper Crop is my attempt to celebrate the intersection of the garden and the kitchen — an intersection at which many of us love to linger, I think.  This week’s Bumper Crop is tiny, adorable tomatoes.

Tiny, adorable, plentiful

Tiny, adorable, plentiful

How grateful I feel, in late September, to have lovely little tomatoes practically bursting off the plants.  The tomatoes in the photo are a mix of Jaspers and Sun Golds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  I have been so pleased with these tomatoes.  They are both prolific and delicious.

Almost too pretty to eat . . . almost

Almost too pretty to eat . . . almost

We consume a lot of these little guys while harvesting.  Many of them I pitch over the fence into the chicken yard, and the birds have a great, squawky time snapping them up.  The tomatoes that make it to the house, I put on a glorious Rebecca Wood Pottery platter (which was a very generous wedding gift years ago).  That color contrast — glossy shiny red and yellow against glossy shiny dark swirly blue — I love it.  It makes the tomatoes look all the more appetizing, and so I eat a lot of them one-by-one or in small handfuls as I’m mousing around the kitchen.

But this wouldn’t be a true Bumper Crop unless there were almost too many tomatoes to use up, right?   Luckily, no matter how many of these I eat au naturel, there are plenty left to make one of my favorite things: Flatbread with Schmeer and Salad.

Flatbread with Schmeer and Salad

Tomatoes, hummus, flatbread, basil - ready for yummy action

Tomatoes, hummus, flatbread, basil – ready for yummy action

First, prepare the tomato salad: slice small cherry tomatoes in halves, julienne a few leaves of basil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using a spoon, measure out the olive oil and red wine vinegar:  5 spoonfuls of olive oil to 2 spoonfuls of vinegar.  Mix.

Now, the flatbread or naan: sprinkle one flatbread lightly with water.  Toast in the oven for just a few minutes to make it warm and tender.

The final ingredient you’ll need is some good, creamy hummus.  I would like to tell you I make my own hummus from scratch, but I have wasted too many fine chick peas and expensive jars of tahini and never got a hummus that I love as much as this prepared brand.  Life is too short–I just buy hummus so I can really enjoy it.

Now for assembly: Tear off a piece of flatbread, schmeer on some hummus, spoon on some tomato salad and munch.  This part is messy, as the tomato-ey, vinegary oil dribbles down your hand and chin, so have a napkin handy.

Now it's really ready for yummy action

Now it’s really ready for yummy action

My two wishes for you today: that you have tomatoes still spilling out of your garden in September, and that you make and enjoy this dish as much as I do.  Bon appetit!

Advertisements

The Breakfast Thing

No photos this week — L’Oiseau chewed on the plug that connects the camera to the computer and now they won’t talk to each other. Yeah, I know, I wonder about that kid, too.

But anyways, on to The Breakfast Thing, my solution for a super-quick, satisfying and vegetable-packed meal. Plus, it’s easy to wrap up and eat in the car!

1. Lay a tortilla in a non-stick frying pan. After it warms for just a few minutes on medium heat, flip it.
2. Sprinkle on some shredded cheese and let it melt.
3. Slide the tortilla onto a plate.
4. Top with a big handful of salad mix and any other veggies, raw or leftover, that you desire. I frequently add sliced mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, cooked green beans and even chick peas.
5. Add a little salad dressing or, even better, a few spoons of this stuff.
6. Fold it in two like a taco and enjoy! I frequently think (usually when chomping a big bite) that this is a salad taco, rather than a taco salad.

For a to-go order, just start with the tortilla on a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap it up and then just peel back the foil to eat as you go.

The Breakfast Thing is the original gift to the world of the Sugar Shack, food vendors featured every year at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in western North Carolina. I don’t know if they are also a permanent restaurant, but if you are in North Carolina and know of a restaurant called the Sugar Shack, it would probably be worth checking out. They have changed my life with this wonderful food item.

Oh, yeah, don’t be misled by the name—it’s great for any meal or even a snack.

Bumper Crop

Bumper Crop is my attempt to celebrate the intersection of the garden and the kitchen — an intersection at which many of us love to linger, I think.  This week’s Bumper Crop is green beans.  We grow two kinds of green beans: Maxibel Haricot Vert (a nice skinny bean) and Romano Italian flats, and we’ve been very lucky to have a great crop of each this year.  That said, there are only so many times I want simple steamed beans, or roasted beans, or green beans with potatoes and ham, or the hundreds of ways I’ve been cooking green beans this and every summer of my adulthood!  So I came up with a new one:

Soy and Sesame Beans

Steam green beans for about 6 minutes. Immediately plunge them into some ice water to stop the cooking so they’ll be bright green and crisp-tender.

IMG_5923

Put a little drizzle of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil in a bowl.  Add the beans and swirl them around to coat.

IMG_5924

Put the beans in the refrigerator and chill for a few hours to get them good and cold.

Eat with chopsticks!

This is how I like my recipes: so simple it’s almost a crime.  Note: I’m not being cheeky with the last instruction—I firmly believe these beans are a more pleasing food experience if eaten with chopsticks.  Don’t you find that to be true about some foods?

For this iteration of Soy and Sesame Beans I sliced some Italian flats into two skinny pieces before steaming them.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your Bumper Crop; in other words, what are you doing with what you’re growing?

Peanut Sauce=Quick Dinner

One of my favorite quick meal fall-backs is peanut sauce.  If I need to take something to a party, it’s likely to be a dish of peanut sauce and fresh crudite to dip.  But I always make twice or four times as much sauce and use a potluck as an opportunity to stock the freezer with a quick dinner tool: stir fry some fresh vegetables, boil up some noodles, add some frozen shrimp or leftover cooked chicken and mix it all with the sauce.

Voila

Peanut Sauce

This yields about 2 cups sauce, enough to use for dipping one night and dinner another.

4 garlic cloves

a little less than 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup water

2 jalapeno chile peppers

Crush the garlic into a saucepan and add soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar and water.  Start the mixture on low-medium heat.  While the sauce is beginning to heat, seed the jalapenos and cut them into small slivers (Wear rubber gloves to protect against hot pepper injuries to your eyes or nose!).  Add the slivered jalapeno to the sauce and bring the whole thing to a simmer, stirring to smooth it.  Simmer about 5 minutes to heat and combine well.  Remove from heat and let cool. If the sauce ends up too thin, cook it a little longer to thicken.  If it’s too thick, thin it with a little hot water.  Serve half the sauce with crudite for dipping.  Freeze the remainder in 1-cup portions.

Thawed sauce — see the slivers of jalapeno?

When you want a quick dinner, thaw the frozen sauce and stir to smooth it.  Stir fry any combination of fresh vegetables and boil some spaghetti, udon, linguine or other strand-shape pasta.  Drain the pasta, reserving the water.  When the vegetables are almost done, toss in some frozen shrimp or some cooked, leftover chicken or pork.  Add the sauce and some of the pasta water to the pan of vegetables and stir to make a nice, coating sauce.  Add the drained pasta, stir and serve.

Chopsticks make it taste better