Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Jon Rhoads

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Incredible Egg: Spanish Eggs and Toast with Goat Cheese

"The Incredible, Edible egg"- American Egg Board (circa 1977)

Eggs are not just for breakfast anymore. There is absolutely no reason why eggs cannot be your dinner and lunch too.  Eggs are healthy, lean, protein rich and can be part of an endless array of dishes.

This dish is a traditional Spanish style dish called migas ("crumbs" in English) which typically uses day old bread that is soaked in water, garlic, olive oil and paprika and then served alongside meats or other main dishes.

We are going to a take a twist and turn here and make this dish front-center by toasting the baguette cubes in olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika and topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with goat cheese.

Spanish Eggs and Toast
Serves 2
Recipe from Cuisine at Home

4 cups baguette cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, divided (2 ounces)
2 sunny-side up eggs
Chopped fresh thyme

Toast cubes, garlic, and paprika in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until cubes are golden but still tender, 5 minutes.  Season cubes with salt and pepper; transfer to two plates.

Sprinkle croutons with goat cheese, briefly cover with foil to soften cheese, then top each serving with 1 egg and thyme.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Andi 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dirt to Table Experience: Fast Yellow Summer Squash and Mozzarella Quiche with Fresh Thyme

Quiche is an under appreciated dish that is simple to prepare with only a few ingredients.  Quiche provides combinations that are endless, depending on what you have on hand. You can dig through your leftovers in your refrigerator and pull together a quick meal that provides an excellent source of protein, and depending on how you prepare it, a very healthy meal.

My summer squash harvest was mediocre at best this season. Still, I managed to get a couple dozen yellow squash and only one zucchini-can you believe it? One zucchini! Gardening is funny that way.

I used a few fresh squash from my refrigerator drawer, a half bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, eggs, cream, fresh thyme and a frozen pie shell.  Without much effort managed to bake a really good quiche.

Summer squash from the garden with fresh thyme sautéed with a small amount of butter.

Proof that eating quiche is a good idea!

Fast Yellow Summer Squash and Mozzarella Quiche with Fresh Thyme
Serves 4
Adapted from

9" ready prepared pie crust
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
6 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3/4 cup (packed) coarsely grated mozzarella cheese ( about 3-ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.

Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and thyme.  Sauté until squash is just tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

Whisk eggs, cream and salt, pepper, and hot sauce in bowl.  Arrange squash over bottom of crust.  Sprinkle with mozzarella.  Place pan on cookie sheet and pour egg mixture into crust, filling completely (some egg mixture may be left over).

Bake quiche in oven until golden brown, and set in the center about 35 minutes.  Remove and col on rack for 15 minutes.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Priscilla Ann Willis

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Simple Summer Tomato Salad with a Vinaigrette Dressing

There is a quote that I suddenly can relate to, that goes something like this.....

"You are either green and growing, or ripe and rotting"  

No doubt that this person grew tomatoes.

I am convinced that with a few fresh, simple ingredients you can produce something extraordinary.  My  proof is below.

Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad
Serves 4-6

2-3 lbs. summer tomatoes (all colors, shapes and sizes), chopped, quartered or sliced
1 medium white onion, halved, then thinly sliced
Handful of fresh basil, chopped

For vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good quality vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion and basil.

In a separate bowl, add the olive oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper. Use a fork to blend vigorously. 

Pour over the salad and toss.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Learning to Preserve: Freezing Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the hit of my summer harvest.  Finding ways to preserve them has been my challenge.  With a little help from my friend and garden buddy Maureen I learned that freezing tomatoes is a fast and easy way to preserve fresh tomatoes.  

1. Select fresh garden or farmers market tomatoes that are ripe and at their peak of maturity-
Almost any variety of tomato can be frozen.  I have learned that paste tomatoes such as Roma (plum) are probably the most hearty for making sauces.  
Note: Growing tomatoes and getting them to perfectly ripen in unison was a challenge for me. I did not fret that not every tomato was perfectly ripe.  If you purchase your tomatoes from a local farmers market this would be less of a challenge.

Rule of thumb:  Plan on a quart of tomatoes for every 2-1/2-3-1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes.

2.  Get your equipment together-
  • A large pot (8-quarts)
  • A large bowl
  • Freezer bags
  • Permanent Marker to label freezer bag

3.  Blanching the Tomatoes
Blanching the tomatoes is an important step.  This process stops the natural enzymes in the tomatoes that could cause loss of color or flavor. The tomatoes are easy to peel too.

  • Fill the large pot with water. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Working in 1-pound batches, immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water
  • Cook until the skins begin to split ( this can take 3 minutes to 5 minutes, or longer).
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl.  Allow to cool.

4.  Peel the Tomatoes-
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife or your fingers to peel the skin off the tomatoes.

5.  Prepare and Freeze the Tomatoes-

  • Using a sharp knife, cut out the stem end from the peeled tomatoes
  • Halve, slice or chop tomatoes
  • Spoon the tomatoes into freezer bag
  • Seal the bag and label
  • Freeze up to 10 months

Now, you can use your tomatoes in the future to stew or to make fresh sauces.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Tihana Koprek

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dirt to Table Experience: Fried Green Tomatoes with a Buttermilk Dipping Sauce

The first time that I had ever heard the words "Fried Green Tomatoes" was the title of the 1991 movie that I absolutely loved.  This was the beginning of my point of reference.  My mind opens and begins to expand around this often viewed southern dish (which is served up in northern states too).

Fast forward twenty-two years that includes a move to the panhandle of Florida, just a few miles shy of the gateway to rural Georgia, and a mere hour from Alabama.  I have a good sized garden to call my own, deep in the South where growing tomatoes is considered to be in your blood (Growing them is not in my blood but, I am striving for the title).

This was the first year with thirty-five heirloom varieties planted that I had my first tomato boom. Forget squashes and eggplant that can be the summer gift that keeps on giving, it was my TOMATOES.  It is a romantic notion that your bounty of vine ripened tomatoes can be enjoyed endlessly.  Fresh tomatoes don't have a very long shelf life before they take the leap to the process of rotting.

Another leap forward and you are ready to try your hand at fried green tomatoes.  SHUT the FRONT DOOR!  Fresh unripened green tomatoes lightly breaded and fried in a skillet with a shallow oil layer is divine.  Served hot with a buttermilk dipping sauce can make you weep. 

It is a beautiful and simply prepared dish.  Serve it up as an appetizer, side dish, oh what the heck it can be a main dish too, along with a good beer or wine, or a tall glass of southern iced tea.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Serves 4
Recipe from Patrick and Gina Neely

4 Green Tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch rings
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch paprika
Buttermilk Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

In a deep-fryer, preheat oil to 350 degrees F.  ( Note: I used a skillet )

Season tomatoes on both sides, with salt and pepper.  Place flour and garlic powder in a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish, beat eggs with the milk.  In another shallow dish, mix bread crumbs with cayenne and paprika.  Dredge the tomatoes through the flour, then the eggs, and then through the bread crumbs.  Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so that they can cook evenly, about 2-3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels, and serve with buttermilk dipping sauce.

Buttermilk Dipping Sauce

1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
1 lime juiced
4 scallions, sliced thin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider and brown sugar.  Allow to reduce until thick and syrupy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl add buttermilk, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and lime juice and whisk well.  Add in the scallions and the apple cider mixture.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with the fried green tomatoes.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Vicki Tewes