Tag Archives: caprese salad

Bacon Corn Tomato Salad

I have always loved looking through cookbooks and cooking magazines but to be perfectly honest only the ones with the pictures. The picture is what grabs my attention and then I read the ingredient list to see if I have everything on hand, or at least a facsimile of what they ask for so I can hopefully make my own version. I am also realistic in knowing that my plate will never look the same as the one pictured, I may get a little disappointed at first but the flavor can sometime make up for my lack of plating skills. Yes I will never win chopped for my plating but I am all about the flavors.

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We decided to have fish for dinner the other night and I was thinking it should be a little light we had snacks out on our friends boat and didn’t need a heavy dinner and I didn’t feel like having cereal, yes that can sometimes happen in our house. I wanted a light dinner; not crazy light but light for us, the flavor still had to be there, sometimes I feel light can lose a little of the flavor love we so enjoy.

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I still have a ton of sunburst cherry tomatoes from the garden that I want to use and while I didn’t have corn on the cob on hand, I had no problem substituting it with a can of corn for a last minute tomato bacon corn salad. it was so yummy that my husband declared “oh you need to blog about this, you hit it out of the park” – I love when he says things like this, he doesn’t even read my blog, he loves to tell people he doesn’t need to; he lives it.

This is great for a side dish or use it as a salsa as I did here.

Serves 4–6

6 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (about 2 cups) – I used a can of niblets
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and set aside.

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Turn heat down to medium-low and add onions to the bacon drippings in the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened – about 5 minutes.

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Add corn, turn heat back up to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and just starting to brown in spots about 7–10 minutes.

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Remove corn and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, crumble bacon.  Add the sliced tomatoes, bacon, basil, and vinegar to the bowl with the corn.  Sprinkle in a big pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Toss everything together add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

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Bumper crop of cherry tomatoes – oven dried and chopped caprese

My daughter Abbi and I were watching one of my favorite celebrity chefs Ina Garten – I totally have Ina envy, she has a great place in the Hamptons; she has a very cool party barn, amazing gardens and a great kitchen plus I love her food;  she cooks like me, or maybe I cook like her??? Regardless I do have the great kitchen and my gardens while not TV worthy they work for us. We also have water nearby unfortunately it is a swamp – yup we are definitely not living in the Hamptons 🙂 OK back to the show, she was making dinner with Neil Patrick Harris and his chef husband David Burtka, they made a steak salad that sounded amazing; so we decided to make it for dinner the following night. It was totally worth it and very easy; the rub had some heat but was balanced out by the greens and the sweet roasted cherry tomatoes.

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Steak Rub: 1/4 cup dried mushroom, he wanted porcini we had oyster. 2 tbs kosher salt, 2 tbs whole black peppercorns, 1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tbs granulated garlic, 2 tbs sugar. using a spice grinder add a couple of the ingredients at a time in a bowl mix well. I now know why it was a little extra spicey – Abbi made the rub and just confessed she added an extra tbs of crushed red pepper flakes and put in 1 tbs less of the sugar…

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We had some of the rub leftover and being as frugal as I am, we thought it might just work for the pork chops we were making for dinner.  It did but I will say it had a lot more heat than we tasted on the steak. To cut a little of the heat I finished off the chops with a drizzle of my brother-in-laws honey.

PORK DINNER

I was pretty proud that last night’s alfresco dinner was mostly from our gardens. I cooked everything out on the grill and thankfully the bugs stayed away long enough for us to enjoy dinner on the patio. Inspiration for the sides came from what I harvested from the garden earlier in the day. We had my husbands potatoes, our first brussels sprouts and the first batch of beets all from our garden and while everything was coming off the grill my husband ran to the garden to cut some fresh chives for the potatoes – everything was simply delicious.

HARVESTS

2 ways to oven dry cherry tomatoes

From the show they simply cut the tomatoes in half added olive oil and salt and pepper roasted in a 300’ for 2 ½ to 3 hours. These worked out great with the steak salad and the rub no competing for flavors. I have SO many more tomatoes that I needed to do something with, we also had my version of chopped caprese salad with dinner, all agreed we could have this every day for the rest of our lives, good thing since we have a ton of them right now!

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I wanted to make some more oven dried tomatoes but maybe with a little more love. I sliced them in half, added olive oil salt pepper and some dried basil and oregano plus some fresh pressed garlic; which was also from my garden. I roasted them at 225’ for 1 ½ hours then I shut the oven off and left them in the oven overnight.  You may need to adjust the timing based on how large your tomatoes are but OMG I think I just made dried cherry tomato crack…Life is good!

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Chopped Caprese Salad

Cherry tomatoes cut in half

Mozzarella Cheese cut into small chunks

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove crushed garlic

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Fresh basil leaves roughly chopped

CHOPPED CAPRESE

Place tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl, salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl add olive oil, garlic and basil let sit for a minute or two so it flavors the oil and add it to the tomato mozzarella bowl stir till mixed and enjoy! Seriously make this!!!

Italian Bruschetta – Florence Cooking Class

Let me start off with Italy was awesome and everything I thought it was going to be! Let me next apologize for the delay in sending out my weekly blog. Last week I mentioned I wanted to travel light so I left my laptop at home. Well that would have all worked out fine and dandy had the airline Alitalia not understood the concept of how to cue lines and decided to sell my ticket plus several others to the people in the standby line versus us who were waiting 2½ hours in line to check in. So while being stranded another night in Italy sounds like a pretty cool place to be, I was less than thrilled or prepared for that matter. I got home last night around 10:30 versus Saturday night which had I been prepared I could have written my blog plus maybe a short novel with how much time I spent sitting in the airport. But enough about that, let’s get to why we are all here – YUMMY FOOD!

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I can say with some certainty that tomatoes, mozzarella and basil were the basis of pretty much every meal we ate, breakfast included. If it wasn’t a margarita pizza, it could have been caprese salad or bruschetta, or even in a sandwich form; the options were endless. We had the most amazing burrata ever. I want to learn how to make this; the Italian way of course.

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Caprese

A few interesting things we learned in the cooking class that I wanted to share. They like a specific bread for bruschetta, it is rustic and doesn’t have a lot of flavor so you taste nothing but the basil, tomatoes and garlic ahhhhhhh love or better yet Amare! When they use onions they do not add any garlic and vice versus. I definitely do not follow that rule; I add garlic to just about everything I make. This other is a huge no no with them but I can go either way with it. They take great offense to pineapple on pizzas. Not my first choice but I can deal.

Class Pizza - artichoke hearts OK

Class Pizza Abbi and I made – artichoke hearts OK

I would like to recommend to anyone traveling to Italy to take a cooking class. The one we took in Florence was jammed packed with history and information and yummy food. We met some very nice people and I am very happy we signed up.  We went with Taste Italy Food and Wine Tours. Oh yeah I haven’t even brought up all the wine we drank, I mean tried. First night walking around Rome we picked a restaurant randomly and ordered their bruschetta and a glass of wine. We ended up enjoying both so we ordered a margarita pizza and another glass of wine. Our waiter was SO disappointed in us, he told us next time we have to order the bottle of wine; it is less expensive that way. SO that is how the rest of the trip went.

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Just sharing how adorable my daughter is

Italian way to make bruschetta

3-4 ripe from the vine tomatoes chopped

Rustic bread sliced and toasted

1 Clove of garlic chopped (I personally would use 2-3)

Bunch of fresh basil ripped and chopped with the garlic

Extra Virgin Olive oil – the extra virgin means first press of the olives – we learned that in class

Black pepper

Salt

Toast bread dry, set aside. Chop several tomatoes and place in a bowl. Chop basil and garlic together add to the tomatoes, add about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Only add salt when serving. Side note, they did say we could rub garlic on the toast if we wanted to.

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Burrata – Best I have ever had!

I don’t know how to make burrata just yet but I will learn and share, if you haven’t tried it or know what it is, it starts as mozzarella and ends with a creamy curd center mozzarella ball . I have had it before and liked it, now I LOVE it! I hope it’s not only awesome in Italy.

Party on the Patio

So my husband and son made us the most amazing patio for entertaining a few years ago.  We entertain pretty regularly whether it is a last minute, hey come on over for a glass of wine  a cold beer or maybe some of my yummy Cosmo’s.  We put out several different kinds of cheese, some sort of salami/ham and our favorite onion crackers. We also tend to  grill up some sausage or pepperoni and slice it up for everyone to share. I think I always have on hand the ingredients for my Caprese salad which everyone loves so that is another staple at my house.
Patio
For larger gatherings; Birthday’s, Graduations, Holidays or a Going away party (daughter moving to Japan) with a few weeks to plan I love making Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Boston Baked Beans to name a few.  I do have a few tricks I would like to share.  I have some chafing dishes that I put out and always have a hot one going for the beans and cooked meat but I also put ice in the bottom tray of one or more of them to keep my salads cold, it works out pretty slick, you do have to replenish the ice occasionally but at least you know no one will get sick from them sitting out for a bit.  Also another trick I love is to take one of the college sized refrigerators we have and I put it out by the grill (someday my outdoor kitchen dream will become a reality) I keep all the meat we are going to be cooking as well as the cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, condiments etc. in it. I can put things out there a day or so ahead;  it not only saves a lot of running back and forth to the kitchen fridge the day of; it also saves room in my kitchen fridge for the salads.

I do ask that people bring an App, Side or Dessert to share and hope for the best weather.  Everyone has their own staples they turn to for BBQ’s so I love to see what people bring and it is always a variety. It is always nice to try others; you never know when you might want to ask for the recipe.

I do have a very funny story that I have told many times over the years. This is one recipe you probably won’t be asking for.  The first time my husband met one of my now very good friends I will call her PN we were at my still very dear friend KP’s house having a BBQ. The 3 of us girls were in the kitchen, the table had all the salads and fixings set up and my husband was making his plate.  He put some potato salad and pasta salad on his plate, he tasted one of them and proclaimed “ah that taste like dirt” I swear PN and KP whipped their heads around asking which one so fast my husband stopped in his tracks.  I looked pointed at him and said with my ‘don’t you dare’ voices. “Don’t say a word” he proceeded to walk to the ranch dressing and doused PN’s pasta salad.  She was like “it was mine” we laughed SO hard and still do to this day.  For a short while she was trying to salvage her “dirt salad” but thankfully she has moved on to yummier pasta salads.  By the way it had dill in it which in my opinion is why it tasted a little too earthy. Dill is one of those herbs you need to use sparingly or you could end up with dirt salad.

Easiest Potato Salad Several Potatoes of your choice – red skinned I leave on the skin, others I peel 2-3 Hard Boiled Eggs cooked and peeled 2 Celery Stalks Extra Zesty Italian Dressing Mayo Chives or Scallions I boil the potatoes whole and slice up after cooked; still warm I put the cut up potatoes in a zip loc bag and add the Italian dressing; just enough to make sure a small amount of dressing gets on all the potatoes. Once cooled I put add everything to a large serving bowl and mix well.

Caprese Salad

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Fresh Mozzarella Slicing Tomatoes 3-4 Leaves of Fresh Basil 1-2 Cloves minced Garlic ¼ Cup Olive Oil Kosher Salt & Fresh ground Black Pepper French Baguette Slice and bake crostini size pieces of the baguette – no need to add anything to them, make sure they are slightly browned, try not to go too far with them, they are still fine crunchy but I like them slightly chewy for this Slice the same amount of tomatoes and mozzarella as well as the crostini’s to end up with the same number of pieces.  As little or as many as you like, depends on number of quests and what else you are serving. in a bowl or 1 cup measuring cup put the olive oil, minced garlic and chopped basil, let it sit a little bit for better overall flavor I stack the mozzarella and tomato on a platter/plate; salt and pepper them then drizzle the yummy oil you made over all of them.

You can serve this alongside the crostini’s for small gatherings where everyone is sitting down. I prefer for large parties where people are walking around  to take the already seasoned mozzarella/tomato’s and take a large platter covered with crostini’s and top with a slice of yummy mozzarella and tomato slices and then you can grab one and keep walking. Enjoy!