Tag Archives: tomatoes

Summer Garden Salad



Pretty hot this weekend – so far hottest this summer. Not only the heat but the humidity damn its gross out there! My phone is telling me that it is 91’F out and it also says it feels like 98’F. That means it is gross out there and hopefully you can stay inside with the air conditioner on or you are somewhere near a lake, pool or ocean. I am fairly certain that even I would go into the Atlantic ocean; which I very rarely ever do, it’s way too cold; if I was crazy enough to head to Hampton Beach today.


Cooking on hot days is not really enjoyable and neither is eating on hot days so that generally means something light and easy. Friday night my husband made us salads and then we went out for ice cream. They counterbalance each other right?


Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
quick and easy summer salad
Prep Time 30 mins
Servings 4


  • cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 small clove of garlic minced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced cherry grape or like tomatoes
  • ½ medium cucumber halved, seeded and sliced thin
  • ½ medium yellow summer squash quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
  • Kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • 1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil


  • Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  • Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine.
  • Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  • Stirring occasionally before serving.
  • Garnish with basil.

Summer Garden Salad

Well it is about time we are going to be getting some much needed rain here today in New England. Thankfully we have a well instead of being on town water so we; well actually my husband who I rename every summer to water boy; has tried very hard to keep our gardens and lawn looking a little less brown than others I see around town. But it will be nice to give our well and pump a little break today and yes my husband gets a little break from playing “where to place the sprinkler now”



This is the first weekend so far this summer where I haven’t left the house yet, I will probably venture out a little later today just to pick up a few things for this week’s staple items for meals.  Or maybe I can get my daughter to do it wink wink!


My garden is still doing really well despite the lack of natural rain, I picked the rest of my garlic yesterday, we have 50-ish bulbs of various sizes which should last a little while. The cucumbers and squashes are doing excellent; I made 7 jars of kosher dill pickles yesterday and I was able to pick 7 heads of broccoli. Yeah that one stumps me too of what to do with it all. I know I should be staggering my plantings; but I don’t. I have yet to like what happens to my broccoli when I freeze it so I have been sharing our harvest with family and friends.



If you need something quick and delicious with some of what you grew yourself or bought from a local farm stand or grocery store. This one’s a keeper!


Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

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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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


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.


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.

30 Minute Skillet Thin Crust Pizza

I got an email Monday morning asking if there was room at Clark Towers for the night. I had not taken anything out for dinner and wasn’t sure what I really wanted to make. I was going through what I had on hand and decided to try a new skillet thin crust pizza recipe I had been dying to try. I LOVE thin crust pizza and if I could make it quickly for dinner any night of the week, I HAD to check it out.

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The dough came together super easy and very quickly; with the help from my food processor. The simple toppings, if you keep them to a minimum, which you really should help make the crust stay crispy and keeps the time to a minimum.

You could make this any night of the week and look like a rock star. At least that was how I felt Monday night, or that could have been the wine talking.

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4 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped

½ tsp kosher salt

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

½ cup chopped fresh basil


1 cup AP flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

7 Tbs olive oil – divided

1/3 cup dark ale

Toppings – toss tomatoes in a bowl with the salt and let sit a few minutes; then transfer to a paper towel, let drain for 15 minutes. Mix cheese and basil in a bowl and set aside.

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Dough – process flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. With the processor running, slowly add 1 Tbs oil and beer, process just till dough pulls away from the sides.

Using floured hands, form into a ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in quarters, roll each half into a very thin 8-9 inch round pizza on a lightly floured surface.

Heat 3 Tbs of oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Transfer 1 dough round to skillet and cook. Poking any bubbles that form with a fork until the bottom is golden brown and crisp 3-4 minutes; flip dough and sprinkle with half of the drained tomatoes and half of the cheeses.

Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until second side is crisp and cheeses have melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, wipe out skillet and repeat.

Garlic Cream Sauce – this is for you KP

2 Tbs butter,

2 Tbs Flour

1 ½ cup milk or heavy cream whatever you have on hand

1 clove minced garlic

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in saute pan, add flour to make a roux, cook on low for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in cream add garlic and cheese simmer on low till thickened

Tip – as long as you keep the ingredients to a minimum per pizza and make sure like the tomatoes they are dried on a paper towel, you can add what you would like. We added sausage, and garlic cream sauce to some of our pizzas – Also the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and spend a week in the freezer if needed.

Weeknight Marinara Sauce

I have had a cold all week and it stinks so I decided it was a good idea to make some soup. I pulled a half dozen or so butternut squash’s from my garden so why not make a butternut squash soup. I will admit I have never really had one that I liked so I was pretty skeptical about making one. I found one online that roasted squash, onions and apples together; I liked the sound of it the smell was awesome. Unfortunately I didn’t like this one either so I am not going to share it with you all. I am very lucky that when we do not like things I can send them home with my in-laws and they end up loving it; or at least that is what they tell me.

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I did make a delicious spaghetti sauce from most of the remaining tomatoes that I got from my garden and a tossed salad with the last of my cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. So it was nice I made something we all liked that I could share with you.

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Most people I know have a go to sauce that they make, one of my girlfriends takes all day to make and it is amazing so I get it. When I have the time that is fine to have it simmering on the stove all day; most times I decide last minute that I want spaghetti for dinner. Those times I have a quick marinara sauce that has lots of flavor and it perfect for a weeknight meal.


2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 small onions; chopped

3 cloves of garlic; minced

1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes or substitute with 2-3 jalapenos cleaned and chopped fine

1 ½ tsp sugar

2-28 ounce cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes – or substitute with 8-9 tomatoes from your garden

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onions cook for 2-3 minutes; add garlic cook another minute; season with salt and the red pepper flakes cook till onions soften 7-8 minutes. Add the sugar and tomatoes; either squeeze them or break them up with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring from time to time until the tomatoes are broken down, 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

If you do use your tomatoes you are going to want to remove the seeds and skin – I cooked my tomatoes first then put them through my new food mill.

Cook your pasta of choice and enjoy!

Soups on – Yummy Tomato Soup from my garden

I have had a garden every year for the last 25+ years.  Every year there is a crop or two that just does not do well; my tomatoes have never been one of them.  Though they seem to all come at the same time which is not ideal as who could possibly eat 30+ tomatoes before they go bad. I do give some away; I also freeze several bags. I tried making spaghetti sauce and canning it, it wasn’t my favorite and was quite time consuming.  This year I finally purchased a food mill; what a great invention; should have bought one years ago.

tomato soup 001

The weather lately has been very cold and that screams a hot pot of soup.  I used my new purchase and made some pretty damn yummy tomato soup. Add some chives, thyme, basil or dill, sour cream, cheddar cheese, or goat cheese whatever your taste buds fancy.  Make some grilled cheese sandwiches and you have a wonderful meal.

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Tomato Soup

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 large white onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

3 cups lower-salt chicken broth

5-6 large tomatoes peeled and seeded – a food mill accomplishes this best

Or use a 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes, pureed include the juice

1 ½ tsp. sugar

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 5 or 6 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion a cook till soft, add garlic cook another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic.

Add the broth, tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring, making sure the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer 40 minutes.  If using sprig of thyme, remove.  Let it cool slightly and then puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the pot and return the soup; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Garnish as desired.

If you ever wondered what to do with the rind of your parmesan reggiano save them up in a plastic baggy in the fridge and you can add them to your soup while it is simmering. Remove before you puree.

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