Monday, August 26, 2013

Balsamic Marinated Bruschetta

AUGH!!  More cherry tomatoes?  Okay next year please remind me that just because a volunteer cherry tomato plant starts growing does not mean you let it keep growing.  I have a few cherry tomato volunteers this year and I didn't have the heart to yank them all.  I let 2 grow.  Flashback to now.  I'm swimming in cherry tomatoes.  Don't get me wrong, I love cherry tomatoes but they're coming in fast and furious!!  Not to mention that this summer has been bad for me.  It's been very busy and my garden has been mostly neglected.  So next year, repeat after me, I will be frugal with the volunteer tomato plants that I allow to grow.  There, I said it out loud.  Hopefully I'll be able to stick to the plan!  

So what to do when you've just picked this??
You make a delicious bowl of Balsamic Marinated Bruschetta for your tired, stressed out and over-worked nurse friends.  They'll love it!  Since I worked this weekend, I decided at 9pm that I would throw this together for the next day.  It's super easy.  The only time consuming part is slicing the tomatoes but no biggie right?  The ingredients are ones you probably already have at home.   

I was going to set it out at lunch time for the ICU nurses and staff but the morning started with a couple of new admits and staffing issues.  All of the nurses had to step up and go above and beyond.  It was a very stress full morning for everyone.  I set out the bruschetta for the breakfast of champions.  Luckily I did.  They all appreciated it and loved it.  I was asked by everyone for the recipe.  

Balsamic Marinated Bruschetta
Makes: Enough for a unit full of ICU nurses, medical interns and physicians, respiratory therapists and anyone else who wanted some 
3/4 - 1 c. good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
3-4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
20 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
2 lb (I used more since I was using up my harvest) fresh tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large baguette or 2 smaller ones, sliced
Parmesan cheese

1) Make the marinade but adding the following ingredients to a bowl or large measuring cup: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, dried thyme, and garlic.  Mix well with a whisk.  Set aside.

2) Add the cut tomatoes and basil to a large bowl.  Pour the marinade over the tomato mixture and toss well.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours to allow the flavors to meld.  
3) Serve with sliced bread and Parmesan cheese.  I like to toast the bread and at the last few minutes sprinkle with Parmesan cheese until the cheese melts.  I serve the toasts with the bruschetta.  

Harvest Monday 8/26/13

This week the cherry tomatoes keep coming.  Some of my main season tomatoes have also been ripening.  Luckily though, there have been more than just tomatoes this week!  Earlier in the week I picked this bowl of gems.  Most of these were given away to good homes.

More Shishito peppers and some eggplant were also picked this week. 

This weekend I picked another large bowl full of cherry tomatoes.  Whew!  Some of these were given to good homes and some were used for a Balsamic Marinated Bruschetta for the nurses that I work with.  Recipe to follow.

My cucumber plant didn't fare well this summer.  I did get one cucumber off of it thus far.  A few more main season tomatoes like Green Zebra and Brandywine.

Happy Harvest!!

This week's totals:
Eggplant = 0.7 lb
Shishito Peppers = 0.92 lb
Cucumber = 0.26 lb
  - Black Noir = 0.15 lb
  - Brandywine = 1.52 lb
  - Green Zebra = 0.8 lb
  - Chocolate Cherry = 2.42 lb
  - Cherry Tomatoes = 4.08 lb
  - Volunteers = 0.48 lb

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Restaurant Rambings: El Gaucho (Portland, OR)

This past week I went to one of my favorite steak houses.  Dinner here is on the pricey side but believe me it's worth it.  They're known for their steaks.  I've never had a bad steak here. They're always cooked perfectly. 

This time I got the Dry-cured Baseball Cut Top Sirloin.  Once again it was cooked perfectly and was very tasty!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oven Roasted Red Peppers

This is a quick and simple way to roast a whole bunch of red peppers at once.  It is super easy and requires very little thought (my favorite types of recipes)!!  I got this tip/trick from Ina Garden.  

No, these were not from my own garden.  I got a 6 pack of sweet red peppers at Costco for  $5.99 (plus I live in Oregon-no sales tax!!).  This made enough to stuff 2 pint mason jars (use the wide-mouth jars to make life easier for yourself).  It will last for about 2 weeks refrigerated in olive oil.  I use it for sandwich toppings (delicious!!), I threw it in a few salads, I sliced some up to put on pizza and pureed some up for a nice sauce.  It's uses are endless!  

Oven Roasted Red Peppers
6 peppers = 2 pints
Recipes Courtesy of Ina Garden at Food Network

6 red bell peppers
good olive oil (a few tablespoons)

1) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

2) Place the whole peppers on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Roast the peppers until the skins are wrinkled and they are charred on the outside, turn them twice during the roasting process.

3) Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately cover with aluminum foil.  Be sure to cover the baking sheet tightly and take care not to burn yourself.  

4) Let the peppers rest for about 30 minutes until cooled.  Once cool, remove the stems from each of the peppers.  Remove the peels from the peppers (the more charred they are, the easier they are to remove the skins).  Slice each pepper in half and remove all the seeds.  Slice peppers further into fourths or however thin you want them (I like the big pieces).

5) Place your peppers in a mason jar (or other container) and pour good olive oil over the peppers.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

**Note that the olive oil may solidify in the refrigerator.  Just allow the jars to come to room temperature before using or scrape the solids off the peppers.**

Monday, August 19, 2013

Harvest Monday 8/19/13

Sorry, this post is late again!!  I just registered for my big test and EEEKKKKK, freak out time.  It's less than 4 1/2 weeks away!!!  My house is a wreck, my garden is a mess and I have cherry tomatoes coming out of my ears!!  My friends though, have been loving the free cherry tomatoes.  I've been giving them away to strangers on the street.  Ok, just kidding about the last part but don't temp me.  I just might!

This past week's harvest was all about the cherry tomato.  Big ones, little ones, volunteer ones.  They're all accounted for!  I have a mixture of Chocolate Cherry, Sweet 100 and at least 2 volunteer plants.  Of course did I mention my garden was a mess?  I think it's just 2 volunteer plants.  I can't tell cause the cherry tomatoes are growing crazy and tangled up.  *sigh*  I think at least one of the volunteers is a Sun Gold though these fruits are much larger than the one that I had planted last year.  They're still very tasty!!

Happy Harvest!!

This week's harvest:
- Volunteer tomatoes: 0.2 lb
- Chocolate Cherry Tomato: 2.08 lb
- Cherry Tomatoes: 2.55 lb
- Green Zebra: 0.31 lb

Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Monday 8/12/13

It's Monday already??!!  Where did the weekend go?  I picked the last of the plums from my tree this week.  I forgot to take a photo.  Boo!    

This week the cherry tomatoes have been coming in fast and furious.  I picked this bunch about midweek.  There are some volunteers among the bunch.  Looks like I have a volunteer Amish Paste tomato plant as well as another unknown tomato that gives smaller oval shaped red fruit.  I'm not quite sure what it is.

Yesterday I picked more cherry tomatoes.  A few of the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes were ripe.  These were my aunt's favorite tomato last year.  I also spotted a small ripe Green Zebra tomato.  I love the color on the green zebra.  They are green but when ripe have a lovely chartruese color.  I had a ton more Shishito peppers that were ready too!

Here's what I did with my Shishito peppers.  I love them in a no fuss why.  I wash then and pat the dry really well.  I throw them in a hot pan with olive oil and fry them until the outsides are blistered.  

When they're done, I sprinkle with simple sea salt and Shichimi Togarashi.  Shichimi Togarashi is a Japanese condiment made of a mixture of 7 different ingredients including chili flakes, sesame seeds, nori and citrus peel to name a few.  You can find it in most Asian food stores.  

Happy Harvest!!

This week's totals:
- Tomato (volunteers): 0.65 lb
- Tomato (cherry): 1.23 lb
- Plums: 0.82 lb
- Peppers (Shishito): 0.42 lb
- Tomato (Green Zebra): 0.08 lb

Monday, August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday 08/05/13

I'm happy to report that I finally had a chance to peek in the garden to see if there were any worthwhile harvests.  Lo and behold, a colorful bounty!!

I've been trying to keep an eye on my plums.  They've were just turning purple just last week.  When I went to check a few days ago, they were dark purple.  Some ripe ones had even fallen off the tree when I wasn't looking!!  Last year I had a meager 3 plums.  This year my tree kicked it into high gear.  I harvested a whole bowlful!  These are Santa Rosa plums.  They are super sweet this year.  I'll admit I've never really been a plum fan.  I think it's the tart skin that turned me off.  However, I've found that I've grown to love them.  Especially when they're sweet and juicy.  These are delicious.  I had a few fresh off the tree.  I even had enough to share with some co-workers. 

My cherry tomatoes are starting to come in.  This was the first harvest of the year.  Here are some Sweet 100's, Chocolate Cherry's and Sun Gold.  There is also one small Green Zebra (the first of the main season tomatoes!).  I also picked some green beans, Shishito peppers and Ichiban eggplants. 

This is the last of the blueberries on my blueberry bush.  It was a good season!

Happy Harvest!!

This week's harvest totals:
  - Santa Rosa Plums = 4.46 lb
  - Green beans = 0.19 lb
  - Ichiban eggplant = 0.39 lb
  - Blueberries = 0.32 lb
  - Cherry Tomatoes = 0.57 lb
  - Green Zebra tomato = 0.07 lb
  - Shishito peppers = 0.54 lb