Life’s been a touch on the crazy side in the last few weeks.  I’ve started seriously looking at buying a condo, doing the associated wrangling with banks, my baby sister graduated from high school and moved into college, and been just generally busy enough that this blog has kind of fallen to the side.  Sorry guys, I kind of suck.  This first post tonight is the start of a major catchup effort, though. 

This is a fantastic, summery little side dish.  And it’s also technically two separate dishes, but screw it. Most of the stuff for this came from my garden, if not from the farmer’s market.  If you’re in a position to do something similar around this time of year, go for it. 

This recipe comes from A Girl and Her Pig, a cookbook I’ve used before (for those white wine stewed tomatoes, which I definitely need to make again), and I look forward to using again.

Roasted Tomatoes and Marinated Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

Marinated Roasted Peppers

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 3 T sherry vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 5 large basil leaves

Take a cast iron pan and slowly heat over high heat.  Once fully heated, add your peppers, laying them on the long side.  How do you know if your pan is ready? When you add the peppers, the peppers should hiss a bit. Cook the peppers for about five minutes on each side, until there are large charred areas with wrinkly skin in between (see the difference between pics one, two, and three for a good idea of how this progression should look), for a total of twenty to twenty five minutes.

Remove the peppers to a medium sized bowl and cover it with wrap of some sort (April recommends plastic wrap, I used aluminum foil, it all worked good). Let the peppers steam and cool until they’re cool enough that you can handle them; this takes about twenty minutes. 

Remove the deflated peppers, peel the skin off (starting from the charred areas is a good idea), and then split the pepper along a seam, tearing a circle around the top to remove the stem and seeds, but catching the pepper juice in a glass bowl.  Tear the pepper into thin strips and put in a glass bowl, layering with the garlic, sea salt, and basil as you go.  Then, add the vinegar, and toss and massage the peppers a bit.  Top with olive oil, and put in the fridge.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • .25 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes (about 5 medium tomatoes), peeled, blanched, and cored (see technique for this in paragraph 3 of this recipe)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Mix together everything except the tomatoes in a large bowl until the mixture is a bit viscous. Add your tomatoes, toss gently to coat, and let them sit for about five minutes to absorb the marinade. 

Transfer the tomatoes to a medium baking dish so that the tomatoes are spread in one layer, and then pour the marinade over them. Roast the tomatoes for 1.5 to 2 hours, until they look noticeably smaller, and softer.  (I’m pretty sure I went for the full two hours on these. This was a while ago so I don’t remember the exact length of time.)  About halfway through, start basting the tomatoes and pressing down on them with the back of a spoon every fifteen minutes or so – not enough to deflate them fully, but to just get them leaking a bit. Once the two hours are up, remove them from the oven and let them cool. 

To serve, combine the roasted tomatoes and marinated roasted peppers, toss, and nom!

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This is the first meatloaf I’ve ever made, and I can honestly say it’s a pretty damn good meatloaf to start out with. Would probably substitute panko for oats in the future, but otherwise? Get a good gouda, good bacon, and ground meat, all from your local farmers market if you can, and enjoy the awesomeness of this meatloaf.

Bacon and Gouda Stuffed Meatloaf with Tomato Marmalade
Lasts an incredibly long time (about two weeks’ worth of lunches, minimum)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • .75 lb ground pork
  • 2 t grated onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • .25 c oats
  • .5 t garlic salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 1 c grated Gouda (I used smoked gouda, you could also use cheddar)

Tomato Marmalade

  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them for a reasonable price)
  • 1.5 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • .25 t crushed red pepper

Cook your bacon to its desired doneness, and while it cooks, grate your Gouda. As soon as the bacon is done, remove it to a paper towel. Combine all ingredients for the loaf except for the bacon and gouda in a large bowl, using your hands if necessary to mash it together.

Ideally, for the loaf, you have a bread pan, but if you don’t, use a cake pan, and shape the loaf in the bottom of the pan with half the meat. Lay down half the gouda, then the bacon, then the other half of the gouda on top, and form the top part of the loaf with the other half of the meat, sealing in the bacon and cheese. Preheat your oven to 350 (325 on my oven), and put the loaf in.

Immediately after the loaf is in the oven, put your tomatoes, balsamic, dark brown sugar, and crushed red pepper in a pot and stir to combine, bringing it to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes, until reduced by about half.

Once the marmalade is done, remove the loaf from heat and pour the marmalade on top of it. After that, it should cook for about ten minutes more. I actually set mine for an additional half hour, so that it was closer to an hour in the oven instead of the overall 40 minutes the recipe recommends. My loaf is likely more well done as a result (I haven’t cut far enough in to confirm).

And then, enjoy the noms!

Caprese is one of my favorite salads (and one of the few salads I can actually stand), period.  I’ve already done a few variants of it on this blog, but making it into what is basically an open faced sandwich is probably going to prove to be another one of those “why did I not do this sooner” things.  

Made a few changes to the original recipe – I like roasted tomatoes way more than fresh tomatoes, so I threw the tomatoes on while the bread baked, and as basil is hard to find fresh around this time of year without paying out the ass for it, I went with dried basil.

Caprese Garlic Bread
Makes 4 half loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 loaves ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T butter, softened (original recommended 4, could probably take it closer to 5 to cover both loaves)
  • 1 16 oz log of presliced mozzarella (you’ll use 9 slices, appx)
  • .5 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • dried basil, salt, and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 (mine was at 375).  Mince your garlic and mix it with your softened butter, spreading it evenly across your four half loaves.  Place your mozzarella slices (about 3 should cover it) and tomato slices (between 2 to 3, depending on how much you get out of your tomato) on the buttered loaves.  Put the loaves in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

While the loaves are baking, take your half cup of balsamic, bring it to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium, so that it reduces and thickens to about half.  

Once the loaves are out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil, salt, and pepper, and drizzle your thickened balsamic over it.  And then, enjoy your awesome sammich.  Because seriously, the roasted tomato/mozzarella/balsamic combo is sent from god.

It may be hot as balls out right now, but that does not change the fact that it is grill season.  And what better way to inaugurate the grill than with some steak?

(You’ll notice some ahi tuna on there as well, and that’s for another recipe that I’m not quite sure turned out, and if it did, I’ll make another post for it.)  

Balsamic Grilled Flank Steak 
1.5 lb steak lasted me appx 5 meals, depends on how much you like meat

Ingredients    

  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 lbs flank steak

Combine all ingredients, and marinade overnight.  Heat your grill, and grill to desired doneness.  Pretty simple, this recipe. 😛

Continuing the afternoon’s theme of using the oven for maximum deliciosity (yes, it’s a word), I give you these sexy things.  The smell while they were roasting is absolutely indescribable.  The combination of the juices, the herbs, the garlic, the oils and vinegars, and the inherent sexiness of roasted tomatoes and mushrooms pretty much make the perfect storm of awesome in this side.

Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Goat Cheese
Makes 4 side servings

Ingredients   

  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • ½ lb grape (or cherry) tomatoes
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 T balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • dash sea salt and black pepper
  • pinch herb of choice (I used dried oregano)
  • 3 oz goat cheese (I used garlic herb goat cheese)

Combine everything except your goat cheese in your baking dish, and heat your oven to 400 (mine’s at 375, you know the deal by now). Arrange in one layer and bake for 25 mins. You’ll know it’s done when you see juices in teh bottom of the pan, and the tomatoes will be a little wilted.  Turn off the heat, and remove the pan, and top with the goat cheese (put it on in shreds).  Put back in the oven, and let sit for five more minutes to melt the cheese.

You can eat it by itself, on top of bread, basically, any which way you want.  ^^