Savory Tomato and Eggplant Galette

Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It’s always funny to think how palates evolve. While Marni and I were never picky eaters, there were definitely foods we avoided and loved at an early age. With the start of the school year, I can’t help but think back to our go-to lunch choices in kindergarten. Marni does not like to admit it now, but savored bologna and mustard sandwiches while I opted for roast beef and mayo.
There were also some foods we were rarely exposed to and at first taste, despised. Marni hated tomatoes and Swiss cheese as I stayed far away from eggplant. Years later as our taste buds matured, we acquired a love for now two of our favorite vegetables. At a seasonally appropriate gathering, I decided to feature juicy heirloom tomatoes and subtle eggplant baked atop a creamy Swiss cheese layer in a rich and flaky crust. Topped with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of fresh thyme, this galette is our top lunchtime dish.

End of Summer Heirloom Tomato and Eggplant Galette

Crust: (recipe from Saveur)
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
8 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
4-6 T ice water

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
2 large Heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
1 1/2 c Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1 t dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
1 t fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t fresh oregano
salt and pepper throughout

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the crust, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter and with your hands, incorporate it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Next, drizzle 4 T of water over the flour mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until clumps start to form. If the dough looks dry, slowly add more water, 1 T at a time, as needed. Gather the dough, form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a 1/8-inch thick circle. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet topped with parchment paper.
Drizzle the dough with EVOO and sprinkle the Swiss cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano on top, leaving a 1-2-inch border all around. Overlap the heirloom tomato and eggplant rounds in a fan on top of the layer of cheese. Sprinkle with the herbs, salt and pepper. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling.
Brush the entire surface of the crust with the beaten egg. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the vegetables are tender, about 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with an extra sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serves 4-6.
While I paired our kid lunches with an apple juice box, I paired our savory galette with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Maine Escape

Posted on: Thursday, August 24, 2017

I recently escaped from the city to explore the coast of Maine. The extended weekend was full of hiking, kayaking, fresh seafood, local brews, and R&R. Each town had its own exquisite charm with dramatic coastlines, vast vistas, and delicious local eateries. Here are some of the highlights:

Portland was a necessary first stop. We veered off the highway and popped into Bissell Brothers for a couple samples of I-Lucky, their ginger IPA, and a couple 4-packs of Substance Ale (their flagship dark ale) for the weekend ahead.
Next, we grabbed a late lunch at Honey Paw - The Eventide team’s sister restaurant with an eccentric menu influenced by regional cuisine with Asian influences. We split the Vietnamese Masa Crepe filled with fried mussels, rhubarb sambal, peanut, maple nuoc cham; Lobster wontons; and Fried Chicken wings with lime, coconut and chili.
For a sweet note, we walked down the street to Two Fat Cats Bakery for Strawberry Rhubarb and Mixed Berry Maine Mini Pies.
On our way up the coast, we meandered our way to Five Island Lobster Company . As we arrived, the mystical, misty fog rolled in over the harbor. While lobster of course is a favorite, I opted for a Grilled Haddock Sandwich and Fries. BYOB Bissell Brothers came in handy.
After catching up with old friends and spending the night nearby, we were on our way north the following morning. When we arrived on Mount Desert Island, we stopped at Mother’s Kitchen a tiny gourmet sandwich shop for a Grand Baker - smoked turkey, brie, pesto mayo on a roll filled with greens, red onion and tomatoes straight from the garden. We rented kayaks at National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental and spent the afternoon on the pristine waters of Great Long Pond. Rain was looming in the forecast, but that didn’t stop us.
Photo by Ryan Boyer
The only dinner we veered away from seafood was for Mainely Meat BBQ at the Atlantic Brewing Company. We stumbled upon the fun outdoor spot filled with families, pets and super friendly service. We tried a Sampler Plate heaping with pulled pork, BBQ ribs, sausage, chicken, baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw and paired it with Bar Harbor Summer Ale and Braggat Honey Ale.
After dinner, it was time to check-in to our Airbnb cabin - a cozy secluded spot in the woods.
We committed to waking up at 4am the next morning to catch the first sunrise in the U.S. at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. What a pristine, vast, absolutely breathtaking experience! Wide eyed at 6:30am, we decided to hike for a few hours. It was a surreal feeling to hike so early in the morning, deep in the wilderness, with only Mother Nature by your side. Highly recommend it.
After our lengthy hike, we rolled into Jordan Pond House, an Acadia institution. It was the perfect respite to rejuvenate and reflect on the morning. I sipped on blueberry tea and nibbled on fluffy popovers slathered in raspberry jam and butter.
Bar Harbor Inn - While beers have been central to the trip, I decided to take a break and opted for a gin cocktail for happy hour with crushed ice, gin, lime and mint. For dinner, we ventured to good ole’ Stewmans Lobster Pound and enjoyed a half ladle of Clam chowder and Fish and Chips paired with Bar Harbor Thunder Hole Ale- a brown, smooth ale.
For dessert, we walked through town to Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Imporium. Iopted against Lobster Ice Cream in favor of Blueberry Fudge. After dinner and taking in the sunset over Bar Harbor, we returned to our cabin in the forest.
Blasting Doobie Brothers and Steve Miller Band, we headed home the next morning, stopping in Oqunquit for lunch. Oqunquit was the quintessential Maine tourist spot with cute shops on the coast. In Perkins Cove, we dined at MC Perkins With our table ideally placed facing the sea, I enjoyed flavor packed Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with red cabbage slaw, cilantro, green chile sauce, jalapeno and cilantro crema.
During our final stroll along the cliff walk, I ended the adventure with the perfect sweet note: Salt water taffy from Goldenrod.

Green Gazpacho

Posted on: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This summer, I started my first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership and I am hooked! Lapsley Orchard in Pomfret, CT offers share boxes containing their prime fruits and vegetables harvested at the peak of their season. Every Saturday, I stop by the farm to see what kind of treasure trove is in store for the week ahead. It’s fun to experiment with different fruits and veggies that I would never think of purchasing at the grocery store. I’ve roasted fennel, carrots and onions alongside chicken, braised red cabbage with apples alongside pork loin, sauteed zucchini ribbons alongside salmon… the possibilities are endless!
Finding myself filled to the brim with produce, I pulled out my trusty blender. I threw in fresh peaches and blueberries, added in a bit of Greek yogurt and chia seeds - perfect for a morning energy boost. For lunchtime, I decided to go the savory  route with Gazpacho, a classic tomato-based chilled soup that can be altered to suit whatever you might have on hand. While I have my go-to recipe from Madrid (recipe here), Bon Appétit's recent issue inspired me to feature a different color palette - green! I blended refreshing cucumber, biting garlic (from the CSA), and an array of herbs and greens (from my pots at home) for a spicy, cooling soup.
Green Gazpacho (Inspired by Bon Appétit's August 2017 issue)

2 large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 c arugula
1/3 c fresh mint leaves

1/3 c fresh parsley leaves
1/3 c fresh basil leaves
3 T red wine vinegar
3 T water
1 t salt

1/2 t black pepper
2/3 c EVOO

In a blender, combine the cucumber, garlic, arugula, mint, parsley, basil, red wine vinegar, water, salt and pepper until almost smooth. While the blender is running on low, stream in the EVOO until well blended. Let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed and serve. Serves 4.

Can’t wait to pick-up my next box! Tomato Season is right around the corner...

Broccoli Bites

Posted on: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Driving along Route 127 through Swampscott and Marblehead always brings me back to car rides in high school. Friends and I would pile into one of our cars, blast a mix of the Steve Miller Band and Allman Brothers, and drive aimlessly along the coast. On my most recent excursion, I decided to stop at Bill and Bob’s. While known for its signature roast beef sandwich, my friends and I would periodically stop at the eatery for a different snack: Broccoli Bites. Fried and cheesy, with a touch of green make for an addicting car-ride snack.
With broccoli in abundance this time of year, I decided to make my own version a tad on the healthier side. Instead of frying, I bake them. I am also a little heavier on the broccoli and lighter on the cheese. They are just as addicting!
Broccoli Bites

2 c broccoli florets
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c grated smoked Gouda cheese (Cheddar or Manchego could also be subbed in)
1 large egg
1/2 t garlic powder
Salt and pepper throughout
Your favorite tomato sauce
Few dashes of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath, then drain completely and pat dry with paper towels. Once cooled, chop the florets into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the chopped broccoli, flour, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg and garlic powder until a uniform batter has formed. It should be thick, but easy to form. If the dough is falling apart, add more breadcrumbs and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

To form the bites, measure off a medium meatball-sized ball. Then, press gently in the middle to form an oblong shape. (You can leave the bites as orbs, but the oblong facilitates easier dipping!). Form 12 evenly-sized bites, place them in a lined, plastic container, and transfer them to the refrigerator to meld, about 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a cookie sheet generously with cooking spray, and spread the bites evenly across. Spray the tops of the broccoli and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them at the 10 minute mark to brown evenly.

Heat your favorite tomato sauce, add a few dashes of hot sauce, and pour it into a dipping bowl. Once the bites are ready, spread them around the dipping sauce, and serve! Makes a dozen.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Butter

Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017

In the midst of a busy start to July, Marni and I were fortunate to take a needed respite over at our cousin, Connie’s charming, historic colonial in Essex. After big hugs and catching up over coffee on Connie’s patio, she eagerly motioned us into her lush garden. We walked through the woven-stick entryway and were overcome by an abundance of flourishing vegetables, fruits, herbs, you name it. As Connie weaved through the patches, she clipped and clipped. Next thing we know, we were headed home with an overflowing pile of assorted lettuces, radicchio, ramps, and a medley of herbs.
Driving back to Connecticut, Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics, ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’ filled my mind and mood. When home, I chopped all the fresh herbs and stirred them into some softened butter with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.
I slathered the herb butter in between crusty, warm slices of a French baguette. I placed the rest of the butter in the fridge - on hand to top grilled filets, seared scallops, a simple pasta dish. I’ll be savoring this gorgeous, flavorful butter all summer.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Butter

1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 c finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme)
1 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper

In a small bowl, stir togeter all ingredients with a rubber spatula until the herbs pop throughout. Cover with plastic wrap (or a Tupperware lid) and chill in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy. The blend can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for several months.

There are endless possibilities to liven up your butter. Adding honey, and chopped walnuts slathered over morning toast is another variation - can’t wait to experiment more!

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