Friday, August 31, 2007

Tomato and Nectarine Timbales

I write a newsletter every week for my CSA here in New York City (we get amazing biodynamic produce from Hawthorne Valley Farm) and I include recipes from our Gilded Fork website. This week, we were blessed with both amazing heirloom tomatoes and wonderfully ripe nectarines (both fruits are of the "elbow-dripping" variety..)

Here's a great recipe from our Gilded Fork archives which uses both...

Tomato and Nectarine Timbale
(6 servings)

Summer fruits offer a variety of levels of sweetness from ripening sugars. In this dish, we capture two distinct but complementary flavors and textures and wrap them together in a spicy, sweet fruit syrup.

For the nectarine syrup:
2 ½ cups very ripe nectarines (or white peaches), pitted and chopped
1 dried red chili pepper (or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (preferably pink peppercorns)

For the timbale:
4 medium-firm, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced to about ¼” (about 1 ½ cups)
2 cups nectarines, pitted and diced to about ¼”
1 tablespoon chervil leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme, chopped, plus additional leaves for garnish
¼ cup dessicated coconut, or unsweetened
1 teaspoon high quality extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for garnish
Sea salt crystals

Place the nectarines (or peaches, if using) in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour the purée through a mesh sieve placed over a medium saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract as much nectarine liquid as possible. Add the dried red chili pepper or crushed red pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and reduce by about one half. Remove the chili pepper and strain the liquid through a mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl.

Add the honey and lemon juice and mix to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Taste. Adjust the seasonings by adding salt or pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes and nectarines, the chervil, thyme, and coconut. Add just enough of the nectarine syrup to flavor the tomato and nectarine mixture, and gently combine. If necessary, add the olive oil to moisten the mixture and gently toss.

Place a 2” (or larger) diameter round mold on a chilled plate. Fill the mold with the nectarine tomato mixture. Carefully remove the mold. Plate each serving before garnishing.

Once each serving is plated, garnish with additional chervil leaves, thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil. Crush sea salt crystals between your fingers and lightly sprinkle each timbale with a small bit of the crushed crystals.

-Chef Mark

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sweet Onion & Tomato Warm Salad

A fantastic tomato salad to celebrate late summer:

Slice vidalia or other local sweet onion into half rings
Sweat in fry pan with 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil until soft
Add a spoon or two of brown sugar (to taste and to quanitity)
Continue to saute over medium heat until caramalized

Add a pinch of salt at the end to season

In the meantime, slice or dice tomatoes (depending on kind and size)

Once onions are ready and seasoned, toss them with the tomatoes.

Top with cubes or crumbles of goat cheese and if you have it on hand, some thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

~ Mia ~

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

At the market last week

I figured out how to pull pics off my new phone, and so can share my visit to the market last week.

Last week and this are final call for local peaches, but to offset that we now have corn in abundance, plus melons, plus amazing produce.

I stopped by the Thames River Melons booth (I will never eat another carboard Mexican melon again after tasting these ones) and was interested to see they also sell honey. The story is that their bees pollinate the melon fields and in turn make "Melon Blossom" honey.

I bought two melons, one of which was devoured within 15 minutes of getting home by my children and their neighbourhood friends. The other was enjoyed more slowly by me and my friends. Diced Thames River Melon drizzled with Thames River Melon Blossom honey is now the new standard to which every fresh fruit dessert will be comapred!! *grin*

On the opposite side of the market the produce stalls are carrying vegetables you'll never see in a "big box" grocery: purple, black and orange bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, white sweet potatoes, orange and purple cauliflower...and on and on.

I hope you enjoy the pictures! Visit your local farmer's market - and don't forget to stop and talk to the'll learn all kinds of great information about your food!

~Chef Mia~

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Summer Produce Looks Great in My Freezer!!

This is my last day off before returning to "real" work and over the last four weeks - other than being at conferences - I've tried to spend time to visit local markets and buy and put away as much summer produce as I can.

My freezer is now well stocked with cherries and peaches which I look forward to bringing out during the winter.

I was going to go for the strawberries, until I discovered a new kind that produces until the end of summer. So maybe that's next week's job.

I've also discovered the joys of freezing roasted corn. After removing the tassels and wrapping them back up in the husks, they go straight onto a med/low heat on the BBQ/grill until black on the outside and starting to brown on the kernels.

Then cool, strip and freeze. I tried some out of the freezer as a test and nearly fainted from how great it tasted.

This project has been a self-challenge because I've never been one for doing the "canning" thing. But it doesn't really take much time to use the freezer methods and I'm sure the results will be worth it.

I know others are coming along with project ideas and I'm sure we'd love to hear more! Please share!

And for those of you with kids - enjoy the final week off!!