Crashing the Veggie’s Masquerade Ball

Most of us have done it. We promise we’re going to have more vegetables and then end up eating one of this post’s featured featured items. Avocados, eggplant, bell peppers, okra…. oops. Guess I should go back and ammend that earlier post about okra…

I’m gonna go with the saying about if three people agree on a defninition it is one. If you agree with me that we’ll call these guys vegetables and Jesus knows what I mean in my prayers when I refer to them as vegetables that should count, right?

So to round up this *POW!* of veggies we’ll end with the fruit that dreamed of being a vegetable (and one I just happened to have way to many of this summer): The Tomato.

 

Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Balsamic Drizzle

Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Balsamic Drizzle

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie

Caprese-Style Stuffed Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese-Style Stuffed Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Biscuits

Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal-Cheddar Biscuits

Burrata with White Wine and Garlic Sauteed Tomatoes

Burrata with White Wine and Garlic Sauteed Tomatoes

Summer Tomato Jam

Summer Tomato Jam

Half A Salad with a Full Garden

Last summer I was getting all fancy with the gardening and the fresh stuff and piles and piles of lettuce to show for all my hard work. Thanks to my appaent inability to withold memories I went and planted flowers and herbs on top of where the end of last year’s crop went to seed. So what happened? Rogue lettuce. EVERYWHERE. It was growing out of the drainpipe hole at the end of the garden bed. It was springing up from between the cracks in the sidewalk. It was sort of grow up and through a rock?? And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that even with all that crazy ninja lettuce popping up everywhere and messing up my carefully planned out herb garden I’ve gotten about 10 good leaves from the lot of them.

On the bright side (in the back where we get more sun) I’ve had so many tomatoes that the only thing I could think of after a while was to cut them in hlf and throw them in the oven so I could at least have something that still tasted like tomato and would turn to black goo on the countertop. I really hate it when tomatoes go bad. It’s super gross.

But all those poor tomatoes I just didn’t rescue in time aside, I was left with only half a salad since I was strangely without any other ingredients to help make any salad I made be more than just chopped tomatoes with salt. It takes a special tomato to be delicious without some sort of additional lubricant with taste.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

But between work and more work and my entire fammily deserting me for the island homelands I have had very little to eat except vegetables for the last month. It all happened because my dear mother finished her radiation treatments (yay!) and it ended with a really really big last minute party where I tried to grill outside. Thinking I’d try something new for a big crowd I attempted making burgers. Like real burgers. The kind with meat cooked on an open flame. Well over charcoal.

For those of you who don’t know: I was raised vegetarian. At some point the family became pescatarian but even fish is a rare occurence at Chez Tobing. I have left behind those meatless way for almost a decade now but even today I don’t cook meat. So me deciding to try cooking burgers for a party was probably the worst idea. They didn’t turn out awful. Just not great. The black bean burgers I mixed up, however, turned out amazing and I’ve even made this receipe since. I usually make my own aioli with vegenaise, fresh crushed garlic, lime, and sriracha. I had also posted the burger recipe last year in “Keeping it Veggie“:

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

But alongside the semi-successful burger project I grilled about 5 billion pounds of fresh stuff: Eggplane, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, OKRA!, bell peppers, asparagus, baby bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn… You put the grilled veggies on a toasted bun with the aioli and a still cripsy-on-the-outside black bean burger (or a marinated and grilled portabellow mushroom if you prefer) and that makes for a good party! In the future, though, I think I’ll leave the regular burgers to a professional. The afterparty of this whole affair was me sitting on the sofa eating nothing but roasted vegetable sandwiches for the next week while watching “Chuck” and drinking the remains of my homemade “Make Your Own Juice Bar”. My favorite was the sparkling  Persian Lime with an extra shot of sweetness from the ginger simple syrup.

In honor of the vegetables (and “fruit”. That’s right, I’m looking at you tomatoes!) that kept me alive while living alone for the last month I’m dedicating the next series of posts with all the wonderful ways to eat them!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers (from SkinnyTaste)

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Muffin Week: “Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffin with Fresh Mint” (Day 3)

I’m thinking to go steal a bag blueberries  we froze from our harvest this summer at my Gma’s house and try to make these with them. Blackberries aren’t the hardest thing to find around here during the year but it can be a tricky ingredient to use properly. Often they’re too sour or they’re just plain expensive.

Since we have our own little patch and spend hours in the blazing hot sun every summer (you can read more in previous posts about this) I think it only right to use the poor little berries in a variety of recipes. Usually they end up in some sour super healthy pie my Gma makes with them and it makes me so sad…

So blueberries it is!

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Fresh Mint

“Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Fresh Mint” from Eat the Love

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

It is getting far too hot outside for my tastes. Mid-90’s and the humidity is on the rise. I keep forgetting every spring that my hair does not do well in humidity and so I don’t preemptively get it cut in time for the great *poof* that becomes my hair in the DC summers. And in addition to that the temperature of one’s food can make a difference to the comfort levels in this god-awful heat.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because I often associate the two holidays with a large amount of cooking and eating and partying. I’m not the greatest fan on the patriotic holidays because the types of foods do not create insane food memories of intense bliss in my head. But there are still foods that can excite my palate during the summer holidays… Here is a menu with a few of them along with a couple new items I’m keen to try this month:

Boozy Sweet Tea

“Boozy Sweet Tea” from Dessert for Two
(Click HERE for “Peach-Infused Moonshine” Recipe)

Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad

“Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad” from Food & Wine

New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress

“New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress” from JamieOliver.com

Mediterranean Sliders

“Mediterranean Sliders” from Athenos (there’s something to be said for good advertising!)

Vegetable Kebabs

“Vegetable Kebabs” from Epicurious

Berry & Fruit Popsicles

“Berry & Fruit Popsicles” from Call Me Cupcake!

Ice Cream Week: The Scoop (“Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream”)

Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream

“Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream” from Deliceux

This is the official announcement that I am finally the owner of my very own ice cream maker. If you remember, last summer I intended to buy one and just… well I didn’t. And I still haven’t. Here’s the scoop (and no I’m not above a few puns every once in a while).

I was down having lunch in the ol’ English department with a beloved professor (who is, funny enough, the only professor in the department that I never actually took a class from) last week and we got to talking about making stuff yourself. Root beer is the one I’m planning to try next. I’m pretty sure I actually have all the equipment and ingredients at home so more on that adventure later. But I mentioned that I had been planning to get an ice cream maker but had just never made it far enough in the process where I actually owned one. And so, in the midst of all this, he jumped on the office computer and on Friday afternoon when I returned from running errands with my dear maman there is was… Under the big box of reading books I had ordered for all the professors teaching for my program next year, there it was…

First thing I did was a quick read through of the instructions and all that care and keeping stuff then into the freezer it went until Saturday when I made up a very simple vanilla bean custard with whole milk, eggs-yolks, a little sugar, and a whole vanilla bean. There was no room in the fridge to chill the custard so into an ice bath it went and as soon as it was cool enough. Wwhhhhhiirrrrrrrrrrrthunkwhirrrrrrrrrthunkwhrrrrrr…. Yeah there was a drip in the freezer or something weird and this line of ice dribbled down the inside of the barrel and made this bad thunking sound so that had to be fixed before continuing. Then it was scraped (carefully, because grabbing a frozen metal barrel with your bare hands is almost never ever a good idea) into a container and put back in the freezer while company filtered into the living room for a viewing of “The Hobbit” which I had bought my mummy for Mother’s Day. She had to work while we were watching the movie but she was at least in the room with us and somewhat interacting.

We had our ice cream (which was still rather soft but like I cared. I mean I had just made ice cream at home in my brand new ice cream maker) with brownies and a few leftover mini apple pies I had made on Friday. And as soon as I had managed to clean out the machinery without there being a frozen residue on it I popped it back in the freezer (which is impressively not too full for me to do that) and on Sunday I made an overly ginger-y “Rose & Candied Ginger” “Gelato” with just milk that had been attemptedly cooked down a little. I’m not actually sure how that process works but I don’t think I did it quite right. The product turned out just fine, though, if not too spicy from me using about a 1/2 cup of ginger to make an extract and then candying the remaining bits and adding them in.

But the weather is getting warmer, not that this has ever been a factor in my ice cream/frozen treat consumption, and so I’m declaring this the first (of many) Ice Cream Week in the Foodie Nation!

We start off with the above ice cream from Delicieux: “Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream” and will continue with a new recipe that I find to try every day this week.

GastroPorn Menu: June.2013

GastroPorn Menu: June.2013

It’s getting warm and slightly uncomfortable weather wise but things are also growing in the garden and we’re planning to get an umbrella for our back yard so we can actually enjoy our outdoor furniture. Now if only my back yard looked a little something like this:

Santorini-blue-and-white-paradise

This month’s menu is inspired by a little Mediterranean Island sun. Meant to be enjoyed outside with with lots of loud friends and family.

Goat Cheese with Olives, Lemon, and Thyme

“Goat Cheese with Olives, Lemon, and Thyme” From Leite’s Culinaria

Beefsteak Tomato Salad

“Beefsteak Tomato Salad” from Martha Stewart

Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas and Feta

“Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas and Feta” from Martha Stewart

Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt

“Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt” from Applemint

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches

“Zucchini Patty Sandwiches” from Whole Living

Lamb

“Lamb” from Joseph De Leo Photography

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Honey-Lime Dip

“Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Honey-Lime Dip” from Our Best Bites

Lime, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake

“Lime, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake” from Simple Provisions

Honey-Ricotta Turnovers

“Honey-Ricotta Turnovers” from Martha Stewart