Tag Archives: tomatoes

Grandma Felicia’s Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber Salad

 

Print

IMG_0127

Grandma Felicia’s Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber Salad

 

My grandparents had lush gardens that yielded an abundant amount of sweet vine ripened fruits and vegetables, including several varieties of tomatoes each year. Growing up Grandma Felicia’s Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber Salad made its way onto the table countless times, throughout the summer months. She cleverly paired this simplistic side salad with her famous unconventional sweet non acidic dressing. Her “Sweet Olive Oil Dressing”, perfectly balanced the flavors of the vine ripened Heirloom tomatoes, crisp cucumber and pungent red onion and oregano.  Make sure you serve the salad with a crusty wedge of Italian bread, so you can use the wedge of crusty bread to dip in the extra salad dressing left behind in the plate…we Sicilians call this act of dipping “Abbagnari” …Trust me on this one “a piece of Italian Bread soaked in this sweet dressing is Incredibly Delicious!  

 

IMG_0139 This morning I gave a live “Farm to Table” cooking demonstration at Applenton Farm highlighting Grandma Felicia’s Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber Salad Recipe

IMG_0083

For Step-by-Step Recipe and photos click see more Read more

Top Ten Tips for Attracting and Supporting Native Bees

Bees, butterflies, and songbirds bring a garden to life, with their grace in movement and ephemeral beauty.   Bee and Monarch Butterfly ©Kim Smith 2012Many of the plants that are the most highly attractive to butterflies are also the most appealing to bees, too!

Bees are also a “keystone organism,” which means they are critical to maintaining the sustainability and productivity of many types of ecosystems. Without bees, most flowering plants would become extinct, and fruit and seed eating birds and mammals (such as ourselves) would have a much less healthy and varied diet.

Native bees come in an array of beautiful colors, size, and shapes. Some are as small as one eighth of an inch and others as large as one inch. They may wear striped suits of orange, red, yellow, or white, or shimmer in coats of metallic iridescene. Their names often reflect the way in which they build their nests, for example, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, and wool carder bees.

Approximately 4,000 species of native bees have been identified north of Mexico. They are extremely efficient pollinators of tomatoes, apples, berries, pumpkins, watermelons, and many other crops.

Native Bee Pollinating Apricot Tree ©Kim Smith 2009Native Carpenter Bee and Apricot Tree

Listed below are what I have found to be the most successful tips for supporting and attracting native bees to your garden.

1). Choose plants native to North America. Over millennia, native bees have adapted to native plants. If planting a non-native plant, do not plant invasive aliens, only well-behaved ornamentals.

2). Choose non-chemical solutions to insect problems, in other words, do not use herbicides or pesticides.

3).  Choose plants that have a variety of different flowers shapes to attract a variety of bees, both long-tongued and short-tongued bees.

4). Avoid “fancy” plants, the hybrids that have been deveolped with multiple double frilly layers. This only confuses bees when they are looking for nectar and gathering pollen.

5). Provide a succession of nectar-rich and pollen bearing blooms throughout the growing season. Select plants that flower during the earliest spring, during the summer months, and until the first hard frost.

6.) Plant a clover lawn, or throw some clover seed onto your existing grass lawn to create a mixed effect.

7.) Bee Friendly–bees only sting when provoked. When encountering an angry bee, stay calm and walk away slowly.

8.) Plant lots of blue, purple, and yellow flowers, a bees favorite colors.

9). Provide a source of pesticide-free water and mud in your bee paradise.

The first nine tips are for any garden, large or small. The last is for people with larger land areas.

10).  Establish hedgerows, or clumps of native woody shrubs and trees, and wildflower fields. Contact the USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services) for available funding opportunities.

Tomorrow I’ll post our top ten native plants for attracting and supporting native bees.

Cornus alternifolia ©Kim Smith 2009One of the most elegant of all native trees is the not-widely planted Cornus alternifolia, or Pagoda Dogwood. Where ever I plant this tree of uncommon grace and beauty it becomes a magnet for all manner of bees and butterflies.

The GloucesterCast Podcast Episode 11

GloucesterCast Podcast Episode 11

Click here to play or save the podcast

Taped August 29, 2011 with hosts Joey Ciaramitaro From GoodMorningGloucester.org and Kenny MacCarthy from www.CapeAnnInfo.com

Show Notes-

Literal Guy, Hurricane Irene Round Up, Crazy Weather Guy Tomatoes, Buddha, Llama Marut and The Summer Retreat,Blog Notes, Kenny’s Property Management Tips For The Fall.

Subscribe to the podcast here

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes and the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes and the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market

In my never ending quest to use fresh local food in my recipes, I had no choice but to focus on the amazing tomatoes that the local vendors had to offer–they were everywhere at the Cape Ann Farmers Market a few weeks ago.

I wish I had brought my camera along with my camera man while taping segments for my show, Inspired Cooking, as the displays of fresh tomatoes along with the rest of the in season produce made the market especially gorgeous that week.

I have two recipes for you this week, one my own and one not.  I was looking for a new way to use the tomatoes and I thought–what about a tomato pie?  So I looked online and all I found was more or less quiche-y recipes (which I didn’t want) or a mayo and cheese based pie, which I didn’t want to make either.  So that got me thinking.  How do I like my tomatoes?  I like mine sundried, roasted and fresh so why not make a pie that includes all of these preparations?  So, this is what I came up with–and after sharing it with friends–the reviews are multiple thumbs up.  In fact, my friend Annie said it might be been the best thing I ever made!  So, here you go.

Parmesan Crusted Summer Tomato Pie

For the crust:

2 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup butter, frozen and cut into cubes
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
8-10 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor (or by hand, or with a fork, or a pastry blender) combine flour and butter until butter is incorporated and the size of small peas.  Blend in cheese.  Add water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing if you are using the processor.  Mix until dough forms a loose ball.  Divide in half, form into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to use.  This step can be done days in advance!

For the filling:

1 to 1 ½ pints cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half along the ‘equator”
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh or dried herbs, such as oregano or thyme
2 pounds large tomatoes
1 tablespoon tapioca
1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
½ pound soft cheese, such as fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, sliced
½ cup julienne sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 egg, beaten
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toss cut tomatoes with olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour until wrinkled, lightly browned and caramelized.  Set aside to cool (this step can be done well in advance as well)

When ready to bake, increase oven temperature to 375.  Move oven rack to the second to bottom setting and place a stoneware baking stone on the rack (if available)

Slice tomatoes into ¼ slices and lay flat on a kitchen towel to remove some of the moisture.  Lay another towel on top and press down lightly.  Set aside.

Roll out one crust and fit into pie plate.  Sprinkle tapioca on to the bottom of the crust and top with julienne sundried tomatoes.  Place a layer of fresh tomatoes over sundried and spread on pesto.  Top pesto with cheese and then another layer of sliced tomatoes.

Roll out remaining crust and cut into strips.  Make a lattice (woven) crust for the top or a traditional flat top crust with lots of vent holes to allow the steam to escape.   Brush top crust with beaten egg and sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper.

Bake in preheated oven on the pizza stone for 45 minutes uncovered.  Cover top lightly with aluminum foil if over browning and cook for 5-10 more minutes until bottom crust is browned.

Allow to cook on a baking rack for 10 minutes before serving. Can be served hot or cold.

Enjoy!

The second recipe is below.  My new friend Peg and her little helper were making a panzanella salad.  Panzanella is a bread and tomato based salad that is perfect for using the bounty of your garden this time of year as it really is a free form dish.  As long as you use tomatoes and bread you can dress it any way you like and add any other fresh veggies that please you and your family.  Here is a generic panzanella recipe for you to try from Epicurious.com.

Panzanella Salad

  • 3/4 pound day-old crusty peasant-style whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), trimmed and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 3/4 cup sliced unwaxed cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded

Preparation

In a serving bowl stir together the bread, the tomatoes, the cucumber, the onion, the oil, the vinegar, the basil, and salt and pepper to taste until the salad is combined well.