It's almost tomato picking time again! well, in two months, anyways. Here's one of my favorite recipes for tomatoes coupled with a savory pastry, courtesy of Gourmet
For black pepper parmesan pastry 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
For filling 3/4 lb fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), very thinly sliced 1/2 cup pesto or olive tapanade 2 lb mixed heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
Special equipment: pie weights or raw rice
For pastry: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, parmesan, pepper, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water over and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in food processor) until incorporated.
Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together without falling apart, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) after each addition until incorporated, continuing to test. (Do not overwork dough, or it will become tough.)
Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 2 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather both portions of dough into 1 ball, then pat into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable rim. Roll rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Lightly prick tart shell all over with a fork.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or rice. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack.
Fill tart shell: Remove side of pan and slide shell onto a platter. Arrange one third of mozzarella in bottom of shell and drizzle with one third of pesto. Arrange one third of tomato slices, overlapping, on top of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering twice.
I love summer. And while the other parts of the Bay Area are sizzling at 90 degrees and higher, it's a balmy 81 degrees in San Francisco. I went to the Farmer's Market and found some beautiful summer nectarines that were just glowing red and gold. Normally, I can and do just eat fruit straight up with its own sweet juice as accompaniment. Lately, I've been in the mood to mix nuts and fruits together so I decided to stuff nectarines with a simple nut mixture:
2/3 cup of pecan halves (almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts are also good alternatives) 1/4 cup white sugar plus 1 tbsp turbinado (raw)sugar 2 large egg yolks 4 firm ripe nectarines
For Garnish Greek-style yogurt or vanilla ice cream (I use Trader Joe's brand Greek-style yogurt) Cinammon sugar Honey
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small food processor pulse pecans until finely ground. Add 1/4 cup sugar and yolks and pulse until combined. Halve and pit nectarines and arrange, cut sides up, on a small baking sheet. Divide pecan mixture among nectarine halves, mounding it in the center. Sprinkle nectarines with tablespoon of turbinado sugar. Bake stuffed nectarines in middle of oven until pecan mixture is golden, about 10 minutes. Serve nectarines with yogurt or ice cream. If using yogurt, drizzle a bit of honey and a sprinkle of cinammon sugar and top with a pecan half.
Summer time in San Francisco means many things: fog, street fairs in most of the neighborhoods,dance and film festivals, and of course, free concerts every Sunday at Stern Grove. Although the main attraction is the music, half the fun is getting together with old and new friends and spreading a blanket and feasting on picnic fare. This usually involves a wine bottle (or four), brie, baguettes, fruit, hummus, and other finger foods. Here's my recipe for not so-sweet peanut butter cookies that are great for picnics (or any old time) that I've adapted from the 'Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates' cookbook.
1 cup brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter (I sometimes substitute almond butter) ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 egg 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (i use whole wheat chapati flour) 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 to 2 teaspoons water, as needed 1/4 cup wheat germ
Preheat the oven to 375º. Lightly oil a baking sheet or two.
Cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter, oil, egg, vanilla, and corn syrup. On a piece of wax paper or in a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and blend thoroughly. The dough will be stiff and crumbly. If it won't hold together, add a teaspoon or so of water.
With your hands, shape and roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place them on the baking sheet and, with the bottom of a glass, press them into flat circles. Smooth the cracked edges a little with your fingers. If you like, press the tops with the tines of a fork to give them the mark of classic peanut butter cookies. Sprinkle the tops with wheat germ if you want. Bake for 10 minutes, then remomve to wire racks to cool completely.