Monday, January 25, 2010

Bread, Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, 'Nuff Said

On the newest episode of The Barefoot Contessa this past weekend, Ina cooked up something straight after my own heart. We went out, got the ingredients, and made it that very same evening. I'm talking about Scalloped Tomatoes. Easy to make, and scrumptious to eat. What more could you want?

Unfortunately, the recipe did not appear on The Food Network site until today, but that didn't stop us!! We went off what we could remember from the show. Personally, I don't think you can really ever go wrong in quantities when dealing with bread, tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Those things were made for each other. Our finished product was not quite as beautiful as Ina's version, but the flavor was great.

It's like a caprese salad, or margherita pizza in a casserole. We definitely plan on making this again, and I'm sure it will be even better with the actual recipe in hand. What can I say? I'm an Italian girl, which means I'm a sucker for dishes like this.


Good olive oil

2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed

16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Culinary Confession

Well, there it is. The object of my desire. My sweet temptation. All that is good and pure in life. I'm talking about garlic.

Because this blog is a journey in growth and self-discovery through food and cooking, I feel I must be honest here, and confront my addiction head-on.

So, let me put myself out there. When I tell people I don't have a garlic press, I usually cite the more socially acceptable reason: "I'm a food purist." Not so. I don't have one because I love touching and peeling garlic by hand. Just the opportunity to hold it makes my day. I could spend hours peeling garlic, and be totally content.

When I read the various home remedies for removing the smell of garlic from hands, I nod along as if I am really quite vexed by the issue. Behind closed doors, though, I ask myself why anyone would be crazy enough to wash away the smell of garlic. The smell of garlic on my hands is like the first day of Spring. I am like the Mary Katherine Gallagher of garlic.

Even cleaning my cutting board is a treat, because the scent of garlic and onions is released from the inner depths of the block.

My devotion to garlic is so deep, I put it in almost everything I cook-even cheese quesadillas. The joy of garlic is endless.

Hopefully I haven't scared anyone too much, but I had to be open and honest about this. It feels good to get it off my chest. Now I feel that I can move forward into the next phase of my garlic-flavored future.