Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Scallops w/Sauteed Corn, Pepper & Avacado

One last go around for the summer combo of corn & scallops. This time we added a slight mash of avocado beneath each scallop to fix them in place on the bed of summer corn.

These avocado were a little less ripe than we would have liked, but the stronger 'green' flavor that an under-ripened avocado has worked well with the peppers in the corn.

The avocado was slightly seasoned with a bit of salt and a touch of olive oil to give it some smoothness.

Here's a shot of the black peppers that we picked up from Savoie Farms at Headhouse Market. The flesh of the black pepper was a little thicker and had a pronounced crunch, which worked well to marry the green-ish tinge of the avocado to the corn.

The corn was sliced off the cob and then added to the diced pepper.

Sauteed with a touch of butter and olive oil, we didn't overseason the corn.

Final step was to create little lillypads for the scallops to rest upon.

This is starting to become a habit - more seared scallops.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart

Spurred on by the success of her last experiment and the ever-growing mountain of cherry tomatoes being pushed out by the Sweet 100 plants, Elizabeth decided to make a Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart (link to recipe) to go along with a rack of lamb we were having for dinner.

To make the tart visually interesting, she threw in a few different tomato varieties that we had picked up at the farmer's market. One of my favorties was the Black Cherry Tomatoes from Savoie Organic Farms; these were a little firmer fleshed and have a deeper, less tart taste than your typical cherry.

Oiled and seasoned with some salt, pepper and Early Italian Purple Garlic from the market, these went into a 400 degree oven to roast away. After about 30 minutes, they were cooled off and the liquid they were released was drained off to use in a marinade for the lamb.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth made the tart shell using your standard pie-crust kind of recipe...cold cubed butter, pulsed in the food processor with flour & dash of salt, then a little bit of cold water & dash of lemon juice mixed in...she left the cornmeal out of that the recipe called for.

The dough went into a little tapas pan and then into the oven until golden brown; it was left to cool alongside the tomatoes.

Next, she mixed together equal parts goat cheese and thick Greek Yogurt (we use Fage 0% Fat), mashing in a little nub of leftover ricotta salata to add some saltiness. She left out the mustard and instead simply spread the cheese across the now-cool tart crust.

Next, time to load it up with tomatoes!

The tart went back into the oven for a brief time to warm through and get all the flavors to marry, then out it came, sprinked with fresh thyme.

Here's the final result, served alongside a slice of lamb. This tart was a little heavier on the tomato than the example from the recipe, but when it's being served alongside lamb rack, the tart cherries, creamy goat cheese and crispy tart crust was a perfect match to the juicy lamb, served rare.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Farmer's Market Finds

Random finds at Headhouse Market.

Gardencress...if watercress and parsley had a baby, with a tiny touch of sweetness in it.

Melon box...we grabbed a midget cantelope...sweet and ripe...great with prosciutto.

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Squid, Octopus, Olive & Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad

Last week we stopped into Bocca mid-day to grab a few of the plates that seems to be above average for Old City fare...read what the professionals are saying about the cretivity coming out of the kitchen here.

One dish that really grabbed our attention was the octopus salad; served with an brushed olive glaze and little roasted cherry tomatoes with crispy tomato-skin 'flags' still attached, it was instant inspiration for a great summer seafood starter. The chef came out to ask us if we liked the dish and when we pried for his technique on the roasted tomatoes, he playfully laughed and said it was a secret.

We just so happen to be neck-deep in cherry tomatoes thanks to the Sweet 100 plant in the container garden, so we figured why not try and recreate those little garnishes...and while we're at it, thrown in a squid & octopus salad to boot.

Here's the results of Elizabeth's experiments with the tomatoes. A little bit of oil and a slow roast kept the body intact while crisping up the skin...getting them to stay upright was the only challenge.

As for the seafood, we purchased some squid caps and baby octopus from Whole Foods. Marinated in some olive oil then flashed on a hot grill pan and sprinkled with mint, they turned out just right.

Finally, we tossed the squid & octopus in with some kalamatas, a little bit of torn arugula and laid it on a spread of tapenade we made with the leftover olives. Finally, our cheery cherry tomatoes studded the salad plate...It wasn't as pretty as Bocca's, but the flavors were pretty darn close and those little tomatoes will probably make a repeat appearance later this summer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jules Thin Crust Pizza - Doylestown

On a day trip passing through Doylestown we stopped at Jules Thin Crust Pizza. I figured with a name like that, they'd probably be able to deliver on what has become our latest obsession...well made pizza crust.

I wasnt' quite sure what to expect as we walked into the place. I thought it was going to be a little sit-down place w/a wood fired oven being tended by a pizzaioli...instead, it was like a Subways meets California Pizza Kitchen...but in a good way.

Basically you pay by the slice and choose from a spread of at least a dozen or more pizzas already cooked up...tell them what you're after and they run it through a conveyor oven to crisp the dough up. The place seemed to be geared for handling lunch crowds but we found the service was cheerful and patient while we stared out blankly over the row upon row of pizzas to pick from.

Of course, they had your traditional pork-centric pizzas, which looked really tasty..all the meat comes from hormone-free animals and they seemed to have a focus on quality ingredient. They had alot of veggie pies to choose from, as well as whole-wheat crust options.

First, we picked a slice of the artichoke, basil & tomato white pizza...even with all the veg, the crust held up perfectly and it wasn't a gloppy mess as is so often the case with marinated artichoke toppings.

Then we chose the more classic tomato & basil pizza...again, crunchy crust and flavorful toppings made for a great lunch...I wish they had one of these near my office so I could pop out for a slice at lunch.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fresh Peach, Thyme & Goat Cheese Pizza

We were visiting my family last weekend and my dad happened to bring up a crate of fresh peaches from South Carolina. We grabbed a dozen to take back to Philly. These guys were perfectly ripened - during the car ride we kept smelling those fresh peaches waft from the back seat.

After the success of the last seasonal fruit pizza, Strawberry, Cashew & Goat Cheese Pizza, we were itching to do something with these peaches that involved grilling the delicious ripe & juicy flesh.

A quick Google popped up this recipe for Grilled Peach Pizza, but the pizza was actually thrown on the grill whole as opposed to grilling the peaches...we were after that charred peach flavor, so I kinda made this up as I went along.

Trader Joe's always has a good deal on goat cheese logs, so used some of that, along with some thyme from the garden. Normally I would make a dough, but lately I've been using lavash brushed in olive oil for a good thin crust.

With the crust brushed in olive oil & sprinkled with thmye & goat cheese crumbles, it goes into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile the thinly sliced peaches go onto a grooved grill pan to get marked and get a little softened up. These peaches were so ripe that I had to be gentle with these to keep them from tearing apart.

The end result was a simple flatbread pizza spiked with tart goat cheese with rich, gooey slices of grilled peach. The grill brings out the meaty-character of peach flesh while removing the syrupy sweetness. The crispy thin crust was a great counter to the peaches...I couldn't see this working too well with a softer crust.