Archive | June, 2012

World Famous Bruschetta

Oh thank God, summer-fresh tomatoes are ripe on the vine on my tomato plants, and they’re all over the farmer’s market! There’s no better way to celebrate the flavor of fresh tomatoes than with this delicious bruschetta, which is the perfect marriage of flavors. It’s bright, slightly sweet, a little savory, earthy, tangy and delicious. Plus it’s got the fabulous crunch of crostini with the sink-your-teeth-into-it texture of fresh tomatoes. Yum! This is one of my secret weapons to help convert my carnivore husband into a vegan. It’s all about creating ultra flavorful, incredibly delicious dishes and this is definitely one of them. And it doesn’t hurt that this helps me put my tomatoes to good use. Since I planted 18 heirloom tomatoes this year (does anyone need that many tomatoes?!), I have realized two things: 1. it’s time that I face the fact that I have a tomato plant addiction, and 2. I’d better find a lot of awesome uses for tomatoes.

The only reason why I call this my “world famous” bruschetta is because wherever John and I travel in the world, I always make this appetizer for the new friends we make along the way. And it always inspires moans of joy…in every accent! Most bruschetta recipes call for you to make the crostini and put the tomato mixture on top, but since people pretty much inhale it, I’ve taken to serving the topping in a separate bowl to force people to make their own (which slows them down a tiny bit). Yes, there have been nights when this is all that John and I eat – we start with every intention to eat a complete dinner but we just can’t stop ourselves since it’s so tasty. The best part is that when I make this, it satisfies my carnivore husband so much that he stops fantasizing about having meat for the night. That’s an impressive feat for a dish! Hmm, I think I should rename this “Magic Bruschetta.”

Cimeron’s Magic Bruschetta

Serves: 6-8

From fridge to table: a little over an hour

2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes, tossed in a strainer to drain off extra juice

4 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 – 3/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp dried oregano

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 baguette, sliced into thin coins

Heat oven to 350. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of garlic powder, or rub each one down with a half-sliced clove of garlic. Bake the bread coins until they’re golden and crispy, which can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on your oven. Then voila – you have crostini! Celebrate your awesomeness, then remove crostini from oven and put it in a serving bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the bruschetta ingredients well and refrigerate for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so if you can. Do not cheat and skip the refrigeration step – the flavors only come alive and set after an hour of refrigeration. Trust me on this one!

Serve the crostini in a bowl and the bruschetta in a separate bowl, then watch your friends and family vacuum it up! Or screw your friends and save it all for yourself… because it’s THAT good. 🙂

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Secret Popcorn

Hello and sorry for my absence! I’m in Portugal on assignment at the Kite Surf Pro World Championship Tour event in gorgeous Cascais. Not-so-reliable internet connections and long days of work have made it challenging to post. But I’ve been dying to dig in to this one, so let’s get to it!

I’m about to teach you a secret to making popcorn in the microwave WITHOUT having to buy those disgusting chemical-laden microwavable popcorns. It’s so simple that you’re going to say “no way – seriously?!” and will save you time and money, and may even make you live longer (I mean seriously – those polymers that they call ‘flavoring’ in the microwave bags cannot be good for you).  The evil makers of microwavable popcorn are going to hate me for this, but this is well-deserved payback for their assault on my pallet and their utter mistreatment of my favorite snack: the almighty popcorn.

It’s no secret that popcorn is one of the greatest snacks on the planet. Ever since childhood when my mum would make it in a huge pot on the stove, I have been an addict. It’s my go-to food when I – or my potato-chip loving husband –  have the munchies. It’s light, crunchy, good for you and not fattening, and the perfect alternative to greasy chips. The only imperfect thing about it is that it’s a pain to make. Oh how I rejoiced when microwavable popcorn came out.. And then oh how I frantically scraped my tongue when those chemically coated cardboard popcorn pieces passed my lips. That was emotionally scarring! So those evil makers of microwave popcorn deserve what’s coming to them now…

Here’s the secret: you can pop loose popcorn in any paper bag in the microwave. Seriously.

I like using small paper lunch bags, or better yet, get the free little paper freezer bags from the grocery store, which are slightly thicker than lunch bags – you know, the ones that they use for small tubs of ice cream. Just ask the checkout person and they’ll give a handful of bags for free. This will save you a lot of money – one bag of loose popcorn (with about 15 cents worth of kernels) makes about as much as $30-40 worth of those microwavable popcorn bags. And it’ll also save your taste buds from being assaulted by chemicals.

Here’s how you do it: Load up the bag with 1/4-1/2 cup of loose popcorn kernels (try white popcorn – it’s the lightest and has the best flavor in my opinion), fold the top of the bag  tightly with three folds, put in the microwave (flat side down) and pop it on your microwave’s popcorn setting. Listen for the pops to settle – you may need to add 30-60 seconds to your microwave’s popcorn setting to get all the kernels popped.

One more secret to awesome popcorn: sprinkle it with truffle salt. Yep, truffle salt. It is TO DIE FOR on popcorn! Once I tried it, it was over – it’s the only way I can eat popcorn now. You can purchase truffle salt online at lots of place. I like the one I found at San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza building at the mushroom guy’s shop, and also the black truffle salt at SpiceHound.com – both of theirs have a big truffle flavor and lots of black truffle bits. At $20-25 per jar, it’s expensive but it’ll last you a couple of years – it’s totally worth it. Happy snacking!

Hi from Portugal!