tomato toast

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Come late August, early September, tomatoes become an endangered species.  They are still around, but slowly starting to disappear, reminding you that soon enough the prominent real estate they’ve been holding will be relinquished to the apples and pumpkins of autumn.

But there is still time! Just a couple more weeks to soak up all the delicious sweet and savory tomatoeness.  And what better way to do that than by treating them with the utmost reverence?

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This is not fancy. Nor is it complex. In fact, it seems likely that a monkey could put this dish together.  But that doesn’t make it any less tasty.  A great recipe doesn’t always require that you have intensive skill in the kitchen, but should be something you may not have conceived of on your own.

The funny thing about how much I adore making this is that I used to be afraid of mayonnaise.  I loved it, I recognized its value and importance in my diet, but alas.  It irked me.  I couldn’t bring myself to use it.  Then someone made me tomato toast–and I was forever changed. I had to be able to make it for myself, because I was craving it constantly. It tasted like summer. So I faced my fears of mayonnaise. And I’ve never looked back.

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The moral of this slightly rambling story is that if you too love those late summer tomatoes (and herbs, the herbs in the mayo are important) and just want to savor them as long as possible, this is the dish for you.  Ridiculously easy and silly delicious, it is just the way to send these summer delights off in style.  Until next summer when they once again grace us with their abundance.

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Tomato Toast
serves 2

4 slices hearty, thick sliced multigrain bread
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (if you feel daring, make your own, I entrust you to the geniuses at serious eats for that)
1/2 teaspoon each of basil, chives, tarragon, and parsley, diced (or any combination there of that is to your liking)
A bunch of various colored tomatoes, in thick slices (since they come in all shapes and sizes, I leave it to you to determine how much is right. As these photos show, I tend to pile on as many as possible)
Salt and pepper to taste, extra chives for garnish

  1. Combine your herbs and mayo until well combined.
  2. Toast the breads, lightly.
  3. Smear the mayo, on the toasts.
  4. Arrange the tomato slices atop the toasts. Cover with salt, pepper, and extra chives. Eat immediately. Savor summer.
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tomato toast

the veggie bowl

IMG_5710Oh January. You saucy minx.

Just as the post-holiday blues hit and we all vow to eat nothing but vegetables until eternity, you swoop in with biting cold temperatures that produce cravings of warm, cheesey, carby things.

This little number is the perfect crossover between what your heart is telling you you want and what your brain is in the background mentioning might be the healthy choice.  Finding the middle ground of these forces is the only way to live.   In my experience, if you fall too far down the treat rabbit hole you will just find as much discomfort as you might in a hunger-induced juice cleanse haze.

Whatever the month, you should always get to eat delicious things.  Start strong in January.  Eat your veggies and keep your cheesy goodness too.

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the veggie bowl
serves 2

This is similar to a previously semi-indulgent farro bowl, with some seasonal changes. You can add more veggies than the ones here (they are just what happened to be available in my fridge). Sub in different greens like kale or chard; broccoli would be a wonderful addition, as would asparagus. If you like things spicy add some red pepper flakes when you cook the vegetables.  You could also throw in some chicken or even steak for extra protein. GO CRAZY.  And I suppose you could exclude the cheese, but I wouldn’t.

1 cup farro
2 tsp chives, chopped
1 tbs seasame seeds
4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese (of your preference, I recommend a cheddar jack or parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the farro, mix in the chives, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet cook the vegetables over medium high heat.  Start with the onion (as it takes the longest to get tender), cook for 2 minutes then add mushrooms.  Stir occasionally and season as you go.  When the mushrooms begin to brown and the onion is translucent, add in the spinach and sesame seeds and reduce heat to low. Cook until spinach wilts and remove from heat.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is just at a rolling boil, add the eggs in their shells and let them cook for 6 minutes. Pull them out and run them under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel them and cut them in half.
4. Add the vegetables and cheese to the farro and chives, and stir together.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and give each bowl an egg.

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the veggie bowl

bargain bivalves

I was admittedly late to the oyster party.  These raw, curiously textured, “tastes like the ocean” suckers were a total conundrum to me.  Their in the shell presentation and consistent partnership with champagne was enough to make me want to try them, but the aforementioned descriptors are what stopped me.  It took 25  years of life for me to recognize my foolishness.  Living in close proximity to some of the freshest, most delectable specimens available; I was doing myself a disservice by not indulging (a credo I apply to most dining experiences).

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mignonette sauce is my topper of choice

They are one of the ultimate summer snacks, and since they pair perfectly with cold summer beverages, many restaurants draw in a hefty post-work crowd by playing the bargain bivalve game.  Even some of Boston’s top restaurants do it. Eater Boston has a comprehensive list of where to find the $1 oyster deals in and around the city for each day of the week…but here are my preferences for the Monday to Friday grind:

Monday: Rialto (pictured here), starting at 5:30pm

Tuesday: Puritan & Co, starting at 5:30pm

Wednesday: GRILLED OYSTERS?! at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Thursday: Les Zygomates, 4:00-6:00pm

Friday (but available everyday): Lineage, 5:00-7:00pm

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he is just begging for a glass of champagne

The thing that is still unclear to me is just how many is too many. Can’t stop won’t stop.

bargain bivalves

micro salad

This salad is micro both for its petit size, and its use of micro greens. However, the real secret gem ingredient is sugar snap pea tendrils. They are tendrils…that taste like sugar snap peas.

the most petit lunch
the most petit lunch

They are these beautiful green curlicues that grow along with the leaves and pea pods.  In season now, they are irresistibly playful, and tasty too.  It is the perfect touch of sweetness in this baby salad.

 

pea tendrilling
pea tendrilling

You could absolutely beef this up with some other lettuces, or perhaps the addition of some seasonal fruit, but just as it is it perfectly suits a midday appetite (particularly on the weekends when you’ve had a massive breakfast and know you’re eating an early dinner but still can’t ignore the afternoon hungries).

Don’t be intimidated by its simplicity, it just wants no muss or fuss.  But not surprisingly, it does want a side crouton.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

CLOSE UP
CLOSE UP

1 bunch pea tendrils

1 box micro arugula greens

¼ cup chives, chopped

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

goat cheese

1 demi baguette, sliced & toasted

balsamic vinegar

sea salt & pepper to taste

  • Slice baguette, toast for 5 minutes or until just browning on the edges in a 350 degree oven.
  • Slice chives, combine with other greens in a large bowl.
  • Over medium high heat, toast almonds. They are done when they become fragrant and just begin to brown, it should take about 5 minutes. Move them around in the pan periodically so one side doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes.
  • Spread goat cheese on the toasts. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  • Add almonds to the greens, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle everything with balsamic vinegar to your preference.  And might I suggest just putting the salad right on top of your toasts for eating.
salad. on toast.
salad. on toast.
micro salad

chronicles of a breakfast addict

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I am not sure who they are, but they are right.  For me, few things come close to a perfectly cooked egg or a piece of toast slathered in butter.  I am a glutton for breakfast treats (current addiction being the lemon curd danish at Crema Café in Harvard square…it’s divine), I am addicted to cereal, and I would wear maple syrup as perfume if it wasn’t so sticky.

I could wax poetic on all ways that breakfast is culinary heaven, but instead I shall recount some early morning excursions I’ve been on lately so that you might go off and have your own adventures amidst Boston’s best pancakes, homefries, and the like.

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THE sourdough griddle cakes with honey butter.

Puritan & Company:  Brunch here literally blew my mind. Everything was phenomenal, and we tried the majority of things on the menu.  Highlights were definitely the flawless over easy eggs that topped most of the dishes, the sourdough griddle cakes, and the deconstructed yogurt and fruit parfait.  They even have a central breakfast treat table to display the assorted homemade pastries too.  I want to wake up in their dining room every Sunday morning. Creepy? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

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The most perfect sunnyside up eggs with baby chive bits and toasts.
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deconstructed parfait: all the fruit, homemade pear compote, greek yogurt dollop, tasty granola.

                                                                          Boston Brunchers at Brio: I got really lucky and had the chance to attend a brunch at Brio in Chestnut Hill with the Boston Brunchers, a fantastical group of bloggers in Boston that get free brunches about town and then tell the rest of the world about them.  We got a complimentary stint at SoulCycle (which nearly killed me) and we were rewarded with brunch.  There was stuffed French toast, eggs benedict, sweet potato hash and huge bowls of fresh fruit.  The place is lovely and the service was friendly. Great spot for an easy morning meal.

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stuffed berry covered french toast and baby benedicts on decadent biscuits with turkey sausage and spinach…stunningly plated.

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everyone’s favorite dinosaur.

Bagelasaurus: This micro bagel shop lives inside Cutty’s (which is fantastic itself).  On Friday and Saturday mornings Mary Ting Hyatt is making bagels the old school way: from scratch and rolled by hand.  You have to get there practically right at 8am when they open to ensure you can get them before they run out, and even then you’ll likely be waiting in line.  But they are worth getting up early for.  They are unlike any other bagel around…the outside has that ideal crispness that gives way to an airy, chewy interior.  And it doesn’t even require toasting, just a good slathering of schmear. (Edible Boston put Hyatt on the cover of their Winter 2014 edition, and the article is worth the read and littered with ridiculously pretty pictures).

not even doing these beauties justice.
not even doing these beauties justice.

OTHER PLACES OF NOTE: Keltic Krust in Newton (go for the breakfast sandwiches on traditional Irish brown bread); Mul’s Diner in South Boston (epic greasy spoon, cash only, a classic breakfast); Ohlin’s Bakery in Belmont (unreal donuts but not for the faint of heart, these are industrial sized pillows of sugar and joy).

Now accepting any and all breakfast/brunch recommendations.

chronicles of a breakfast addict

a sea of green

Sometimes, when you get all caught up in donut and cookie intake, your body revolts, and craves all things green.

Greens aren’t so bad, in truth they are actually kind of lovable.  Especially in the spring when they are at their greenest.  So I compiled all the green things in my fridge, added some frills, and ended up with this little bowl of healthy.

all the greens.
all the greens.

Simple and satisfying, it’s a perfect antidote to sugar overload. Or just to eat because you’re hungry and it tastes really good.

Get your green on.
PS. If you were asking yourself if those are assorted undergarments surrounding the edge of the bowl in the photos, the answer is yes.  The bowl comes from fishs eddy (purchased years ago), the coolest little kitchen shop in NYC.

with the frills.
with the frills.

 

All things green salad

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup scallions, sliced on an angle (just greens)
2 cups small English peas
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups baby arugula
4 eggs, hard cooked
1 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • boil the eggs: in a large pot cover 4 eggs with cold water until just submerged.  bring to a boil, then put heat low and cover the pot.  let eggs cook an additional 8 minutes.  Remove and run eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle.  Peel immediately and set aside.
  • bring 2nd large pot of water to a boil.
  • remove woody ends of asparagus, cut spears on an angle into bite size pieces.
  • drop cut asparagus into the water.  blanch 5 minutes or until tender. Put in ice bath to stop cooking and preserve color.  Remove from ice bath and set aside.
  • Blanch peas 3 minutes or until just cooked. Ice bath it. remove and set aside with asparagus. let cool.
  • Slice scallion on diagonal, just the greens!
  • Put arugula in a big salad bowl and combine all green things. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, add the cheese cheese, squeeze lemon over everything, drizze with olive oil, toss to combine.
  • slice eggs and lay them atop salad.
a sea of green

pizza pizza.

It’s basically sacrilegious to go to New Haven and not have pizza. I still haven’t worked out how this small slice of southern Connecticut became the hub of Italian thin crust, but it did. So on a recent visit I did some investigative research on the offerings.

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Pepe’s plain cheese

There are several places there making really delicious pies, and everyone seems to have an opinion about which is the best. So using my siblings as tasters, we decided to explore the breadth of options.

We went for two of the most well known spots, Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s, and ladies choice (the lady being my younger sister who currently lives in New Haven): Café Romeo.

From Pepe’s we got a plain cheese pie, after an intense debate about whether or not we would try their famous white clam pie, which is often imitated but apparently unmatched. Something about seafood on pizza is for me slightly unappealing, but people love it (clearly, because it’s become quite famous). But the plain lived up to the hype.

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A passionate taste tester evaluating Pepe’s

The proportions of the sauce to the cheese to the crust were spot on, but the sauce was what really shined. The center of the pie got a little flimsy but the crust was charred and chewy.

Sally’s is famous for their tomato pie, so we got a small one of those and small plain cheese (to have a true point of comparison). The tomato pie was good, but maybe I’m just a sucker for the classics, because I loved the cheese pie. It just edged out Pepe’s with the crust upholding a bit better, and the flavor was amazing. It had that certain something that made it almost impossible to stop eating. If I lived in New Haven, I’d be a glutton for Sally’s. Easily.

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Sally is actually short for Salvatore. Fun fact.

The Café Romeo pizza was really just something we wanted to try, having heard good things about their mashed potato situation. A white pie liberally covered in mashed potatoes, pieces of bacon, and sliced red onion, it was quite delectable…but one slice was more than enough. I would certainly recommend it though.

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Cafe Romeo mashed potato pizza

Moral of the story is there is nothing quite like this in Massachusetts. Sure we have good pizza, but there is something unique about these super thin, flash cooked Italian pies. But rumor has it Frank Pepe’s is planning to open up a shop in Boston…here’s hoping.

 

pizza pizza.