Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tomato Season: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 65

You may notice my 100 days are skipping some numbers here at the blog (and if you did, wow, thanks for paying attention!), and that's because many times my recipes are quick snippets captured only on Instagram, but they still count! I did want to make a mention here of how happy I am to be in Tomato Season. Many years ago, I discovered that if I took nightshade veggies (tomatoes, white potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant) out of my diet, or mostly out of my diet, I had less creaky joints and stiffness. Creaky joints and stiffness are not fun for the potter (nor anyone else, I'm guessing), and once my body makes it clear that it will react negatively to a food, I try to not eat that food. It wasn't too hard to stop eating eggplant, as it's never been something I enjoy outside of a really good moussaka or occasional dip into a bowl of baba ganoush. And green peppers have also never been a favorite outside of using it in mirepoix, and when I started using fennel bulb instead, I discovered I loved fennel, and my aromatic base for all sorts of dishes got a whole lot tastier. I'm a much bigger fan of sweet potatoes than white potatoes, so that was an easy switch, although some days it's hard to pass up a really good french fry. 

I love slicers and big, beefy tomatoes, but when the season starts and there
are so many beautiful cherry and pear tomatoes, I could eat a whole bowl!
These lovelies are from Mudluscious Gardens, and they are luscious!
  The one food in the nightshade group that I was saddest about limiting (couldn't ever do the whole elimination!) is the tomato, but because I noticed how much better I felt, I did limit it greatly. And in the process, I realized how much I had taken tomatoes for granted, adding them to recipes and/or eating them in dishes 'just because', without paying attention to the quality of the fruit itself. In doing this, I also re-remembered how much better tomatoes taste when you eat them in season, and even better if you can eat them soon after they come off the vine. Throughout the year, I still get the occasional jar of pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes,  and I keep a tube of tomato paste in the pantry. But outside Tomato Season, I avoid the actual fruit, not only to feel better, but because they just don't taste good otherwise.

And in tomato season, I happily dive in to all the gorgeous tomatoes while they are in abundance at my local tailgate markets. I think the absence throughout the rest of the year makes those first bites even sweeter, and until the stiffness and creaky joints come back, there will be many tomato-themed recipes to come!

Almost too beautiful to cook, but knowing how much that delicious flavor
will intensify in the oven makes it easier to wait for the finished pie.

Today's recipe was motivated by needing to make more room in my tiny freezer for some stock items, and finding a 'wood-fire grilled whole wheat pizza crust' I didn't even know I had! 

Tomato Pie

1 thin, whole wheat pizza crust (this one was frozen, and already grilled)
1 cup sauce: 1 slightly over-ripe tomato, crushed and blended with 1 TBSP tomato paste 
      plus a good pinch of salt.
1 leek, sliced (whites and some greens) thinly
4 leaves of kale, sliced thinly
5 cloves pickled garlic, sliced
5-6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 small handful size Lion's Mane mushroom, chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped
Fresh tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick - as many as you can fit on top
Pecorino Romano, grated
Grey flaky sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Optional: additional aged cheddar or manchego cheese, grated

Spoon your sauce on the crust, and spread it out evenly across, leaving about 1/2" or slightly less around the edge for the crust. If you'd like more cheese, grate your cheddar or manchego on next. Top with your toppings, and finish with a good grate of Pecorino, a nice sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and a nice grind of pepper.

Slide the pizza into a 400 degree oven, on a pizza stone or a parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes, or until the crust is nicely crisped and the edge of the crust browned and tomatoes lightly bubbling.

A fine pie, and the freshness of those tomatoes just bursts in each bite!

Leftover Note:
Take a slice out of the fridge and let it come to room temp while you scramble up an egg or two. Use that slice to hold the eggs. Sprinkle with basil and maybe some hot sauce. Good stuff.

Leftover win.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sweet Potato & Leek Top Tortilla Española - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 62

If you come to Asheville (and you really should, you know!), you will find unending possibilities for good food and drink. One of my favorites, and they were even before they were a client, is Cúrate Tapas Bar, and their Tortilla Española is something I love! I also love sweet potatoes, and in fact I like them much more than white potatoes, so as soon as I had this goodness at the restaurant, I began wondering how it would taste with sweet potatoes. 

I kept wondering, and then a wonderful thing happened: chef Katie Button released her Cúrate cookbook, and included was her recipe for the Tortilla. I loved it so much the first time I made it myself, I think I made it easily five more times within as many weeks. I think it's my favorite way to eat white potatoes.

But the question remained, I wonder if I could make a version with sweets? The opportunity presented itself this week when I decided to put together some small bites to celebrate a neighbor's birthday. I was thinking of making the tortilla from the cookbook for the event, adding the blanched leek tops (see Day 59, June 26) from the freezer. Well the day did not go as planned, and I didn't get a chance to shop for the cookbook tortilla, but when I got home, I realized I had the eggs, I had some onions, I had the leek tops, and I had a good pile of sweet potatoes. Here was my chance to test out a new version!

Flipped out of the cast iron pan and onto a platter - perfect for entertaining, because
you can plate it, then get ready and it'll be at a perfect serving temperature
by the time your guests arrive!
I don't always test new recipes when I'm entertaining ... oh wait, yes I do. In fact, I think I make a point to do that, so this fit right in. In addition to the leek tops, I had some beautiful oyster mushrooms from the tailgate that just seemed to want to go in the tortilla, so in they went.

I was a bit rushed from the 'day that did not go as planned', so I didn't think to take any pictures until the plating, but I think the key to making sweet potatoes work for this is to slice them thin, and then watch them in the fry pan and turn them just as they begin to get color. The texture stays really nice in the tortilla!

The recipe below is what I made, following the original recipe out of the Cúrate Cookbook, but adapting for the ingredients I had - the result is sweeter than the original, to be sure, but if you love sweet potatoes, you'll love it. And I may add some more fresh herbs next time to offset the sweetness .. or not - this was really, really good!!

Sweet Potato, Leek Top, and Oyster Mushroom Tortilla

6 eggs, whisked well
1/3 cup blended oil (I used a little olive oil with a little veg oil)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (a bit less than 1/8")
1/2 large yellow onion, 1/16" slices
1 cup blanched leek tops
1 cup sliced oyster mushrooms (loose pack)

Whisk the eggs in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, then set aside near the stove.

Heat the oil in a 10" cast iron or other heavy-bottom pan. Stove tops vary, but you're looking for a medium heat that's a little hotter than medium. Cook the sliced sweet potatoes in batches, turning them often so they don't burn too fast. Adjust your heat as needed. Once you have a nice, light browning on both sides, use a slotted spatula and remove them, shaking off excess oil, to the bowl of eggs, and add a nice pinch of salt. Repeat until you've done all the sweet potatoes. If you still have a lot of oil, pour off the excess and leave just enough to saute the onions. Lower the heat a bit, add the onions to the pan along with the leek tops. Stir to coat with the oil, cover and let them soften for about 3 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and a nice sprinkle of salt, stir to mix, cover and let cook another 3 minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the eggs, stir to combine thoroughly. Add 2 TBSP oil to the pan, and set the heat to medium/low. Pour in the eggs, and spread it out in an even layer. Cook until the underside is golden and the center is set - about 10 minutes.

Place a plate 'face down' on top of the pan, and using towels or oven mitts, flip the tortilla from the pan to the plate. Immediately slide the tortilla back into the pan so you can get a nice browning on the other side. That'll take another 5-6 minutes. 

Loosen the sides of the tortilla with a spatula, then you can either flip it back onto your serving platter, or get a spatula under it and lift it out of the pan and onto the platter.

*Don't cook it until it's solidly firm all the way through, or you may end up with an over-done tortilla. Let it have a little give in the center, and you'll have a nice moisture (think 'over easy' eggs in creaminess, but not as runny) inside.

This is best at room temp, so you can do it up to an hour before serving.

Swirls and layers of flavor, perfect for a small Swirl Plate!