I have started this post exactly five times, and I have decided that I’m not erasing the first line again- come hell or high water. Phew, now that’s done, I might finally be able to tell you how thrilled I am to write, today. I’ll start by telling you that today is the two-year anniversary of The Tomato Tart and I’ll be sharing a recipe for a simple and fresh plum caprese. It’s perfect with autumn’s juicy plums, those lovely dark stone fruits that stubbornly linger well into fall.
The other exciting thing is pretty big and pretty awesome. Since July, I have been working with three fantastic women to launch Bloggers without Borders as an organization which raises funds and awareness for food-related nonprofits. On Tuesday, we officially launched with our first nonprofit partner, WhyHunger. As many of you know, I work with nonprofits for my day job and have done so for more than seven years. The Online Bakesale for Japan was the first time I combined my blog with my passion for creating positive changes in the world. Bloggers without Borders is a way for me to do that every day. I invite you to learn more about our project, attend an event, or be a part of our tribe.
Now, back to the blogiverssary, while I considered baking a cake or a tart for the occasion, the truth is, I’d rather eat salad than almost anything. Besides, it’s not just a salad, … get the recipe
Summer in San Francisco is a funny thing. It’s a little like an elusive lover who comes and goes as he pleases. Summer in this town is full of dashed hopes, broken promises, and yet you wait, remembering how good it was the last time you basked in the warmth on a lazy Sunday afternoon. For me, sunny summer picnics aren’t associated with bright red cherries or plump juicy peaches. When I think of summer heat, I think of figs, plums, and pomegranates- and oddly enough, the beginning of school. True warmth, comes to our city in the 9th month.
I can be sure that as soon as the first figs appear at the market, I can happily lounge in the sunshine with a glass of wine and a smile. And so it’s September and time for a Vintage Recipe Remake; it’s been a long time coming. This recipe from a book Christianna found in the Burwell, Nebraska library is a real treasure of Depression-style American-plains cooking. The recipe is hardly a recipe at all: Pork Fruit Cake. The instructions are vague at best, and the finished product doesn’t sound all too appetizing, to tell the truth. Good thing, I happen to love all three components. Pork. Fruit. Cake.
The first place my brain went with this was towards a plantain and cornmeal cake with cochinita pibil and some spicy salsa. I think I still need to create that recipe, because it sounds really fantastic … get the recipe
“People are so busy searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Rita and I, we’ve found our rainbow; it’s this place. The gold? It’s the people, the guests, that come here” I’m walking with Dane Pitcher as he pours organic fertilizer at the base of his grape vines. It’s good work, Dane looks content, and chats with me while dumping the mixture from a five gallon bucket. We talk about everything from grapes to hops to career paths to love (he courted Rita for three years!) and drift back to grapes again.
It’s my second morning of a three-day trip on The Wine Road. We’re exploring The Alexander Valley, The Russian River Valley, and The Dry Creek Valley. I’ve awoken early to the smell of coffee brewing and the sounds of birds everywhere, not a bad way for a city girl to start the day.
I’m walking the small, but lovely vineyard with Dane, and shooting photos of the verdant garden he Rita have build. I slow my breath and stand nearly motionless trying to catch a photo of an elusive hummingbird. Just then, Rita calls me in for one of her outstanding homemade breakfasts: frittata with red pepper puree, perfectly roasted potatoes, and fragrant persimmon bread. As I’m digging into my potatoes, my ride, DJ, arrives.
As we head out for our second day, Dane offers me something I can’t pass up- the chance to learn how he makes wine. I tell him … get the recipe
Maggy and I are both getting a little sweaty in the heat of Becky’s Salt Lake City Kitchen. The tomatoes are roasting, the olives have been pulsed into garlicky, briny, tapenades, and Becky is snapping away as Maggy and I work the dough for our two tomato tarts.
It started as an idea to highlight summer’s best seasonal ingredient (the tomato, duh!), a way for a few food-blogging girl friends to make lunch together, and then Becky (of The Vintage Mixer fame) had to go suggesting we turn this thing into a competition. Friends/Judges were called, lines were drawn in the sand, and the tomato tart-off was invented.
With the competition heating up, Maggy and I worked feverishly, tasting each component of our tomato tarts. A little salt here, a smidge more vinegar there. I kept my eye on her making sure she wasn’t bribing the judge when I turned my back. I mean, I wouldn’t put anything past her. She may be adorable, but that girl is one fierce competitor. Luckily Becky was monitoring both of us- who can say whether I may have winked once or twice at our friendly judge, Mike, if she hadn’t been keeping tabs.
Maggy’s tart crust was blind baking and the smell of butter wafted its golden scent from the oven. Sealing the empty shell with an egg wash prevented the dreaded soggy bottom and readied the crust for a glorious creamy chevre interior. When I snuck a taste of the … get the recipe
There are two kinds of people: those who are excited by soup and those who are not. I neatly fall into the first camp. To be fair, it’s easy to be excited by anything when your earliest memories came from a kitchen like my grandmother’s.
I remember beautiful and rustic potages, aromatic and creamy leek and potato, cold cucumber soup in the summer with a dollop of cream on top. I remember a bouillabaisse in the South of France when I was a little girl- I had a mussel I knew was bad, but I just threw the mussel to the side and kept eating because I’d never tasted a broth so good.
My father loved soup too, I remember the way he’d say “Passe le beurre, si vous plais” in his comically bad French accent. He’d joyously drop a pat of butter into his potage, swirling it around with the sour cream and fresh herbs. Soup wasn’t just a seasonal thing in our family. Vicchysoise and cucumber soup made appearances, but more common in the summer months was soup au pistou, and something that could almost be called a ratatouille soup (tojours sans aubergine!).
Though parts of my family lived just 45 minutes from the Spanish border, gazpacho never made an appearance on my childhood table. Here’s how my first encounter with gazpacho went down.
“What’s it called?” I asked. Skeptical of the uncooked tomatoes, and a name that sounded entirely made up. So skeptical, in fact, … get the recipe
I’m a big fan of Spanish food and wine and don’t even get me started on Flamenco. I’ve wanted to be a flamenco dancer ever since I saw that gorgeous dancing and (of course) the costumes when I was a little girl visiting Barcelona. When the bota bag is passed and the Spanish classical guitar is played, your dear Tomato Tart might just end up on the dance floor using her serviette as a mantilla. This may or may not have happened one more than one occasion. You’re getting nothing more out of me on that subject; if you want more, you’ll have to find the few living witnesses.
So, my darlings, it’s been nearly a whole year since I’ve done a giveaway. It’s just that I was looking for the perfect fit. Guess what? I’ve found it.
It involves some of my most favorite things
- Northern California
- Fabulous Spanish Food
- Killer Chefs
- Festive Music
- And most importantly? More Bubbly!
Courtesey of Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards, I’ve got a pair of VIP tickets to the 20th anniversary Catalan Festival in Sonoma, California on July 21st and 22nd.
Cool right? Very cool.
Entering is super simple and you get multiple entries and you can enter every day until July 17th at 12:01 am. Please note you must be 21 to enter and by entering you are acknowledging that you are 21 years old.
I hope to see you at the Gloria Ferrer… get the recipe
It seems weird to jump into an awesome buttermilk pie post without mentioning the fact that things have been a little quiet around here. Two and a half weeks with no posts is far from normal for me. The flame is still burning bright, but can I tell you that I have been as busy as a girl can possibly be? Well I have. The projects, well, they’re still under wraps right now, but I have a feeling you’ll know and love some of the amazing people I’m working with.
Now, let’s talk about pie because it’s Pie Day! Just about one year ago, I fell head over heels with the art and alchemy of mixing flour and fat and water and working it into flaky puffy magic. I fell in love with pastry dough in a very serious way. So now, I make pie. I make hand pies. I make tarts, gallettes, and crostatas too. Sweet or savory, doesn’t matter I love making pie. I also like to eat pie.
When I was trying to figure out what kind of pie to make for the Pie Party, I kept going back to the idea of incorporating buttermilk. I’m having a total crush on the buttermilk and cottage cheese from Kalona Super Natural, so naturally I want to put in or on everything I cook. Buttermilk? Buttermilk? Buttermilk in pie? I thought to myself. But then, I seemed to remember that there is such a … get the recipe
Busy. We’re all so busy. When I run into a friend I haven’t seen in some time I ask, “How are you?” the answer is usually something like “Good. Good. Busy, but good.”
How many times have you heard this? How many times have you said it? How do we work, have time for family, friends, exercise, putting dinner on the table? The “Busy, but good” you share with old friends can be “I’m overwhelmed, burnt out, tired… “ in conversations with your partner/therapist/sibling/confidant/mom/.
Meeting the demands of day to day responsibilities can be difficult. I’ve been at the burnout stage. Though I don’t have a magic cure, I will say that giving yourself a little break is so important. Here are my top five tips for getting over burnout and getting on with life.
1. Get Up
By that I mean, get up from what you’re working on and take a walk for at least 15 minutes, or stretch for 10 (preferably outside), or meditate (away from your desk), or dance your butt off to 3 killer songs. Just get up and give yourself a break. Do this twice a day, and you will soon notice that things get just a little bit better.
2. Get Out
Into nature. When I was having a hard time writing for this blog, I turned to the things that inspired me. I started getting out of town with the guy I love. Since we’re not rich, we usually just get out of … get the recipe