Tomato Focaccia

Its hard to resist not eating this entire focaccia in one sitting.  When I made this in 2007, it didn't turn out at all.  Not even close.  So, I left the recipe alone for about four years.  And tried it again.  And it worked.  It worked a bit too well that I almost ate the whole thing in one day.  And then made it again and noticed how good the yeasty-olive oil-y aroma floats through the kitchen.  The cherry tomatoes, especially if sun golds are used, turn into pieces of sweet candy.  Try it, you'll like it.

Tomato Potato Focaccia

barely adapted from The Wednesday Chef
yield: 1-9 inch focaccia

1 medium Yukon Gold potato
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (original recipe says 1 teaspoon fresh yeast)
A pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for salting water for potato
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced crosswise
Coarse sea salt

Place the potato in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potato by an inch. Place the pot over high heat, covered, and bring to a boil. Add a handful of kosher salt to the water. Simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife, around 20 minutes. Drain the potato and let it cool. Peel the potato and mash finely with a fork. Set aside.

Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl along with a pinch of sugar. Slowly add the warm water over the yeast, stir using a fork to help dissolve the yeast entirely. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes. The yeast should be bubbly.

Pour the flour into the yeasty water and stir with a fork, then add the mashed potato and the salt. The dough will be thick and shaggy. Use the fork to incorporate the potato into the flour. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin to knead the dough by hand. It will come together quickly. Knead against the bowl for a minute or so, until it is relatively smooth. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered with a kitchen towel, in the bowl for an hour.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Using your fingertips, gently remove the risen dough from the bowl and place it in the cake pan. Gently tug and pat it out so that it fits the pan. Cover the top of the focaccia with the tomatoes. Sprinkle a large pinch of coarse salt over the tomatoes, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and let it rest for another hour. Dried oregano or thyme would be a welcomed addition here.

Preheat the oven to 425 while the focaccia is resting. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, but start checking at the 35 minute mark. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes before removing the focaccia from the pan. Try not to eat it all at once.

Wilson Farm + Tomato Festival

Wilson Farm, a family owned and operated farm since 1884 in Lexington, MA, held it's annual Tomato Festival this weekend.  Tomatoes varieties from A to Z including a bloody Mary mix were available for purchase.

Fruits and vegetables looking fresh and seasonal.

Wilson Farm staffers doled out samples of tomato recipes (think risotto, caprese salad, gazpacho, guacamole) and cut up slices of peaches and plums.

Games (such as kid-friendly flip cup) attracted kids of all ages; prizes included tomato planting and canning kits.

Saturday was a beautiful day to eat tomatoes and enjoy the summer sunshine.

Farmer's Market Produce

Moving from Chicago to Boston meant an adjustment in many things including weather, accents, lack of taquerias, and timing of produce.

Working as a farmer's market assistant for Stillman's meant a weekly peek at the lastest and greatest produce offerings. 

Each week new vegetables and fruits would appear. Some berries arrived in limited quantities one week yet the following week tables would be overflowing. 

Colorful beets

Squash, beans and peas by the bushel.

Tomatoes and blueberries await a new home.

Cute boxes of sun gold tomatoes mean summer.

Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup

The first time I made this soup was early January 2010 for a New Year's party.  I decided to make the full batch which serves four to six people and when ladled into small bowls, it can stretch for a gathering.  In this recipe, I scaled the ingredients down for a smaller batch.  San Marzano tomatoes are typically sold in 28 ounce cans - feel free to use a 14 ounce can of whole tomatoes (regardless of brand) or open the larger size and use the remaining tomatoes for another use.  I'm sure that won't be a tough challenge!

Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup
adapted from the Amateur Gourmet
originally from Michael Symon's Live To Cook by Michael Symon

Serves 2 to 3

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-ish red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 14-oz can San Marzano tomatoes with the juice
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, or a little less depending on taste (don't buy it, make your own)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Blue cheese (Roth Kase is recommended; Maytag or Buttermilk are also good)

Heat the olive oil in a 2 quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a large pinch of salt and sweat for two minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the cream, sriracha sauce, and thyme and simmer for 45 minutes.  Take care to not let the soup boil - heavy cream doesn't like it!

Add the blue cheese to the soup, and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  A regular blender could also be used and work in batches if necessary.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reheat to serve.

The soup will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days.