Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bread, Cheese, Tomatoes (with a little hummus to liven things up)

Back at the beginning of summer, I had an abundance of red, yellow and orange peppers and it was too early (hot) to roast them. So I worked up a little tomato, pepper and red onion salad with fresh parsley and basil. But I didn't really have anything planned to eat with it. I did have some hummus in fridge, along with a beautiful hunk of Irish cheddar I had bought on a whim at Treasure Island. I started of thinking of ways to out it all together and decided a sturdy loaf of semolina bread would be just the thing.

I toasted two slices of bread, then covered them with cheese that I melted under the broiler. I topped that with hummus and spooned my tomato and pepper salad over that.

And it was one of the best meals I'd had all year. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

And it struck me that it was just one step away from panzanella, a bread salad that I had been wanting to make for a while. So the next step seemed pretty logical:
Those blobs of white (I don't know how they look to you but my computer makes them seem a little scary) is fresh mozzarella, which was really a treat in this salad. The bread was a loaf of whole wheat french that I also found at Treasure Island, although I have not been able to find it since and everyone in the bakery section has denied they ever carried it, which is very frustrating, and makes me question my sanity just the teensiest bit. Actually, it makes me question the bakery people at Treasure Island, but what can I do?
And then the peppers were gone, so I thought an English cucumber would make a lovely substitute. It did. That's just a plain old loaf of country bread there, with the Irish cheddar that was so tasty.
And then I took it that one step too far. While I still think it looks pretty, this caprese-salad-on-a-plate-of-freselle was difficult to eat and, while the olives look good, they were too bland and did not really bring anything to the party. But now I'm thinking a nice caponata might work well. But the freselle was too hard, and really needs to be soaked and used for a more traditional panzanella.

What the hell is freselle? I can hear you ask. I wondered too, so I searched online and found very little. Most of the references are Italian, and I don't need to tell you what happens when you translate a web pate. But Food Maven Arthur Schwartz references it here.

Now that fall is officially here and the weather has (FINALLY!) cooled to actual fall temperatures, I will be focusing more on soups and stews and winter fare. But I will be dreaming about bread, cheese and tomatoes, and what other culinarily creative things I can do with them next summer.

Oh and Missreal - now I'm the worst friend in the world. Yes, we definitely need to get together, and soon. And I think you need to re-register through Google in order to make less anonymous comments.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where Did I Go?

I suppose all of my faithful readers (I think I have three or four by now) have noticed that I haven't been posting lately. What started as an it's-way-too-hot-to-cook-right-now-there's-way-too-much-going-on-in-my-life-
so-I'm-taking-August-off vacation turned into a two-plus month hiatus that has been hard to breach. But the weather has cooled off and I'm cooking again, and things have slowed down so I can maybe start writing again.

You did notice that I said "maybe" up there at the end of that paragraph, didn't you?

The worst of it is that I had finally caught up on all my cooking magazines and now they've piled up again.

Let's see . . . what else? Oh yeah, I have been reading quite a bit lately. And in one of those odd serendipitious moments that life often throws our way, I had two friends (Yam in Hong Kong and Genie here in Chicago) send me invitations to sign up at Goodreads. How could I refuse? Even if it's one more big chunk of time consumption, it's kind of fun to make lists of books I've read, want to read, and am reading. And it's a great way to see what your friends are reading.

You can see what I'm currently reading in the sidebar.

So that's it for now. We'll see what happens.
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