Food Hero

Lazy Gourmet: Caprese Bites by Rachelle

I always think a  cocktail while cooking is a good idea, don’t you?

Created by: Katy K

This appetizer is so easy you can throw it together in minutes. After a friend sent an article from the NY Times about what to put on a toothpick, I put these together for a party. They were gone in minutes! With a loaf of crusty bread and a nice glass of wine, you could sit on the porch and call this dinner. Enjoy!

Shopping List

black pepper
cherry tomatoes
small fresh mozzarella balls
fresh basil leaves
coarse salt
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Put a lot of fresh ground black pepper in a pie plate or shallow rimmed dish. Wash your toms and basil and spin the basil dry. (Have you noticed how important the salad spinner is? It’s a kitchen must!) Stack your toothpicks with a toms, a piece of basil and a mozzarella ball. Line ’em up in the pie plate. Sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with olive oil. Right before serving, splash with balsamic vinegar. Pass ’em with the red wine.

What you would put on a toothpick? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a link to a recipe!


Lazy Gourmet: Bruschetta by Rachelle

When my sweet friend Jeff committed eating something other than Trader Joe’s salads, I got inspired to help him on his quest to learn how to cook. I started searching my recipe collection for things that were high on flavor, low on prep. Bruschetta was the first thing that came to mind.

Paul and I fell in love with this fresh tomato dish when we first went to Italy in 1996. Now it is a Summer staple, and we’ve managed to turn this antipasta (appetizer) in to a primo or secondo course (main dish).

The recipe is written for someone who is brand new to cooking, with how to’s and serving suggestions. There’s a also a post here with some thoughts choosing ingredients to get maximum flavor for minimum fuss. Have Yum!

Shopping List
serves 2-4 depending how you use it
4 firm but ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced -or-
3 t jarred chopped garlic
8 nice sized basil leaves
coarse salt
extra virgin olive oil

optional (see serving suggestions)
parmesean or asagio cheese
cibatta or other crusty bread
fusilli pasta
rotisserie chicken

Mixing it Up
Dice tomatoes (how to) and put them in a bowl. Throw the garlic in there with’ em. (How to peel/chop garlic here.)

Okay, now the basil. Don’t be scared! Pinch the leaves off the stems. It’s a little like plucking a daisy. (“She loves me. She loves me not.”) You only want the leaves. Wash the basil leaves and dry them in a salad spinner. If you dont’ have a spinner, pat them dry between two paper towels, or just shake them off over a sinke and call it done. Stack the leaves on top of each other on a cutting board. There now, isn’t that nice and orderly? Roll ’em up into a little bundle, and slice lengthwise into thin shreds. Aren’t you the cooking pro? Into the bowl they go.

Pour some salt into you palm. Put a couple very generous pinch into the bowl. You can always adjust later. Bruschetta should be very garlicky and nicely salty, IMHO. Now pour in a glug of olive oil. You’re done!

What to do with Bruschetta
Well, you could just eat it right out of the bowl, it’s so tasty! But try this: Cut your loaf of bread in half lenghtwise. Put it on a baking sheet and drizzle it with olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt. Put it in the oven about four inches from the top. This is called “putting it under the broiler.” Set the oven dial to ‘broil,’ medium if it has options for how low/med/high. This will toast up fast, so keep an eye on it for a few minutes. When it’s nice and toasty, take it out, and if you feel fancy rub it with a clove of garlic, and sprinkle it with some parmesean cheese. Back in the broiler for just long enough to melt the cheese. Take it out, pile on the bruschetta — viola! Dinner!

Here’s some more options: Make up some pasta according to the directions on the package. Don’t forget to salt the water and don’t over cook it. Drain in in a big colander and toss with bruschetta. Top with cheese. If you need some protein try tossing in pre-cooked chicken breasts from the deli, diced or shredded — or use my favorite fall-back, rotisserie chicken. (You can get additive-free, organic, hormone-free roasted chicken now at stores like Whole Foods and PCC.)

Bruschetta ain’t terrible on top of scrambled or poached eggs either! Here’s how to poach and scramble.