Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An interesting idea

The Guerrilla Grafters are a group of botanical dissidents who are covertly grafting branches of fruit trees onto ornamental trees in SF.

"There’s a group of gardeners in San Francisco that are spreading organic graffiti across the city. How? By grafting branches from fruit trees onto ornamental trees that have been planted along sidewalks and in parks.
They are using a very simple tongue in groove splice that’s held together with annotated electrical tape. Good luck to them."
Info from BoingBoing:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer Culinary Delights

During the hot days of August and September, the tomato harvest becomes a daunting task as Sweet Tomato and I try to use tomatoes into nearly every meal we enjoy.  Here are two easy and really good recipes.  And of course, they use tomatoes.

Tomato Frittata

I make frittatas all of the time.  I generally cook them as a way to use up left overs.  If you get creative, there isn’t much in the left over category that can’t be used in a frittata.  Here is a recipe that relies on the San Marzano Redorta.  The San Marzano Redorta is a wonderful plum heirloom tomato from Italy.  It is large and meaty with little or no internal liquid.  It is great for pizzas and frittatas because as it heats up in the oven, the tomato does not cook out much liquid. This means you can use these tomatoes fresh off the vine without roasting or drying them first.

Mix 6 to 10 eggs in a bowl.  The amount of eggs depends upon how much frittata you want.  If you have some cream, add a tablespoon or two.  If not, don’t worry it is not required.  Add salt and pepper to the eggs and wisk the eggs until combined.  You will need an oven safe skillet.  I use a 12 inch skillet that has a normal metal body. Many recipes tell you to use a non-stick skillet, but I have never felt comfortable putting non-stick skillets in the oven.  I have more cleanup afterward, but other than that, a regular metal skillet works just fine.

Heat olive oil in the skillet.  Add some course chopped garlic and some thin sliced onions.  I use a lot of garlic, probably more than you or most normal people would, so use an amount of garlic you are comfortable with.  The key thing here is not to let it burn.  If you let your garlic burn, throw it out and start over.  Burnt garlic is nasty.  Add the onions.  I use sweet or red onions (whatever I have at the time – I am not picky) and sometimes use green onions if that is all I have.  After the onions have begun to caramelize, add the eggs to the skillet.  This next part gets a little tricky and takes practice.  Stir the eggs over medium heat as if you were making scrambled eggs.  I have this really nifty non-stick spatula that lets me move the eggs around in the skillet so they cook evenly.  If you let the eggs just set there, they will burn on the bottom and be runny on top.  Once you get to a consistency that is just short of true scramble eggs, remove the skillet from the heat.  The eggs should be runny, but just starting to get some solid egg chunks.

Now cover the frittata with sliced San Marzano Redorta tomatoes.  The tomato slices should be about a quarter of an inch thick.  Tomato slices with skin should be put on the frittata skin side down.  I forgot to tell you to heat your oven to 350 degrees, so go do that now.  When the oven is at 350 degrees, put the frittata in for 8 to 10 minutes.  The eggs should be cooked through, but the tomatoes are just beginning to cook.  You can remove the frittata at this point, let it cool and eat it out of the skillet or move it to a platter. 

However, if you want to “kick it up a notch”, set the oven rack just under the broiler and turn your oven to broil.  Sprinkle parmesan over the frittata.  If I am really enterprising, I will roast some panko bread crumbs in a little bit of butter and then sprinkle them on the frittata along with the parmesan.  Place the frittata under the broiler. 


Broiling the frittata can take 30 seconds to a minute or so.  Leave the oven open and watch the frittata. The parmesan (and bread crumbs) should be browned, but not blackened.  You may have to move/turn the skillet while it is under the broiler to brown the top evenly.  Here is what the end product looks like.

A few other tips.  Salt and pepper the finished frittata to taste.  If you have any left over marinara, ladling some over the frittata is a great addition.  And for those of you who think you have asbestos fingers, use oven mitts when handling the skillet.  It is tough to eat frittata with burnt fingers.

Tomatoes with Grapes, Figs, Asiago Cheese, Sausage and Lettuce

This one is really easy.  Spread some lettuce onto a platter. We use garden lettuce or the store bought packages.  Both seem to work equally as well.  Layer with sliced fresh garden tomatoes.  If you don’t have quality heirloom, fresh, garden tomatoes, this will not be nearly as good. Spread some grapes and figs around the platter.  Add some thinly sliced cooked sausage.  We use sweet Italian sausage generally of the left over variety.  Use a cheese peeler to create some thin slices of Asiago.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  We generally have a few slices of crusty bread as well, and of course some wine.

The tomatoes and figs were picked from our garden that day.  I defy anyone to be able to order a salad like this at any restaurant!