Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

Today I'm heading off on my summer vacation. Taking a couple of weeks to visit 'home', Seattle. Expect some posts about the eats I find! In the meantime, here's what I'm reading today.

Ever been daunted by the task of making biscuits? I've been there. Overworked tough hockey pucks fit only for the compost bin-blech! Well, a light hand and some buttermilk work wonders to create melt-in-your-mouth fluffy biscuits. And, trust me, who doesn't love the a perfect biscuit, especially right out of the oven?! In today's LA Times there is a simple recipe you can try next time you're up to the task. It comes from Eula Mae Doré, the cook who worked for the McIlhenny (aka Tabasco sauce) family. You'll find buttermilk (it's acidity making for a nice flaky biscuit) and vegetable shortening (another standard for flakiness). If you're gun shy about trans fat laden Crisco, try the transfat free variety at Whole Foods, it works just as well with a little less guilt. Finally, for a perfect walk through to make sure you get it right, try this slideshow. I will say, it looks like the cook is using a very heavy hand to knead the dough together-don't do this! Gentle, gentle, gentle...and, I usually cut my biscuits in squares, using every last bit of the dough, instead of the usual circles that leave lots of scraps for that compost bin.

The summer I lived in New York I fell in love with a little Soho cafe called Once Upon a Tart. Their food was fantastic and, truth be told, I loved the name. I was happy to see their recipe for Granny's Tomato Tart in today's NY Times. The tart dough is a very simple one that comes together in the food processor (and, since you're buying that shortening for your biscuits, you'll have another use for it here). Again, gentle with the mixing. Remember you always wants bits of butter in your dough so when it hits the oven, those bits melt slowly, creating steam that builds into flaky layers of pastry. The pasty is baked first, no tart pan just a rustic free form rectangle, which I love. Topped with a bit of mustard, perfectly ripe sweet tomatoes, melting Gruyere cheese, and herbes de Provence I think this tart would be a home run for any summer table.

Today's Washington Post rounds up their winners in a contest for tomato recipes. They run the gamut from an Indian Tomato Curry to a Greek style stuffed Pork Tenderloin. I was particulary intruiged with this pasta recipe that combined Roma tomatoes, mustard, balsamic, and a bit of honey. Not only is it a quick weeknight dinner but, the ingredients are all staples of any well stocked pantry. When tomatoes are at their peak, which is really starting now and going through the early fall, depending on where you live, they don't need much to be the star of a dish. At their best, I love them with salt, pepper, and the best extra virgin olive oil. But, when you buy lots of them it's great to change things up and try them different ways. Always store tomatoes at room temperature, stem side down on a plate. When you put a tomato in the fridge, it's natural sugars turn to starch and you will have an instantly mealy tomato...yuck.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

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