Bruschetta Pizza

At our house, we eat a lot of pizza because it is one of my favorite meals.  We always have pitas in the freezer so that we can throw together personal pizzas using whatever we have on hand.   With so many tomatoes ripening in the garden, we decided to make bruschetta pizza.  Here’s the basic recipe, although it can definitely be adapted :)

Bruschetta Pizza

Ingredients:

  • greek pocketless pitas (or, if you’re ambitious, homemade crust)
  • olive oil
  • garlic (we used 1 large clove for 3 pitas)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • basil
  • mozzarella cheese (we used regular but buffalo mozzarella would also be great)

Instructions:

Use a garlic press and spread garlic on each of the pitas.  Drizzle each pita with a small amount of olive oil.  Cut tomatoes into quarters or eighths and spread over pitas.  Rip up basil leaves and spread over pitas.  Top each pita with grated mozzarella cheese.  Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 14-16 minutes, then set oven to broil until cheese is browned. Chives or onions would also go well on this pizza, but we wanted to keep things simple so didn’t add any.

Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider

So we grew kale for the first time this year but we weren’t really sure how to eat it.  I looked online for some ideas the other day and found a recipe for Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider on the Cooking Light website (check out the other recipes as well – the Orecchiette with Kale, Bacon, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes looks delicious).  Since we were having ribs and this recipe was supposed to go well with pork, it sounded perfect.  Here’s a picture of the kale before it was chopped and cooked and a copy of the recipe.

Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider (from the Cooking Light website)

Ingredients:

  • 2 bacon slices
  • 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 (1-pound) bag chopped kale
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups diced Granny Smith apple (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon; cook 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add kale, and cook 5 minutes or until wilted, stirring frequently. Add cider and vinegar; cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple, salt, and pepper; cook 5 minutes or until apple is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon.

As usual, I never follow a recipe exactly, especially since I am usually missing at least one ingredient. I didn’t use a pound of kale, maybe half that (there’s only two of us afterall!).  I used about a quarter of a pack of bacon instead of two slices (because in my opinion you can’t really go wrong with bacon), 3/4 of a granny smith apple and a teaspoon of white vinegar because we didn’t have any apple cider vinegar.  For the cider, we used Strongbow, but it might have turned out better with a sweeter cider. Here is a picture of the final product and our meal (the beans are also from the garden).

So overall, both Brian and I thought it was quite good and it did go very well with the ribs.  It turns out that kale tastes kinda like broccoli, and is less bitter than swiss chard so it is probably easier to cook with.   Next up, I am going to try adding it to a creamy pasta sauce. :)

Rainbow Tomato Caprese Salad

I’ve been waiting all summer for all three varieties of cherry tomatoes to ripen, and it finally happened:) I’m super excited to use them in salads because they have a high ornamental factor and because garden tomatoes taste so much better than store bought!

Now that its been a few months since our vacation to Italy, I’ve been craving Caprese Salad in particular.   Its one of my favorite types of salad (which maybe has something to do with the quantity of cheese and lack of lettuce) and it’s excellent when it’s made with fresh, good quality ingredients. I have been trying to track down some some good quality buffalo mozzarella since usually I am stuck using bocconcini (I don’t find it as flavorful).  I finally found some at Costco last weekend and with a rainbow of ripe tomatoes,  it was time to make Caprese Salad!

Like the bruschetta from my earlier post, there’s no recipe with specific amounts. All you need is three main ingredients, tomatoes, basil and fresh buffalo mozzarella, in whatever quantity you choose. If you’d like, you can drizzle with good quality olive oil or balsamic reduction to serve.  The challenge with the cherry tomatoes is assembling everything on the plate in an organized artful manner.  Luckily I had Brian to help with that:)

Here are a couple links to previous posts with info on the variety of tomato plants I grew:

https://howsitgrowing.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/seed-starting-time/

https://howsitgrowing.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/update-on-seedlings/

Mid-August Harvest – Veggie Update Aug 21

Our gardens have continued to be productive over the last couple weeks.  The latest things that are ready to eat are the orange mini bell peppers and the scarlett runner beans growing up the pillars of our front porch. We also harvested our first cucumber (hopefully we get a few more!).  We are still getting a lot of tomatoes, in particular the black cherry tomatoes, and a lot of ground cherries. Brian put together a veggie feta salad with the ripe tomatoes, cucumber and mini peppers.  Below are some photos of the latest veggies to ripen and Brian’s salad.

On a less positive note, I think that the red tomato cherries I was growing in pots are finally dead.  They have been battling what seems to be a fungal disease and they have officially lost.  According to this article on possible causes of tomato wilt and death I think they suffered from vascular wilt. Oh well, we planted so many tomatoes that I think we can spare three plants!  Here’s picture of one of the unhappy tomato plants.

I also finally got around to planting some cool season crops to harvest in the fall.  I am probably at least a couple weeks late since I think we get our first frost October 5, but I still planted buttercrunch lettuce, snowball turnips and arugula anyways (thanks Patricia for the arugula seeds!).  We left Mika alone in the backyard that same day, and she made quick work of digging up my freshly planted garden.  So the following day I replanted and surrounded that part of the garden bed with chicken wire. Frustrating but she’s been pretty good this year so hard to complain too much. Below is a picture of the back garden and the chicken wire protection.

Speaking of the back garden, we have lots of kale that is ready to eat.  I’ve never cooked with it before, so if anyone has any good recipe ideas, let me know!

Garden Bruschetta

With an abundance of tomatoes from the garden, we’ve been using them in all sorts of things.  I made this bruschetta the other day using ingredients from the garden. The only ingredient that didn’t come from the garden is the garlic (next year I plan to plant some though!).  I sometimes find the standard bruschetta we make a little too oniony, so the mild onion flavor from the chives was a nice change.  Below is the basic recipe.  I didn’t keep track of quantities, but I would recommend using whatever quantity you like based on personal preference anyways :)

Ingredients: Cherry tomatoes, basil, chives and 1 clove of garlic. Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions:  Slice the tomatoes into quarters, rip up the basil leaves and chop the chives to whatever size you like.  Dice the garlic or use a garlic press.  Combine all ingredients and let flavors mix. Cut the baguette into slices and toast them in the oven using the broil setting. You can drizzle the bread with good olive oil before spooning on the bruschetta, but this is optional.  Serve pre-assembled on a tray or put out a basket of toasted bread and the bowl of bruschetta and let everyone assemble their own.

The final product:

Ground Cherry Salsa

So the ground cherries are falling on the ground ripe, but I can’t say that I am the biggest fan (Brian and Mika have no complaints though!)  They taste kind of citrusy and maybe a bit tropical, but aren’t really too sweet. They do resemble tomatoes and kind of have the same texture. Anyways, since I wasn’t about to eat handfuls straight from the garden, I did a bit of online research to look for recipe ideas.  I found a couple websites that suggested making salsa among other things (e.g., pie and compote).   I adapted a few salsa recipes so that it worked for what we had in the garden and it turned out well. I think it lasted maybe 10 minutes when I served it last week at a bbq :)

Here’s the recipe I ended up using:

  • 1 cup husked ground cherries. Cut them into halves or quarters.
  • 2 cups black cherry tomatoes (any tomatoes would probably do, but these ones were nice and sweet and worked well). Cut into eighths.
  • Half a super chili pepper (could add more if you like your salsa spicy, and substitute other types of chili peppers). Dice it up really small.
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced really small.
  • Juice of one lime
  • About 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you chop the tomatoes and leave them in a colander for about 1 hour the salsa doesn’t turn out too watery.  You can also throw the ground cherries and cilantro in the colander with the tomatoes and combine with the rest when you are ready to serve the salsa (I just had a bowl ready with the lime juice, hot pepper, sugar and salt and pepper and added the other ingredients to the bowl when I was ready to serve it).

We had the first three ingredients in the garden, but had to get the last few at the store (I didn’t grow cilantro this year because most recipes call for so much that I never seem to have enough in my garden anyways). I will definitely be making this again.  It takes us about a week right now to collect enough ground cherries off of the plants to make the salsa, but it is worth the wait :)

Here is a picture of the ingredients…

the halved ground cherries…

black cherry tomatoes cut into eighths…

…and the end result! (half eaten already because I almost forgot to take a picture!)


Also, some fun facts about ground cherries: In doing my online research for recipe ideas, I found out that ground cherries grow wild in certain parts of the world. Apparently in Hawaii they grow along roads.  And apparently they are likely to self seed in the garden if you don’t pick up all the ground cherries.  Right now that doesn’t really seem like a bad thing! The ground cherries we grew are called Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries, and apparently they originate from Poland and are good for colder climates.  Also, they don’t need staking like tomatoes, and we found that the plant we have in a pot grows great.  Highly recommend growing this plant in your garden!

Tomato Overload! – Veggie Update Aug 11

Well, its finally that time of year where we don’t really need to buy produce at the grocery store… we’ve got more than enough veggies to make salads and for side dishes.  We have an abundance of tomatoes, and have been testing out a few recipes since we have so many (will post some recipes soon) as well as giving them away.  We’ve been eating the red cherry tomatoes for about a month now and the black cherry tomatoes are definitely ripe as of last week.  Can’t wait until the yellow ones are ripe so that we can have a rainbow of tomatoes on our salads :)

The tomato plants were a bit out of control, so last weekend Brian helped me to stake up the plants in my garden.  The red cherry tomatoes are only about 4 feet, but the black cherry and yellow cherry tomatoes are definitely reaching 6 feet and were totally out of control.  The staking system we came up with is  based on the stake and weave method I saw in this you tube video, but since we didn’t have super thick stakes we ended up putting the stakes closer together and stablizing the stakes by attaching them to the fence and tying them to the ground.  They’ve held up pretty good so far, given that we’ve had a lot of rain storms this past week. Here are some tomato pictures, and some pictures of my garden with the new staking system.

Before staking..

After!

Here are a few other pictures of the veggie gardens and the veggies we’ve harvested in the last couple of weeks.  We’ve been getting quite a few purple beans and ground cherries, and our first cucumber is just starting to get big. It also looks like its time to start eating the kale and swiss chard :)