Sugared Strawberries with Easy Homemade Labnah E.A.T. #37

 

Bright crimson to deep carmine local strawberries are at their peak.  Please do yourself a favor and stop by your local farmer’s market or roadside stand or pick-your-own farm to get your own berries before they are all gone. It is a sweet short season not to be missed.

Have you ever made labnah, or yogurt cheese?  If you have then you will know what I am talking about when I say it is the easiest cheese to make requiring no special skills or ingredients other than a good plain Greek yogurt and sea salt. I first encountered Labnah in Mexico years ago and have loved it ever since. Tart and just a bit salty it is the perfect foil for sugared fresh strawberries.

Cheesecloth, string and a bowl are all the tools needed and 24 hours to drain. The liquid drips out leaving a firm creamy, spreadable cheese. I have, in the past, added fresh herbs for a savory spread or raw sugar for sweetness.

Labnah ready to eat along with berries and baguette slices which I like toasted.

I didn’t sugar the berries ahead of time as I did not want them to “water out” and lose their firmness. I also really enjoy the crunch of raw sugar. You can use as much or as little sugar as you like.

Toasted baguette slices smeared with labnah and topped with fresh Tennessee strawberry slices and raw sugar is either the perfect dessert, snack or lunch. Textural, crunchy, just sweet enough with the tart-saltiness of the labnah. Treat yourself. It’s as Easy-As-This.

Spring Strawberries and Yogurt Cheese (Labnah) on Toasted Baguette

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Ingredients:

  • I quart of plain Greek Yogurt
  • Sea salt flakes such as Maldon
  • 3 cups of fresh, local strawberries preferably
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • Baguette slices
  • You will need cheesecloth and kitchen string

Directions:

  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth to make three layers. Cut into a large square about 16-18 inches. Fit layered cheesecloth square down into a bowl large enough to hold 1 quart of yogurt.
  2. Stir 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes into the yogurt mixing well.
  3. Scrape the yogurt into the bowl lined with cheesecloth. Gather up the edges, twist the cloth and tie with kitchen string. You will want to have enough of a “tail” of cheesecloth to suspend over the bowl in the refrigerator for 24 hours to allow all the liquid to drip out of the yogurt creating a spreadable “cheese”.  (You may have to be inventive in figuring a way to suspend cheesecloth over bowl as I had to be. I wedged the fabric at the top between two refrigerator trays and set the bowl underneath. You will figure out your own way.)
  4. Store yogurt cheese/labnah in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
  5. Toast baguette slices. Set aside.
  6. Rinse and drain fresh berries. Remove the cap and slice. Sprinkle with raw sugar to suit your taste.
  7. Smear baguette toast with labnah, top with sugared berries, adding more sugar for crunch if you like. Eat. Enjoy. It is as easy-as-that.

Teresa Blackburn.     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Rabbits-Love-Rainbow Carrots with Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze….Don’t They? E.A.T #28

I think I might be part rabbit…my ears are kinda pointy….I twitch my nose at good and bad smells…I have been accused of hopping around all over the place…not to mention my affinity for carrots. I like them shredded, cut into coins, added to soups and salads, fresh from the ground with a little bit of dirt still clinging to them and roasted lightly glazed with a quick maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and fresh orange juice concoction. Spring carrots tender and sweet lend themselves to such a simple, easy-as-this, recipe. A very appropriate addition to an Easter dinner.

One bag each of large and/or small, easy to find and trendy rainbow carrots sliced down the middle from top to bottom, tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Flower Pepper from Food Sheriff and flakey Maldon sea salt…..a great finger food or side dish. Roasted, glazed and served garnished with toasted, chopped pecans. It’s as easy-as-this.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Life.

Rainbow Carrots with a Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 bags of rainbow carrots, any size, tops trimmed and peeled, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil, a few tablespoons
  • Flower Pepper or any other good freshly ground pepper
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • the juice from one small orange
  • Garnish – toasted and chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss prepped carrots in olive oil and spread out on one or two baking sheets.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. While carrots are roasting mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and orange juice.
  5. After 10 minutes remove baking sheet with carrots from the oven and drizzle with half the glaze. Return pan to oven to roast carrots just until “fork-tender”. Remove pan from oven.
  6. Serve carrots with remaining glaze and pecans.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Maple Syrup and Sea Salt Roasted Pears

Our pear tree produced its fruit earlier than usual this summer. The pears smallish and hard. Not good for eating out-of-hand, but good for cooking. Over the years I have made many yummy desserts using the bounty of this tree. It is rather a small tree. Some years very laden with fruit, others not. Truly I wasn’t really ready to deal with them this summer. I was so busy working on photo shoots that I did not even notice for a while. The birds and squirrels ate their fair share. That’s okay with me. We got our share as well.

This, of all my pear recipes, is the most simple and perhaps one of my favorites. Cut in half and cored, drizzled with maple syrup and sea salt and slow-roasted until fork-tender.

Served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Pear perfect.

Slow Roasted Pears with Maple Syrup and Sea Salt

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Small somewhat hard pears, cut in half & cored, peeled or not
  • real maple syrup
  • flaky sea salt such as Maldon
  • Ice cream to serve

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place prepped pears on a parchment lined sheet pan cut side up.
  3. Drizzle generously with maple syrup. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until pears are fork tender. Remove from oven.
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Note: If you have any leftovers you can freeze to use later in a simple cake.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs – Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Holiday gift giving 2015 will soon be in full swing and there are so many ways to make it easier and more personal. I am not much for shopping but I do love to make things. This is the first in a series I will post every so often during November and December. Easy edible food gifts to help get you through the Holidays with a sense of well-being and sharing.

My recipe, if you want to call it that, for “Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Cocoa-coated Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs/Cacao Nibs” is amazingly easy. It takes no special skills and it allows for lots of experimentation. The time for this batch was about 15 minutes! It doesn’t get any better than that! Don’t you feel more relaxed already?

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Olive and Sinclair Mexican Chocolate bars melted with some Nestle’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels in the top of a double boiler….

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…poured out on a flat pan covered with parchment paper & spread around with a rubber spatula….

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…dusted & studded with toppings.

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A quick chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes and it is ready to break up into bite-size pieces.

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The dusting of chipotle chili and dark espresso powders give this chocolate an indulgently intense flavor that will appeal to all your chocolate obsessed friends.

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Place pieces in decorative tins or boxes for gift giving. Great host or hostess gifts.

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs - Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Olive & Sinclair Mexican Chocolate Bars (or any other bittersweet chocolate)
  • 8 ounces Nestles semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other brand)
  • Chipotle Powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa covered whole almonds or regular almonds, rough chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Gather and prep all ingredients before you start melting the chocolate.
  2. Melt chocolate in the top of double boiler pan until smooth and without any lumps.
  3. Remove from heat, wipe pan bottom with a kitchen towel and pour/scrape melted chocolate out onto the parchment paper. Smooth with a dry rubber spatula.
  4. Dust over the entire surface with chipotle powder. More or less to fit your palate. I like more.
  5. Dust with the espresso powder and sprinkle with pistachios, almonds, sea salt & cocoa nibs generously. Press larger nut pieces down into chocolate gently with fingers.
  6. Place pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove when chocolate is hard, break into pieces. Store pieces in airtight containers. Best made and gifted within a couple of days.

Note: I made this up on a whim using what I had in my pantry, but you can totally experiment and add chopped dried fruit, coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, black pepper, etc…

Teresa Blackburn     teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      foodonfifth.com

Homegrown Tomatoes & Bread, Roasted & Toasted Salad

Heirloom tomatoes

“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
And that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes”

(“Homegrown Tomatoes” was written by Guy Clark, go to end of post for You Tube video)

That about says it all doesn’t it?
I remember the first time I ever heard Guy Clark sing this song and I was just thrilled…here was someone writing songs about real things that I knew about.  I am still sure to this day that I know lots more about tomatoes than love! Love and homegrown tomatoes which is something none of us can get to much of. Isn’t that the truth?
Middle Tennessee is having a bumper crop of tomatoes. My own little “gardenette” has lots of ‘maters on the vine…in all stages of ripeness. Here is a salad I tossed together last weekend with some of my wee homegrowns, lemon thyme, Genovese basil leaves just picked.

I cut the larger wee tomatoes in half and put them all on a baking sheet, drizzling good olive oil and sprinkling with crunchy sea salt.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

As an afterthought I added a few garlic cloves & some thyme sprigs.

heirloom tomatoes ready for roasting

20 minutes or so of roasting at 400 degrees F does the trick. The tomatoes become slightly browned and collapse somewhat. The garlic is mashably soft. Into a bowl they go.

Roasted Tomatoes

I cut the dried baguette into large chunks & placed it on the same roasting pan with the leftover garlic & thyme pieces. Pop this back into the oven for a few minutes to crisp. I let the bread cool slightly before tossing in the bowl with the tomatoes. This salad is best made ahead to let the bread soak up some of the juice and chilled or served at room temperature.

Roasted Tomato & Bread Salad

The evening we ate this salad for supper it was 93 degrees here in Nashville.

This simple tomato and bread salad, sometimes referred to as a Panzanella salad, served with a bottle of crisp, cold wine had the needed cooling effect. This heat we have been having is “nothin’ a homegrown tomato won’t cure”.

Panzanella Salad

Homegrown Tomatoes & Crispy Bread Salad

  • Servings: 4
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tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of homegrown tomatoes, small or large cut into smaller pieces
  • fresh thyme & basil leaves
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for finishing off
  • additional basil leaves for garnish
  • “Old” Bread…baguettes work great, cut into cubes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scatter tomatoes on a baking sheet, add garlic cloves & thyme sprigs.
  3. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Dust with sea salt & black pepper.
  4. Put pan in hot oven & roast tomatoes for about 20 minutes or until they just begin to char & collapse. Remove from oven & scrape tomatoes & juices into a bowl.
  5. Add red wine vinegar & about 1/2 cup torn basil leaves into the bowl & toss well.
  6. Add bread cubes to the same baking pan, toss bread in any leftover oil. Bake for about 5 minutes to crisp. Remove from oven. Let cool.
  7. Add cooled bread to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes & basil. At this point you can serve at room temp or pop in the refrigerator to chill for later.
  8. To serve add a generous portion of freshly grated parmesan cheese & more torn pieces of basil and a glass of cold, crisp white wine!

recipe and photos by Teresa Blackburn      foodonfifth.com    teresablackburnfoodstyling.com  

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Click on the below link for Guy Clark singing “Homegrown Tomatoes”.

“First Figs…a Savory Tart”

first figs

First figs are always the sweetest. Much anticipated & coveted… to be eaten warm sun-ripen directly from the tree or added to simple recipes that highlight their rich earthy juiciness such as this savory tart.

Tart

All over my neighborhood there are fig trees…some very old,  branches laden with ripening figs…others recently planted lightly adorned with just a few green figs. I do not have a fig tree in my yard  &  there is no need for me to add one to my landscape as my neighbors are very generous. Fig Tarts to Steal Your Heart, A Late August Four Letter “F” Word to Savor and Jam the Figs are some of my other fig posts here at Food on Fifth using the bounty of my friends.

Here are the ingredients for this easy savory tart:

1 pre-made pie crust or your favorite homemade crust, 2 eggs, 8 ounces goat cheese & 8 ounces ricotta cheese (both at room temp), 6 to 8 fresh figs, black pepper, crunchy sea salt such as Maldon

Here is how I made it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press pie crust over the bottom & up the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom if you have one, if not, then use a regular 9″ pie tin.

Tart Shell

2. Cut figs into quarters lengthwise. Set aside. Using a mixer blend the eggs, goat cheese & ricotta cheese together until creamy.

Fresh Figs

3. Spread cheese mixture over the pie crust.

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4. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until set & slightly golden. Remove from oven.

Baked Goat Cheese Tart

5. Top with the quartered figs. Return to oven & bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. The figs cook just a bit in this last 10 minutes of baking in which they begin to caramelize. Sprinkle with crunchy sea salt right before cutting into servings. Great as an appetizer or as an entrée with a simple green salad.

Printable Recipe Here

Fig & Goat Cheese Tart

Have you ever enjoyed a fresh sun-warmed fig right off a tree?

Which do you like best, dried figs or fresh?

What is your favorite way to use figs in recipes?

When you think”figs” do you immediately think of The Garden of Eden…Adam & Eve…Michelangelo’s David?

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Fig Lovers Unite!