“Garden Party Bites” for The 2015 Historic Germantown Garden Guzzle

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I love Garden Parties. Whatever the season. May Garden Parties in Nashville are the best. Gardens are verdant, flowers blooming, herbs abundant and the weather is still cool enough to keep the mosquitos at bay. This was the setting yesterday for the 2015 Historic Germantown Garden Guzzle, an annual event that is now over 26 years old. The idea is to tour neighborhood gardens, drink wine and beer, have a few snacks along the way and convene with neighbors to celebrate the coming of summer. It is a unique Historic Germantown Neighborhood event and it has been mine, and Wouter’s, pleasure to have been a part of it for 10 years.

This year our garden was on the tour. As a garden host it is expected of one to have some sort of “bites” available for the “guzzlers”. After rummaging around in our cheese drawer and a quick trip to the grocery these are the “bites” I came up with. “Sun-dried Tomato-Fresh Dill-Cream Cheese & Feta with Zaatar Spread” for matzoh & water crackers and “Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip” with sweet potato chips, flax-seed chips & crisp raisin bread plus a large bowl of chilled green grapes.

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(I used my new “Hasami Porcelain” bowls from “Wilder” which is an amazing art and home goods shop in our neighborhood on 4th Avenue North.)

These were both “off the cuff” recipes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry.  I was pretty confident about the sun-dried tomato-dill dip but not so sure about the combination of blackberries and blue cheese? A delicious combination on both counts!

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Don’t you think this color is both fantastic and just a bit odd for anything other than ice cream? I do, but it was fantastic all the same.

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Our dog Ella standing partially under the table hoping to catch a few bites for herself!

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Wouter here is a bite for you…enjoy while in Amsterdam!

Here is an older blog post I did a few years ago on our “Guzzle”.

Sundried Tomato-Dill-Feta & Zaatar Spread and Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 1 generous Tbsp Zaatar
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries + extra for garnish
  • 6 ozs blue cheese crumbled
  • 8 ozs goat cheese softened

Directions:

1. For Sun-dried Tomato-Dill Spread put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and spreadable. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Serve with crackers such as salted matzoh and water crackers.

2. For the Blackberry-Blueberry Dip put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust to your liking. Serve with chips such as sweet potato, flaxseed and raisin bread crisps.

Notes: Feel free to experiment and come up with your own “what do I have on hand” dips and spreads for summer parties. Keep it simple and fresh and it will be hard to go wrong.

Bon Apetit!

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
  • Print

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”.

“Fergola Sarda Pasta, Lady Peas and Pesto Salad”

fergola sarda pasta salad

Labor Day is almost here. The day that heralds the end of summer and the beginning of fall…..somewhere. Labor Day here in Nashville heralds our hottest days and nights, hours of watering gardens & lawns or just giving up and letting it all go to seed. Plump ripe tomatoes, the last of the Lady Peas at the Farmer’s Market and at my house absolutely no desire to fire up the oven. Supper has to be short & a bit sassy, using whatever I can lay my hands on…healthy & colorful is always good…a little crunch…a glass of cool white wine. That is truly about all I can deal with.

Enter, stage left….Fergola Sarda. Have you heard of it? I had not until recently when perusing the shelves of Lazzaroli’s Pasta down the street from my house here on Fifth Avenue North. My eyes alighted on a bag of pasta that contained tiny round, lightly toasted looking balls…like giant Israeli Couscous, but not.

Fergola Sarda Pasta

Fergola Sarda is pasta from the region of Sardinia, Italy. A staple in the Sardinian kitchen this little pasta is actually toasted in an oven which gives it a very rustic appearance & homey flavor. Don’t you love a new food find?

Using other ingredients on hand here is my recipe for “Fergola Sarda Pasta, Lady Peas, and Pesto Salad”.

Ingredients I used:

1 cup Fergola Sarda Pasta cooked al dente according to the package directions; 1 cup Lady Peas (a variety of field peas which include among others Crowder peas, Butter beans, use any of these for this recipe) cooked; sliced Cucumbers & Avocados; quartered homegrown tomatoes; red onion slivers; the juice of 1 lemon, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper; freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, 1 cup of your favorite homemade or store-bought pesto (1/2 cup for mixing in salad & 1/2 cup for serving) & a splash each of olive oil & white balsamic vinegar

Print Full Recipe Here

Fergola Sarda Pasta Ingredients

When the Fergola Sarda Pasta is cooked al dente & drained, pile it in a serving dish. I used a deep platter. The golden color is so appealing isn’t it? I am just a bit smitten.

uncooked fergola sarda pasta

cooked

Ingredients for Fergola Sarda Pasta Salad

I really like the addition of raw onions to a dish such as this salad, but often not the overbearing strong flavor which can take over the others. Here is my tip for “sweetening the onion”. Put your sliced, diced, chopped onions in a bowl. Toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let sit for about 1/2 hour. Drain and add to your recipe. Taste one. You will be amazed at the way the lemon juice totally takes away the harshness of some onions.

red onions & lemon juice

Cooking Lady Peas for this salad is very easy. I rinse fresh peas & drain in a colander. I then cook them in a saucepan barely covered with water, adding some salt & pepper, a dash of garlic powder & a couple of pats of butter. Bring to a boil, turn to simmer for about 20 minutes or until peas have absorbed some of the liquid. Peas are ready for this salad when you press one between your fingers and it “gives”.  Drain cooked peas in a colander allowing to cool a few minutes.

Lady Peas

Add all remaining ingredients to pasta and toss gently.

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Serve immediately or chill for later. Dollop additional pesto on side of plates when serving as well as a generous grating of Parmesan. “Fergola Sarda Pasta, Lady Peas & Pesto Salad” perfect as is for an entrée, would be a tasty companion to alongside grilled chicken for a dinner party.

Fergola Sarda, Lady Peas & Pesto Salad

Don’t work too hard this Labor Day, summer is fleeting, enjoy it. Stay Cool.

“Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”

“Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”

(developed for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011)

This chewy cookie is subtly bold with a hint of heat… it is familiarly cozy in its chocolatey-ness, but is that coffee I smell? Hmmm….molasses?

As my cookies were to be mailed out to three fellow food bloggers scattered around the country it was important to me to use  as many local ingredients as possible to share a taste of Music City.   Chewy, chocolatey (Olive & Sinclair) with a hint of coffee (Bongo Java) and a little unexpected “bite” via hot pepper was what I settled on as the flavor profile.  I made about 3 recipes before I got to the one you see here. They were all tasty, but I was just dancing around until I came up with my “Music City Mocha Chip Cookie”, a cozy little cookie that is great with a glass of milk for Santa….

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (White Lily or Martha White) mixed with 1/2 tsp baking soda & 1 tsp sea or kosher salt

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temp (Farmer’s Market)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 generous Tbsp Sorghum Molasses (Tennessee)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temp (Farmer’s Market)

3 Tbsp finely ground coffee (Bongo Java “Mystic’)

 2 cups chopped semi sweet chocolate (Olive & Sinclair chocolate)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper + more to garnish if desired

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter, brown sugar & granulated sugars together until fluffy using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

3. Add in eggs one at a time.  Scrape down sides of bowl often. With mixer on low add in ground coffee & vanilla extract.

4. Add the flour mixture until well blended. Sprinkle in cayenne pepper & cocoa & mix well.

5. Stir in chopped chocolate until fully incorporated. Chill dough for 1 hour before baking.

6. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart after dipping tops of  dough balls in decorative sugar crystals.

7. Bake until cookies are puffy & the surface starts to “crack”. About 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle on more decorative sugar & extra cayenne if desired,  cool on wire racks. Cookies will keep for up to one week stored in airtight containers with waxed paper between layers.

The dozens of cookies were baked, cooled and readied for mailing. I wanted my cookies to arrive at their destinations in good shape, in fun packaging, something a bit special and Holiday-like. I found great sturdy tins & mailing boxes at The Container Store. My tags I made using imagery from my many Christmas catalogs.  I used a Christmas tree rubber stamp I made last year to decorate the outside of the mailing box. I inserted more catalog imagery into the top of the tins and constructed ingredients list envelopes using art paper scraps & cardboard…I really had to make myself stop…those boxes had to get in the mail!

Bon Voyage “Music City Mocha Chip Cookies”, Bon Voyage.

Thanks to Julie (http://thelittlekitchen.net) and Lindsay (http://loveandoliveoil.com) for organizing this fun event.

Here are the cookies I received:

From Megan at http://www.mlbailey.blogspot.com
From Nancy at rivertreekitchen.com
From Steph at willrun4treats.com

….bake, share & have a very, very sweet holiday….