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Tuesday
Jan062015

Winter Caprese Salad

Have you ever wanted to fix a Caprese Salad during the winter months but didn't, because you knew it just wasn't going to be any good with bland, anemic winter tomatoes?  Well, if you use this method you can have a tasty Winter Caprese Salad.  The secret is to slow roast the tomatoes, removing the moisture from them and concentrating the flavor.  You get a very intense tasting tomato out of a mediocre winter tomato.

I use Roma tomatoes in this recipe, but you could use almost any tomatoes - just adjust the roasting time. I also drizzled the finished dish with some Balsamic Glaze, which I love.  I buy this brand at Williams Sonoma at a good price. It adds a little zing to a lot of dishes. This is an optional ingredient in this recipe. You can also make your own balsamic glaze by just simmering some balsamic vinegar and reducing it down until it's thick.

Winter Caprese Salad

for a printable recipe, click here

The goal here is to remove most of the moisture from the tomatoes, which concentrates the flavor and turns bland winter tomatoes into tasty roasted ones.

serves 6 - 8

8 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 large garlic cloves, grated or minced
sea salt
pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, packed in water (I used a tub of Bocconcini, which had 4 balls of cheese)
8 leaves of fresh basil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Glaze (optional) 

slow roasting the tomatoes removes the moisture and concentrates the flavors


Preheat oven to 300° F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Place cut tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, the grated garlic and about ¼ teaspoons of sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Brush the cut sides of the tomatoes with the mixture until you use all the mixture. Place in the oven and bake for one hour.

After an hour, remove the pan from the oven and, with a spatula, gently press down on each tomato to flatten it and squeeze out the moisture. Be careful and do it slowly - the water in tomatoes will squirt out at you. Place the tomatoes back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 - 30 minutes, depending on how dried out you like the tomatoes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.  Place the tomatoes on a serving platter.


julienne the basil by rolling the leaves up and then slicing


Meanwhile, slice the mozzarella balls into 16 even slices. Place the cheese slices on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the cheese with a few drops of olive oil.  Sprinkle the cheese with just a little bit of sea salt.  Drizzle with the Balsamic Glaze, if you're using it. Julienne the basil leaves and sprinkle on top.  Serve at room temperature.

 

 

Tuesday
Dec162014

Homemade Layered Peppermint Bark

This homemade candy not only looks so pretty but it's absolutely delicious, and I'm not even a big peppermint fan. Making it yourself is quite a fun project and you can make it quite a bit ahead as it keeps well in the fridge or the freezer. I remember the first time I ever made it and tasted it and could not believe how addictive it was - so it makes great gifts at the holidays! 

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Tuesday
Dec022014

Cranberry Orange Braided Bread

 

I love making these kinds of breakfast breads, leaving them on the kitchen counter and letting everyone nibble on them for a couple of days.  These breads really are not hard to make - this kind of sweet dough is very easy to work with and you can make the fillings with lots of different things to suit your own taste. This version is with dried cranberries, walnuts and some orange zest. 

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