This past Sunday I attended the Lowcountry Field Feast for the second year in a row, a wonderful fundraiser that supports local independent businesses and farms.   The family-style supper is prepared by Chef Mike Lata of FIG and featured seasonal fall dishes with local product.  One of my favorite “dishes” this year was the Aioli of all things!  Not one to normally fixate on condiments (especially one where the  main ingredient is mayo), I have found that this recently has been the case with my dining adventures.   Last week it was the dish of Butter at Chef Sean Brock’s newly opened Husk restaurant in Charleston.  With hints of smoked paprika, his Butter is BEYOND!  A tour of his kitchen revealed a room dedicated entirely to tomatoes and canning in prep for serving his own homemade Ketchup.  I’ve been thinking about this Ketchup a lot.  Too much in fact.  But if the Aioli and Butter are indicative of just how great a simple condiment can be, I’m thinking:  “Extra side of fries with that…”

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It’s officially Fall and the Foodie Mags are bursting with Holiday dishes, promising a  perfect Thanksgiving feast.  Since there’s been a recent nip in the air I was inspired to make what Southern Living is calling a  favorite Holiday side dish.
I skipped the cheese and opted not to brown the pancetta before roasting.  Simply placed all the ingredients in my Stoneware casserole dish, roasted for 25 minutes and served.
One of the easiest side dishes!  May not be so different for some, but for me this is a welcomed new addition to any Fall supper.
  • Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 oz pancetta, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Enough extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of  water
http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/christmas-holiday-side-dish-recipes-00417000068900/page20.html

I believe practice makes Risotto.  So for my second ever attempt, the first being Michelle Bernstein’s (my favorite Miami Chef) Red Wine with Chorizo Risotto, I decided to make Sean Brock’s (a fav Charleston chef) Ratatouille Risotto.  Featured in this month’s Esquire and touted as easy and quick (and hardly any butter ?!) I gave it a whirl.  Easy and quick? Not necessarily.  Delicious? Absolutely.  Learned from practice?  More butter.

http://www.esquire.com/features/guy-food/ratatouille-risotto-0810  

Recipe calls for a saucepan for the stock and stockpot for the sofrito and risotto. I instead use a stockpot for the stock and my 3.5 qt. Le Creuset braiser to cook the risotto.  

1 1/2 cups of each of the following, diced (about one small vegetable of each type):
bell pepper (any color)
Japanese eggplant
zucchini
yellow squash

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a few basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • leaves from a few thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 Put all ingredients in a bowl. Toss to coat and spread on a large baking sheet; overcrowding will cause vegetables to sweat rather than brown. Place in preheated 450 degree oven and don’t mess with it. Roast until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and reserve.

 THE STARTER

  • 15-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, drained (liquid reserved)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

 Pour tomato liquid into a saucepan and add vegetable stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Keep this mixture hot during the cooking process. Place tomatoes in a bowl and mash them into chunks using the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t pulverize or the tomatoes will disintegrate.

 THE PROCESS

Using a 6- or 8-quart stockpot, melt butter and heat olive oil together over low heat. Add shallots and garlic, cooking slowly until aromatics look almost like a puree (called sofrito). Do not brown. This will take about 10 minutes. · Remove sofrito, blot the pot with a paper towel, and return it to the stove over medium heat. Note the time on the clock. Add rice and use a wooden spoon to move it around the pot so it toasts and starts to smell a little nutty — 4 or 5 minutes. · Add wine and slowly cook it down, gently stirring. Add sofrito, stirring to coat. Begin adding hot stock about 1/2 cup at a time and stir after each addition until liquid is absorbed, so rice loses its starch and thickens the mixture. Toss in bay leaves after the third addition of stock. About 15 minutes into the cooking, add tomatoes. · You might not end up using all the tomato-stock liquid. When rice is al dente — after about 25 or 30 minutes total — take the pot off the heat and gently add ratatouille. Sprinkle in zest to add brightness, and stir in cheese. Salt to taste. · Serve with extra cheese and a pepper grinder on the side.

On a casual Sunday dinner party for 8,  Bon App’s Tomato Tarte Tatin was a summertime smash, even for one guest who dislikes tomatoes.  I often forget that my favorite vegetable is a fruit! 
Recipe calls for a cast iron skillet, I use my Le Creuset braiser with handles- perfect for flipping the tarte.
Classically French, Thrillingly Different.

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2010/08/tomato_tarte_tatin

Ingredients
1 3/4 pounds plum tomatoes (8 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed, corners cut off to make very rough 9- to 10-inch round
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring large saucepan of water to boil. Cut shallow X in bottom of each tomato. Add 4 tomatoes to boiling water. Blanch tomatoes just until skins at X begin to peel back, 15 to 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer blanched tomatoes to bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Peel tomatoes. Cut out cores, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds.
Spread butter over bottom of 91/2-inch-diameter, 2- to 3-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron). Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over butter. Arrange tomato halves, rounded side down and close together, in concentric circles in skillet to fill completely.
Place skillet over medium heat. Cook until sugar and butter are reduced to thickly bubbling, deep amber syrup (about 1/4 inch deep in bottom of skillet), moving tomatoes occasionally to prevent burning, about 25 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Immediately drizzle vanilla over tomatoes. Top with pastry round. Using knife, tuck in edges of pastry. Cut 2 or 3 small slits in pastry. Place skillet in oven and bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown, about 24 minutes.
Cool tart in skillet 10 minutes. Cut around sides of skillet to loosen pastry. Place large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts as aid, hold skillet and platter firmly together and invert, allowing tart to settle onto platter. Carefully lift off skillet. Rearrange any tomato halves that may have become dislodged.
Serve tart warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Inspired by the cover of August’s Saveur Magazine featuring a meze of peppers stuffed with whipped feta. Kick of the pepper meets coolness of greek yogurt and flavorful feta. Greek and Delicious. 

SAVEUR’s recipe:
Six 4″–5″ Anaheim chiles
9 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1⁄2 tsp. lemon zest
1⁄4 tsp. dried oregano
2 egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppers

1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Arrange a rack 6″ from the broiler element and set oven to broil. Put peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until just soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool.

2. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip feta, oil, yogurt, parsley, zest, oregano, and egg yolks; season with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise cut from the stem to the tip of each pepper; scoop out seeds and ribs. Stuff each pepper with some of the feta filling; transfer to an aluminum foil––lined baking sheet; chill for 30 minutes. Sprinkle peppers with grated cheese; broil peppers until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 6 minutes. Transfer peppers to a platter and serve hot.

Love a good Panzanella salad.  Perfect for summer- so flavorful, light and refreshing.  No recipe for this one, I winged it based on traditional Panzanella recipes.  I grilled the peppers and shrimp for an edge and used cilantro instead of parsley- it’s what I had fresh in the kitchen.  This dish is so yummy I can’t believe it doesn’t have cheese!

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • French baquette
  • 1 pound coarsely chopped peeled grilled shrimp
  • 4 large ripe but firm tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • Red and yellow grilled peppers, diced 
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives, plus 1/4 cup olive brine
  •  

  • Slice baguette and cook in skillet with olive oil (lightly coating) and garlic.  Cook until desired crispiness.
  • Combine grilled shrimp, tomatoes, grilled peppers, cilantro, olives and olive brine, vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Mix with cooked baquette.
  • Season with ground pepper to taste
  • Wednesday mornings are marked with much anticipation of New York Times Dining section-  Sam Sifton’s reviews and Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist.  With Farmer’s Markets back in season and Charleston having one of the best, it was the perfect moment to try out Bittman’s Torte.   Bittman uses an 8′ springfoam pan- I use my Le Creuset 2 qt braiser.   Also, no eggplant for me, instead went heavy on the squash and zucchinni.  Like Mark notes, this recipe is a set of loose guidelines, so adjust as you will.         

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/dining/21mini.html

    4 medium zucchini and yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices

    Mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices

    Carmalized onions

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

    2 tablespoons minced garlic

    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

    1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh.

    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Brush veggies lightly with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper Grill vegetables on both sides until soft.

    2. Layer in half the zucchini, mushrooms, onions, tomato, garlic and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil.

    3. Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes.

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings