Insalata Caprese

 Dea's Insalata Caprese with zebra green+ purple cherokee tomatoes with bocconcini mozzarella, licorice basil, balsamic + olive oil 

Dea's Insalata Caprese with zebra green+ purple cherokee tomatoes with bocconcini mozzarella, licorice basil, balsamic + olive oil 

Simplicity is always the key to any dish. This is particularly true of seasonal produce and even more so when you're growing your own stuff. Caprese salads are always a favorite as mozzerlla, basil and tomatoes simply just love each other. This salad is said to represent the Italian flag showcasing the red, white and green colors. My fellow apprentice at Camp Joy put together this stunning collection of colors for lunch the other day and I couldn't help but nibble at it when she wasn't looking. The colors just invite you in and the simplicity of the balsamic and olive oil send me back to the land of  red, white and green, Italia. Of course it is important to enjoy this insalata with as fresh as possible ingredients from the tomatoes & basil to the mozz. Also a quality virgin olive oil will only add to the divinity of this dish. 

Insalata Caprese

4-5 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced into discs

handful fresh basil

1 ball mozzarella or burrata sliced into bite sized pieces

Drizzle of good Balsamic & Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

 With a sharp knife slice tomatoes into large discs and lay on a large platter, seasoning generously. Lay mozzarella a top of tomatoes and drizzle balsamic and olive oil. Finish with basil leaves and as much salt & pepper as you please.

Slow-Cooker Heirloom Ketchup

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In late August tomatoes fill the market stands. I recently had the privilege of working the historic Head House Farmers Market - held most Sunday since its inception in 1745. I can not begin to describe the energy and passion of the market; watching these vendors display the products of their labor truly thrills me as a cook.

Enter Mr. Tom Culton, proprietor of the 'Mouiseur Tom Culton Biologique' - an homage to his quebecque roots-of Lancaster County. Tom always offers the market his rare, eclectic and captivating produce all grown organically on his family farm, which has been around almost as long as Head House. 

When we first met back in April, he kept chanting about his heirloom tomatoes, which he claimed were simply 'the best' around. I have begun to join Tom at Head House, on 2nd and Lombard, to smooze with customers and make suggestions on how to tackle his unusual crops. When we pack up the market at the end of the day, Tom gifts me oodles of bruised but still precious heirloom tomatoes. While still delectable, these tomatoes spoil when split and need to be used immediately. So I whisked these babies home and have been making gazpachos, sauces, and jams all month. Then I rediscovered my slow cooker and was so excited to break it out to make some homemade ketchup. 

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I am often baffled when I start reading the ingredients of your average bottle of ketchup, like Heinz. High Fructose Corn Syrup? Potassium Chloride? Natural Flavoring, which can mean ANYTHING. These ingredients simply ruin the flavor of ketchup, but this has sadly been made the standard in America. I loved ketchup when I was a kid and put it on everything, but as I've gotten older, Heinz became too sweet and I normally just go for sriracha. 

This ketchup is full proof and oh so easy. Set it and forget it. You can use up all your gnarly looking tomatoes too! Since this recipe reduces for a long time, I let the ketchup cook overnight. In the morning, I woke up to this unbelievable aroma blasting out of my kitchen. Then, I tasted the ketchup. It is absolutely THE BEST ketchup I have ever, EVER in my entire life. It once again goes to show you that the best ingredients make the best product. I have been trying to find so many excuses to use this sauce, because its so good on its own, but who just free bases ketchup? So we've been making tons of potatoes, the obvious companion for ketchup and it really steals the show.

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Slow-Cooker Heirloom Ketchup

6 pounds good & ripe tomatoes

1 large onion

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

1 cinnamon stick, crushed

2 teaspoon each: basil, garlic, mustard seed, allspice, 

whole cloves, peppercorns, and celery seed

2 bay leaves

Core, and dice tomatoes. Place tomatoes and onion in slow cooker and set to high. Cook approximately and hour and a half, until tomatoes have started to break down and the juices are bubbling.

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Puree tomatoes using a stick blender and return to slow cooker. Stir in vinegar, sugar, and salt. Place remaining spices on a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. Add to the mixture. Cook on low, with the lid removed (to allow mixture to reduce), for approximately 10 hours. Pour into either prepared glass jars for canning, or freezer jars.

*Note- you can strain the mixture after its done cooking, to get more of the traditional ketchup mouth feel, but I like the graininess of the tomatoes and the flavor it gives. If it seems too watery, let it reduce longer. The mixture will reduce by at least half overnight. 

Blueberry Hand Pies

I've always been a huge fan of portable food. Personal sized treats are always a crowd pleaser, and when I decided to sell a baked-good for a fundraiser for Caravan, I was set on making hand pies. A good friend of mine is a bit of a pie aficionado and when we teamed up for this fundraiser, I knew I had to have her help me develop a sinfully delicious hand pie recipes. Well two days of prep, countless test recipes, three different fillings, and hours of baking later, we came up with this wonderful sour cream based crust. We filled them with her signature jersey blueberry filling and sold over 80 of these bad boys at The Barbary. This recipe is great for summer fruits (peach, apricot, nectarine) but is also great for savory fillings too- We tried vegan chorizo and turkey with summer squash and they were all a hit, you could even go ahead an call them empanadas if you're feeling festive. 

Blueberry Hand Pie

Makes roughly 18 Hand Pies

 

Sour Cream Crust

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 8-ounce container sour cream

1 to 2 tablespoons cold milk, optional

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and mix together. Put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. On a clean dry counter roll out the dough, flattening butter into flour. Knead the dough until butter is throughly mixed into the crust and return to the freezer for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat once more and freeze for 10 minutes. If mixture becomes dry add milk. Fold in sour cream and combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

  

Blueberry Filling

2 cups sugar

3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup water

6 cups fresh blueberries

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2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. 

On a floured surface, roll out dough until about 1/8 inch thick, an empanada press makes this easier. Cut dough into a 6 inch circle with a cutter or round bowl. Add 2 tablespoons mixture to center and fold dough over mixture, and sealing edges with a few drops of cool water. Cut a 'V' shaped vents in top and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 


Garden Tomato Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of those dishes that reminds me that summer is in full swing. Ruby red tomatoes are everywhere, and in the Italian market people are practically giving them away. My garden has been bursting with this luscious gems and I'm doing my best to keep up with my eight gigantic plants.

There is simply nothing more satisfying or simple to prepare on a hot day than a cold bowl of summer veggies. Gazpacho is one of those dishes that is great way to clean out your fridge of any left over farm share veggies. This week we got some wonderful cucumbers, green bell peppers, and tomatoes from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Throw everything in the food processor and voilà! You've got summer in a bowl! 

Garden Tomato Gazpacho

6 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

1/2 large cucumber—peeled, halved, seeded and cut into chunks

1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup water

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Salt

1 cup chilled steamed summer corn

Sriracha & basil, for serving

 In a food processor, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, garlic and water and puree until smooth. Slowly add olive oil, vinegar and salt. Serve or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Top with summer corn, basil, fresh olive oil and sriracha. Enjoy!