April 26, 2013


As many of you are fully aware, I have an exploding tomato population.  I went a bit "Little House on the Prairie" thinking I needed to sow all my seeds to get me through the long, hard winter on the farm apparently.  Well, now...  I am reaping what I have sown.   PUN. FULLY. INTENDED.

It's mass chaos back there.  I think the tomatoes get together in some sort of secret society at night while I'm sleeping, plotting to overthrow me.  One day I may wake up to them all crouched down waiting to pounce (think: Lord of the Flies).  OK, clearly I've gone off on a tangent...

Last week I made a joke about "101 things to do with tomatoes", listing all of the recipes that were likely to show up here because they are bountiful and I can barely keep up.  And while it is inevitable that more tomato recipes will appear, I would have to say in all honesty that the best thing to do with a tomato is eat it right from the plant, still warm from the sun.  Nothing beats it.

A friend of mine suggested I share a salsa recipe.  He said he's always looking for new ones to try and then another friend of mine said she needed one too, so here we are. 

There are no shortage of salsa recipes out there, that is for sure, but maybe you've never had one like this before. 

If you've ever spent time in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras or El Salvador, chances are you've had chirmol.  If you have friends or family from that area or if you've ever eaten at a restaurant representing one of those countries, it is almost a certainty.
It is the go-to condiment served with grilled meat and makes an appearance at every barbecue. 

The sharpness of the lime, the bite of the onions, the acidity in the tomatoes all work together perfectly to cut through the richness of the grilled meat.  I'm salivating just thinking about it...
It is a delicious combination.  Don't just take my word for it, get in the kitchen!

Chirmol is basically a pico de gallo or salsa.  It is scrumptious mixed in with rice and/or beans or scooped up with a tortilla chip. I even throw some in with my eggs in the morning.  If you like salsa, you'll love this.

Salsas are one of the quickest and easiest things to throw together.  In less than 10 minutes, it's done.  Start to finish.  It does not require incredible knife skills, so whether you have been cooking forever or are just beginning, everyone can manage this.  

8 plum tomatoes
1 small onion, finely diced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
salt & pepper

Coat tomatoes with about a teaspoon of oil, just enough to slick their skin. Grill until skin is lightly charred, set aside in a bowl to cool slightly before peeling.  Sometimes mine burst open before they get charred enough.  If this happens, don't sweat it!  You can either let them hang out for another minute or just pull them off the grill.

If the tomatoes are the only thing you need grilled & you don't want to go through the trouble, you can do them in a pan on the stove or in the oven. 
If you don't feel like cooking them at all, that's fine too. 
We're not trying to split the atom, it's just a tomato...

Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, slip the skins off and chop them up.  If you like a smooth salsa, puree them in the blender.

Let the diced onions hang out in the lime juice for about 10 minutes, this helps to mellow them out.  Then add the rest of your ingredients and mix to combine.  Season with salt & pepper.

This is the basic, traditional recipe for chirmol.  If you are in the mood for a more gussied up version, feel free to experiment and add in roasted or fresh corn, diced bell pepper, diced mango, peach or pineapple.
You can also switch up the chilies; add chipotles in adobo to make it even smokier or if you REALLY like heat, add in a habanero, or Scotch bonnet. 

April 22, 2013

My Tomatoes Runneth Over...

If you are a tomato person, you will want to check back here from time to time and here's why:  I have an exploding tomato population.  As someone said to me a few days ago, this is not a bad problem to have! 
So let me just tell you now that for the next few months, there will likely be a number of recipes here using tomatoes...  Salsas, tomato tarts, tomato jam, tomato soup, etc.

Sometimes I am hesitant to put recipes here that I think will be too simple or maybe you just won't find that interesting.  Recently, there was a discussion amongst a few of my foodie friends regarding the subject of "overdoing" food. 
Example: a cookie inside of a brownie inside of a cupcake inside of a pie, then deep fried and topped with caramel and chocolate sauces, whipped cream and sprinkles.
Obviously this is a gross exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

My point is, sometimes food doesn't need fussing with.   When you are working with gorgeous produce (or any other food for that matter), it's ok to let it stand on it's own.  If something is at it's absolute best, let that be the focal point.
When things are doused in sauce or coated with too much crap, I often wonder what the cook is trying to disguise.  Sometimes it's nothing, but there are times when the product needs a little help or it's about to turn, and that's fine too if it prevents food from going to waste.
We've all been a bit overzealous in our purchases from time to time and there have been occasions when we just can't get to everything before it goes bad. 
This is the salad to make when everything you have is at it's peak.

This salad is the perfect light and refreshing side to grilled fish or chicken.  It is a healthy swap for  potato chips when you need something with a little crunch and texture alongside your sandwich.

If possible, use a variety of tomatoes as they each have slightly different flavors and textures. 
The mix of colors will also make it more visually appealing.

Tomato & Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber, quartered & sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced or 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved or whole
1 cup marinated quartered artichoke hearts
1/2 cup pitted mixed olives
1/4  lemon, sliced paper thin
1 tsp lemon thyme (or regular thyme), chopped
2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh chives, chopped
3 - 4 tbsp Olive oil
1- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
pinch pepper

-Place all ingredients in medium bowl and mix to combine.  I usually let it sit for 10 minutes or so, that's about the extent of my patience.   Dig in!

April 15, 2013

"Board"-ing School

I'm not a very "gray area" type of girl.  Either I like something, or I don't...   On occasion this can be a bad thing.  For example, when someone feeds you something you don't really like.   They look at you with expectant puppy dog eyes hoping you will say it's the best thing you've ever eaten, when all you really want to do is spit it into a napkin.

This was the complete opposite. 
I not only wanted it,  I went back for seconds!  I had been at the Farmer's Market and out of the corner of my eye I saw some cutting boards.  I wasn't there to shop for anything other than fruit & veggies so I kept walking.  Then it started.  It was like an itch I had to scratch, I kept turning around and looking, I nearly threw my neck out from looking over my shoulder at these beauties.

So, as I made my way back around I decided to go say "hi" and get a closer look.  Let me be the first to tell you that no photo can do this piece of art justice.  The workmanship on these boards is beyond description.  It is clearly a labor of love.  Running my fingers over the smooth wood, not feeling a single rough spot or seam where it came together was just incredible.  The variations in the wood, the colors and natural beauty shine through like nothing else I have ever seen, I mean EVER.

I must have stopped back at their booth a handful of times that afternoon.  I just couldn't get over the beauty of these boards.  They are so unique and so gorgeous that I just kept feeling this pull toward them.  The lovely people at Boards 4 Friends let me take a photo and I posted it on Facebook.  Well, that set off a fire-storm of interest!   Then, I just couldn't get it out of my head.  I needed to reach out to them and tell them how many people were interested in what they do and here we are.

I wanted to go to their shop and actually see the process and share it with all of you.  I told you, I'm pretty black & white.  If I like something, I REALLY like it and these... I love.

I am the very lucky and proud owner of this little prize right here:

Bill and Martin were gracious enough to let me photograph them and their workshop so I could see the process.  I was able to see how the boards come together, step by step.   It is something that I know nothing about and found it absolutely fascinating to see pieces of wood come together and become the most stunning board I've ever laid eyes on.

Bill, Martin, Joe and Sharon are the four friends the company is named for: Boards4Friends.  Together, they  do everything... from taking orders, to making boards and sending them to their new homes.  It is really impressive what they are able to turn out in a small space with only the four of them doing the work. 
If you are in the market for a beautiful cutting board, I can not recommend them enough.  The boards are beautiful and incredibly well made. 
Here,  let me show you:

Bill lining up various pieces of wood to adhere them to one another

Nice and snug!

Martin running a board through the planer 

measure twice, cut once!

Making strips of wood to create the design for my Jayven board

On to the next step!

Design is laid out! Now to make the board!

branding board with logo

Martin smoothing her out!

 Branded & Sanded!

now for a little gloss... 

Bill giving her a mineral oil rub down!

Bill & Martin  :)

Thank you so much to Boards4Friends for the gorgeous cutting board and for being so gracious and fun!  You are an amazing bunch!