A savory summer tradition

Some of our summer traditions outshine others. Splashing in Puget Sound or one of Seattle’s many free wading pools. Pretty fabulous. Eating farm-fresh fruit and vegetables. Divine. Several months between jobs. Not so wonderful.

With summer winding down, it appears like our time sans income might also come to an end. Hopefully by school’s beginning. Paperwork isn’t signed yet, which is the only thing at this point that will let me truly rest easy, but all signs look positive. If the title of my next post is UNCLE! you’ll know otherwise.

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While Seattle is traditionally slow to warm up, notorious June gloom and all, July, August and September are my definition of perfect. Blue skies, 60s in the morning, 70s in the afternoon, flowers, water, mountains, light late into the evening. Knowing that orcas are swimming just a mere ferry ride away. You know? Summer!

Our fabulous vegetable farmers invited CSA members to the farm for a potluck last weekend. I was so happy we could go. I wanted to see their fields, meet other CSA members and celebrate that community. I was also excited for the boys to meet our farmers and their little guy, as well as see where our vegetables grow. We soaked in the evening light on their beautiful land, conversed with many interesting people, ate a lot of delicious food, and heard about their farming practices while walking the fields. The boys picked blackberries from the bushes lining the farm’s boundary for at least an hour. That was their favorite part, along with the tractor time.

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I brought a cheesy herb bread and a salad. It was the second time I’ve made this bread for a party. While it’s good by itself, it sings when soaking up dressing or soups, partnered with tapenade or other spreads, or best yet, topped with roasted tomatoes. If the bread is older than a day, it needs the extra moisture. If it’s fresh, the moisture and flavor contrasts are still a very nice bonus. Besides, I never need extra motivation to make roasted tomatoes.

I remember not knowing what to do with my surplus tomatoes my first year of gardening in Colorado. (They actually grow well there, as opposed to Seattle.) I only ate them raw, in salads and on sandwiches. The next year I was introduced to my first roasted tomato recipe. It was a revelation. Until I am bed bound and wearing diapers again, these will remain a tradition in my household.

I have played around with various versions, but I like Heidi Swanson’s recipe best. It is so simple and delicious. Cherry tomatoes impart a sweetness that other tomatoes lack. I will not turn down any version of roasted tomatoes, but these knock my socks off. Plus, after several seasons of difficulty growing tomatoes in Seattle, I only planted cherry tomatoes this year. This year’s first batch were made from my gold nugget, lemon drop and black cherry plants. Candy in a jar. For me.

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Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

Minimally adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Makes one loaf

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2-1 teaspoon salt (depending on saltiness of additions and chosen cheese)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (Dorie recommends white. I used black because it’s what I had.)

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 generous cup coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte, Emmenthal or cheddar (about 4 oz)

2 ounces of your choice of cheese(s) from above, cut into very small cubes (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup)

1/2 cup minced fresh chives or other herbs (I used 1/4 cup chives, a scant 1/4 cup basil and a little mint). You can also substitute scallions, bacon bits, ham, etc… for some of these additions.

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Preheat the oven to 350℉ with a rack in center. Butter a loaf pan. (Dorie recommends a 8 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 inch loaf pan, but I just have a 9 inch pan, so I checked mine at 30-minutes and it was ready.)

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl.

Put the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until foamy and blended, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and olive oil.

Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture, gently mixing until they’re just combined. Stir in the cheeses, herbs and any other additions. Scrape the dough (yes, it’s supposed to be thick) into the prepared loaf pan and gently spread it evenly into the pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (or up to ten minutes longer if you have an 8-inch pan) until the bread is golden and a knife tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert the loaf. Turn it back right side up to finish cooling on the rack.

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Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Makes about one cup (Not enough.)

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup / 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon natural cane sugar or maple syrup (I prefer the syrup.)

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

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Preheat the oven to 350℉ with the rack in the top third.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It’s fine if you don’t line it, but it’ll make easier work of getting them off, as well as cleaning the pan.) Whisk together the olive oil, sweetener and salt. Pour this mixture over the tomatoes and gently toss until well coated.

Arrange the coated tomatoes cut side up and roast 45-60 minutes, until they shrink a bit and start to caramelize around the edges.

To store these beauties, let them cool and then transfer them, along with leftover olive oil on the sheet, into a glass jar. They’ll keep about 1 week if you hit your head and forget about them in the fridge. Otherwise, they’ll probably last a day or two.

I highly recommend doubling this recipe. There are never enough. (Toast, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes. Zucchini ribbons, basil pesto, roasted tomatoes. Pasta, parmesan, basil, roasted tomatoes. Spoon, roasted tomatoes.) I use both oven racks and just rotate them at about the 20-minute mark.

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