These little ladies above are my heirloom Snow Oregon Sugar Pod Peas. I’m going to grow them for pea shoots. I’m delighted that they sprouted and can’t wait to cook them up. Pea shoots are my favorite! An omelet with sauteed pea shoots and goat cheese is absolutely divine!
My thyme has been growing like crazy! I keep it in a pot that is protected by this lovely statue. I’m in full belief that the statue is what makes the thyme so healthy.
And here are the last of my heirloom Brandywine tomatoes. The plant keeps growing and producing flowers so I’m going to see just how much more I can get from this plant. Tomato salad, coming right up!
Generate New Recipes From Classic Combinations
A really easy way to generate new recipes is to take a classic flavor combination and make something new out them. On our last shopping trip Michael bought some sliced blue cheese for his roast beef sandwiches so I thought about elaborating on this and decided to add sliced apples and balsamic vinegar to this classic sandwich. Apples, blue cheese, and balsamic are classic flavor profiles and they pair really well with the roast beef and butter lettuce.
- Roast Beef
- Apples, sliced thinly
- Sliced Blue Cheese
- Butter Lettuce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Ciabatta Rolls
Slice Ciabatta rolls in half and toast. Drizzle each slice of bread with balsamic vinegar—just enough to coat the slice. Add roast beef to bottom slice of bread. Top with cheese, then apple slices, then lettuce.
I mean sure, Mike will make me a Margarita to make the heat a bit more bearable, but who in their right mind wants to stand over a stove when they could be relaxing under the patio umbrella reading the NY Times!
What does this have to do with Tostadas, you ask? Plenty. You see, when I think of Tostadas I think of my mom. My mom hated cooking during a heat spell for the very same reasons I do….it sucks. So instead of cooking an elaborate meal, she would make tostadas.
Tostadas are perfect Summer food because there is little cooking involved and tostadas can be topped with just about anything. There is an art form to constructing a killer tostada though….you can’t just pile stuff on. So I’ve devised this guide detailing the anatomy of a killer tostada.
Anatomy of a killer tostada in second part of post…
Layers and Textures
The key to a killer tostada is to layer the flavors and textures so that they contrast and compliment each other. Almost any type of ingredient can be used but there are a few guidelines to follow. Below is a little sketch I made of the anatomy of great tostada.
First Layer – Tortilla
The very first layer is the fried tortilla. Many mainstream grocery stores sell pre-made tostadas but I HIGHLY recommend that you DO NOT purchase these. Most of the pre-made tostadas are not in fact fried tortillas, but rather ground up corn that is then placed in a mold to look like a tortilla.
Besides, all you really need to do is fry a cold tortilla on both sides in some vegetable oil until both sides turn a dark brown. It’s important that you allow the tortilla to fully brown because if you don’t it will be chewy and not flaky and crunchy.
Home fried tortillas are FAR superior in taste and texture so don’t skimp on this step. Remember, this is the foundation of the tostada!
Second Layer – The Mushy Stuff
I think of the second layer on a tostada sort of as the glue. The second layer should be an ingredient that is mushy, easy to spread, but thick enough so the rest of the ingredients can sink in and not fall off.
The classic ingredient for this is refried beans. Take your tostada and spread some refried beans on to it making sure to coat the entire center. I like to leave a little room near the edges so that when you pick up the tostada with your hands you don’t get beans all over them.
Other ideas are guacamole, melted cheese, hummus, or any type of spread really.
Third Layer – The Meat
The third layer should be the main ingredient in the tostada. All other layers and ingredients should compliment and be designed around THIS ONE. Most often the third layer is a protein like chicken, beef, pork, etc. But it doesn’t literally have to be meat. However, if it isn’t meat, make sure you choose an ingredient that is a bit firm and has bite because you want this layer to contrast in texture with the mushy layer.
I often make tuna tostadas using guacamole as my mushy layer…Yum!
Fourth Layer – Refreshing Crunch
The fourth layer is intended to add complexity to the flavors and textures already present. Adding chopped lettuce, cabbage, raw onion rings, etc. can really add a wonderful crunch.
For the tuna and guacamole tostadas, I added marinated red onions to compliment the tuna flavor and they were divine!
Fifth Layer – The Sauce
The last layer is intended to add moisture to prevent the tostada from being too dry. Salsa of course, is the obvious ingredient here but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I often drizzle tostadas with thinned sour cream, or squeeze a bit of lime juice over the whole thing.
As you can see, a killer tostada can be endlessly modified and of course, this anatomy is more of a guideline than it is a rule. Feel free to change and disregard any of these guidelines.
Do you have a favorite recipe for tostadas? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Classic Chicken Salad With a Twist
I love making quick and delicious versions of classic recipes. We were on our way to the beach this weekend when I decided to whip up some Chicken Salad Sandwiches for lunch. This recipe differs from classic Chicken Salad because it doesn’t contain mayonnaise, and it has bits of apples and sage…Yum!
Quick Chicken Salad after the jump…
Chicken Salad With Apples and White Wine Vinaigrette
Recipe makes two sandwiches
2 cups cooked chicken. I use grocery store bought roasted chicken.
1/2 cup red onions
3/4 cups of chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp chopped sage
1/2 cup chopped apple
3 tbs good olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Shred the chicken in a bowl. Mix all of the vegetables, garlic, sage, lemon zest, and apples. Make vinaigrette. Whisk together the oil, mustard, and vinegar until emulsified. combine vinaigrette with chicken, add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy! we had it on sourdough bread and a bit of mesculin, but you could have it with crackers, on a bed of greens, etc.
Porterhouse Steaks On The Last Days Of Summer
Now that Summer is on it’s last days, I’ve been itching to get in as much outdoor grilling as possible. This past weekend Mike and I grilled up some Porterhouse steaks and accompanied them with grilled peaches and zucchini. I love grilling peaches! Grilled peaches are a perfect side for savory and robust cuts of meat. There’s nothing complicated about this recipe. Very simple preparation to compliment very simple flavors.
Porterhoue Steak Recipe after the jump…
1 porterhoue steak
salt and pepper
Slice zucchini into thick slices. Toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Sprinkle a bit of salt over cut peaches. Rub olive oil over steak and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Prepare grill and add the steak. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until done to preference…i like my steak medium rare. Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes, covered. Add zucchini and peaches to grill. Grill until golden brown. Peaches will need less time than the zucchini. enjoy!