For this final week of 2010, I have chosen to share with you three classic dishes with a unique twist:
First, a savory comfort dish; French Onion Soup with a Comté Cheese Crouton
Second, a sweet breakfast treat to greet the new year: French Toast with Pomegranate Syrup AND
Third, an elegant presentation of a salad favorite: Individual Insalata Caprese – an ideal appetizer for your New Year’s Eve dinner or a fresh addition to the football fare on New Year’s Day
What’s so special about this final week is two of the above are guest posts by friends that I would never have met if I hadn’t decided to start writing this little blog called She’s Cookin’! You hear talk (or read it) about how blogging creates a community by bringing together like-minded people and that real friendships are formed in this virtual place. Well, it’s true, and one of the best things about this year is that I’ve met a number of food bloggers that live in Orange County that I now call “friend” in the real sense of the word.
Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to my friend Alisha, a most gentle, generous, and genuine person who lives right here in Huntington Beach only a few blocks from my house. Alisha and her two sons are the creative minds behind The Ardent Epicure, a gorgeous ode to the pleasures of food!
Hello to all of the She’s Cookin” readers, my name is Alisha or Magic of Spice and I am so pleased to be doing a guest post for my friend Priscilla. Today I will be sharing with you my version of the classic Insalata Caprese…Hope you enjoy.
The Insalata Caprese is traditionally served by layering fresh ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves then dressing with high quality olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper…Although you have more than likely seen this salad arranged in various ways and dressed in as many, including being served as an appetizer atop fresh bread or crostini. Or perhaps for your non-vegetarian guests you could serve it as an antipasto salad by adding a bit of cubed salami and prosciutto? The possibilities are quite varied as are the options for serving. But for purposes of this post we are going on the assumption that you are madly in~love with my execution and plating 🙂 So we will just move on with a few words about our ingredients, and in my opinion some important factors pertaining to this classic dish.
So let us begin with the tomatoes a very important and key ingredient…make sure that you use nice ripe tomatoes, and avoid refrigeration as this can cause your tomatoes to become mealy. Another factor in the choice of tomatoes is that your dressing is based off the juices of your tomatoes and the olive oil, so the riper, the more juicy the better.
What you will need:
4 small to medium ripened tomatoes
*Note: I used black or mahogany heirloom
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup basil chiffonade
A handful or so of arugula, or other garnish lettuce
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Get this look:
Start by carving your tomatoes into individual bowls. Making sure to carve out over a bowl to retain juices. Now take your mozzarella ball(s) and cut into small cubes. Add the majority of your olive oil (or to taste) to your tomato juices, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in your cubed mozzarella, and thoroughly coat the cheese. Fill each tomato bowl to brimming with the mozzarella.
To create your basil chiffonade, take your fresh basil leaves starting with the largest and stack them. Now roll them beginning at the widest end until you meet the narrowest end. Take your roll now and slice the width with a sharp knife to create ribbon like slices of basil. Adorn the top of your tomatoes with your basil chiffonade. Now you can create small nests of arugula then place your tomatoes on top of each nest. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a bit of cracked pepper.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 🙂
Thank you for reading and visiting She’s Cookin’ this past year, I’ll see you here in 2011 for more flavorful, fast, fresh, and family friendly recipes! Please take a moment to visit The Ardent Epicure to experience more of their culinary delights.