I wanted something crunchy, but I did not want something fried, so I started thinking: potatoes. And then playing with the idea of oven baked potatoes, I decided to add something bright and Mediterranean and added in some tomatoes. Here is what I did.
So there’s this French saying. It was the title of a comedy. La vie n’est pas un long fleuve tranquille. Life is not a long tranquil river.
Sometimes, we are grateful for life’s non linear, unexpected turns. Sometimes we tell ourselves they happen for a reason. Sometimes hindsight shows us the good that came out of the bad. And sometimes, we feel sorrow and mourn that long tranquil river of a life we might have imagined when we were children.
“Life is never as good, or as bad, as we thought.” Une Vie. Guy de Maupassant.
I will spare you the nitty gritty details, but there was a separation, a move, a terrible illness, a hospitalization and hours and days in critical condition, just waiting. For the body and soul to make a move. For the better or for the worse. Crisis mode. Everything else in life fades away to deal with the chaos.
And then, there’s slow improvement. Things are still difficult, still unresolved, and uncertain. The illness is still here. But life and healing are no longer hanging on by a thread. And remains the dire need for life to continue on its course, whatever that may be.
And in the midst of this past month of chaos, sanity had to be maintained. Ways to cope, to be grounded for my sake, for my son’s sake. Life is never one thing. Days have been nerve-wracking, chaotic, driven, juggling. But also joyful, through minutes spent in the present moment with Pablo. Through meals we shared in the midst of boxes, and slowly, in what has begun to feel like our new home. Through seconds of taking in the beauty surrounding us, the San Gabriel mountains, the wild parrots in our tree, the cool morning air.
How beauty and connection matter. How they heal and nourish.
So this feels like such a homecoming. I’m a little nervous. To write here, to come back to this blogging community I had to desert for a month. Resurfacing has been hard. I have been so grateful for all your messages of encouragement and comfort and support. I am so grateful for your patience, that you’re still here to read these words.
I’ve been nervous, I’ve felt stuck and afraid to have too much to express. But I’m starting to write again. To cook again. Some dust has settled on my camera. Soon.
In the meantime, I am sharing this lovely simple recipe I had cooked up before all this whirlwind of a month. A little something to quench that summer nostalgia October might bring.
Cherry tomatoes braised with vanilla & rosemary
4 servings (appetizer, or a fantastic topping for a Spanish tortilla!)
Prep time : 10 min
Cook time : 10-12 min
Age for babies: 8-10 months (peeling the tomato skins might be necessary)
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper
Wash the tomatoes, wash the rosemary and take it off the sprig. Mince the rosemary leaves.
Over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil.
Make a lengthwise incision along the vanilla bean, and with a small spoon, grate the seeds off on each side. Scrape them into the coconut oil.
Add the tomatoes and rosemary. Sprinkle the sugar on top, and let cook for about 10 minutes over medium, rolling the tomatoes around every so often by gently tilting and shaking the pan (using a spatula might make mush out of the tomatoes as they cook.)
Enjoy just like that as an appetizer or side dish with some bread. Or place on top of a quiche or Spanish tortilla.
It is time for the recipe swap again and this time we are dealing with tomato pudding. How can this little book chose by Christianna be so full of wacky recipes is a mystery to me, but I guess that is life, so I’ll deal with it… And I will come out winning! Or at least I will try.
Anyway, after the first moment of despair, I thought I should do something with bread and tomatoes and friselle immediately came to mind. Friselle are a typical dish from Southern Italy, Puglia to be more specific. It is a simple dish, consisting of toasted bread and tomatoes.
The bread is toasted to death, until it basically turns into a brick. While this doesn’t sound very appealing, it is a very convenient way of storing bread for long periods of time. I read that friselle were a common food for sailors, that would just take them on their trip and soak them in sea water to soften and flavor them up before eating. Not sure if that is the best way of eating friselle, but I can see it working.
On land, friselle are usually seasoned up by topping them with tomatoes and letting the friselle absorb all the nice juices from the tomatoes. As all the flavor comes from the tomatoes, it is key to choose the most flavorful tomatoes you can find. If you do that, friselle will taste awesome.
On a side note, to make friselle you are basically making bread rolls and then toasting them dry. The bread rolls are awesome before toasting. So you might want to bake a bigger batch and toast some of the bread and eat the rest fresh out of the oven. Those seriously are among the best bread rolls I ever baked and a very close match to the pull apart mayo bread rolls I baked for Chef Dennis!
Check out what everyone else did!
I have been absent. I was first in Chicago doing interviews (hope they went well I am still waiting to hear back on most) and now am in puerto rico enjoying a bit of R&R. But today is time for world on a plate and I am happy to post stuffed tomatoes.
The theme for this month was stuffed vegetables and I decided to go with a super easy recipe that used to be one of my sister’s favorite recipe as a child.
I love this recipe because it comes with a lot of memories and because it combines the sweetness of tomatoes with the saltiness of the capers. The result is delicious!
As I said the recipe is simple. So simple that I don’t even have doses. Just go by taste adding a bit of this and a pinch of that until you get the “right” flavor. Here right is what taste good to you so be brave and experiment. The only thing you should be careful about is not to add too much garlic so that you don’t overpower the other ingredients.
Oh remember to check out the other stuffed vegetables from around the world at the bottom of this post!
Today is a fish recipe. I don’t eat fish much, but when I walked into WF and found Mediterranean sea bass on offer, I just had to get some.
I cooked it very simply with tomatoes, potatoes and a bit of olives, capers and anchovies to kick up the flavor.
Oh, for the careful reader that was brave enough to look at the eye of the fish in the picture: you are right, that fish is not cooked, but sun was setting and I figured I’d take the picture with natural light and uncooked than cooked and with no light