Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mediterranean Eggplant Poppers #FishFridayFoodies

Mediterranean eggplant poppers combine the lovely flavors of za’atar, roasted eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes for a great appetizer your guests will love. They are even more special topped with shrimp.

When I have the time, I like to head to the big hypermarket not too far from my house and wander around the fresh produce section looking for inspiration. They carry an amazing selection of fruit and vegetables from near and far, all shiny, bright, colorful and clearly full of nutrition and vitamins.

Just a couple of days ago, I came across the loveliest little eggplants there. I shifted through them looking for the smallest ones, trying to select ones of similar size, with good stems still attached. Right there, in my head, I made up this recipe. Like this: What goes with eggplant? Garlic and tomatoes. What goes with garlic and tomatoes? Mozzarella, of course. And because today I am joining the Fish Friday Foodies in sharing appetizers, I decided to top the whole lot with some seasoned shrimp.

And that is the weird and wonderful way my brain works.

8 small eggplants
2 cloves garlic
Generous handful parsley, plus more to garnish, if desired
olive oil
2 teaspoons za’atar
1 ball fresh mozzarella (about 4.4 oz or 125g)
4-5 grape tomatoes
16 cooked medium-sized shrimp

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Scrub the little eggplants clean then cut them in half, trying to split the stem as well. Scoop out the insides, chop and set aside. I use a melon baller for the scooping. Put them in a baking pan.

Mince the garlic cloves and chop the parsley finely.

Cook the eggplant insides in a small pan with a good drizzle olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper plus one teaspoon of the za’atar. When all of the water has cooked out of the eggplant and it’s browning, add in the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Tip in the parsley and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until the parsley wilts. Taste the filling and add more salt, if necessary. Remove from the heat.

Cut the mozzarella ball into thin circles. Fit them into the eggplant halves. Add the filling, dividing it between the eggplants.

Slice the grape tomatoes and put one slice on top of the filling. Drizzle on some olive oil.

Roast in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggplants start to slump a little and are browned around the edges. Some leakage happens but when you scrape those bits up with a metal spatula, you get to eat them. Score! Make sure you are in the kitchen alone when these come out of the oven and you won't even have to share that bonus.

Meanwhile, dry your shrimp and put them in a small bowl. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and toss them around to coat. Add the last teaspoon of za’atar and toss again.

Note: There are various za'atar recipes. I prefer what's known as Lebanese za'atar but you can use your favorite.

Ignore the little tails on the shrimp. I did remove those before I put the shrimp on the eggplant poppers.

Remove the baking pan from the oven and top each eggplant with one shrimp. Pop the pan back in the oven for another five minutes to warm the shrimp through.

Serve warm, sprinkled with a little more chopped parsley, if desired.

For a vegetarian option, skip the shrimp step. We love shrimp but these Mediterranean Eggplant Poppers are fabulous even without them. And they are just as pretty. Here they are pre-shrimp.

Update: Just ate a leftover eggplant popper straight out of the refrigerator. They are even good cold.


Many thanks to this month’s Fish Friday Foodie host, Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm. If you are looking for creative holiday appetizers or first courses with seafood, you’ve come to the right place!

Pin it! 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Easy Cheesy Salami Tomato Tart #FridayPieDay

Easy to throw together, this tart starts with puff pastry, topped with pesto, salami, fresh tomatoes and semi-soft cheese, for a savory slice of deliciousness that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. Or enjoy it cold the next day for breakfast. I did!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It is my pleasure to join my friend, Heather, today for another edition of Friday Pie Day. Make sure to scroll on down to the bottom for the link to her take on classic mince pies.

One of the standard items in my freezer is pre-rolled puff pastry. It thaws fairly quickly and I find it can be ready to unroll by the time my oven preheats, which makes tart making a breeze. The filling is easily adapted to whatever you have on hand - as long as you make sure to include some melty cheese! - so it’s perfect for busy days when you want a special meal but are short on time. Like during the holidays.

This tart is adapted from a recipe at cuisineAZ.

8 oz or 225g all butter puff pastry dough
3 1/2 oz or 100g salami
3 medium tomatoes (Mine weighed about 9 oz or 260g.)
8 3/4 oz or 250g semi-soft cheese (I used Morbier.)
3 tablespoons fresh pesto (Mine was made with wild rocket or arugula.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish: chopped green onions

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and line your tart pan with baking parchment.

Unroll your puff pastry dough circle (or roll it out with a rolling pin if it’s in a block) and fit it into your tart pan.

Dock the dough with a fork and bake in your preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and then turn the temperature down to 350°F or 180°C.

Spread the base of the tart with the pesto.

Top with salami.

Slice your tomatoes very thinly. Cut the hard rinds off of your cheese and slice it as thinly as possible, which frankly is a little tricky with a semi-soft cheese. Do your best.

Top the salami with the tomato slices.

Then top the tomatoes with the cheese slices and give the whole tart a good few grinds of black pepper.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and golden.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions, if desired.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving. You can also serve it at room temperature.


This easy cheesy salami tomato tart is my contribution to this month's Friday Pie Day, the brilliant creation of Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. (Formerly girlichef.)

I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

This month Heather has baked mini cranberry mince pies, an essential for Christmas!

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Crusty Caprese Loaf for #TwelveLoaves

All the gorgeousness of my favorite summer salad, baked into a lovely crusty loaf, with basil proofed in the dough, mozzarella tucked inside and, finally, a smattering of colorful little tomatoes roasting on top. 

It’s summertime and that means plentiful, flavorful tomatoes and long and leggy overgrown basil. Which makes this the perfect season for making Caprese salad. And crusty Caprese bread. This month Twelve Loaves is celebrating summer fun! We’ve got nine great recipes for you and hope you will be inspired to turn that stove or oven on, despite the heat.

What’s your favorite taste of summer? Aside from the cherries and homegrown tomatoes, mine has got to be fresh purple hull peas, which are really a type of bean. They are hard to come by most of the year but my farmers’ market in Houston has them during the summer and they are divine. A fresh bean is NOTHING like its dried cousin. If you’ve never tried them, start looking for them now. Well, right after you bake some bread, okay?

1/4 oz or 7g active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups or 355ml tepid water
1 teaspoon sugar
12 oz or 2 3/4 cups or 345g flour plus extra for kneading
3 oz or 3/4 cup or 85g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon salt
11 cherry/grape tomatoes, approximate weight  4 1/4 oz or 120g
7 oz or 200g mozzarella
2g or about 10 medium-sized leaves fresh basil plus more for garnish, if desired
Olive oil

Put 1/4 cup or about 30g of flour into your large mixing bowl with the sugar and yeast. Add the tepid water and stir well. Allow to proof for 10 minutes. If the yeast gets foamy, it’s all good.

Meanwhile roll your basil leaves up really tightly and slice thinly. Fancy chefs call this chiffonade and you can too.

When the yeast mixture is ready, add in the basil and stir.

Add in the rest of the flours and the salt.  Mix until well combined and you have a soft dough.

If you are using a stand mixer, change to the bread hook and knead. You may have to add a little more flour. Otherwise, remove from the mixer and knead by hand until smooth and stretchy.

Form into a nice round ball. Drizzle a little olive oil in your bowl and roll the ball around until coated with oil.

Cover the bowl and put in a warm place for a couple of hours. You can continue the process at this point or you can let it rest overnight in the refrigerator for added flavor.

If you put the dough in the refrigerator overnight (like I did) remove it and allow it to come to room temperature before proceeding.

Meanwhile you can cut your mozzarella into thick slices.

Punch down the dough and form it into a nice circle again. Put it in a greased pan.

Use a sharp knife to cut deep slits in the dough and tuck a slice of mozzarella into each.

Pierce a hole with that same sharp knife in each small tomato and push them into the dough.

Cover with a mixing bowl and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour. Set your timer for 45 minutes and preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C when it rings.

Bake the loaf, uncovered, in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or when the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 180°F or 82°C.

If you want a crusty loaf, turn the oven off and leave the bread in it for 10 more minutes. Otherwise, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Remove from the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a rack. If you can wait that long to slice it.


Check out all the beautiful summer breads we’ve been making for you!

  • Blueberry and Japanese Yuzu Citrus Muffins from Kim at
  • Citrus Pecan Quick Bread from Renee at Magnolia Days
  • Courgette, Feta, Honey and Sesame Seeds Pull-apart Bread from Luisa at Rise of the Sourdough Preacher
  • Crusty Caprese Loaf from Stacy at Food Lust People Love
  • Fruit and Veggie Quick Bread from Felice at All That’s Left Are the Crumbs
  • Gluten Free Berry Bread from Sherron at Simply Gourmet
  • Grilled Naan Bread from Reneé at Kudos Kitchen by Reneé
  • Iron Skillet Pizza by Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  • Upside Down Banana Bread from Holly at A Baker's House 

  • Would you like to join us this month? Choose a recipe featuring the flavors of summer! Whatever you bake (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, grissini, braids, flatbreads, etc.) have fun and let's have a delicious month of seasonal bread. Let's get baking!

    If you’d like to add your recipe to the collection with the Linky Tool this month, here’s what you need to do!

    1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone's posts. Please make sure that your bread is inspired by the theme!

    2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to this month’s Twelve Loaves theme – Summer Fun.

    3. Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this July 2014, posted on your blog by July 31, 2014.

    #TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Sun-dried Tomatoes How-To

    When your garden is producing more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, or when gorgeous seasonal tomatoes are cheap at the farmer’s market, preserve the sweetness of summer by sun-drying and enjoy the bounty all year round.

    This is a different sort of post for me, my first how-to, and I’ve been saving it to share since last summer when I couldn’t pass up cheap seasonal tomatoes and decided to give sun-drying them a try. Turns out it’s easy and our hot, dry summers in Dubai do have an upside!

    A framed screen
    Some pebbles and other small objects for weights

    Tomatoes that are very ripe but still firm and not mushy
    Sea salt (Optional)

    Wash your tomatoes thoroughly in cool water.

    Remove the stems and cut the tomatoes in half, just along one side of the core.

    Cut out the core with a sharp knife and discard.

    Cut the tomato halves into half again, if they are small, or perhaps thirds if they are larger. You want small wedges that will dry faster.

    I debated removing the seeds and pulp but since that is where a lot of the tomato flavor resides, I decided to leave them in. The tomatoes will take longer to dry, if you do the same, but the increased flavor is worth the time invested.  For more information on this, read Why You Should Stop Seeding Tomatoes.

    Drain the tomatoes in a colander while you set up the screen outdoors.

    In Dubai, it’s so doggone hot that we can’t leave the doors open in the summer anyway so I removed a screen door from the house and balanced it on garden table chairs.  If you have a screen for drying sweaters, this would work also. If your screen has been used outdoors, make sure to give it a good scrubbing to remove any dirt and rinse thoroughly before setting it up in a sunny spot, out of the way of any automatic sprinkler systems.

    Lay your tomatoes out on the screen, peel side down and poke toothpicks in around the tomatoes - to hold the cheesecloth off of them - and around the perimeter of the screen - to help secure the cheesecloth in place.

    Give them a light sprinkling of sea salt, if desired.

    Cover the tomato wedges with a single layer of cheesecloth to stop the birds and bugs from getting to them.  Secure it with the toothpicks around the perimeter and weigh the edges down with little stones and other objects. I started with just the pebbles but ended up adding glass ashtrays and barbecue brushes and whatever else was laying around outside because of a strong breeze.

    View from the top

    View from underneath.

    Balancing the screen door on chairs
    Now it’s just a matter of time, patience and good weather. My tomatoes took just two and a half days (54 hours, to be precise) to dry completely because our weather was gloriously hot and the breeze stayed steady. Yours may take a bit longer but, aside from checking that your cheesecloth is still secure, this is all hands-off time.

    Sneak peek at 30 hours

    I'm calling them done at 54 hours

    When your tomatoes are completely dried, store them in a sealed Ziploc in the refrigerator. It’s possible that they could also be stored in a cool, dry cupboard but I wanted to be on the safe side.

    To rehydrate the tomatoes before using in a recipe, merely soak them in very hot water until softened. I used mine most recently in a spicy pepperoni sun-dried tomato pesto that was divine!

    Need more recipes and ideas for Memorial Day and how to make the most of summer? Check out these links from my fellow Kick Off to Summer participants.

    My helper dog was most intrigued by the finished product.

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush for #SundaySupper

    When I get a new cookbook, I sit and read it cover to cover, even in bed at night, delaying lights out to finish just one last story or one last recipe.  I bookmark dishes to try and occupy the next weeks skipping happily through the markets, finding new ingredients, chopping and stirring and baking and cooking.  I’m in my element.

    One of my favorite authors in my cookbook collection is Nigella Lawson.  She has a bright and easy way of writing and cooking that I adore.   When I bought her Forever Summer, one of the first meals I made was this tasty za’atar chicken with fattoush.  When I read that our host for #SundaySupper this week, Amy from KimChiMom, had chosen spices as our theme, I knew immediately that I had to make this!  The lovely Arabic mix of thyme, sesame seeds and ground sumac of the za’atar coats the chicken and gives it wonderful aromatic flavors as it roasts.  The fattoush, a tomato and cucumber salad with toasted pita bread, compliments it perfectly.

    For the chicken:
    Olive oil
    1 large chicken (approx. 4 1/2-5 1/2 lbs or 2-2.5kg), cut into 8 pieces
    4-6 tablespoons za’atar – can be purchased online at Penzey’s Spices or any Middle Eastern market
    Maldon sea salt

    For the fattoush:
    1/2 English cucumber
    4 Roma tomatoes
    1 bunch spring onions
    1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
    1 clove garlic, minced
    Good handful black olives
    5 1/4 oz or 150g crumbled feta cheese
    Sprinkle of za’atar
    Juice 1/2 lemon
    Extra virgin olive oil
    2 pita breads

    Pour a good couple of glugs of olive oil into the roasting pan and put the chicken pieces skin side up in the oil.  Turn the chicken pieces over and sprinkle the za’atar liberally over them.

    Sprinkle with sea salt.  Turn them skin side up and sprinkle liberally again with za’atar and a little salt.

    Leave to marinate for an hour or so, or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator if you have the time.

    When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.  (If the chicken has been chilled, bring it to room temperature.)

    Roast the chicken for about 45-60 minutes, or until it is golden and cooked through.

    Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes and cucumbers and pile them into a big salad bowl.  Mince the garlic and chop the spring onions and mint and add them in.

    Halve the olives and add them into the salad with the crumbled feta.  Sprinkle lightly with za’atar.

    When the chicken is cooked, remove the roasting pan from the oven and set aside, covered with foil.

    Cut the pita breads open lengthways so that you have four very thin halves then toast them in the oven until golden and crunchy.  Take them out and let them cool.

    Squeeze the lemon over the salad and give it a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Toss lightly.

    Break the toasted pita breads into pieces and add to the salad.  Toss again lightly.

    Serve alongside some tasty za’atar chicken.  


    If you like things spicy, hot or not, have a look at all the lovely Sunday Supper spice-filled recipes my fellow bloggers have for you this week.

    Snappy Starters & Snacks

    Hatch Chile, Grape & Grilled Onion Salsa from Shockingly Delicious
    Spicy Tempeh Chips from The Urban Mrs
    Sriracha Popcorn from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
    Cheese, Smoked Paprika and Fennel Crackers from What Smells So Good?
    Baked Banana Pepper Poppers from Daily Dish Recipes
    Spicy Black Bean and Corn Stew from Mama’s Blissful Bites
    Caldo de Camaron y Pescado (Shrimp & Fish Soup) from girlichef
    Bajia with Tomato and Chili Chutney from My cute bride
    Buffalo Chicken {shredded} Salad from Casa de Crews
    Sriracha and Parmesan Fries from Mess Makes Food
    Smoky Salmon Chowder from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
    Hummus and Spicy Turkish Ezme Salad from Neighborfood
    Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppedew Peppers from Healthy. Delicious.
    Tofu Hariyali Kebabs-(Tofu Kebabs in Cilantro Sauce) from Soni’s Food

    Fiery Main Dishes

    Spicy Stuffed Mexican Peppers from Peanut Butter and Peppers
    Jalapeno Popper Fettuccine Alfredo from Chocolate Moosey
    Poached Tilapia en Escabeche from La Cocina de Leslie
    Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings with a Chipotle Honey Dipping Sauce from Runner’s Tales
    Chorizo and Scallop Skewers from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
    Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Cookin’ Mimi
    Thai Cashew Chicken from Doggie at the Dinner Table
    Skillet Jambalaya from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
    Firecracker Chicken from Juanita’s Cocina
    Cumin, Coriander and Fennel Turkey Pitas from Cook the Story
    Aubergine and Chickpea Curry from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
    Savory Tomato & Poblano Pie from An Appealing Plan
    Venison Mole Rojo from Curious Cuisiniere
    Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush from Food Lust People Love
    Crispy Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Tenders from In The Kitchen With KP
    Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips from Webicurean
    BBQ Chicken Pizza with Poblano Peppers and Pepitas from The Wimpy Vegetarian
    Spicy Thai Beef Salad from Magnolia Days
    Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
    Spicy Lemon Paprika Chicken Thighs from Family Foodie

    Searing Sauces & Seasonings

    Homemade Buffalo Sauce from Growing Up Gabel
    Whole grain Mustard recipe – Moutarde à l’ancienne from Masala Herb
    Homemade Sriracha Sauce from kimchi MOM

    Zesty Sweets & Sips

    Cinnamon Streusel Scones from Killer Bunnies, Inc
    Fiery Pomelo from My Other City By The Bay
    Cinnamon Monkey Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
    Cinnamon Peanut Butter Skillet Blondies with Ice Cream from Vintage Kitchen Notes
    Goldilocks and the 3 Asian-Fusion Bars from
    Sunday Supper Movement

    Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EDT. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here Sunday Supper Movement.