Friday, September 12, 2008

Personal Chef to The Queen

Today is The Queen's birthday.

Latifa? No.

Of England? No.

Queen Janeen!

The Queen of Cincinnati morning radio ~ Janeen Coyle ~ can be found every morning on WGRR 103.5FM beginning at the ungodly hour of 5:00 ~ yes, that is in the a.m. ~ with husband, funny man and radio sidekick, Chris O'Brien.

So I got up earlier than normal this morning to make The Queen a 3~layer Chocolate Raspberry birthday cake. I'm not a pastry chef. Far from it. Baking requires a cooking skill that I don't possess ~ measuring.

I hate to measure when I cook. I'm more of a dump cook. What is a dump cook? I dump it in and cook it!

So said cake with double chocolate fudge icing tilted slightly to the side. But with the tiara on top and the sparkler candles, it was hardly noticeable.

So happy birthday my dear friend. I wish you nothing but happiness, sunshine and good wine this weekend.

Oh. And lots of chocolate.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chef Debbie's Recipe for Roquefort Tomato Ambrosia

I picked tomatoes today.

Actually, I pick tomatoes every day. Most days the count is 8~10 tomatoes. Today's Yummy! tomato haul was 20 perfectly formed, round, red and juicy Beefsteak tomatoes!

I've looked around at my neighbor's tomato plants and one neighbor had such a poor crop this year that they've already pulled the plants from the ground. The other neighbors behind me have decent sized plants with the tallest one topping out at about 4'.

Not bad by most standards.

Then there are the Tomato Queen's tomatoes.

Standing a full 6' tall, the plants are so loaded with Beefsteak tomatoes, that I have to pick every day. And, the critters haven't been eating them.

My critterless secret? Cayenne pepper all around the plants. The ground squirrels, rabbits and raccoons won't cross the pepper line.

Am I bragging? You betcha! I don't have a lot to brag about in my yard but my flowers and tomatoes will win awards every time.

What to do with all of these delicious red gems? Here's a recipe for a client favorite summer~on~the~back~deck dinner.

Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Roquefort Tart
Serves 8

1 pound tomatoes, ripe, thinly sliced
2T butter
2c yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4c dry white wine
1t thyme, dried
salt and pepper
1/3c pine nuts, toasted
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
4oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a tart pan with non~stick cooking spray.

Place sliced tomatoes in one layer on baking sheet sprayed with non~stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Bake 3 minutes. Turn tomatoes over and bake an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and allow juices to drain on paper towels.

In heavy skillet, melt butter over medium~high heat. Add onions and sauté until caramelized, 12~15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cook until dry, 3~5 minutes. Remove from heat, add pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Set aside to cool.

On a lightly floured cutting board, roll out puff pastry until large enough to fit into tart pan with sides overlapping.

Spread onion mixture evenly over bottom of puff pastry. Top with sliced tomatoes, overlapping to make one tight layer. Top with crumbled Roquefort cheese. Crimp edges of puff pastry.

Bake until golden and puffed, about 20~25 minutes. Cover pastry edges with foil if it begins to get too brown.

Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serve warm or room temperature with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a small spinach salad on the side.