Life in the kitchen can be quite easy at times. Especially when you have great neighbors, friends and in-laws who grow their own fruit and vegetables. I am forever getting fantastic fresh produce from all of them. In return, whenever I cook up something using the ingredients, I try to treat them to the finished dish.
Well there is almost like a little competition going on in our little neighborhood lately. Most of my neighbors are aware of my little space on the web called WFLH. Whenever they bring something over for me to cook up, one of the first questions is if I the finished product will be on the blog. When it is, it's the topic of the week around the neighborhood. S will tell K that I made a great dessert using her berries and it's on the blog. The week after that M will tell B, I made a tart using her zucchinis and she could see it on the blog.
There must be a sensation of pride amongst my neighbors when all these recipes are created using the beautiful bounties they provide and then placed on the web for the world to see. The friendly competition then lies in many aspects: which dish was photographed better, which one got more comments on them, which one caused people to go into a frenzy and of course which one probably tasted better.
I am forever grateful for all the incredible generosity and in return can only push myself to be more creative with each dish I make using any particular produce I have been given. I do my best to keep the "fire" burning and amazingly even the men have found a certain interest in this funny kind of barter.
A few days ago my neighbor from down the road rang my doorbell one afternoon. He's tall, rather handsome and is a pilot. I often see him in his back yard but was never really certain what he does there. He kind of keeps to himself but is very polite whenever he sees me, even stops to give nice compliments. Yes, believe me he is the neighborhood heartthrob!
So, imagine my surprise when I opened the door and see this hunk of a man standing in his full pilot uniform, holding a basket of tomatoes. Cute! I could not help but smile sneakingly!
Well he was on his way to work and would be away for a few days - he wanted to give me the tomatoes, which he grows in his back yard as they would have gone bad in his absence. I also got the keys to his house and was requested to water his plants and veggies. I was also told I could help myself to anything that was ripe enough in his back yard.
Here is the funniest thing - many of my neighbors (all ladies) are now dying to know what his place looks like. Some even want a sneak peak!!! I have been begged and bribed. This could have been a scene from Desperate Housewives!
My lips are sealed and I won't be spilling any beans. All I will say is that I am very impressed by his little haven he calls his back yard.
I will also share what I made with those gorgeous tomatoes I was given. A delicate dish where the tomato is the star. Gently caramelized in the oven to bring out the their sweet aromas and juices. The contrast in taste comes from the peppery red peppercorns giving the whole dish an incredible and explosive combination. To do proper justice to the homegrown tomatoes I make lovely homemade gnocchi - pairs perfectly!
I am not sure if he is aware of this blog but if he is - this one's for you Marc ;-)
You say tomato, I say delicious
Shake it, stir it or blend it - let's get this party rocking with your tempting drink creations. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.
Deadline: September 10th!
750g cherry tomatoes - cut in halves
3-4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons red peppercorn - coarsely crushed
2 teaspoons brown sugar
125g mozzarella - coarsely chopped
1 bunch basil - coarsely chopped
800g homemade gnocchi
2 teaspoons balsam vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Prepare your gnocchi as to the instructions here. The recipe is fantastic and really easy to make ahead.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease an oven-proof dish or a baking tray with some olive oil.
In a bowl toss together the crushed pepper and garlic with the tomato halves, sugar and salt. Place the tomatoes in the dish and caramelize in the oven for approx. 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them so that they do not burn.
Once ready take out and sprinkle with the balsam vinegar. Immediately mix with the cooked gnocchi. Add the mozzarella and basil leaves, toss gently and serve in warm plates.
Enjoy with a nice chilled white wine.
Pure bliss. The tomatoes were wonderfully ripe and juicy. The slight sweetness matches so well with the zing of the pepper. It's an out of this world experience. The gnocchi is a perfect partner because it absorbs the flavors so well. Each bite was savored to the end and the leftover juices were wiped clean with a few remaining gnocchis.
I'd like to send this over to Andrea who is hosting a great event called Grow Your Own. Perfect for all those hobby gardeners out there. I hope Andrea will see that I cannot grow my own because I have incredible neighbors who grow their own and spoil me with their own grown produce. I just cook what they grow! ;-)
Marta also has a great event going in which a fresh produce is featured every month. This month it's Tomatoes. I think this is a great dish for the event. Hope Marta likes it too!
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