summer

Brown Butter Tomatoes from The New Greenmarket Cookbook

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I know I am spoiled by the produce in California, but I have to say- I do miss the New York City Greenmarket. The produce that pops up in Union Square (and in farmers’ markets all over the city) is truly spectacular, especially in late summer. Coming out of the subway at 14th Street and seeing all the farmers amidst the cityscape is so unique and exciting. While at the market, it’s common to see big city chefs shopping for their dinner menus and The New Greenmarket Cookbook tells the stories behind these chefs and recipes.

The cookbook is by my friend Gabrielle and it’s beautifully compiled with so many fresh ideas. I shot with a lot of these chefs when I was working as a food photographer in New York, so it’s really fun to have this collection of their recipes. Here’s one super simple summer recipe I tried the other day that was a total winner. I made it while visiting my parents’ little cabin up in Sonoma County, where they have an enormous garden with 50+ tomato plants growing this summer (crazy!). Such a simple idea and SO delicious. Happy cooking!

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BROWN BUTTER TOMATOES

From The New Greenmarket Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz and GrowNYC. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014

Recipe by Amanda Hesser, Food52.com and Provisions

2 large or 3 small ripe beefsteak tomatoes

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Coarsely ground black pepper

Baguette or other country bread, for mopping up the butter

Most locavores have more recipes for tomatoes than Eskimos have names for snow. But this preparation, which drizzles beurre noisette over tomatoes in place of the classic olive oil, will stop you in your tracks. As surprising as it is simple, it’s the kind of thing you can slap together in mere minutes for a solo snack or serve to guests on fine china.

Core the tomatoes and slice them 1⁄3-inch thick. Divide the slices among four plates (preferably warmed), overlapping the slices just a little. Place the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. Let the butter melt completely. It will begin bubbling. Let the butter simmer away, cooking off its water, until it begins to smell nutty and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Swirl the pan every 30 seconds or so. When the butter turns the color of a hazelnut, remove it from the heat. Use a soup spoon to ladle it over the tomatoes. They’ll sizzle! You want to dress the tomatoes with the butter, as if you were pouring ganache over a cake—be generous!

Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then rush the plates to the table so everyone can taste the tomatoes while the butter is hot. Mop up the butter and tomato juices with good bread. Toast to summer!

Serves 4

Peach Caprese

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I recently went peach picking at a friend’s place up in Sonoma County and came back with a TON of peaches! (thanks for all your peach recipe ideas!)

Here’s a simple summer twist on the classic Caprese salad: just add peaches! For the full post with more photos and details, click over to my post on the Better Homes & Gardens blog.

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For an easy summer appetizer just stack a strawberry, a mozzarella ball and a leaf of basil on a toothpick! Like my Watermelon Feta Mint bites, they are great for BBQs and picnics as they can easily be made ahead. They were part of a summer entertaining menu I put together for InStyle magazine recently- see the whole menu here!

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A couple weeks ago I hosted a dinner party that turned out to be one of my favorites, ever. The catch: I’d never met any of the guests before! Cooking a sit down dinner for 18 people at 8 months pregnant felt like quite a feat, but with lots of help, it turned out so well and I had so much fun! 

I hosted the dinner in collaboration with EatWith, a very cool website that helps people host or attend dinner parties in homes all over the world, and has a similar mission to The Forest Feast: to create community through food. EatWith asked me to invite people who I follow and admire online, but who I had never actually met in person. I curated what I think turned out to be an amazing group of creative people. We had a design blogger/stylist, a party/lifestyle blogger, a florist, an architect, a calligraphy artist, a painter, a chef, a maternity fashion maven, a cabin enthusiast, a food writer, a foodie marketing guru, a magazine editor/coworking space founder, and several more. Such an eclectic an inspiring bunch!

I decorated one long table on the deck with greens I picked near the cabin plus lime halves, mini eggplants, kumquats, hot pink carnations and candles. I used a mish-mosh of plates and chairs that I’ve gathered over the years at flea markets. During the cocktail hour we had a spread of nuts, cheeses, fruit, crackers, olives, etc, plus my Guacamole Deviled Eggs, lots of chilled rose´ and a pitcher of Aperol Spritz. For dinner we prepared a buffet table full of summery vegetarian Forest Feast dishes from my cookbook that could be made ahead and served at room temperature: Watermelon Salad, Nectarine Tomato Salad, Kale Caesar with Polenta Croutons, Yellow Squash Galette with pesto, Polenta Stuffed Portabellos, Roasted Potato Salad with green beans. Dessert was a mix of chocolates, fruit, cheese, macaroons and Dipped Strawberries from my book.

It turned out to be a perfectly warm evening with a bright pink sunset and no mosquitos(!). Can’t wait to host another dinner party - perhaps after the baby arrives :)

Thanks to EatWith for sponsoring this dinner and thanks to all the lovely guests who trekked out to the woods!

It’s officially SUMMER! Out here in the woods, we are gearing up for some outdoor entertaining. Here are some Forest Feast favorites from summers past to get you going with your summer menu planning:  
 
 
    Cucumber Sangria   
   Watermelon Bruschetta   
   Peach Salad   
   Cucumber Caprese Bites   
  
 
 
  
 ALSO! There are a few more California Forest Feast cookbook events coming up in the Bay Area: 
 
  Tonight! June 25th in Santa Cruz,  7pm Bookshop Santa Cruz  
 Tomorrow! June 26th In Oakland,  6-8pm at Umami Mart  
 July 14th: A special dinner event at  18 Reasons in SF (tix here)  
 Aug. 9th in Healdsburg at  SHED  (workshop at 12pm & signing at 1:30pm) 
  
  
 More info here:  theforestfeast.com/cookbook  Hope to see you then!

It’s officially SUMMER! Out here in the woods, we are gearing up for some outdoor entertaining. Here are some Forest Feast favorites from summers past to get you going with your summer menu planning:

ALSO! There are a few more California Forest Feast cookbook events coming up in the Bay Area:
More info here: theforestfeast.com/cookbook Hope to see you then!