Northeast Times

Let’s start with tomatoes and cheese

A re­cipe that could be­gin a meal or start a party. It serves a group and goes great with iced tea as well as with beer or wine.

Hello, North­east Philly read­ers. Wel­come to my kit­chen! Come in, sit down, stay a while and let’s talk about good food.  It’s been some time since I last wrote the weekly food column for the North­east Times, and al­though I haven’t been writ­ing about food in the Times, I cer­tainly have been col­lect­ing re­cipes and cook­ing. It’s d&ea­cute;jà vu – with great clas­sic re­cipes and many ex­cit­ing, new ones.

Like my pre­vi­ous columns, my re­cipes will spe­cial­ize in good, homemade cook­ing rather than gour­met food pre­par­a­tion. Each week, you will find in­nov­at­ive ideas and sug­ges­tions on how to util­ize short­cut meth­ods, make-your-own re­cipes and re­cycle leftovers. I hope you find this column use­ful, in­ter­est­ing and fun wheth­er we’re talk­ing Tex-Mex, Eng­lish scones (Down­ton Ab­bey alert) or roas­ted chick­en.

Al­though I am not a nu­tri­tion­ist, I feel that “you are what you eat”— or you will be. So it’s im­port­ant to re­cog­nize which foods provide cer­tain vit­am­ins, and which con­tain high or low cal­or­ies, fat or cho­les­ter­ol.

With my avid in­terest in food, I have modeled my­self with con­fid­ence after the ad­age, “Nev­er trust a skinny cook.” Lov­ing good food led me to the kit­chen to study di­li­gently un­der the tu­tel­age of Soph­ie, who taught me everything she knew. Since she worked full-time out­side our home, she per­fec­ted many use­ful time-sav­ing tech­niques and short­cuts to feed her fam­ily de­li­cious, homemade food. If Soph­ie could have been cloned, pack­aged and mar­keted as a kit­chen aide, she would have made a mil­lion. I hope to share with you some of what I’ve learned.

My pock­ets have al­ways been full of re­cipes col­lec­ted from fam­ily, friends, co-work­ers, news­pa­pers and magazines, or found in doc­tor’s of­fices, on Amtrak, the El, the In­ter­net, etc. If there’s a good re­cipe out there, I’ve got to have it. Al­though I am not a run­ner, I do get that “en­dorph­in rush” when I hustle in­to my kit­chen. Many of my re­cipes also of­fer food for thought and many use that spe­cial in­gredi­ent ne­ces­sary in the re­cipe of life – hu­mor.     

As an ir­re­press­ible food­ie, I rel­ish the op­por­tun­ity to add a little spice to your kit­chen, again.

Since this is my in­tro­duct­ory column, just for starters, I’m in­clud­ing a re­cipe that could be­gin a meal or start a party. It serves a group and goes great with iced tea as well as with beer or wine.  

TO­MATO AND CHEESE STARTER

In­gredi­ents:

1 lb frozen pizza dough — de­fros­ted and at room tem­per­at­ure or use your own homemade dough

1 Tsp corn meal 

¼ Tsp can­ola oil

¼ cup parmes­an cheese

6 to 8 Roma to­ma­toes, cored and sliced very thin (1/4”)

2 cloves gar­lic, chopped fine 

3 Tb­sp Can­ola oil

½ Tsp crushed red pep­per flakes

8 oz fresh moz­zarella sliced thin or 2 cups shred­ded moz­zarella

½ cup parmes­an cheese

1 Tsp oregano 

2 Tb­sp fresh chopped basil or 1 Tb­sp dried basil

Salt and Pep­per

To Make:

-Heat oven to 425o

-Lightly grease or spray with oil a (10 x 15) rimmed bak­ing pan. Dust pan with corn meal. Rub hands lightly with oil for easi­er dough hand­ling. Hold dough and al­low to stretch a bit, then fit in­to pan, press­ing dough slightly up sides of pan. Sprinkle dough with parmes­an. Poke holes with fork throughout the dough and bake 10 minutes on lower oven rack.

-Re­move ex­cess li­quid from to­ma­toes. Lay slices of to­ma­toes onto pa­per tow­els or dish tow­el. Gently squeeze and blot ex­cess li­quid from to­ma­toes.

-Heat gar­lic in oil and al­low to sim­mer for 2 to 3 mins. Turn off heat and add pep­per flakes.

To As­semble:

-Dis­trib­ute moz­zarella evenly over baked dough. 

-Place to­mato slices slightly over­lap­ping and in a row on top of cheese. Re­peat rows to fill the pan. Brush oil and gar­lic over to­mato slices and around edge of crust.

-Sprinkle to­ma­toes with parmes­an, salt and pep­per.

-Bake 12-15 minutes un­til golden brown and cheese is melted.

-Fin­ished Starter should slide out of pan onto cut­ting board.

-Sprinkle with oregano and basil and cut in­to serving pieces.

Note: Shop­Rite Bakery and Food Ba­sics frozen sec­tions both carry premade pizza dough.

Eat well, live long, en­joy! ••

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053.)

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