Farmers’ Market Summer Bruschetta

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Farmers’ Market Bruschetta

Grape tomatoes are abundant at farmers’ markets this time of year, and I’ve got the perfect way to use them up! My recipe for Summer Bruschetta is a scrumptious starter course and makes one fine appetizer with drinks. Fun fact for ya: The Italian word Bruschetta translates to, “slice of toasted bread seasoned with oil and garlic.” If you’ve never cooked slices of bread in melted butter on the stove top, start living. There’s no time like the present!

I’m a firm believer in supporting Georgia farmers and shopping local whenever possible. All of the ingredients in my recipe are locally sourced, but can certainly be substituted wherever you live. I encourage you to visit a farmers’ market near you for fresh, local and nutritious ingredients! This recipe is simple, sweet and satisfying.

Learn more about the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market and Tuesday Market in the Park.


Farmers’ Market Summer Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Georgia Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Half of 1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pints red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • Balsamic Vinegar to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, separated into leaves, rolled up tightly and sliced (chiffonade)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Café Baguette
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 stick of butter

Directions
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and onion and stir for about one minute. Pour into a mixing bowl and let cool slightly.

Add tomatoes, a splash of balsamic vinegar, sugar and basil. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. If time permits, refrigerate for one hour.  If not, it is fine to use immediately.

Cut the baguette into diagonal slices. Melt half the butter in the same skillet you used for the garlic. Cook the baguette on both sides until golden brown. Rub toast with one whole garlic clove while hot. Repeat with remaining butter and bread.

To serve, stir the tomato mixture and spoon generously over toasted baguette slices.

Special Event
You’re also invited to join me at the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market this Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. I hope you’ll stop by the Celebrity Chef tent to say hi and get a taste of my Summer Bruschetta! Be sure to listen out for my radio commercial (below) on air this week promoting the market.

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Homemade Pimiento-Cheese, A Revelation

 “Juicy tomatoes and pimiento cheese are dreamy together. Especially when they’re in bite-size form.” Denise Gee, Porch Parties

If I’m being honest, my memories of pimiento cheese are not fond. The words alone make me envision those store-bought, orange-colored round tubs that my grandma kept faithfully on the second shelf of the refrigerator growing up, at eye level next to the sweet tea. I will never forget her spreading that unappetizing orange substance between two pieces of white bread. Fortunately, however, making pimento cheese at home takes on a whole new meaning. This Southern classic is really nothing more than a combination of garden-fresh vegetables and delicious cheeses bound by mayonnaise and seasoned to taste. It’s really quite versatile–spread it on crackers, use it to top off your hamburger or in this case, fill up plump cherry tomatoes.

This recipe was inspired by Porch Parties, a fantastic entertaining book I picked up on St. Simons Island. With only a few ingredients, the most time-consuming part about it is slicing the tomatoes and removing the pulp. You’ll need a small onion, 3 fresh garlic cloves, some jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes and of course a 7 ounce jar of sliced pimientos. As for the cheese, you’ll use a 1/2 pound of yellow mild cheddar and 1/2 pound of white sharp cheddar, shredded. The mixture is then seasoned with white pepper and held together with a cup of mayonnaise.

A pimento or cherry pepper is a variety of a large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper that’s sweet, succulent and more aromatic than the red bell pepper. In my grocery store, they were located on the international aisle with the salsa, not on the aisle with the pickles and olives, like you might think.

Slice off the stems of your cherry tomatoes, then with a melon baller, scoop out the pulp. You’ll need about 24 tomatoes.
While the tomatoes drain on paper towels, remove the seeds and the veins from your jalapeno peppers, de-skin the onion and hull your garlic cloves. Quarter the onion to help your food processor out, throw everything in and give it a whirl…

They smell really good all diced up! Drain the vegetable mixture to get rid of the natural water from the peppers and onions. This will help your mixture to be less runny.

Meanwhile, shred up your cheeses.
Combine the drained pimientos and the chopped vegetables with the cheese. Then add in your mayonnaise. The recipe called for 1 cup, but in hindsight, I would’ve only added about half. I ended up adding more cheese to balance things out. I am not a fan of mayonnaise so, if you’re like me–there’s good news! You can’t taste it. The mayonnaise really just serves as a binder, the taste is very subtle. Season generously with white pepper and a little salt.

Put about a teaspoon of the mixture in each cherry tomato halve, then top them off with slivered jalapeno peppers. They make such pretty, colorful bites and are fun to serve.

Be sure to try the spread on crackers too.

The jalapeno-pimiento cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes are sweet with a little heat and the flavor of the sharp cheese is a nice bite. On the next go ’round, I’ll make just a few tweaks: include less mayo, cut back on the onion, include more cheese–add Wickles.

What’s your take on pimiento cheese? If you’ve never made it at home, give it a chance!