Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Torte

Another recipe that isn’t really a recipe. I’ve been making this for ages. I can’t even remember where it came from, but it is very simple but amazingly satisfying  – if you like the ingredients that is.

When we have a pot luck at work, I usually just say – “somebody tell me what you want me to make” and this comes up again and again. I think that is a double-edged sword; it is good that so many people like it, but it also does not challenge me much. This time I agreed to it because it was a Mardi Gras pot luck which fell two days after the Super Bowl – hello real food holidays lining up – ugh. This, normally, would not be a big deal, but this year, after my Super Bowl prep – on Saturday night, I fell up the stairs – yes, up. And split my knee open in rather a dramatic fashion, so I needed something for the pot luck that I could make ahead and let sit and this sun-dried tomato pesto torte always does make-ahead really well. I was sort of pleased with how it turned out and as ever, it was popular.

It is so kind of dead simple that it makes me feel a little bit silly, but it is, well, awesome. The Boy loves it. My friend T at work likes and has asked me to make a few for a party or two of hers. This may not have been my prettiest version, but standing on a jacked up knee was not easy either. That said, it still tasted great. Like it always does.

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So you do have to scale it to fit the vessel you are using for a mold. I usually use my white ramekins – small ones if it’s for a small family event and the larger for bigger groups – like pot lucks at work with our students.

Cream cheese, softened, usually 8 oz block, but more if you want more layers
bunch of basil, washed, stems removed, and dried very well (wrapped in a tea towel)
3/4 cup walnuts, or something like that (or fresh pecans) – not a fan of pine nuts
2 good sized cloves of garlic or more if that is your preference
a really good pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), softened with warm water, and then drained
olive oil – I use olive oil from our local Greek Market – Shoreline – which is imported from Chiana on the Island of Crete – cool, right?

Line a ramekin with  plastic wrap, leaving a good bit of it to hang over the edges of ramekin.

In the bowl of a food processor, whir up garlic, walnuts, and salt.  Then add sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Slowly add in olive oil until a paste forms, but do not add too much olive oil (you can do that later with the leftovers to make pasta sauce).  I know – it’s a non-recipe. Sometimes you just have to wing it.

Spread the bottom of a ramekin with a layer of cream cheese, about a 1/2 inch. Then carefully add a layer of pesto covering the cream cheese. Add the last layer of cream cheese being careful not to mix things up too much. Cover with plastic wrap.  If you are making a large version of this, add a bit of a weight to it.  Let chill overnight, at minimum, but this can be done at least three days ahead.

To plate, let sit at room temperature for about a half an hour and unwrap ramekin and tup it out onto a plate. Surround by crackers and baguette slices (or if your really feeling like a hedonist, Hawaiian Sweet Rolls).

When I have leftovers of this, which is not often, I use it to make either A) a sandwich – which is pretty amazing (if you like garlic), or B) a pasta sauce, for just some rotini, you might need to add a little olive oil and will certainly need to add grated Parmesan to the finished product, but hello – stupid good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Roma Tomatoes with garlic, Gorgonzola, and bread crumbs

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Roasted Roma Tomatoes w/bleu cheese & garlic

Another no recipe recipe …

Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Fresh Garlic, minced
Kosher salt+
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain bread crumbs*
Gorgonzola, crumbled

Okay with this recipe you have to base it on ratios. But the methodology is solid. Roma tomatoes work because they are solid tomatoes that hold up under the heat and get better and sweeter as they roast.

So slice the tomatoes and use a grapefruit spoon to get rid of the insides and especially the seeds. Put them cut side down of several pieces of paper towels to drain for at least 5 minutes.

Put tomatoes in a bowl large enough to hold them. Add enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add minced garlic, enough that it makes sense for the number of tomatoes but understand that garlic is a key part of this recipe. Stir everything together until the tomatoes are coated and let marinate for as long as it makes sense.^

In another bowl mix together Gorgonzola and bread crumbs.£ Place marinated tomatoes, cut side up, on lined baking sheet. Fill with Gorgonzola bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake (or should it be roast?) for 20 – 25 minutes until tomatoes are softened and topping is lightly browned.

If you want, top with chopped herbs, parsley is a good idea. I think the best idea.

+I have used my homemade lemon Rosemary Maldon salt for this and it is, in a word, amazing.

*At work we use a lot of catering from Panera and they always bring baguettes with each order. I typically take one home if no one else wants it and have two things I do – make croutons with herbs fine and make plain breadcrumbs. So these are my homemade breadcrumbs.

^For me it takes at least an hour, but I have let them sit overnight too. Works well either way.

£ Figure out, based on ratios how much Gorgonzola you think will work, you can always add more and add just enough breadcrumbs to make the cheese sandy – that makes sense to me but to explain, enough bread crumbs to barely coat the Gorgonzola cheese.

This is one of the last things that my beloved father-in-law had that I made. He asked for seconds and well, even now, that is difficult and it has been several years but it still makes me happy. He was a second father to me and I am glad that I was able to make him happy.

25 May 2009 – Memorial Day. vvg w W/J – Used just enough bread crumbs to make Bleu cheese sandy
20 June 2009 – added a couple Tbs of cream cheese – just because there were fresh local Roma tomatoes
4 July 2009 – @ W/J w/D et al
23 June 2012 – vg
4 October 2015

Sweet Tomato Chutney

 Sweet Tomato Chutney
  • 1 whole head garlic, peeled & chopped

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    Sweet Tomato Chutney w/Cream Cheese and Crackers

  • One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger (1 inch by 1 inch), peeled and chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds fresh skinned tomatoes (or 1 pound and 12 ounces canned whole tomatoes)
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 2 Tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons blanched slivered almonds

Put the garlic, ginger and 1/2 cup of vinegar in the food processor and process until smooth. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, place the tomatoes (and juice from the can if using canned tomatoes) and the rest of the vinegar, sugar, salt, cayenne. Bring to a boil. Add the puree from the food processor and simmer uncovered for about 2 to 3 hours until it thickens and a film clings to a spoon when dipped. Stir occasionally at first and more frequently later as it thickens. You may need to lower the heat as the liquid diminishes. Add almonds and raisins. Simmer, stirring another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool. It should be as thick as honey. Bottle in clean containers, and refrigerate. Must be kept in the refrigerator. Good indefinitely. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sweet Tomato Chutney

This is great served with cream cheese and crackers.

Source: Llewellyn Lodge, Lexington, Virginia

This is truly one of my favorite things to make any time of year. I serve it with cream cheese, as above, but also serve it with sharp cheddar cheese. I don’t tend to use the almonds with mine, but I expect they would be a nice touch.