Pan con Tomate

After a truly memorable dinner of tapas and wine at Cúrate in Asheville, I took a momement to briefly thumb through their cookbook on my way out of the restaurant. While I did not take enough time to really absorb the photos and recipes, one page stuck with me. Their recipe for Tomato Bread included a description of rubbing garlic and halved tomatoes directly on toasted bread. Beautifully simple and  rustic.

A couple months later, I picked up the vegetables from our CSA one evening and I was handed a brown paper bag full of fresh tomatoes. My first thought was to make a red sauce for pasta, but then the recipe for Tomato Bread stirred in my mind. Not remembering the specifics, I searched the Internet for Pan con Tomate (tomato bread).

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Here is my take on Pan con Tomate:

First, make a small cut in the bottom of the tomatoes. Then, grate the tomatoes into a bowl, discarding the skin. The small cut helps start the grating process, otherwise the tomatoes slides along the grater rather ineffectively. The skin generally remains intact and is easy to remove from the top of the grater. Season the tomatoes with salt and minced clove fresh garlic to taste. I used about a half teaspoon salt and one clove of garlic to about two cups of grated tomatoes.

Slice a baguette in half longwise horizontally, then slice each half into 2 inch wide rectangles. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and broil it until browned. Rub a clove of garlic over the crispy bread and spoon the tomatoes over it. Finish with a light sprinkle of salt and a light drizzle of olive oil.

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Because Pan con Tomate is such a simple dish, the quality of the ingredients is very important. The tomatoes needs to be fresh and ripe. The olive oil should also be good quality. When done well, the dish should invoke feelings of eating at the beach or traveling the Iberian Peninsula.

Pan con Tomate makes a great tapa or a light dinner. It also goes well with a larger spread.

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Port St. Joe Scallops

When I lived in Panama City, Florida, I used to go snorkeling in the bay for scallops. Since moving away from the beach, I had not been scalloping again until this past summer when Jill, Jill’s sister, and I met up with my parents in Port St. Joe for a day of snorkeling and scalloping.

Searching for scallops
Me searching for scallops

After snorkeling around at a couple of different sites without finding scallops, we finally reached a part of the bay full of them. We swam, collected scallops, and generally had a great time. Back at home, I shelled and cleaned the scallops.

Bag of scallops
Jenna with a bag of scallops

Wanting to share the bounty of scallops, I invited several friends over for a scallop dinner. The menu included scallops, steak, crispy bread, and a warm spinach salad.

For the bread, I sliced a multigrain baguette lengthwise, drizzled the slices with olive oil, and topped the slices with salt, pepper, garlic, dried basil, and dried oregano. I then baked the slices at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

I marinated the steak in a mixture of bourbon, soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. After marinating, I cooked the steak in a skillet to medium doneness.

In another skillet, I cooked several slices of bacon until crispy, reserving the bacon. I scored the scallops with a sharp knife and sprinkled the scallops with a little salt, pepper, and Chinese five spice power. I then cooked the scallops in the bacon grease until slightly firm.

For the spinach salad, I heated up a drizzle of olive oil and tossed in several handfuls of spinach, turning until slightly wilted. After seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, I removed the spinach, added crumbled bacon, and mixed in some soledad almonds.

Scallop dinner
Scallop dinner

As much I can, I like to have a connection between the food I eat and the place my food is grown or caught. Swimming in the ocean and catching deliciously sweet bay scallops by hand provides a deep connection to the food. With a meal that balanced land and sea with the crunch of crispy bread and the softness of the warm spinach salad,  I am anxiously waiting for scallop season to open up again.

Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Bread Mix

Every once in a while I really get the desire to make bread. Today was one of those days. While buying groceries at Publix, I decided I wanted to make some spelt bread. I knew we had some spelt flour at home, but unfortunately I wasn’t sure how much. Not wanting to buy another bag of spelt flour until we used up what we had, I opted for another type of bread. I happened to come across Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Bread Mix and decided to give it a shot.

Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Bread Mix Packaging
Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Bread Mix

The mix included a packet of yeast and the 10 grain four mixture. I followed the directions with a little variation: I proofed the yeast in the warm water, used olive oil instead of canola oil (it’s what I had), and mixed everything in my kitchenAid mixer with the bread hook. With only these minor adjustments, I mixed the bread, let it rise, punched it down, let it rise again, formed the loaf, let it rise again, and baked it. I then let it cool. Waiting for fresh bread to cool before cutting into it is painful.

Top View of 10 Grain Bread
Top view

The bread turned out to have a very nice golden color. The crust did not burn before rest of the bread finished cooking.

Side view of the 10 grain bread
Side view

After cooling, I sliced up some of the bread to go with our soup for dinner. As you can tell from the photo below, the crumb of the bread was not too dense.

View of the crumb
View of the crumb

The bread was soft and moist, but light. The flavors of the 10 grains was much better than typical white bread, but were not too strong.

Bread slices
Slices of bread

I am not sure how the cost compares to similar types of bread from the bakery section of the grocery store, but with the mix costing $3.69 per bag I guess that the prices are comprable. That being said, there is something cathartic about baking your own bread. I enjoy the personal involvement and the sense of accomplishment that comes with the act of creating something. Mostly, I just like the taste of fresh bread.

I appreciate this particular mix because it saves me from having to purchase bags of each of the 10 grains separately. I also found the directions very easy to follow. Best of all, the final product was delicious.