Simply Elevated BLT

I’m always looking for new variations on classic foods, I enjoy putting a twist on something original.  This one is a basic BLT, but this time I added flavored sea salt from Old City Salts.  You may question adding salt, since the bacon is pretty salty in itself, but I, for one, love salt and it really brings out the flavor of the tomato.  It also lends a slightly spiciness to the sandwich.   Let me tell you, these salts are amazing and I LOVE their mission, to “simply elevate whole, fresh ingredients.”  So here it goes, my simply elevated BLT!!!  ~Janna

BLT


Ingredients
:

2 slices of good, hearty bread (My favorite is sourdough but in this case I used whole wheat)
1 Tbs mayonnaise
4 strips of cooked bacon
4 slices of a fresh, ripe tomato
2 leaves of lettuce, any variety
A pinch or two of smoked Serrano sea salt from Old City Salt

Directions:

Fry your bacon until brown and crispy.  Let it drain on paper towels and set aside.  Toast your bread and spread each slice with mayo.  Add your lettuce to one slice of the bread, making pieces about the same size as your bread.  I use lettuce first because it provides a barrier between tomato and bread, preventing sogginess.  Add your sliced tomatoes on top of the lettuce and sprinkle with your sea salt to taste.  Stack your bacon on top of the tomato, I usually cut my bacon in half so it fits nicely on the bread.  Top with other slice of bread and cut sandwich in half.  Enjoy!!

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Salsa de Sophia Roja

What’s in a name?  There’s a 2-part story as to how this recipe got its name.  Fresh, homemade salsa is one of the first foods that I started experimenting with.  I thought my original recipe was pretty good, using fresh (un-roasted) tomatoes.  Then my niece, Sophia, came back from almost a year in Guatemala and introduced me to their way of making salsa: roasting it.  Since then, I have roasted my salsa ingredients, both in the oven and on the grill, and it tastes amazing.

The second part of my story is this:  A couple years ago, Sophie and I were making salsa together.  Actually, I was making it, and she was hanging out.  =)  Once it was finished, we had about ½ gallon of red, spicy salsa.  It was beautiful.  After the salsa chilled for a bit, Sophie decided she wanted to have some with tortilla chips.  She pulled that big bowl out of the fridge….and dropped it on the floor.  NOOO!  All of that time, energy, and those beautiful tomatoes and peppers all over the floor!  Here’s the best part…I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you this, but she actually scooped a lot of it off the floor and ate it.  Don’t kill me, Sophie!

Since Sophie improved my salsa and provided me with a cringe-worthy story, she will be forever associated with this recipe, hence the name.

Ingredients:
(Think of these ingredients as more of a guideline and feel free to experiment.)

6 large Roma Tomatoes (or similar vine ripened tomato)
9 mini or about 2 regular bell peppers – Red, Orange, or Yellow
2 green chili peppers
2 jalapeños (optional)
2 cloves (pieces) garlic
2 stalks of green onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro, rough chopped
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt + salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat your roasting appliance of choice:  Grill=low flame, Oven=400 degrees

Wash tomatoes and peppers.  If grilling, arrange them directly on the grill rack.  Oven users, arrange on a cookie sheet or other oven safe vessel.  Make sure they have plenty of room to roast and do not stack.

Allow to roast 15-30 minutes or until skin is blistered, TURNING THEM ABOUT EVERY 5 MINUTES.  The turning is especially imperative for grill users.  A little char is okay, but you don’t want blackened produce.  You may want to rotate them to get an even roast, but be careful not to squeeze any of the juice out of the tomatoes!  

Once roasting is finished, ALLOW PRODUCE TO COOL COMPLETELY before handling. When they are cool, carefully peel off the outer membrane.  For the peppers:  cut them open and scrape out all the seeds.  You may choose to use rubber gloves for this step. Cut into large chunks, toss them all into the blender with the garlic, and pulse until your desired consistency is reached.

Dump the tomato mixture into a bowl, add remaining ingredients, salt to taste, and devour.

Makes about 5 cups of salsa.

Easy Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Janna:  A few weeks ago, one of Joanie and my good friends gave us a challenge.  She said she has trouble coming up with meals with things that she has on hand, without having to run to the store for ingredients, and without an actual recipe to follow.  She challenged us to look in our cupboards and come up with a meal, just from what we already have.  So Caty, here they are, our “straight from the cupboard” meals.  Hope you enjoy and get inspired, i know I was inspired and may even do this regularly!

I chose to go the Italian route, A,  because EVERYONE has pasta in their cupboards (if you don’t, it’s about $1.00 a pound), and B, Italian food is so easy and simple, and it’s BETTER when you keep it simple, so here it goes.  While I was putting this together I kept thinking of other things I could add (but didn’t have on hand)  So I will go ahead and list those things as well, so you have a wide range of ingredients to work with, or maybe it’ll inspire you to come up with your own additions!

Ingredients:

1 lb pasta, any kind will do, chunky sauce works better with short, shaped pasta like a shell, corkscrew or bowtie, but I used linguine because that’s what I had on hand.

*You could also add meat to this dish if you wanted, hamburger, italian sausage, chorizo, ground turkey, ground chicken.  I’d use about ½ lb of meat in this dish.

½ onion, chopped  (you can also add green, red or yellow bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, you could use stewed if you don’t have diced, just give them a rough chop.  You can use the diced tomatoes that have herbs already added.
⅓ of a 4oz can of fire roasted diced green chilies.  (More if you like it spicier).
2 garlic cloves minced (you can use garlic powder, about ½ tsp or to taste.
½ of a 15 oz can of black olives, roughly chopped
¼-1/2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbs Olive oil
Parmesan or feta cheese

Directions:
In a medium saucepan saute the onions (and other veggies if you’re using them) in the olive oil for a few minutes until tender.  If you’re using meat, brown the meat with the onion (and veggies), drain fat out and return to pan.  In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.  I cook 1-2 minutes less for al dente.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chilis, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes until hot and steamy.  Adjust salt, pepper and  green chilies to your liking.

Plate some of your cooked pasta and scoop some of the sauce over it.  Shred some fresh mozzarella, parmesan or Feta cheese over top, enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings, serve with a tossed salad and a glass of red wine and enjoy!

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Joanie:  This recipe is definitely one of my most requested!  I don’t know if this qualifies as a true bruschetta since there is no olive oil in the recipe, but it’s still delicious!  You could substitute olive oil in place of the butter, but I have yet to try that.  This would actually be a perfect recipe to use Janna’s Homemade Butter.

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Ingredients:

1 narrow baguette, French or the like

2 cups fresh diced tomatoes

1/3 cup minced red onion

Fresh basil, approx 20 large leaves (dried will NOT do!)

1/2 cup butter

Fresh garlic cloves (I use 4 or 5 large cloves, I like a strong garlic flavor)

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

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Start with red, ripe tomatoes.  Finely dice yield approximately 2 cups.  Set aside in a bowl.

Mince red onion, add to tomatoes.

Chiffonade basil leaves by stacking them, rolling them lengthwise, and slicing them into thin ribbons.

Add basil to tomato mixture.  Salt to taste.  Set aside.

Heat oven to broil.

Slice baguette on the diagonal to desired thickness.  I like mine about 3/4 inch.   Arrange on a baking sheet and gently toast them on broil in your oven.  WATCH THEM CAREFULLY so they don’t burn.  You want these to be slightly golden and crusty.  They will go back into the oven for final step so don’t let them get too dark.  Remove when toasted.

In microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup of butter and minced garlic.  Microwave until melted and creamy.  Give butter mixture a stir, then add generously to each slice of toasted baguette.  I like to make sure the garlic pieces are evenly distributed on the bread.  Don’t go cheap on the butter!  This adds SO MUCH flavor to the recipe.  Next, use small slotted spoon to add tomato mixture to each slice of bread.  Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Place back in the oven and broil.  Again, WATCH CAREFULLY!  They are ready when cheese is melted and bruschetta is hot.

Most of this batch was eaten within minutes, so this is all I could get for a picture!

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