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Cherry Tomato Focaccia

Summer is winding down here in the Northeast U.S., but I’ve still got plenty of teensy cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine in my garden. These mini cherry tomatoes are perfect atop a focaccia, although you could certainly use regular-sized cherry tomatoes instead. The basic no-knead focaccia recipe comes from Bon Appetit, and I added the tomatoes and rosemary. Feel free to try other herbs, such as thyme or oregano if rosemary isn’t to your liking.

The hardest part of this recipe is stretching the dough across the pan. It keeps wanting to spring back, but be persistent and keep pressing and stretching until it reaches all the edges. (NOT TRUE – SEE UPDATE BELOW)

UPDATE: Let the dough rise a second time in the pan BEFORE trying to stretch it out. It works much much better that way. This is a photo of the dough when I tried to stretch it out before letting it rise a second time. It worked, but it’s much better to let the blob of dough sit in the pan to rise a second time before pressing it out.

This is a photo of the dough after it had risen a second time. Only then, did I try to stretch it while in the pan, and it had already stretched nearly to all the edges by itself. After it had risen, and I stretched it the rest of the way into the corners of the pan, I dimpled it with fingers that were wet with a little olive oil.
Then I scattered the tomatoes, minced rosemary and kosher salt on top, with another little drizzle of olive oil.

Bake it in a 450 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes to a half hour, or until lightly golden.

The recipe makes enough for a crowd, so if you can’t eat it all the same day it’s baked, it’s best to freeze the leftovers and reheat another day.

Bon Appetit’s recipe calls for a brush of melted butter on top, but I prefer to drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sea salt, Pour yourself a nice drink, and enjoy a slice of this focaccia as a perfect accompaniment.

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Cherry Tomato Focaccia
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands
  • a bunch of cherry tomatoes
  • butter to grease the pan
  • Flaky sea salt
  • minced fresh rosemary
Instructions
  1. Whisk one ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.), 2 tsp. honey, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes (it should foam or at least get creamy; if it doesn’t your yeast is dead and you should start again—check the expiration date!).
  2. Add 5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour and 5 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.
  3. Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator.
  4. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil.
  5. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
  6. If you're in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.
  7. Generously butter a 13x9" baking pan, for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches, or an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet, for focaccia that's thinner, crispier, and great for snacking.
  8. The butter may seem superfluous, but it’ll ensure that your focaccia doesn’t stick.
  9. Pour 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into center of pan.
  10. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl.
  11. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process.
  12. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.
  13. Transfer dough to prepared pan.
  14. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil.
  15. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (like near a radiator or on top of the fridge or a preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.
  16. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°.
  17. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation.
  18. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.)
  19. Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill.
  20. Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan).
  21. Place cherry tomatoes throughout the focaccia, pushing them down into the dough,
  22. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and the minced rosemary.
  23. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.
  24. Drizzle with more olive oil and additional salt if needed.
  25. Focaccia is best eaten the day it's made, but keeps well in the freezer.
  26. Slice it into pieces, store it in a freezer-safe container, then reheat it on a baking sheet in a 300° F oven.

Grilled Codfish with Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve got a gazillion cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine and looking for a home. This recipe, adapted from my blogging buddy, Stacey, is the perfect place for these teensy tomatoes that are no larger than a small sourball candy. You probably won’t be able to find them this tiny, but regular-sized cherry or grape tomatoes work fine here too. Everything gets placed in a disposable aluminum pan and cooked on a hot grill, keeping your kitchen cool on a hot summer’s day. In 15 minutes, dinner is ready, and you don’t have to flip the fish at all if you keep the lid down on the grill. You needn’t limit yourself to cod either. Try it with flounder, snapper or halibut, for example, but depending on the thickness of the fish, you may have to cook it a shorter or longer time on the grill.

There is a lot of delicious sauce that oozes forth from the tomatoes and other ingredients, so serve it over rice, polenta or pasta to soak up all those juices.

Since I was heavy-handed with the tomatoes, there were a lot left over, after we had eaten all the fish. I saved a little of the rice and green beans also, and the next day had a delicious lunch heated up in the microwave.

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Codfish with Cherry Tomatoes on the Grill
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. codfish
  • whole cherry tomatoes (I didn't measure but there were at least two cups - use as many as you like)
  • 3 anchovies (anchovy haters - please don't ignore these - it won't taste like anchovies, but adds a great "umami" flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 lemon, half sliced and placed in pan, and half juiced and poured into the pan
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • fresh oregano leaves
  • fresh basil leaves, minced
  • fresh parsley minced
Instructions
  1. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the bottom of a disposable aluminum pan.
  2. Add the codfish, seasoning with salt and pepper and then placing a pat of butter on top
  3. Pour the juice of half a lemon over the fish.
  4. Place the rest of the ingredients (except the basil and parsley) in the pan and toss lightly to coat everything.
  5. Cook on a hot grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes, (or longer if your fish is thicker and not cooked through)
  6. Sprinkle the cooked fish with the minced basil and parsley, and serve.
 

Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

 

Quick, before fresh corn is no longer available, you must try making this risotto with sweet corn and roasted cherry tomatoes. I know it sounds a little crazy to add carbs to carbs, but it really is a great combination of flavors and textures. The roasted cherry tomatoes on the side add another level of sweetness that you can’t stop eating. I debated whether to add the tomatoes directly into the risotto while cooking it, but decided I didn’t want a pink or red risotto. Besides, they look so pretty whole, clustered on the vine atop the dish.

I grilled the corn, not so much to cook it, but to get grill marks that look nice as garnish. It’s a step you can skip if you want, since the corn will be stripped off the cob and cooked with the rice. But if you’d like to dress up your finished dish, just smear the cob with a little butter and grill for a couple of minutes, on an outdoor grill, or a grill pan.

Strip the corn off the cob, setting aside some of the pieces that have the best grill marks on them. You’ll use them on the top of the finished dish.

Don’t throw out the cobs. Add them to the broth or cooking water. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, any little time simmering with the water helps to impart some flavor.

Meanwhile, drizzle the cherry tomatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the skins start to split open.

While the tomatoes are roasting, make the risotto. I’ve blogged about many different types of risottos before, so I won’t detail it here, except to say that you need the broth to be hot when adding it, ladleful by ladleful. Directions for this risotto are in the recipe below.

Serve with the roasted cherry tomatoes on top, and enjoy this taste of summer on a plate.

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Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • about 4 cups liquid - chicken broth, vegetable broth or a combination.
  • I used two cups chicken broth and two cups of water into which I placed the corn cobs and let simmer for a short while.
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 ears of corn, smeared with a little butter
  • 1 small bunch of cherry tomatoes on the vine, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • fresh thyme and chives, minced
  • fresh black pepper
Instructions
  1. Smear the corn with the butter and place on a grill or a grill pan.
  2. Sear the corn a couple of minutes until you get some grill marks.
  3. You can skip this step since the corn will cook in the risotto, but I like the look of the grilled corn as a finishing touch.
  4. Scrape the corn kernels off the cob, saving some of the large pieces with grill marks to use on top.
  5. Set the corn kernels aside, but place the cobs in the pot with the broth or water.
  6. Place the cherry tomatoes on an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes start to split open.
  8. Remove tomatoes from oven and set aside.
  9. While the tomatoes are in the oven, make the risotto.
  10. Melt the butter in a skillet with the olive oil.
  11. Add the minced onion and saute until softened.
  12. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes.
  13. Add the wine and stir, then add the broth, a little at a time, stirring constantly.
  14. When the risotto is about five minutes from being finished, add the corn kernels, setting aside the larger "planks" that you will use to garnish.
  15. Finish cooking the risotto with the corn addition, adding more liquid if necessary.
  16. Finally, add the black pepper to taste, the herbs, another tablespoon of butter and the parmesan cheese.
  17. Serve with the roasted tomatoes on top.
 

Cherry Tomato Crostata

 Sometimes friends ask me if I really cook all the things I post on Ciao Chow Linda. Well, yes, I explain, and lots more too. Some of the things I cook turn out to be less than blog-worthy though, and that included a tomato ricotta tart I made a couple of weeks. It looked lovely, but the crust wasn’t cooked all the way through, as you might be able to tell from the photo below:

  I tried again with the same crust, this time rolling the dough really thin, using a freeform, crostata shape instead of the removable bottom tart pan.  I decided to skip the ricotta cheese in favor of caramelized onions, gruyere and parmesan cheese. And I went with cherry tomatoes, since I still had so many ripening in the garden. (OK, I admit it, aside from the crust, this is an entirely different recipe from the first tomato tart.) The cherry tomato variety I’ve been growing – “black cherry” – has a darker hue and a sweeter taste than the bright red ones more commonly seen in the markets. But any cherry tomato variety will do for this recipe – even yellow ones. You can cut the tomatoes in half if you like, but this time around, I left them whole.
Caramelized onions – one of my very favorite foods – are a key component of this dish – . I’ve always thought that the next time I put my house up for sale, I’d ignore that advice from realtors to infuse the house with the smell of freshly baked bread or chocolate chip cookies. Nope, for my money, you can lure prospective buyers better with the intoxicating aroma of onions sautéeing in olive oil or butter. Bake this crostata for the open house and you might be able to seal the deal.
The crust is really special too – it’s imbued with the goodness of parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and cracked black pepper. Roll it out thinly, then layer the cheeses and caramelized onions on top, leaving about two inches all the around the perimeter for crimping.
Scatter some fresh herbs (in this case, oregano and thyme) and place the tomatoes on top. 
Bake at high heat (425 degrees) but keep an eye on it near the end, covering the edges of the pastry with aluminum foil if it looks like it might burn.
I served it as a main course, along with romano beans and fresh sweet corn. But this would work great as an appetizer too, cut into smaller pieces.

Cherry Tomato Crostata
printable recipe here

Crust

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 T. finely minced fresh herbs (thyme, oregano or sage)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper
1 stick cold butter
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 3 T. ice water

Place the flour, cornmeal, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and sage in a food processor and pulse until mixed well together. Add the butter in small pieces until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the egg yolk and water and mix it just enough until it starts to hold together. If it looks too dry, add more ice water as needed. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic, then place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. (It freezes really well too.)

Filling
1 large, sweet onion (about two cups sliced thinly)
1 T. olive oil
1 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 dozen cherry tomatoes (more or less, depending on how big they are)
fresh thyme
fresh oregano

Cook the sliced onions in the olive oil – slowly – until they turn golden brown. This will take at least 1/2 hour, maybe 45 minutes. Let them cool slightly.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin round – about 1/8th inch thick and about 14 inches in diameter. If the dough is too thick, it won’t cook all the way through.  Transfer to a large cookie sheet or baking dish.
Spread the cheeses onto the dough, excluding about two inches all around the circumference. Place the caramelized onions over the cheese, then scatter bits of the fresh thyme and fresh oregano over that. Top with the cherry tomatoes, then bring the edges toward the center and crimp together as you go. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 1/2 hour. If crust gets brown too quickly, lower the heat to 400, and cover the edges with strips of aluminum foil.