Trying to decide what to make for dinner is the most challenging part of cooking for me. I'm tired of making the same old things over and over again. I wish I was Ina Garten. Meal planning is so easy for her because she just makes Jeffrey's favourites. And he only comes home from the city on weekends, so she just has to plan out two dinners a week. I watched an episode recently where she was making Jeffrey a special birthday dinner and she was going to recreate the meal she made for his 17th birthday. She gushes over anything to do with with Jeffrey. And they both appear to be in their 50's so that's quite a number of years she's been cooking up special dinners for him.
Ina is a less abrasive version of Martha Stewart. She has the perfectly coiffed bob and pearl studs like Martha, but she is much less smug about her superiority over all humans. And Ina has Jeffrey to do all the illegal dirty work like insider trading since he is an accountant, so she doesn't have to worry about going to prison and coming out at dawn in a homemade poncho. And since Jeffrey only comes home to their idyllic Hamptons beach mansion on weekends, Ina is free to play bridge all week with her handsome gay friends and sweep into town in her Mercedes convertible to buy really high quality ingredients at the quaint local shoppes where all the locals fawn over her.
And when Jeffrey gets home, they are like two giddy school children passing love notes in the classroom. They don't seem to ever have had children, and I can see why. That would put a real downer on their romantic lifestyle where they take long walks on the beach with a thermos of French onion soup and smooch with wild abandon. And by the time Ina puts the dinner on the table, they are so playfully in love that you expect them to frolic across the lawn throwing water balloons at one another. Oh their life is purrrrfect alright! When the cameras are rolling that is. I've often secretly wondered if she doesn't swat him with a rolled up newspaper for leaving his socks on the floor when the camera crew has left the mansion.
And I'm pretty perfect like Ina and Martha too since I grow vegetables and can my own tomatoes! But my favourite thing to do with my tomatoes is to make a bruschetta.
Here's what you need:
2 cloves of garlic
1 large tomato
bunch of fresh basil
freshly grated parmesan
salt & freshly ground pepper
Finely chop the shallot and 1 of the garlic cloves and add to a small bowl
chop the tomato and add to the bowl
make a chiffonade with 5 or 6 leaves of the basil (Aren't I a saucy little minx? That's FoodNetwork speak for saying place the basil leaves one on top of the next and then roll them into a tight wad like a cigar and thinly slice) and add to the bowl
Add about 1/3 cup of the grated parmesan
Add enough olive oil just to moisten all the ingredients and about 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar.
Add quite a good pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Stir it up and set it aside
Now take your baguette and slice 1/2" thick slices and put them on a cookie sheet under the broiler to toast. Watch them because they'll burn in no time! When they get golden, flip them over and toast the other side. As soon as they come out of the oven, rub the surface of each one with the remaining clove of garlic. Add about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture to each toast round and top with a little more grated parmeson. Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. Voila! Fit for a king like Jeffrey!