Posts made in August 2012

Flora's Santorini Tomatoes, Oh My!

I love this place!
It’s stunning how the North Fork of Long Island has gripped Sandy and me. You would think by making such a claim that we were in love with all of the same things…but not really. Sure…we can appreciate the same things. For me, however it is simply the food and wine…and in all seasons.
For Sandy, it’s a lot more. As I just said, she can appreciate the food and wine…but it’s the flowers, the gardens, the vintage and antiques (although nowadays it’s quite hard to find a real bargain), and, of course, the horse community that draw us constantly to this part of our Long Island.
Getting back to “I love this place!” It’s the end of August and peak tomato time…a highlight every year in my life for as long as I can remember. I just can’t get enough of the selection available from all of my tomato girls.

 Flora’s Heirlooms

 In 2010 I wrote about Cheryl’s on River Road in Calverton and her fabulous cherry tomatoes …in 2011 I wrote about Joanne Zelnicki on Sound Avenue and her brilliant “Champion” tomatoes. For 2012, even though I want her all for myself, I have to share with all of you Flora The Santorini Tomato Maven.
The selection here is astounding!
If you travel too fast on Route 48, you will miss her. Take a look at the pictures I post and they will be your guide as it sits on the south side of the road heading east. Look for the buoy…that’s all I can say.

Flora, with the help of  her son Tony, stands ready to guide you through a hearty selection of tomatoes….and many planted with the seeds from her homeland in Santorini, Greece. They grow and sell their peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplants and other veggies…but the stars here are Flora’s tomatoes.

We were there yesterday and walked away with about 5+ pounds of heirloom tomatoes for $10.00…not to mention beefsteaks (which were made into sauce a few hours later), red and yellow cherry, and other tomato shapes and flavors so varied, it’s kind of mind boggling.

 Flora…someway…somehow…I’m wondering if it’s possible to make you a stop along the North Fork Foodie Tour. We shall see…We shall see.

Oh yes!…One more important tidbit. If we really and truly love our tomatoes, we save the seeds and plant them in our garden (I’m still waiting for Joanne’s Champions to ripen on the vine as we speak) and perpetuate the crop.
Saving the seeds is easy to do…and for the home grower here’s how!

Squeeze approximately 30-40 seeds from any tomato that you LOVE…place in a cup with two tablespoons of water…cover with plastic wrap and punch a hole in the top. Stir daily for 3 days. After that time, the seeds will have separated from the gelatinous goop that surrounded it as it came out of the tomato.
Place the seeds on paper towels or a coffee filter and let dry in an airy space for at least another 3 days…depending on humidity levels (rainy or dry days). Move the seeds around after a couple of days to insure they don’t stick to the paper.

                                         Store the seeds in your own home made seed package.
                                  All you have to do is go to:

                                                                      Mangia Baby!
bsp;                                                                   Bert

“Sharing your garden bounty can mean more than handing out juicy tomatoes. Why not also pass along homegrown vegetable seeds? Learn how to harvest them at—then package those future plans in our sweet little DIY envelopes. Simply download the free PDF (plus instructions), then print on earthy paper, fold, and give the gift of gardening for mere pennies”.

                                                      Country Living Magazine

                                               As usual, please feel free to comment

It's Time For Pesto…Plain & Simple

 Most folks know pesto is made with fresh basil…however go online and you will see many variations of this dish that originated in Genoa, Italy in an area called Liguria.
Specifically, pesto is a sauce made with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pignoli (pine) nuts, and either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino…or a combination of both. It developed the name “pesto” since it was traditionally made with the mortar and pestle many moons ago.
There are a few quite useful tips that I apply when making my pesto.
#1…Toast the pine nuts. Big difference and fuller flavor
#2…A squeeze of fresh lemon will keep the pesto a beautiful green and will not overpower the strong flavors in this recipe. If anything, it adds to the flavor.
#3…Although raw garlic is quite tasty…it is also quite powerful and I have found that it can disagree with some people. Instead of adding the many cloves of garlic most recipes call for, I suggest you use the same amount of garlic and oil utilizing the infusion method which will impart the flavor without the physical effects of raw garlic. Let the sliced or crushed garlic sit in the oil for about 30 minutes and remove most…if not all…of the garlic from the recipe. Save it to cook with in another recipe.
#4…I don’t add the cheese if I am going to freeze my pesto. I add the cheese at the time of serving.even though most recipes mix in the cheese and all the other ingredients right away.

Now…here is Bert’s BetsaPasta Pesto Recipe…for the books!
Serves 6-10 (depending on what else is served)

4 packed tight cups of fresh basil
2 large garlic cloves
2 oz. pine nuts
2/3 cup EVOO*
Large pinch Kosher salt
Few turns of the white pepper mill
2.5-3 cups Parmigiano Reggiano
1 wedge of fresh lemon (remove seeds)
1 lb. of your favorite pasta (if you like a stronger flavor pesto, use less pasta)

Blend pine nuts, salt and pepper and 1/2 of the infused olive oil in a Cuisinart
Place basil in Cuisinart, add the lemon, and process adding the rest of the oil through the chute until pesto mixture is smooth
Mix in grated in cheese at this time or hold off the cheese until ready to serve. If freezing, DO NOT add cheese until ready to serve another time

Refrigerate the mixture and let sit for a minimum of a few hours to let the ingredients blend.

Serve at room temperature (if possible) on top of freshly made warm pasta and toss with some warm pasta water. Adding starched pasta water will add texture and flavor to the entire dish.

Feel free to salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of red crushed pepper adds zing!

As usual…please feel free to comment

                                                                Mangia Baby!

*EVOO= Extra virgin Olive Oil                      


Read more: What Is the Origin of Pesto? |