Things have been busy here for the past couple of weeks. The Husband and I have been having some medical stuff going on and I'm amazed at how quickly your time can get sucked away (along with your money) when dealing with this community on a regular basis. Anyway, our health is completely fine, and for this we are grateful!
Someone's whose health has not been fine is my 17+ year old cat, Chiquita. I adopted her as an 8 week-old kitten when I was in college and she's been with me ever since. We had to put her down a couple of weeks ago. Poor baby only weighed four pounds by the end, and we were beginning to feel very selfish keeping her alive when she obviously very miserable. The Husband took this picture of one of her more favorite pastimes about a month ago:
In the meantime, I've had a few dinner parties, and done various cooking experiments for the Husband. At a dinner we recently had when our Vermont friends were in town, I made the recipe I post here tonight: Provencal Tomatoes. I served it as a side dish to pasta with my homemade pesto sauce (which has both toasted pine nut and walnuts). I'm not sure if everyone can get tomatoes this time of year in other parts of the country, but here in the NYC area, we've got plenty. Because it's a baked dish, I like to serve it when the weather is still a little cold, and because it's tomatoes, I feel that it is a reminder to the diners at my table that warmer weather is on the horizon.
6 ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut them in half crosswise and, with your fingers, remove the seeds and juice. Place the tomato halves in a baking dish.
In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumbs mixture. Bake the tomatoes for 25 minutes, or until they're tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 seconds more. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Note: to make fresh bread crumbs, remove the crusts of Pepperidge Farm sandwich white bread or other fine-grained white bread. Cut the bread in cubes and pulse in a food processor until finely minced.
You can prepare the tomatoes and filling and refrigerate them. Bake just before serving.