Caprese Salad: A Tired Beast Do Over

The caprese salad, an old warhorse that so many people love, has been in need of a makeover. In the past barely ripe tomatoes, shitty mozzarella and weird sauces have characterized this Italian classic.

My version is simple....yet somehow unique. Good indredients steal the show. Heirloom tomatoes that have never seen the inside of a cooler, mozzarella di bufala from Campania, great olive oil from Liguria or Sicilia, fresh basil from the garden and sea salt. Simple.

One other important consideration is to cut the tomatoes into nice, thick wedges. Thin slices suck. You want the tomato flavor to flood your palate.

My example is here:

A proper Caprese salad.  Not wimpy.

The Raw Stuff

Today I took the five minute drive to the farm where I have been buying the bulk of my tomatoes, squash, eggplant and other items for cittanuova in East Hampton, NY. The farm is known as Balsam Farms and they have been supplying me with delicious produce for years.

A lot of what we are using right now we don't even cook....cut 'em up, add a few other things and you're good to go.

Pictures tell the story. Take a look and let me know what you think.

The Farm Stand

Melons...we like those with prosciutto san daniele.

Squash of many different varieties....thinking fall menu.

Baby peppers.....nice for peperonata that we like to serve with local fish.

Tiny tomatoes...sweet and delicious!

My faves....heirloom tomatoes.  Beautiful with a little salt and good olive oil.  Basil, too.

And some gorgeous sunflowers....great for dressing up a table or the porch.  

Summer in the Hamptons: The Best Ingredients Come at the End

Cooking, dining and shopping for food products in the Hamptons has always presented those of us who make our living in the culinary world with a bit of a conundrum. As summer ends the best stuff begins. At least in the vegetable and fruit world.

In the aquatic world we always have some great fish to cook regardless of the season. In my opinion the summer gives us great fish and mediocre shellfish to work with in the kitchen. The lobsters are molting, other shellfish are spawning. I have never been a fan of the thin shelled lobster that summer brings us. To each their own.

Right now, as summer wanes, we have great corn, melons, cucumbers, fennel, arugula and tomatoes. These are the items I like to showcase on our menu at cittanuova in East Hampton this time of the year. And I like the summer truffles from Italy so we use those as well.

Our current Insalata Caprese at cittanuova.  Local tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, basil, sea salt and Ligurian olive oil.

Upcoming Stuff  As the work continues on locking down a cookbook deal I will keep you posted.  I think I will, in the near term, start posting recipes here.  Chef blogs usually have recipes.  I am kinda old school and I don't really use recipes.  I make them up as I go.  But if I am going to write a cookbook I should probably do something about that.  As I develop the recipes I will try to post them here first.  Feedback never hurts.

Second...I love tomatoes and the season is really winding down out here on the east end of Long Island.

Third....I'll probably have some recipes with tomatoes. 

Aunt Ruby's Greens & Beefsteaks Caprese with Mozzarella di BufalaThe little guysI will miss you all.  I love you. 



Tomatoes: The Swan Song

I think 2011 will go down in memory as one of the better summers for tomatoes out on the east end of Long Island.  The tomatoes were delicious, abundant and we had access to so many different varieties it made cooking, and not cooking, very fun.

As we wind down toward the end of September the season for tomatoes is drawing to a close.  The big tomatoes are done....we just have the cherry tomatoes for a few more days. 

Here are some shots to remember the tomatoes of 2011: 

End of the summer heirloom cherry tomatoes












 An awesome assortment of heirloom cherry tomatoesAssorted Heirloom Tomatoes