Summer Dinner: Heirloom Tomato Bread Salad

I absolutely hate, hate, HATE wasting good bread!  I posted the recipe for the french toast I made with the Tartine Bread cookbook, and thought I would share another great use for day-old bread.  This is a loaf of delicious seed sour dough from The Victorian Bakery here in Kalamazoo, and it couldn’t go to waste!  I decided to do a play on a tomato bread salad the restaurant I used to work at served, and I added included some bacon and romaine lettuce.  I suppose it’s a hybrid of a Tomato Bread Salad and a B.L.T.

Heirloom Tomato Bread Salad

Fresh Mozarella Cheese
One pint tiny heirloom tomatoes
half a head of romaine lettuce
Half a loaf, or so, sour dough bread (day-old or fresh)
bacon (five or six pieces)
a bunch of fresh basil, torn to pieces
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Really, the amounts of things you add here are up to you.  I like the ratio of bread, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce to be pretty even, but this would be delicious with any ratio you choose!  Slice the bread and also the mozarella into one inch cubes, then slice the tomatoes into halves.  Toss the bread, cheese and tomatoes into a large bowl.  Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  While that’s sitting and soaking up the goodness, cook the bacon to your liking.  Chop the romaine lettuce and the bacon, and place it into the bowl.  Give it a good stir and enjoy!



Chocolate Leaves

This past weekend I had my first official order for a birthday cake, and the most amazing five-year-old made one request: chocolate leaves!  Seriously, brilliant!  For a brief moment I was worried I was going to be asked to make Lightning McQueen or Spiderman.  (I’m guessing that’s what my little dude will inevitably request for his cake in a couple of months…)  But, no.  Just chocolate leaves and strawberries.  That, I can do.

I was so incredibly excited throughout the process.  I picked leaves from my roses, carefully washed them, and was giddy as I was melting chocolate.  In fact I was so excited about the process that I forgot to take as many photos as I would have liked.  (I just snapped a few on my phone.)  From start to finish, not including the time in the fridge, it took around 15 or 20 minutes.  It’s so quick that I had little time to worry about whether or not they were going to turn out well.  That’s my kind of endeavor.  Turns out, they’re amazing!  AND THEY REALLY LOOK LIKE CHOCOLATE LEAVES!

Chocolate Leaves

You’ll need a bar of chocolate (I used a 70% cacao, bittersweet bar of chocolate), and a however many leaves you desire to make.  I used rose leaves, but lemon or basil leaves would work well, also.  (Note: There are bad leaves to use: poison ivy, poison oak, or any other leaf containing poison.)

Wash and dry the leaves, then place them on something that will fit in your refrigerator.  Coarsely chop the entire bar of chocolate.  Bring about two inches of water to simmer in a heavy saucepan.  Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl that can rest securely over the saucepan.  Stir until it’s melted, then let cool just for a few minutes.

Using a pastry brush, gently brush on the chocolate to the underside (the matte side) of the leaf, being careful not to get the chocolate over the edges.  (That makes it difficult to separate the leaves from the chocolate at the end.)  Once all the leaves are covered, place in the fridge until they’ve solidified.

At that point, reheat the chocolate and brush on another layer, then place them in the fridge once again to cool.  Once they are, peel the leaves away from the chocolate, starting from the stem end.  YOU’VE MADE CHOCOLATE LEAVES!  Go decorate something!  Or just eat them like some fancy crazy person who only eats chocolate in delicate leaf form.