Tag Archives: tomato recipes

Entertaining: What to Cook for the 4th of July Weekend!

It’s a big holiday weekend – family picnics, barbecues with friends, sun, water, fireworks ….. food is an important part of our celebrations! Here are a few of the recipes, I’ll be cooking over the long weekend. Mornings will start slowly, after that first cup of coffee I’ll be taking out my muffin pan to make Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

I like to keep lunches light , it’s better for jumping into the pool or to enjoy a game of kanjam so a salad is nice, I’ll probably make a nice Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Ricotta

Keeping it easy for dinner so starting with a great burger topped with my Whiskey Special Sauce

Side dishes are the key, make them in the morning before the day gets going and you can enjoy the day your self, I’m going old school with my Deli Style Macaroni Salad

Another classic side dish with a twist is my Jalapeno Kale Coleslaw, it is a delicious and healthy second side.

If I can find some corn in the farm stand, you can be sure that I’ll be making and although it’s perfect just grilled or even boiled, I’ll like make Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad

Now for dessert…. I’ll still be taking advantage of all those fresh berries that are around and make my Red and Blue Firework Crisp and if I have time I’m make some star shaped  cookies using My Favorite Sugar Cookies !

From by the bay , wishing you and your family a very Happy 4th of July!


Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Ricotta

Whiskey Special Sauce

Deli Style Macaroni Salad

Jalapeno Kale Coleslaw

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad

Red and Blue Firework Crisp

My Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

Memorial Day is right around the corner. How I look forward to many meals centered around grilling!  I love to make my own barbecue sauce mixing my favorite flavors, finding that right balance between sweet, savory and heat. This sauce is so simple to make combining many ingredients  you would have in your kitchen except maybe for the blackberry jam, which you will love to have anyway whether its for this recipe or your morning toast and the haberno chile. If you can’t find a haberno, jalapeno would work fine too. I love this sauce on spare ribs, pork chops and chicken. Let the season begin with this sauce!

From by the bay, wishing you sweet and savory blackberry food memories!


Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
Makes 1 cup


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
  • 1 teaspoon minced habanero chile
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and mix well.  Simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is slightly thicken. Use it immediately or place in a glass container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Tomatoes and Peaches with Ricotta and Fried Almonds

Heirloom tomatoes are not only delicious to eat, they are a true feast for the eyes. I love the wide variety of colors and shapes. I decided to deviate from my favorite salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil to this combination or tomato, peach, ricotta and tarragon. You will love this variation, especially if you find a good quality store bought ricotta cheese. If you are ambitious try making your own ricotta cheese it’s really simple.  My recipe is included below. I made my own ricotta for this salad because I had a large container of whole milk about to hit the expiration date. I didn’t want the milk to go to waste and I can’t think of a better use than making fresh ricotta cheese. The peaches add some sweetness to the salad and frying a few almonds in olive oil adds some needed crunch. This is a new favorite for my summer dining!

From by the bay, wishing you sunny tomato and peach food memories!


blog peach salad 2

Tomatoes and Peaches with Ricotta and Fried Almonds

Serves 4


  • 2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, some sliced and some halved
  • 2 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup whole unsalted roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta ( homemade or store bought) recipe below
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon leaves
  • fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


On large platter arrange the tomatoes and peaches. Dot the ricotta on top of the tomatoes and peaches. In a small skillet heat the olive oil and add the almonds. Stirred until almonds are heated and start to sizzle. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before adding the sherry vinegar. Mix  together. Drizzle dressing over the tomatoes and peaches. Dot the ricotta cheese on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with tarragon leaves.  Serve immediately.

blog ricotta 2

Homemade Ricotta Cheese


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


Line a sieve with a dampened cheesecloth and place over a bowl to strain the cheese. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start to separate in curds ( the thick part that is the cheese) and whey ( the thin liquid you drain off). Once that happens, pour into the sieve, catching the ricotta into the cheesecloth lined sieve. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes letting the liquid drain off. Let drain depending how thick and moist you want. the longer it drains the thicker and drier the ricotta. Once drained, take the cheese out of the cheesecloth and store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will stay 3 to 4 days.

Variations – all good and I’ve made and enjoyed each one depending on the ingredients on hand. 

  • Use only whole milk for a slightly less creamy version, this is great if you don’t have any heavy cream.
  • Replace the heavy cream with buttermilk, don’t use any vinegar for a drier textured ricotta, good for cooking

blog peach salad 1

Turkey Cobb Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Here is a perfect use of your leftover turkey and cranberry sauce by making a cobb salad. This salad uses layers of flavor – starting with cubes of turkey meat, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, bacon, boiled eggs and lots of fresh lettuce. I use some leftover cranberry sauce to make the perfect vinaigrette – that is both slightly sweet and acidic at the same time. The best part is this meal is light and healthy after the excesses of Thanksgiving Day. Look forward to this meal the day after Thanksgiving – there is nothing leftover about it!

From by the bay, wishing you turkey leftover food memories!


blog turk cobb

Turkey Cobb Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette


  • 8 cups of you favorite assorted greens, such as romaine, boston, baby lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices of lean bacon, chopped fine
  • 2 ripe avocados (preferably California)
  • 2 cups diced turkey
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1/2 hard-boiled large egg, separated, the yolk grated fine and the white grated fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Roquefort


In a large salad bowl toss together assorted greens. In a skillet cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and transfer it with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Halve, pit, and peel the avocados and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange the turkey, the bacon, the tomato, and the avocado decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the grated egg and the chives. In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, cranberry sauce and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a slow stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified. Stir in the Roquefort. Whisk the dressing, pour it over the salad, and toss the salad well.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad

Enjoying the fresh bounty of fresh juicy tomatoes and eggplant is this delicious salad . It’s a great side dish or toss on to some pasta with a little more olive oil and cheese and you have a yummy dinner. Mangia!!

From by the bay, wishing you tomato food memories!


blog eggplant tomat salad

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad


1 small eggplant, cubed with skin on

1 small onion, chopped

1 large heirloom tomato, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

fresh grated parmesan cheese

fresh basil leaves


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. To one sheet at the eggplant and the second the onion. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over each sheet and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Toss eggplant and onions with the olive and place in the oven until onions start to brown and the eggplant is softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.  Place in a bowl the eggplant, onion and tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar and sea salt and pepper to taste. Place in a bowl or serving platter. Add fresh chopped basil and grated cheese and serve.


Bloody Mary Mix with Candied Bacon

 I recently rediscovered the Bloody Mary at brunch a few weeks ago.  The reason I abandoned this wonderful drink was due to all the poor tasting versions I had over the the years.  You can only drink watered down tomato juice with a splash of vodka so many times before giving up. The Bloody Mary I drank a few weeks ago was something completely different. It had the best quaility ingredients and as we know that can make all the difference!! So I set out on the happy task of making my own bloody mary mix and then to make it extra special I added a candied strip of bacon to stir the cocktail. The mix is peppery with from the fresh horseradish, with some heat from the cayenne and a freshness thanks to all that lemon juice. Make sure the Bloody Mary is icy cold to really enjoy all the flavors. Dipping that sweet crispy candied bacon into the cold spicy Bloody Mary and taking a bite  really is heaven!  I suggest a pitcher for your next lazy weekend!!

From by the bay, wishing you Bloody Mary food memories and don’t forget the bacon!


blog bloody mary

Bloody Mary Mix with Candied Bacon

Makes approximately 32 ounces of mix


  • 1 (25-ounce) jar tomato passata,  preferably San Marzano or best quality tomato juice
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish or best quality prepared grated horseradish
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice from 4 to 5 lemons
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine grey sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 slices bacon, 1/4 inch thick, best quality
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Place tomato passata in a bowl. In a food processor add the celery and 1/4 cup water and blend. Strain liquid into a cup.  You should have about 1/4 cup liquid. Discard the solids and add the celery infused water to the tomatoes.  To the tomato base add horseradish, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup water, vinegars, salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Refrigerate until ready to use. About an hour before serving preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bacon, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.  Mix well. Place slices  bacon flat onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle any remaining sugar on the bacon. Cover bacon with a second sheet of parchment. Place a second baking sheet on top of the parchment. This will keep the bacon flat while cooking. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove top baking sheet and parchment paper and let continue to bake another 10 minutes or until crispy and a dark brown color. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool immediately.

To make Bloody Mary:

Take 3 parts bloody mary mix to 1 part vodka. Mix well. Serve chilled or over ice. Place a slice of candied bacon into each bloody mary just as you serve.




My friend Eva, make my day with a basket of  vegetables, the results of the summer harvest in her garden. The basket was filled with  beautiful eggplants, zucchini, squash and tomatoes. I remembered how my mom Ceil,  would love to make ratatouille every summer using these same ingredients. It was a staple barbecue side dish, when we were in the height of  summer. I’ve tried different variations and this by far is my favorite and reminds me the most of mom’s only with a few extra ingredients to kick up the volume on the taste. Tyler Florence really has the ultimate recipe, so no need for me to mess around. I’ve offered a few suggestions below for ingredient options. For example, instead of opening a tin of anchovies, I always keep a tube of anchovy paste handy in the fridge. I like how the paste just melts into the dish as an ingredient. I made this over the weekend and used the leftovers the next day for pasta.  Celebrate the summer harvest using this recipe!
From by the bay wishing you great summer harvest food memories!
blog ratato pasta
Serves 4
Adapted from Tyler Florence – “Tyler’s Ultimate” published in 2006
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound small Italian eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound zucchini, cut crosswise into 1-inch sections
3 anchovy fillets, finely minced or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 pints cherry tomatoes or 3 medium size Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 dried chile or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
Splash balsamic vinegar

Line a large platter with paper towels. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the eggplant, season generously with salt and pepper, and let that cook down for 10 to 12 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and wilted. Remove the eggplant from the pan and onto a platter to drain. Next stop, zucchini: cook it the same way in 1/4 cup oil, then add it to the platter with the eggplant.

Add another 1/4 cup olive oil to the pan, then the anchovies or paste, onions, garlic and herbs. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions get nice and caramelized. Add the tomatoes and cook that down for 10 to 12 minutes, until pulpy. Return the eggplant and zucchini to the pan, crack open the chile, and add that too or season with red chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper and let the ratatouille cook slowly for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is soft, mushy and juicy; you want all the flavors to come together. Stir in the vinegar and let cool to room temperature.

Read more at: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-ratatouille-recipe2/index.html?oc=linkback

Cook pasta according to directions. Once cooked set aside 1/2 cup cooking water. Place the penne in a bowl, top with room temperature ratatouille, grated cheese and cooking water. Mix well. Top with a little more grated cheese and basil. Serve immediately. 

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Cherry Sauce

A good friend of my recently took me to a Lebanese restaurant and we were delighted with the food and the wide variety of small plates offered. This is my version of our favorite dish we experienced that evening. These lamb meatballs are flavorful little bites that work terrific as an appetizer, to serve at a cocktail party or just to make an easy sandwich, a few in a pita bread with some greek yogurt, sliced cucumber and mint. It’s a perfect party food since you bake the meatballs, they fry in the oven, using significantly less oil with a really easy clean up. The sauce has a bit of a sweet and sour component from the cherry preserves and lemon juice, but with a middle eastern twist. It’s wonderful mix of flavors. You’ve love this dish!
From by the bay wishing you , sweet and sour food memories!
blog lamb meatball
Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Cherry Sauce
Serves 6 to 8

Lamb Meatballs
1 pound ground lamb
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
olive oil spray
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well using your hands.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray.  Once the meat mixture has chilled for 30 minutes, remove from refrigerator and dampen your hands and form 28 to 30 meatballs approximately 3/4″ diameter. Place on the lined baking tray. Spray top of the meatballs lightly with olive oil and bake in the heated oven for about 30 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Serve with tomato cherry sauce or just plain as a party appetizer with plain greek yogurt and some chopped mint on the side.
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Tomato Cherry Sauce

1 cup warm water
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup organic low sodium ketchup
1/4 cup cherry preserves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup scallions, chopped to garnish lamb meatballs with sauce
Place warm water in a bowl and add dried cherries. Let cherries soak in the water 30 minutes. Strain cherries, adding the water into a medium sauce pan.  To this pan add remaining ingredients except cherries and cook on moderate heat stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the cherries and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with lamb meatballs. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Spicy Beef Brisket and Sausage Chili

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Super Bowl Sunday is upon us and nothing is more traditional than making a great chili. What makes this chili recipe special is it’s pretty easy to make and it has really big flavor from combining hot italian sausage along with your ground meat. I suggest ground beef brisket here but regular ground beef works just as well. I do suggest that you get a beef with a slightly higher fat content ( 20%) for flavor. The added flavor is worth the extra step of pouring off any fat you might have after browning the meat. If you prefer your chili less spicy, get regular italian sausage meat and cut in half the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne. Using the basil and the cannellini beans in this recipe really makes for a lighter taste! Hope you team wins the Super Bowl!
From by the bay wishing you winning Super Bowl food memories!
blog chili 2
Spicy Beef Brisket and Sausage Chili
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pounds hot italian sausage, with casings removed
3 pounds ground beef brisket ( or ground beef , 80% lean)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 – 26.46 ounces chopped tomatoes with liquid ( use no sodium added)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leave
1 cup strong black coffee
2 – 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a very large heavy bottomed pot and brown the sausage meat. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon. In the same pot add the ground meat and brown. Remove the browned meat with slotted spoon into the bowl with the sausage meat and set aside. Pour off any liquid and/or fat from the pot. Place pot and remaining olive oil on medium heat and once the oil is hot saute the onions and garlic until softened but not brown, approximately 10 minutes. Add the pepper flakes, cumin and cayenne and saute 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomatoes, bay leave, salt, pepper, coffee and the reserved meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cannellini beans ( strained and rinsed) and simmer another 1/2 hour. Serve warm with fresh basil on top.
Chili can be served with :
Sour Cream
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Diced Tomato
Tortilla chips
Guacamole – here is the link to my favorite recipe


Savory Ketchup

Well, Memorial Day is not too far away, so I’m going to start blogging about some great recipes for celebrating this holiday weekend. I am sure you have been wondering why in the world make ketchup? Well, I have some very good reasons for suggesting that you do. The first one is this ketchup is much more delicious than any store bought ketchup. The second is that it’s healthy, you can control the amount of sodium and there are no preservatives. The third reason is this is SO EASY to make. My last reason and most important reason is that it will totally impress your guests, making them feel that they are special even if are serving burgers and hot dogs. I think especially for a long holiday weekend where you might be barbecuing through out the weekend , it’s worth the extra effort to have a batch of fresh ketchup ready in the fridge. I keep the ketchup in a mason jar so that it’s easy to bring to the table so guests can spoon some of this savory ketchup on top their food. Make this Memorial Weekend a real celebration and come back for more holiday recipes.

From by the bay wishing you some happy holiday food memories!
blog ketchup
Savory Ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon fresh red chili, chopped
1 28 ounce can puree tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil, add the onion, garlic and chili and saute until soft. Add tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, bay leave and spices. Simmer uncovered 25 minutes. Add vinegar and lemon juice. If the ketchup seems very thick you can add another tablespoon or two of water. Simmer 10 more minutes. Remove bay leave. Set aside to cool. Once cool, puree in food processor , place in glass mason jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.