california bruschetta + shaved zucchini and carrot salad + lemon pound cake with blood orange jam

There are times when day-to-day life can get a little noisy. Claire and I decided to take a time out from our first world problems by sitting down to an indoor picnic.

Yesterday, Claire was telling me about the salted, roasted tomatoes she ate so often for breakfast while staying in England. We couldn’t stop talking about them, and I fell asleep with visions of roasted tomatoes dancing in my head. We decided today to try to incorporate the old English favorite into the bruschetta we were making for supper.

We chopped up a few roma tomatoes and brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled them lightly with salt, pepper and oregano, and baked them for about ten minutes. We sliced a fresh loaf of rye bread we bought from the supermarket (we recommend baking your own, however–we were a little disappointed with the quality of our bread), and piled it high with spinach, avocado, and our fresh-roasted tomatoes. We topped our “bruschetta” with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

Next, we shaved a few of our favorite vegetables for a zucchini and carrot salad. We found the baby zucchini to be a little more sweet/palatable than regular raw zucchini. We tossed our salad with a simple hummus dressing and some feta cheese. The raw vegetables will release quite a bit of moisture on their own, so it’s probably best to dress this salad sparingly.

Last but not least, we decided to pay homage to the noble Meyer Lemon (to be noted: Claire’s favorite citrus) with an olive-oil pound cake topped with blood orange jam. We used olive oil instead of vegetable oil to accentuate the fruity undertones of our cake. The honey greek yogurt contributed to a little extra sweetness in our loaf, and also helped to keep it especially moist.

The recipe we used was a relatively simple one, adapted from our friend at Smitten Kitchen. We combined our dry ingredients, and then our wet with as much lemon zest as possible, before barely combining and pouring in the pan.

To prepare our jam, we segmented 5-6 blood oranges, covered the bottom of a sauce pan with water, and added the sugar and lemon juice. We let the concoction simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it took on the consistency of gelatinous internal organs (see below).

Make sure you take advantage of winter citrus, and of the later sunset. Make sure to get some quiet cozytimes with your dear ones, and close the windows so that the weird noises from outside, like sirens and cat fights, can’t come in.

California Bruschetta (serves 3-4):

1 loaf rye bread
4 roma tomatoes
1 large avocado
3-4 handfuls baby spinach
salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

For the vinaigrette:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and slice your tomatoes into a glass baking dish. Brush with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Roast for at least 20 minutes, or until you can smell the heavenly aromas. Throw your spinach down on the toast, layer avocado slices on top, and then carefully add the tomatoes. Whisk dressing ingredients together, then pour over your slices.

Shaved Zucchini and Carrot Salad (serves 2):

4 large carrots
5 baby zucchini
2/3 cup feta cheese

For the dressing:
3 tbsp hummus
2 tbsp lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Shave the carrots and zucchini with a peeler. Whisk dressing ingredients separately, and then pour on top. Add the feta cheese.

Lemon Olive Oil Pound Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup honey-flavored greek yogurt, or plain yogurt with added honey
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and olive oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, but be sure to get some in your mouth while it’s still warm.

Recipe for the blood orange jam is forthcoming…

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