Tag tomato salad

July 2013 Cookbook Club: A Summer of Salads

There is never a boring day in the PTC office. We once spent an entire week debating which cookbook to feature in our next cookbook club. Emails zinged back and forth before Christina had a brilliant idea. Everyone was asked to bring in their favorite summer dish. (The perfect theme for this girl!) Earlier that week, I visited B Patisserie in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. I was thrilled to discover a variation of  Flammkuchen, a delicious German “pizza”, on their menu. B’s substituted toasted ciabatta for pizza dough, and I was enamored with the extra chewy texture.

I knew what I was going to make for cookbook club!

Coming into the office on the day-of, the refrigerator was packed with various containers of this and that. I barely found room for my own shopping bag of ingredients. At about 11:30am, we trickled into the kitchen and started the prep-work for our dishes. We were soon peeking over each other’s shoulders and discussing the best way to plate. As completed dishes began appearing on the table, I pulled out my camera and started playing food paparazzi.

Kale Salad First up: Heather made an INCREDIBLE Kale Chopped Salad with a pleasant Spicy Peanut Dressing. I was a big fan of this tangy take on kale. Kale has a pretty distinct flavor, so the peanut dressing really added an unexpected depth. Needless to say, this was well received by all in the office.

Cabbage SaladAlso on a summer salad bend, Erica, our warehouse manager, made a delicious Cabbage Salad with Avocado and Jalapeno. I simply could NOT get enough of this. In fact, I copied the recipe and stopped by the grocery store on my way home so I could keep some in my fridge!

Tomato SaladMary surprised us with a gorgeous old fashioned Heirloom Tomato Salad from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table. I loved these tomatoes. With much more complex flavors than tomatoes you find in the grocery store, I was immediately transplanted to my favorite farmer’s market.

Mango SalsaEmily reminded me how refreshing a great Mango Salsa can be. Tangy and spicy, like a salsa should be, but with a sweetness that added even more depth to the flavor. I loved her mango-to-jalapeno ratio.

Tomato Basil SoupCrissy’s delicious Tomato Basil Soup was the perfect thing to brighten the cloudy day’s mood. Warm, comforting flavors beautifully combined with a slight citrus kick: YUM. I know what I’ll be making this winter!

PolentaRebecca made a deliciously rich Mushroom and Herb Polenta from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Though this cheesy dish was not making it’s first appearance at our table, nobody cared. I mean, it’s addictively good. Seriously, just go make it. Only then will you understand the heaven our taste buds were in.

Pasta Salad with MushroomsKelle must have read my mind (or my stomach?) when she brought a delicious Mushroom and Herb Pasta Salad with  Corn and Feta. It was the perfect summer dish! Actually, I could see myself making a warm version in the winter. Anything to be able to enjoy this simple dish year-round.

Turkish Lettuce WrapsAt long last, Bibby had the chance to bring in Turkish Lettuce Wraps from Food and Wine. Incredible. I particularly loved the light sauce, kept on the side for drizzling pouring making it rain. Assembly was quick, as we each piled on a little of everything. And just like that, they were gone…

Chocolate Chip Cookies with ToffeeRosie made a guest appearance (cameo by her bright-eyed son, AJ) and really took our breath away with her Chocolate Chip Cookies with Home Made Toffee. Almost dangerous, they were just too good. The sticky toffee left everyone craving more.

Stone Fruit CobblerChristina has been cracking me up for the past month by literally singing praises of stone fruit… but I shouldn’t be laughing. I fully agree that stone fruit is seriously awesome, and we should sing songs about it. Anyway, with the help of Paulina, our Polish Warehouse Intern, Christina created a deliciously simple Stone Fruit Cobbler. She even left out most of the sugar to let the fruit flavors stand out. Absolutely perfect.

Sweet Corn Ice CreamFinally, Beth surprised us with Sweet Corn Ice Cream. I’ve sampled some unusual ice cream flavors in my day, but nothing quite like this! The striking corn flavor made for a slightly sweet yet oddly savory dessert. My taste buds were a bit confused, but some folks in the office were clearly impressed.

All in all, it was a great culinary adventure. We actually ended up with a pretty balanced meal (not too many summer salads), and everything was spot on! Who knows, maybe cookbook club will become more of a favorite recipe club…

Parties That Cook’s Last-Minute Summer Recipe: Grilled Avocado Tacos with Tomato Salad

It’s coming. You can’t avoid it. You can just prepare.
The end of summer is fast approaching, and while some of us (cough, San Francisco) have a late “Indian Summer” to look forward to, most of the nation will have to pack up those grills and enter the fall season. Give your grill a proper goodbye, for now… These fun little Grilled Avocado Tacos have a deliciously fresh combination of flavors that might just inspire a summer fiesta! For a seafood twist, try our Little Fish Tacos with Tomato Salad and Chipotle-Lime Crema! You can find these featured at our upcoming Date Night Couples Cooking Class in San Francisco!

Little Grilled Avocado Tacos with Tomato Salad and Chipotle-Lime Crema
This recipe and others like it can be found in our Appetizer Recipes Library!

1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 small red chili, seeded
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 Haas avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
Toothpicks for serving

Tomato Salad:
20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, sliced in half, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tablespoons cilantro chopped, plus some whole leaves for garnish
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Chipotle-Lime Crema:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 chipotle in adobo, minced plus 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges

24 small 4-inch corn tortillas

Marinade: Put cilantro, paprika, cumin, chili, lime zest, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a blender and process to a paste. Halve, pit and peel the avocados. Place avocado halves in a bowl and gently coat avocados with the marinade (do not mash the avocado in any way).

Grill Avocados: Heat a ridged grill pan over high heat. Place each half on the grill for cook for about 30 to 45 seconds. Don’t be afraid to take the cooking outdoors, instead, and grill the avocados for a bit longer.

Cut Avocados: Transfer grilled avocado to a cutting board and cut each avocado half into thin wedges, about 4 wedges per half.

Tomato Salad: Cut up and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Tortillas: Using tongs, grill each tortilla over a gas burner for 15 seconds a side. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Alternatively, wrap all tortillas in foil and warm in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes.

Make Crema: Place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix well.

Assemble Tacos: Place a piece of avocado on each tortilla. Put a dollop of the crema on the avocado then top with a spoonful of tomato salad. Garnish with some cilantro, roll into a cone and secure with a toothpick. Serve on a platter with lime wedges.

Makes 24 little tacos