Tag Archives: farmers market

DILLED FAVA BEANS IN SOUR CREAM

Things just seem to come together at the farmers market. Vegetables and fruits that complement one another seem to ripen together. Maybe not, but there are combinations that work, like strawberries and rhubarb or squash and corn. Another great combination is dill and favas. They both peak in the spring and trail off in the summer. A while back at my favorite market stall I found some beautiful fronds of dill tied up in bundles along with a big bin of favas ready to be scooped up. I was mindful of the effort that lay ahead of me, but the  earthy taste of fresh green favas compensates for the work involved to prepare them. Although favas can be used in many ways once they are shelled, a simple preparation highlights their flavor. Nothing could be easier than this way to serve fava beans.

RECIPE

Dilled Fava Beans in Sour Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds (about) unshelled fresh fava beans
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill fronds
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Shell the beans by pressing the seam of the pod between your fingers and popping the beans into a container.
  2. Blanch the beans by adding them to a large pot of boiling salted water. Return to the boil after adding the beans and boil for one minute. Drain and chill immediately in ice water.
  3. With your thumbnail, pop the thick bean coating open and squeeze out the bean to a waiting container.
  4. When you have finished shelling all of the beans, combine them with chopped dill, sour cream and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

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POACHED PEACHES AND RASPBERRY SAUCE: PÊCHES CARDINAL

It was Carol’s turn to create the main menu for our weekly family dinner. (Soon I hope to share some of her recipes.) She always comes up with an array of interesting dishes that go well together. Did I mention she is a good cook IMHO? This past Sunday she made some delicious toasted walnuts with rosemary, sea salt, and brown sugar for the happy hour. The walnuts were impossible to resist. Then she served a salad of tomatoes, shaved fennel and green beans, all from the farmers market. The main dish was grilled shrimp wrapped in prosciutto. Corn on the cob and muffins made with zucchini from the farmers market rounded out the menu. As usual, my assignment was dessert.

This time of year it is so easy to build a meal with offerings from the farmers market, and  I followed the theme. Peaches and other stone fruit are at the height of their season along with berries of all sorts. This past Saturday we went to the Torrance Market, one of the largest in the Los Angeles area, instead of our smaller local event. The choices available were astounding. One of the biggest stalls specializes in stone fruit, so I could choose yellow peaches, white peaches, yellow nectarines, white nectarines, pluots, plums, all with several varieties of each. Remembering a classic recipe from the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I went with white peaches that, from the samples available, were much sweeter than the yellow varieties. I had to go to the berry booth to find plump and fresh raspberries.

The recipe for pêches cardinal is deceptively simple: poach the peaches in a heavy syrup; make a sauce with the raspberries; cover the peaches with the sauce; serve. Of course, you can embellish the dish with ice cream, whipped cream, toasted nuts and/or whatever appeals to you. However, the devil is in the details, as they say. The peaches should be poached in a single layer with their skins intact. The raspberries should be forced through a sieve to form a puree without the seeds. If you don’t take that somewhat tedious step, the seeds will haunt you in the finished dish, even if you use a Vitamix to make the final sauce. And all of that is worth the effort, because the sauce becomes velvety. Warn your guests that the peaches still have their pits. Even though the preparation is easy, the result is both elegant and delicious.

RECIPE

Poached Peaches and Raspberry Sauce: Pêches Cardinal

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 6 fresh, ripe, unblemished peaches
  • 2 pints raspberries, 18 raspberries set aside for garnish
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 6 mint sprigs for garnish
  • sweetened whipped cream for garnish
  • chopped toasted walnuts for garnish
  • vanilla ice cream (optional)

Method

  1. In a large saucepan that will hold the peaches in a single layer, combine the water, sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the peaches, and return to the simmer. Turning the peaches occasionally, simmer them for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool for 20 minutes. Drain the peaches on a rack, and peel while still warm. Arrange the peaches in a deep serving dish, and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Force the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds. You should wind up with about 1 cup of raspberry puree. Combine the puree with sugar. Blend in a Vitamix or conventional blender on a high setting for 3 minutes. The mixture should thicken and turn a beautiful pink color. Chill.
  3. When both the peaches and raspberry sauce are well chilled, spoon the sauce over the peaches, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  4. When you are ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and garnish with the reserved raspberries, mint sprigs, whipped cream, and walnuts. Serve in bowls along with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

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MEYER LEMON BAVARIAN CREAM PIE

The local farmers’ market has just gotten going seriously for the season. A couple of weeks ago there were only a few stands with limited choices. Now there are several rows of canopies and lots of choices. There are spring vegetables: asparagus, green peas, leaf lettuce, and radishes. The big stars, though, continue to be citrus of all sorts. There are fruits that are seldom seen outside of Southern California. Pomelos as big as grapefruits! (That’s supposed to be a joke. Pomelos are often bigger than grapefruits, and on top of that they are thick-skinned close relatives.), blood oranges, many varieties of clementines, and my favorite – Meyer lemons.

The Meyer lemon was originally found in China and thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.  It was brought to California and popularized by a guy named – you guessed it –  Meyer. When Meyer lemons were found to be symptomless carriers of a virus that destroyed other citrus trees, the lemon trees were chopped down wholesale, not to be grown again until a virus-free strain was discovered. Now they are widely available.

Meyer lemons are beautiful. They are larger than other lemons with a dark yellow-orange skin and a beautiful fragrance. They are sweeter than the usual lemon, but they are still more sour than an orange. They are juicy and usually contain a number of seeds, so they really lend themselves to cooking with the juice and/or zest.

What could be a better use than in a Bavarian cream? Bavarian cream is a classic dessert. Julia Child devotes pages to its many variations. At the same time, Bavarian cream is really just another classic – crème Anglaise – doctored up with flavoring, meringue, and whipped cream all stabilized with gelatin. One more step is to put the Bavarian cream into something to hold it. Charlottes lined with lady fingers are common, but a pie shell works just as well and is a lot easier.

So, that’s what I wound up doing with the beautiful Meyer lemons I found at the farmers’ market.

RECIPE

Meyer Lemon Bavarian Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared 9 inch pie shell (purchased or use your favorite recipe) in a glass pie pan
  • 2 ripe Meyer lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 envelope (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Method

  1. Bake the pie shell according to instructions and set aside.
  2. Juice and zest the Meyer lemons, straining and reserving ½ cup of the juice. Set aside the measured juice and zest.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup sugar and egg yolks until well combined.
  4. In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until it comes to a simmer. Gradually pour the heated milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan over low heat.
  5. Stirring frequently to avoid curdling of the bottom, heat the mixture gradually over low heat until it thickens enough to coat the spoon. Check frequently with a thermometer to avoid exceeding 170°F. The yolks will curdle at a higher temperature, and you will have to start over.
  6. Meanwhile, pour the reserved lemon juice into a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let the gelatin bloom for at least 5 minutes. Pour the hot, thickened egg mixture over the gelatin and lemon juice. Stir for several minutes to make sure the gelatin is dissolved.
  7. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Stir constantly until the mixture is cool. Then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another bowl. Stir in the reserved lemon zest.
  8. Beat the egg whites with a rotary mixer until they form stiff peaks. Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is completely incorporated. Fold, by thirds, into the custard mixture. Folding gently, making sure the meringue is completely incorporated.
  9. Whip the cream into soft peaks. Fold in, making sure the mixture is completely combined.
  10. Pour the completed custard into the reserved pie shell. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  11. Serve plain – or better – with whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes

  • The unflavored gelatin is a key part of the recipe: not enough and the Bavarian will not set while too much and it will be rubbery; not properly bloomed and it will never completely dissolve; if it is not completely stirred in, the cream may separate. Gelatin comes in several forms. The most common is granular, packaged in small packets, but there are also liquid as well as sheets that are used by professional bakers. I don’t know what equivalents might be.
  • Be patient! Don’t try to rush the custard with high heat. You will end up with scrambled eggs.
  • It is very important to strain the thickened custard mixture. No matter how careful you are, there will be bits of curdled yolk that will take away from the smoothness of the finished custard.
  • Obviously, stir in the zest after you strain the custard.
  • You can add a little liqueur if you like. Limon cello is the obvious choice – 1 or 2 tablespoons.
  • You shouldn’t try to rush the chilling; otherwise the Bavarian might not set up properly. Overnight is best; four full hours might work in a pinch.
  • The need for bowls and saucepans is intensive. You should definitely set up mis en place for your ingredients and plot out a strategy for cookware. A scanning thermometer is very handy.

 

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SHAVED FENNEL AND HARICOT VERT VINAIGRETTE

Fennel is beginning to appear at the farmers market. It is unlike  that in the supermarkets. The bulbs are big, and the tops are left on so that you may have four feet of vegetable, including the fronds.

I think fennel is beautiful. The fronds are lacy and brilliant green. The bulbs have the interlocked leaf bases that remind me of a nautilus shell. The perfume is that exotic, unforgettable odor, not quite of licorice or anise, but wonderful. And it’s all edible.

When I bought my farmers market fennel, the woman behind me wondered aloud what you can do with it. The vendor said that she puts it in salads. I said, “Braise it’,” thinking of quartered bulb braised with a juicy pork chop. But you can turn both bulb and fronds into soup, a boiled vegetable, and even a desert.

The large-bulbed (not actually a bulb but the thickened ends of the stems of the fronds) variety is sometimes called Florence fennel or finocchio to distinguish it from common fennel that has no bulb and grows wild in abundance in Northern California. In the past, I’ve written about using the “pollen” from wild fennel to flavor bread, as they do at Rich Table, or to add to soups and custards.

I also bought some haricots verts from one of my favorite vendors at the market. I like his products because he has fingerling potatoes in several colors, squash blossoms, petit pan squash, and heirloom tomatoes that are not as popular with other vendors. That made me think that a fresh salad of fennel and haricot vert would be a perfect summer accompaniment to seared ahi tuna.

RECIPE

Shaved Fennel and Haricot Vert Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Use your best stuff)
  • ½ teaspoon Pernod
  • salt and pepper
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 1 good-sized fennel bulb, trimmed and washed
  • haricots verts (about two good handfuls), trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • lettuce leaves

Method

  1. Using a dinner fork or small whisk, combine the lemon juice and mustard in a two-cup glass measuring cup
  2. Beating vigorously, gradually add the olive oil, one tablespoonful at a time, making sure it is completely incorporated.
  3. Beat in the Pernod, salt and pepper to taste, and sugar. Set aside.
  4. Using a mandolin, slice the fennel bulb into paper-thin slices.
  5. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to the boil. Stir in the trimmed green beans and return to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes after the pot has returned to the boil. Drain and plunge the cooked beans into a bowl of ice and water that you have prepared ahead.
  6. When the beans have cooled, drain and combine with the shaved fennel. Dress with the vinaigrette, toss, and cover with plastic wrap. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette for another use.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until ready to serve on lettuce leaves.

 

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GARLIC SCAPE FRITTATA

The season has come – and probably gone – for garlic scapes at the farmers market. This is the time of year when the garlic growers trim the tops of their green garlic plants to force growth into the maturing bulbs. The tops have a wonderful curl as well as a pale head that will mature into tiny little garlics if you don’t cut it off. The head and the pointed stem above it are often woody, but the curly shoots below are tender with  a mild flavor of garlic. I usually chop them up and make them into a green garlic soup that seems perfect for a springtime lunch on the patio.

This year, I decided to try something different. I made a frittata of un-chopped scapes along with other ingredients from the farmers market including feta cheese from The Old Windmill Dairy. Along the way, I added some leftover spaghetti.

RECIPE

Garlic Scape Frittata

Ingredients

  • butter
  • about 1 pound garlic scapes (2 generous handfuls)
  • 4 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 snacking-sized sweet peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 3 cups cooked spaghetti
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups cream or 1 cup cream and 1 cup whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Generously butter a 9-inch pie plate and set aside
  2. Wash the scapes; remove the heads and tops. Cut the remaining stalks into pieces that will fit easily into the pie plate
  3. Arrange half of the scapes, sliced mushrooms, and sliced peppers in the bottom of the buttered pie plate.
  4. Arrange half of the spaghetti on the vegetable bed and top with half of the crumbled feta.
  5. Top with the remaining spaghetti, and then the remaining scapes, mushrooms, peppers and feta cheese
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed. Combine with the cream or cream and milk seasoned with grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  7. Pour the egg mixture over the assembled pie.
  8. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F for 45 minutes or until the mixture is set and the top is lightly browned
  9. Cut into wedges and serve while still warm.

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FARMERS MARKET IN SANTA FE

After a chilly and wet few weeks, the spring growing season in the Santa Fe area has finally taken off, and the farmers market has moved outside from the pavilion where it is located during the winter. For the past couple of weeks, the offerings have been largely restricted to greens, eggs, bedding plants, and a few radishes. Today, the bounty of the season is beginning to come in, and I felt a little like the proverbial kid in the candy store. I arrived  early in the morning, just as the sun was slipping above the roofs, and before the vendors had finished setting up their booths. I took the opportunity to stroll around to look at the offerings and to watch the vendors before they got too busy. I saw one of my old farmers market friends, a woman about my age who had moved from Ruston, Louisiana. Over the years we have traded Louisiana stories. She specializes in garlic. She doesn’t have scapes yet, but I will definitely get some green garlic to make soup.

The stall at the head of the aisle had every salad green imaginable on display. When the crowds come, they always have a long line of eager customers. During my stroll, the farmer across the aisle came over to announce that there were new rules that prohibited more than four customers in line at any one time. Everyone had a good laugh. There were baked goods galore, and they all looked delicious. But I was on a mission and also a diet, so I was able to resist them. Inside the pavilion, the usual dairies were selling all sorts of varieties of cow and goat cheese. Nearby, the mushroom lady was filling baskets with shiitakes and oysters.

As the stalls opened for business, I made my purchases. Honestly, I had to resist some impulse buys. I always wind up buying more than I can cook, so I tried to be judicious. When I got home, I unpacked my bag to see what I had purchased and what I needed to plan on making during the next week

A bag of good food

A bag of good food

There was feta cheese from the Old Mill Dairy, along with shiitake and oyster mushrooms from the mushroom lady. I also found some long, slender, tender spears of green asparagus, fingerling potatoes, and organic ground beef.  The mushrooms seem to beg for a creamy risotto.

My purchases

My purchases

Of course, there was an abundance of radishes and other root vegetables. I wound up buying some French breakfast radishes. I plan to have those this evening with salt and thick chunks of bread spread with cultured butter from Sarah.

French breakfast radishes, cultured butter, salt, and crusty bread

French breakfast radishes, cultured butter, salt, and crusty bread

As for the other stuff, I’ll just have to think of what to do with it. After all, I have another week before I head back to the market.

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ROASTED GOLDEN BEET SOUP WITH SOUR CREAM AND DILL

Root vegetables are making their mark on the garden scene as autumn begins to blend into winter. All the vendors at the farmers market have an abundance of beets. Even though beets are not among my favorites, it seems a shame not to give them a go. Bright red borscht seems an obvious choice, and for years we have made a clear beet soup that almost gleams. An alternative seemed to be in order. The other thing about red beets is that they stain everything they touch, including your GI tract.

Golden beets seemed like a good alternative choice, and so I bought a nice bunch at a recent farmers market. Even then, there are several choices: beet salad, Harvard beets, or beets and greens. Honestly, the consistency of cooked beets is not pleasing to me, so I opted for soup.

There are a couple of classic partners to beets: dill and sour cream. The recipe below combines those ingredients.

Bunch of golden beets from the farmers market

Bunch of golden beets from the farmers market

Roasted golden beet soup with sour cream and dill

Roasted golden beet soup with sour cream and dill

RECIPE

Roasted Golden Beet Soup with Sour Cream and Dill

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch golden beets, tops removed – about 4 to 5 medium size beets
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • water
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill fronds, snipped + more for garnish

Method

  1. Wash and dry the beets. Coat generously with vegetable oil and wrap individually in squares of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, and roast in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350 for 30 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a kitchen fork. Remove from the oven, unwrap, and cool until they are easy to handle. The skin should slip off easily between your fingers. Cut the peeled beets into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over a medium flame, heat the oil and sweat the onions, covered, for 5 minutes until translucent and the juices have been released. Do not brown. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two until the grains are translucent. Ad the chicken stock, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked and soft. Add water as needed if the soup is too thick.
  3. Add the beets and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg.
  4. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth. For aded smoothness, you may pass the puree through a strainer or chinois. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the sour cream and dill. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream and more minced dill as garnish.

 

 

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CREAM OF GLOBE SQUASH SOUP

The weather has definitely shifted to autumn, and the farmers market has begun to wind down. The other day, one of the vendors had piles of different squashes, none of them with labels. I saw a beautiful winter squash that would make a great soup. I thought I was buying a calabaza, but when I got it home it turned out to be a zucchini-like globe squash. Yes, I can hear you saying, “Another zucchini recipe.” I split the squash in half, and roasted it anyway, and it turned out to make a savory soup that was just right for a cool autumn lunch. You can make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock. You could even make it vegan by substituting vegetable oil for the butter and silky tofu for the cream.

RECIPE

Cream of Globe Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large globe squash
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup cream
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 slice French bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes
  • mozzarella cheese, grated
  • salted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Method

  1. Cut the squash in half, stem to blossom end, and remove the seeds. Brush the melted butter on the cut surface, and place cut-side down on a lipped baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of a 350°F oven. Check for doneness with a kitchen fork. If the flesh is soft, remove from the oven and scoop the squash into a bowl. Set aside
  2. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart covered saucepan sweat the onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Do not allow the onions to brown. Add the rice, and stir until the grains have become translucent. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to the simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked and soft. Stir in the squash, return to the boil, and then simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, and cool enough to work with easily. Puree with a blender. You may need to work in batches. Return the soup to the saucepan,, add cream, and bring to the simmer. Do not boil. Add nutmeg to taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium flame. Add the garlic and stir until the garlic starts to brown. Remove the garlic and add the bread cubes. Sauté until crisp and lightly browned. Drain the croutons on paper towels and salt lightly.
  5. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, and garnish with croutons, grated mozzarella and pumpkin seeds. Serve

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CHANGE OF SEASONS – CHANGE OF MENU

There is no doubt that summer is over, and fall is here. The nights have become cooler, and I need a jacket when I go out for the morning paper. Things have changed at the farmers market, too. Apples are beginning to appear. Tomatoes are at their abundant peak, but you can tell that the vendors are anticipating their crops to diminish.

Or landscape and garden are sending the same message. Robins have come back from wherever they were hiding out this summer. Other birds have begun to show up, and some of the humming birds have left, although there is still a lone rufous at the feeder. We have seen all sorts of spiders weaving their webs for the last time. A huge orb spider is hanging out near the front door. A hive of honey bees has swarmed on our roof. We are excited about that because their numbers have been in decline, although I read in the paper that bee colony decline appears to be receding.  An enormous bumble bee is a constant visitor to a hollyhock in the back yard. A praying mantis was lurking at the front door yesterday evening.

There is no snow yet on the mountains, but you can see the first color of the aspens, and the aspens in our yard have taken on the golden edge that they always get before they become a blazing gold. Asters, crown beard, and rabbit brush have turned the arroyos a spectacular mix of purple and gold.

Time to start thinking about stews, soups, gumbo, and the rich dishes of winter. They can’t be far away.

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TOMATO GRAVY

This time of year, tomatoes are sort of like zucchini except that you can do so many more things with them. Besides, you never get tired of eating the ones from your garden out of hand with a little salt and pepper. On top of that, the season is almost over – at least around here, with color already showing up on the mountains – so you need to take full advantage.

If you are looking for something else to do with your tomatoes, this old-timey, simple recipe is excellent. It is one of my wife’s favorites. She remembers tomato gravy from her childhood. Her mother would often make it for lunch or a light supper, especially when Dad was out of town on a business trip.

Tomato gravy was also a favorite this time of year on our farm in East Texas. I suspect the dish had its origins in the Great Depression. There are several traditional Southern versions using bacon drippings and served over freshly baked biscuits. This is a “Yankee version.”

You can use store-bought tomatoes or even canned tomatoes, but the results will be a pale imitation of tomato gravy made with tomatoes just picked from the garden.

Serves 4 for lunch

RECIPE

Tomato Gravy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices toasted bread

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Arrange the tomato slices in the melted butter and sauté over medium heat until soft. Turn once to sauté both sides of the tomatoes.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
  4. Stir thoroughly to make sure the milk and flour are completely mixed. Raise the heat slightly to a gentle boil. Simmer until the sauce is thickened.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
  6. Serve immediately over slices of toast.

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