Tomato Essence

tomato essenceTomato Essence is actually the clear or nearly clear liquid that is the real juice of the tomato.  What we typically know as tomato juice is actually pureed tomatoes, often thinned with water.  But if you strain tomato chunks through cheesecloth for several hours, what comes out is Tomato Essence, a liquid that has such deliciously pure tomato flavor you’ll want to spoon up every drop.  This liquid can be used on its own, as a soup, spiced with salt and pepper, drizzled with fruity olive oil and garnished with finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers and basil chiffonnade, all thoroughly chilled, for an elegant first course.  Or you can use Tomato Essence to dress a salad, per the recipe below.  Adrienne demoed this for a class at Brookside July 16 2014. Read More

Asian Salad with Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes


This favorite summer salad is so flavorful you’ll be going back to it again and again. I use the least expensive salmon I can find – as long as it is fresh and sweet. I’ve never tried this with canned salmon – I fear that would be too salty.  But good farm-raised salmon can be had for about $6/pound on sale and a pound makes a dozen cakes, enough for six servings. The salad itself combines mesclun or baby greens with fresh herbs for a summery, intensely flavored final result. Adrienne demoed this recipe for a class at Brookside June 17, 2014. Adapted from Cuisine at Home. Read More

Georgia Peach and Tomato Salad



4 C heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 ripe peaches, diced
1 (14-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR 1 vacuum-sealed package of steamed black-eyed peas*
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼ C red onion, diced
4-5 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
3 T apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss the tomato wedges, diced peaches, black-eyed peas, spinach and onion gently in a serving bowl.

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon pieces to a bowl and reserve the drippings for the dressing. Whisk in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over salad and toss again gently to coat. Sprinkle with bacon bits and serve.

Fiesta Bean Salad

fiesta salad

We’ll be whipping this up as part of our Fourth of July class at Brookside Botanic Garden in Wheaton MD (click on “events”, above).  It’s a great side dish for any outdoor meal.  Make it for a potluck or a picnic and marvel at the colors.  It’ll taste even better.

1 ½  C fresh corn kernels, stripped from 2 ears of cooked corn
1 ½ C fresh lima beans, cooked OR edamame/soybeans
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C red bell pepper, diced small
1 C Bermuda onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
Juice of 2 limes
¼ C olive oil
1 C cilantro, chopped fine
Sea salt to taste

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle with the spices, add the lime juice and olive oil. Toss well. Add the cilantro and salt to taste. Adjust for lime juice and olive oil if necessary. Chill at least an hour before serving, and up to 6 hours. Serves 8.

Greek Platter with Fresh Herbs


Imagine yourself on a Greek island – Naxos, let’s say – in a tiny white-washed house with Cerulean blue shutters that overlooks the Aegean Sea.  Below your terrace, orange, yellow and cyan fishing boats bob in the small harbor and every few hours, a ferry bellows in on a plume of funnel smoke.  The great boat bellies up to port and expels small cars and trucks and people by the score, scurrying like ants toward the village fortifications, before raising anchor and ponderously exiting westward.  It’s late May and the sun on your tiled veranda is warm and brilliant. In the kitchen, beads of condensation sparkle on the carafe of pink wine that awaits you.  It’s time to eat.  This is what you are going to prepare.tomatoes Read More