Summer Cherry Tomatoes – Two Scrumptious Appetizers

Cooking, Melissa's, Produce, Recipes By Jun 17, 2020
My “quarantine garden” is producing hundreds of cherry tomatoes. Some are ripe, but the harvest that follows will yield a bumper crop.

Here are two of my favorite easy appetizers that I like to make that utilize cherry tomatoes:

There isn’t anything complicated about the three layer tray-passed appetizers that Yvon Goetz served (back in the day before Covid at a reception at The Winery Restaurant in Newport Beach). 

I remember that guests gobbled them down and seriously jockeyed to get more. Goetz, executive chef-partner at the restaurant, teamed three elements that were in perfect harmony; sweet, herbal flavors balanced with tangy, plus a buttery crunch. On top – peeled super-sweet cherry tomatoes (I suspected they were Sweet 100’s) that were slowly roasted in a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and herbs, and then brought to room temp.

Humboldt Fog is delicious, creamy and floral, but if you can’t find it, substitute Cambozola (or Brie in a pinch).

In the middle, thin slices of tangy Humboldt Fog cheese; that’s the alluring artisanal goat milk cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre that has the stripe of edible ash in the center; it’s floral and creamy with a mild citrusy finish. On the bottom, rounds of buttery rosemary-spiked ciabatta bread, toasted and cooled.

Delicious. (recipe follows)

It’s funny the things you miss during a lockdown. Of course, I miss gathering with family and friends, but I also miss going to HomeGoods – where I find treasures such as this spiral olive plate – I think it was six bucks.

A no brainer. Toss sweet ripe cherry tomatoes with Castelvetrano olives and lightly coat with extra-virgin olive oil that is mixed with minced fresh basil. Sprinkle with a smidgen of coarse salt. Voila!

Castelvetrano Olives

This is the brand I buy at Albertson’s. But if you can find them in troughs rather than jars, such as those at Whole Foods or Bristol Farms, they are even better. I prefer them with the pits. I think the sweetest part of an olive is next to the stone.

Yvon’s Confit Cherry Tomato and Humboldt Fog Canapes
Yield: 12 hors d’oeuvres
Rosemary ciabatta bread, cut into 3/8-inch thick slices
Melted butter, about 1/4 cup
12 sweet cherry tomatoes
Coarse salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces Humboldt Fog cheese, cut into thin slices, see cook’s notes
Garnish: fleur de sel (fancy finishing salt) and chopped fresh basil

Cook’s notes: If you can’t find rosemary ciabatta bread, you can substitute a rustic white bread with or without rosemary. Humboldt Fog cheese is sold at cheese shops and supermarkets with large cheese sections, such as Whole Foods Markets. Cambozola can be substituted. Or in a pinch, Brie.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a 2-inch circle cutter, cut out 12 rounds of ciabatta. Lightly brush both sides of bread with butter and place on baking sheet. Place in preheated oven and toast until lightly browned, turning as needed. Set aside and reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil on high heat. Use a paring knife to make a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Place a bowl of ice water next to stove. Add tomatoes to boiling water and submerge for 3 to 4 seconds. Scoop up with slotted spoon and transfer to ice water. When cool enough to handle, slip off skin being cautious no to cut into flesh.

3. In a medium-large bowl, combine oil, thyme, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and sugar; stir to combine. Add tomatoes and gently toss. Place in a 9-inch baking dish; cover with aluminum foil and bake 60 to 90 minutes (check them after 35 minutes), or until tomatoes are slightly shriveled and soft to the touch without falling apart. Cool. (Tomatoes can be prepared ahead and refrigerated airtight up to 3 days.).

4. Evenly spread the thin slices of Humboldt fog on top of each toasted ciabatta. Remove the tomatoes from the excess oil and place atop cheese. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel and chopped basil. Serve.

Source: Yvon Goetz, The Winery Restaurant, Newport Beach, Tustin and La Jolla

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