Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks & Tomato, Basil and Fried Mozzarella Stacks

FRIDAY

Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks  |  Tomato, Basil and Fried Mozzarella Stacks with a Balsamic Reduction

Intro Collage

 

“We expect a lot of the tomato…The problem is the color.  Red is the color of richness, ripeness,and sensuality.  It is the color of the erotic.  Scarlet is for anger and ecstasy, the color of love and lust…Red signals a welcome and a warning.  It is synonymous with Christmas and war.  It is the color of blood.  It is the color that probably has the greatest effect on our emotions.  No wonder we expect so much of the tomato.” *

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“When a fruit is grown for flavor rather than its ability to travel without blemish, when it is given enough searing sun and not overfed and watered, it can add up to an intense experience.

“Those I pick from my vegetable plot, their faces distorted with furrows and folds, often taste richer than the ones I buy at the markets.  They respond to the wind and the brutal sun more favorably than those cosseted in the greenhouse.  When people say tomatoes taste better in Italy, Spain, or France it is often because they have been grown outside.  A tomato’s character is enhanced by a rough life, a certain negligence,a gasping thirst, and the occasional drenching downpour.  Pamper a tomato, overfeed it, overwater it, and you will get a Paris Hilton of a tomato.  The rougher time it has, the more ugly its appearance, the more interesting it generally is.” *

Tomato Collage

*  {These passages were written by Nigel Slater and are excerpted from his book, “Tender“, 2009, Ten Speed Press}

Nigel Slater’s words resonated with me as I tended to my tomatoes this morning, staking and tying those branches that are bending from the weight of the growing fruit…the earthy scent from their stems covering my hands.  Our plants are showing fruit in various stages of growth…some ripe and ready for the picking, while others are just beginning to blush in contrast to the pale and deep green “newest” members of the vine.  August always kicks off our love affair with the tomato and, if we are lucky, this peppery, juicy fruit will grace our dinner plates for many weeks to come.

Sliced and tossed with arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, roasted with garlic, topping a burger, cooked into preserves…so many ways to enjoy this simple, yet rich fruit.  Tonight, a slight twist on the Caprese salad accompanies steaks on the grill.

Begin with the freshest tomatoes you can get your hands on.  I sliced 2 large tomatoes from our garden which was plenty to make 5 stacks {one for each of us} as a side to our steak this evening…

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Some fresh basil, also from the garden…

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And fresh Buffalo mozzarella, sliced, dipped into beaten eggs, dredged in a mixture of flour, breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese…

Mozzarella Collage

After a short time in the frying pan, the golden-crusted cheese is layered in between tomato slices and basil leaves…

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A drizzle of balsamic reduction dresses this simple salad.

Tomato, Basil and Fried Mozzarella Stacks {adapted from Half-Baked Harvest}

  • 2-3 tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons {or more} olive oil
  • Balsamic Reduction {recipe follows}
  1. In a large bowl, combine panko, flour, parmesan, salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly to combine. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Take each slice of fresh mozzarella and coat it in the beaten egg, then dredge it through the bread crumb mix, pressing on both sides to adhere. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  2. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil {use more or less oil depending on the size of your skillet…you want a generous coating on the skillet surface} in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot {a few breadcrumbs tossed into the skillet will sizzle}, fry  the coated mozzarella slices, turning carefully once or twice, until golden and cheese starts to melt but still retains its shape, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.
  3. To assemble, place one tomato slice on a plate, top with 1 slice of fried mozzarella and then 1-2 basil leaves. Repeat the layer one more time. Garnish with freshly grated pepper. Drizzle on the Balsamic Reduction. Repeat with remaining tomato slices, mozzarella slices and basil leaves.  Yields 5 stacks.

Balsamic Reduction {adapted from Lidia’s Italy}

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  1. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over moderate heat. Stir in the honey and bring to a low boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and allow the vinegar to reduce slowly. After a half hour or so, when it has lost more than half of its original volume, the vinegar will start to appear syrupy, and you should watch it closely.
  2. To use as a glaze, cook the sauce to 1/3 of its original volume (when it will measure 2/3 cup). It should be the consistency of molasses, thick but still spreadable. Pour the syrup through a small strainer into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Brush on the glaze while warm.
  3. For use as a condiment and to drizzle over vegetables, reduce the vinegar even more, until it approaches one-quarter its original volume. Slow bubbles will rise from the syrup and it will take on the consistency of honey, leaving a thick coating on a spoon. Pour it through a small strainer into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Use a heatproof spatula or spoon to clean out the saucepan before it sticks to the pot for good! Drizzle on the syrup while it is still warm.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, in a sealed container. It will congeal but keep indefinitely. To use, spoon the hard sauce into a bowl or heatproof measuring cup and heat it slowly in a pan of hot water or at low level in the microwave. For a thinner consistency, stir in drops of hot water.

Michael, who spent this week traveling in  Finland, went to the butcher today to pick out our steaks.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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Seasoned only with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper…

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They were grilled over the high heat of a hardwood fire and cooked using the 4:4:2:2 method {4 minutes per side and then 2 minutes per side} to yield perfectly medium rare meat {internal temperature of 130°F}.

The finished dinner plate…

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Now, before I go, I must share with you the reason for my absence these past 2 days…

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While slicing potatoes for homemade potato chips to accompany our egg salad sandwiches earlier this week, I had an unfortunate run-in with my chef’s mandoline slicer…I managed to slice off a “potato chip” sized piece of my thumb.  Home alone, I managed to get myself to the ER and when I arrived I was so happy to find out that my friend,Vicki, was the attending physician on duty!  My thumb will make a full recovery in a few weeks but, for now, I believe store-bought potato chips might just be a healthier option for us.

 

K Initial

 

 

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