Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yummly - Feature Food Blog wrap up

Howdy y'all check out this feature that was done about me yesterday on 

 Featured Food Blog: The Tomato Snob

By On · In Food Blog of the Day
Name: Jaime Verk Pérez
Name of blog:
 The Tomato Snob
Describe your culinary style.
My culinary style is laid back honest food with a hint of gourmet. I hate the fussy French traditions and prefer take a simple fresh approach to maintain the quality of seasonal ingredients.
What is the main source of inspiration for your recipes?
I draw inspiration from a global flavors and put my own local twist on classic cultural dishes. For example right now I’m working on a recipe for Jamaican Pepperpot Soup using Ontario okra that’s in season right now. I love allowing one ingredient to inspire the culinary journey – you never know where it’s going to take you.
If you could have one food while stranded on a desert island, what would it be? 
It would be any sort of Asian noodle soup. Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese I’ll take any of them as long as I have hot sauce & fresh herbs.

For someone new to your blog, which recipes do you recommend they try first?
What is your ultimate guilty food pleasure? 
My ultimate guilty food pleasure is going to a nice restaurant with a bunch of open minded food loving friends and ordering a very large selection of the menu. I want to taste everything!
Define Yummly.
To me yummly represents the love and ease of finding delicious recipes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jamaican Pepperpot Soup

Good hump day friends. Today I'm excited to let you all know about a delicious comfort dish you may not be familiar with called Pepperpot Soup. Pepperpot soup is a classic Caribbean dish where okra is the star. I know what your thinking okra that weird slimy vegetable I've avoided my whole life. Yes! For some reason this flavorful soup is one of the most perfect ways to enjoy okra which is packed full of flavonoid anti-oxidant vitamins. The slimy factor does take some getting used to but in all honesty this probably the best way to introduce okra into your diet. 

Some of you may or may not know this about me but my grandfather on my mothers side is Jamaican so I pretty much grew up on this brothy stew. My grandmother used to make it all the time on Friday nights as part of our shabbat dinner. For those of you that know me you're probably scratching your head at this point, yes we are Jewish & Jamaican and it's not as uncommon as you might think. During the Spanish inquisition many Jews fled persecution in Spain & Portugal and sought safety in the Carribean - there you have it folks, white Jamaican Jews. Now back to the recipe at hand. A few weeks ago over lunch I asked my grandmother how she made her pepper pot soup. I took notes on my blackberry and then took off to the grocery store. Obviously I put my own twist on the recipe and including local green chilies instead of scotch bonnets & I also added some spices which grandma probably would have shook her head at. I made the cheffy decision to sear off the beef rather then the old school Polish method of cooking  which is just boiling the shit out of everything. Grandma couldn't wrap her head around the thought of it, but lucky enough my soup turned out amazing! Confirmed by my mother who can't wait for the next batch.

PREP: Generously season the beef with sweet smoked paprika, all spice a hint of clove salt & pepper and chop all of the veg into bite size pieces, mince the chillies seeds and all.

COOK:  In a drizzle of olive oil sear off beef on both sides, then remove from the pot & chop into large chunks. Saute garlic, green onion & chilies in the same pot until tender (2 mins) then add in okra and continue to cook for another 10 mins. Remove veg from the pot and put off to the side. Add meat back into the pot with 2 quarts of water & bay leaf and simmer for 2 hours, skimming off the excess grease and impurities. Add the okra, onion mixture to the pot as well as the chayote squash. Cook for another 45 mins or so checking your seasoning (salt & pepper to taste). Finally add the spinach or greens (callallo, collards, kale, chard etc...) and cook for another 15 mins. When your your beef is fall apart tender it's ready to go. 

NOTES: This recipe makes about 6 servings of stew. If you don't like fatty meat like short rib you can use stewing beef. Be sure to use beef, chicken or turkey stock instead of water so you don't loose out on flavor. You can also simmer the soup with smoked turkey or ham bones for a rich flavorful stock. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Le Dîner en Blanc Toronto 2012

 Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending Toronto's inaugural Diner en Blanc. For those of you who haven't been privy to all the hoopla, Diner en Blanc can be defined as a smart mob or flash feast - kind of like a flash mob but instead of a group of people breaking out into a dance routine, a bunch of strangers dressed all in white congregate at a secret location and set up an elegant dinner time picnic. I found out about the event which began in Paris in the late 80's the way all cool kids find out about posh by invitation only events... on a blog of course. I signed up to be on a wait list and about a month ago I received the news that I had been invited with a guest. Yay me! The rules to this underground dining ring were lengthy. You couldn't just show up with a gingham table cloth and some sandwiches and call it a picnic. No no I had to scour the city for suitable white folding chairs, the perfect square table no smaller than 24", no larger then 32", a picnic basket (preferably white, or if non white must be covered in a white cloth), a white table cloth, white linen napkins, China, silverware, glassware, must bring a three course dinner, must wear an elegant white not cream or ivory outfit and some joie de vivre. Subsequently, we also needed white or clear poncho or umbrella given that it turned out to be the rainiest day this summer. I was seriously considering backing out the day of when my friend Rebecca reminded me "if you don't come you will never be invited back!" Her words echoed in my mind as we walked out of our taxi in the rain to the meeting spot in front of the ROM. I felt utterly ridiculous until I saw the sea of white clad trend setters invade the streets of Toronto. As we approached Bathurst and King the buzzing had exploded around us, the word was out and the historic Fort York was our destination for the evening.

It was quite a sight to see, rows and rows of buses and people dressed only in white completely drenched schlepping all the listed items through the muddy grass to the open field. I had to laugh all through the first 30 minutes of setting up. It was hilarious watching women in high heels set up their "elegant dinner" in the rain. It poured all though our first course, all over my Caesar kale slaw and shared cheese tray, right though my white table cloth & linen napkins but the rain did not stop anyone from having a fabulous time. Just as we were warming up to the table of friends next to us enjoying their margarita pizzas and beef carpaccio from Pizzeria Libretto the rain stopped and the sky cleared. All of a sudden I felt the magic all around us, 1,400 strangers all dressed in white surround us enjoying each others company, sharing in the strange and whimsy of it all. l.

I went on to thoroughly enjoy my main course of olive oil poached cod with arugula & mint pesto, raw puttanesca gluten free pasta and roasted cauliflower. There was a lot of charcuterie and cheese trays around, many people opted to pick up dinner from local hot spots like Whole Foods or the picnic basket at County General. There was also the option to purchase a catered meal provided by chef Ted Corrado but being the Tomato Snob I am that just wouldn't do. The night before I stayed up late to make a vegan gluten free peach berry tart with an almond and lavender crust. Yes I was trying to make everyone around me jealous and that I did.

The entertainment throughout the evening was perfection. Starting off was a sexy jazz band, followed by violinists and an appearance by Against the Grain Opera Company. After dessert we took a stroll to spy on the other diners and ran into our table mates Ben & Sie looking to score an extra bottle of champagne, which they were so kind to share with us. Yes there were even rules on how much wine & bubbly you could consume (two bottles per table) which I guess is a good idea so that party goers don't get completely sauced, not that I could imagine this crowd getting too rowdy dressed in their Sunday best. The climax of the night came at around 9:30 when table leaders passed out sparklers. Everyone congregated by the stage and we danced to top 40 house tunes provided by DJ Vinny Gruvhunter. It was kind of like New Years with out counting down from ten, popping bottles or having to kiss any stinky garlic breathed party goers (yes I'm speaking of myself).

As you can see everyone was totally committed to the theme of the evening white everything although there were a number of people wearing the forbidden ivory & creme.  I thought they were going to be persecuted for such an abomination, but in good spirits the party gods let them be. If you do get the chance to attend this sensational event don't pass up the invitation, It's definitely a night to be experienced by all. 

Photo credits 1-12 by Jaime Verk - Perez, #13 by Rebecca Goodman.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gastropost: Coconut pulled chicken tacos

You all know I love Mexican food. Here's a delicious spread that will wow your guests at your next fiesta. You will need a whole chicken (2 breasts & 2 thighs), patience and about 3 hours to divide & conquer. 

1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut juice
pinch salt & black pepper
2 dry roasted serrano chilies
4 dry roasted garlic cloves
2 dry roasted onions
6 dry roasted green onions (whites)
handful of cilantro 
1 lime - zest
1/2 lime juice

Step 1 - In a hot cast iron pan dry roast onions, garlic (with the skin on), cinnamon, & chillies. * Discard garlic skin & tops of chilies before adding everything to a blender or a tall liter container & blend until smooth.

1 1/2 tbs oregano
1 1/2 tbs toasted cinnamon
1 1/2 tbs coriander
1 1/2 toasted cumin seed
1/2 tbs salt
1/2 tbs black pepper
pinch red chili flake

Step 2- - Generously dust chicken on both sides with dry rub. In a hot cast iron pan sear chicken on both sides. Then add the "wet" and cover with tin foil. Bake at 250 for 2 hours or until chicken easily pulls away from the skin. 
Step 3 - Place chicken off to the side to be pulled removing the bones & reduce the stock (simmer on the stove) by half - about 30 mins.  

1 cup  Harina P.A.N. flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
pinch of dry rub
pinch of salt

Step 4 - slowly combine water to four and spice mixture. Form dough into small round balls. Line your tortilla press with parchment or wax paper so that the tortillas do not stick. You can also use the back of a pan on a sturdy surface to flatten the tortillas. In a hot cast iron pan dry roast the tortillas on each side until slightly golden.

1 cob of fresh sweet corn - kernels
1 chayote squash - chopped
multi colour cherry tomatoes - chopped
1 garlic clove - minced
1 avocado - cubed
1/2 lime - juice 
tbs avocado oil - or olive oil 
pinch of tajin spice
mint - finely chopped 
pinch salt & pepper

1/2 jicama - julienned 
1/4 red cabbage - julienned 
1/2 lime juiced 
1 green onion - finely sliced
1 tbs olive oil 
pinch red chili flakes 
pinch salt & pepper 

Step 5 & 6 - chop everything & enjoy

Additional toppings: Danielle coconut chips, Cholula

Saturday, August 4, 2012