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Chef On A Shoestring

Rick Moonen
July 10, 1999

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
1 pound ripe local tomatoes, seeded and diced
16 basil leaves, sliced thinly
whole basil leaves for garnish
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup red vermouth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf Italian bread

Combine tomatoes, basil, onion, vermouth, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and the garlic in a medium size glass bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least two hours to allow flavors to marry.

Cut the bread on the bias into ½ inch thick slices and toast it. Rub the slices with cut garlic and brush with remaining oil. Remove the tomato mixture from the fridge and drain off the excess liquid. Top the toasted bread slices with the tomato mixture and garnish with whole basil leaves.

Orecchiette with Cockles and Sweet Grape Tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 cup clam juice or water
1/8 teaspoon dry chili flakes
1 1/2 pounds cockles
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chiffonade
1 pound Orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente and kept warm

Over medium heat in a large pot, cook the red onion and garlic in the olive oil for three minutes. Let the vegetables soften without turning brown. Add the oregano and chili flake and stir. Add the cockles and the clam juice or water and cover. When the clams pop open, about 4 to 5 minutes, toss in the pasta, the tomatoes and the parsley. Serve immediately.

Nectarine and Rhubarb Soup
1 cup sugar
8 nectarines
4 - 6 stalks of rhubarb
1 orange
mint leaves for garnish
1 lemon, juiced

Wash and cut in half all but one of the nectarines. In a sauce pot large enough to hold the sliced fruit, mix 3/4 cup of the sugar with enough water so it looks like wet sand. Heat the water and sugar until it reaches soft ball stage. Be careful not to allow the sugar to color, and add nectarines. Reduce the heat to low, cover pot and stew the fruit until it is very soft.

When the fruit has softened. Add water so it reaches twice the height of the softened fruit. Return flame to high and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and puree the fruit in a food processor and strain the mixture into a glass bowl. Place the bowl in an ice bath and allow the puree to cool.

Peel the rhubarb like you would a carrot. Reserve the peels and dice the fruit into slices on a bias. In a small sauce pot add the remaining sugar and enough water until it looks like wet sand. Heat the sugar and water to the soft ball stage, again, be areful not to allow the sugar to color. Add the rhubarb peels to the sugar and heat until the color from the rhubarb saturates the sugar and the peels are very soft about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard the peels. Return the liquid to the sauce pot and cook until it reaches the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle with a narrow nozzle and reserve.

Juice the orange and heat the juice in a sauce pan. Add the sliced rhubarb into the juice and heat over low flame until the liquid almost boils. Do not let the juice come to a boil. Cook the rhubarb for a just a few minute so it softens slightly. Drain the rhubarb.

To finish, sprinkle the poached rhubarb on top of the nectarine soup. Gently squeeze the rhubarb syrup across the top of the soup making a pretty swirl. Cut the remaining nectarine into slices and lay a few slices in the center of each bowl of soup. Finally, garnish with a few mint sprigs.

Cost Breakdown
Plum Tomatoes
Italian Bread
Red Onion

Grape Tomatoes
Italian Parsley