Vegetables

By Gwen Ashley Walters | JUNE 09, 2010 | RESTAURANT JOURNAL

Bryan’s BBQ in Cave Creek is known for their pecan smoked meats, traditional but creative sides (olive-studded coleslaw) and a fine bottle selection of craft brews. In fact, I reviewed them for Phoenix Magazine last year.

I just tasted a new tomato sandwich chef/owner Bryan Dooley and his sous chef Rob Olson put on the menu for summer.

Holy smokes.

What’s BBQ-y about this sandwich? Nothing.

Well, maybe the fact that they smoke the sea salt sprinkled on the tomatoes in the pecan wood oven.

And the djion mustard sauce has a smidgen of molasses. And they’re serving it with the soft white bread that comes with all the barbecue plates.

Of course, they’re slathering said bread with butter and toasting it to perfection on the griddle.

The watercress garnish? Well, they are a couple of trained chefs.

There isn’t anything fancy about this sandwich, though.

It’s just one delicious bite of summer.

Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ
Tomato sandwich ($7.95, with 1 side)
6130 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek
(480) 575-7155

By Gwen Ashley Walters | AUGUST 18, 2009 | APPETIZERS

Heirloom-Tomatoes

Nothing says summer quite like a vine-ripened, juicy tomato.

Maybe that’s why Away to Garden’s Margaret Roach selected the tomato as the final theme in the four-week Summer Fest 2009.

illustration by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites.com

illustration by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites.com

Ms. Roach created Summer Fest 2009 as a way to “cross-pollinate” blogs. Along with her co-creators, she wrote weekly posts around themes, and invited the whole community to join in. She asked others to leave comments and/or links to other posts about the themes.

I did just that: week one: herbs, week two: fruits from trees, week three: greens & beans, and now, tomatoes.

I also left comments on the co-creators’ blogs and on the other great blogs I found by reading through the comments.

Before I jump into my final Summer Fest post let’s see what the co-creators and special guests of Summer Fest 2009 have dreamed up for you this week.

That’s a bountiful basket full of ideas to honor the Grand Dame of summer — the glorious tomato.

Since I did a rather involved recipe for last week’s greens & beans theme, I’ve whipped up something really simple for this week:

Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Napoleon

Napolean-Cut-Side

Although I couldn’t resist giving it a fancy name, it’s nothing more than a fancy tomato sandwich. I’m using heirloom tomatoes, because they taste better than hybrid versions, and they are everywhere right now from farmers markets to local grocery stores.

If you are interested in learning more about heirloom tomatoes, and perhaps even growing some, I recommend The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Tableby Amy Goldman, and Seed Savers, a non-profit organization that sells all kinds of heirloom seeds, including some beautiful tomato varieties.

(You can download a PDF of the Holiday Gift Book Round Up article I wrote for Edible Phoenix last year on several garden cookbooks, including The Heirloom Tomato book.)

The Napoleon is traditionally a stacked dessert of puff pastry, pastry cream and strawberries. Even though my version is more of a savory dish, I did work in a hint of sweetness as you’ll see a little later.

Tomatoes are, after all, technically a fruit. You could serve this Napoleon for brunch, but it could easily work at breakfast or dinner, too.

Tomato-Stack

Even though this is a vegetarian Napoleon, you could add crisped bacon or prosciutto slices, or even lump crab or cooked shrimp to make it more substantial.

The only “cooking” involved in this version is baking the puff pastry.

Puff-Pastry-Raw

A more ambitious cook than I might tackle making the puff pastry dough from scratch. Made-from-scratch puff pastry dough is far superior to store-bought dough, although that’s what I’ve used here because, like I said, I’m not feeling ambitious. In fact, I’m feeling kind of lazy this summer.

If you want to make fresh puff pastry dough, I highly recommend you visit Ashley Rodriguez’s lovely blog, Not Without Salt.

Here are her two posts on how to make puff pastry. The first post contains the recipe (which was written by a couple chefs I know, Sarah Labensky and Skip Hause. Their book, On Cooking, now in it’s 4th edition, is a professional text book, hence the expensive price tag.)

Ashley’s second post is a pictorial display of the puff pastry technique. With these two posts, you can become a puff pastry king or queen in no time. Well, maybe a little time.

Puff-Pastry

About the sweetness in this Napoleon I referred to earlier: I slathered a bit of Cotton Country Jams spiced tomato jam onto the puff pastry. Cotton Country Jams is a local Phoenix company, and they make the most incredible jams and pickled vegetables. I’m crazy about their candy-sweet pickled beets, too. (Phone number is (602) 268-3181.)

Ingredients

This Napoleon is really nothing more than puff pastry, tomatoes, herbed goat cheese and jam. That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

OK, you’re turn. Leave a comment and tell me about your favorite summer tomato recipe.

Napolean-Cut-front

Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Napoleon

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons cream (or half and half)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato jam (or apricot or other light colored jam)
1-1/2 pounds heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/3-inch thick

Method
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

2. Unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut along the fold lines into three strips. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut in half with a serrated knife, creating a top and bottom.

3. Stir the cream, herbs and pepper into the goat cheese.

4. Spread the goat cheese on the top and bottom of two of the puff pastries. (The third top and bottom will become the middle layer of the other two.)

5. Spread the middle layer with the jam (just 1 side of each, it doesn’t matter if you do the inside or the outside.)

6. Layer 1/4 of the sliced tomatoes on each of the two bottom halves with the goat cheese. Top each with the jam smeared layer. Layer with the remaining tomatoes and place the tops on. Cut into thirds, crosswise, to create six pieces and serve.

Napolean-Whole

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