Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Appetizer For Al's Big Day. The Dehydrator Finally Pays Off

   I don't exactly remember where I first saw a dehydrator advertised. It was either on a  Late Night TV infomerical, the kind of show where they feature stuff "Not Sold In Stores", such as Pilates machines that hook onto the doorknob, and make-up made of special mineral dirt. Quick aside here, there is a store that sells this kind of stuff. It's called the As Seen On TV Store and I actually visited one once in Santa Barbara, California.

   So, I might have seen it there, or perhaps it was on Doomsday Preppers, you know, that show where people demonstrate how prepared they are for the Last Days. As everyone knows, if there's one rock solid accessory everyone needs for Armegeddon, it's a dehydrator. How else to preserve your neighbors flesh after you've killed him in hand-to-hand combat over a stray Guinea Pig both of you had your eye on.

   Ok, so say it's not that complicated. Dehydrators are perfect for preserving Summer's bounty for use later in the year. In my case that would be tomatoes. During tomato season here in Sonoma, the most delicious, succulent fruit are available for what seems like too short a period of time. A dehydrator solves that problem. A few hours in that little machine, sealing in a vacuum bag and wham bam, you're set for those long Winter months. If you want tomatoes in January, just bust them out, rehydrate them in water or olive oil and you are in business. It's that simple. In fact, there's a quick tutorial right here.

   It actually took me quite a while to take advantage of all the tomatoes I dried up last Summer, but this weekend I put them to good use when my dad had a birthday party. As I mentioned before, I was faced with a wide variety of stuff that his party guests could eat, or rather not eat, since all of them were octo or nona-genarions It was like a giant food obstacle course. My dad is a first generation Italian American and so were his guests. Settling on something they would all eat and were used to, there was only one choice, Italian food.
   I prepared an herb crusted Tuscan style Pork Loin...

Clay Pot No Stir Ploenta, with Porcini Marsala Mushroom sauce and fresh, spring asparagus pan-roasted and drizzled with olive oil. I baked some Artisan Bread and I started the whole thing off with a simple salad of mozzarella, basil and those dehydrated/rehydrated tomatoes.

Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Here's What You Need:

1 package of fresh mozzarella ovals
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes
a bunch of fresh basil leaves
ground pepper
extra virgin oilve oil

Here's What To Do:

Rehydrate the dehydrated tomatoes by placing them in a jar of olive oil.

Put the jar in the fridge for about 24 hours.
As you see, I'm using an old Mezzetta Peppers jar. I never throw small jars like this away. Paula Wolfert told me several years ago that keeping a stock of them really comes in handy for exactly these sorts of projects.
Take the tomatoes out of the jar and dice them up.

Take several basil leaves and slice them in thin strips. Set them aside.
Place a large basil leaf on a salad plate. Place two small ovals of mozzarella on each leaf.
Scatter a mixture of the shredded basil and diced sun dried tomatoes on each oval of mozzarella.
Give each plate a couple of grinds of pepper.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the cheese and basil on each plate.
Serve it up.
   Of course, when there's a birthday party there has to be cake. Chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse filling.

He blew his candle out.

And whoa..what's that? It lit up again. Trick candle. Alan put one on my cake last month.

So Al did what any badass ex fireman  would do.

So much for trick candles.

   Everybody had a great time. Stories about the old days were told, lots of laughs, good food and White Zin (wine lovers, don't even ask). We wanted to make his first birthday party without Fran a good one. He went home with left over cake and armfuls of presents,
   Coming up next, back to Indian food and I stuff (yes, stuff)  a cauliflower. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Everything is beautiful about this post. Most importantly, Al :)

  2. He IS a badass!!! Gorgeous cake and love the idea of using that for dried tomatoes!



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