Tag Archives: tomatoes

Skirt Steak and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Now that summer has come to an end and fall is creeping in on us, I decided to post a dish that truly exhudes everything that is summer.  It is no secret that heirloom tomatoes are considered to be diamonds in the rough–they are the secret-society of produce.  Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, hence the name heirloom.  They also provide a tremendous, unique flavor and a jewel-on-the-plate effect.  When you pair this with seared skirt steak, thin strips of basil and chewy mozarella, you get perfection.

For the recipe to this amazing dish, watch me break down the process in my youtube video which can be found at the top of the blog.  As always, be creative in the kitchen, have fun and always cook from the heart.

Heirloom Tomato Jam~

To me, this is a most universal accompaniment and/or garnish–it ignites flavor within any dish. Moreover, what better way to scream SUMMER than a farm-fresh, in season “painting” such as this one.  I have always been one to find sheer beauty in the most rustic of things–this being one of them.

I start off by gathering my ingredients….

**Preheat the oven to 425F.

~1 pound of assorted, baby heirloom tomatoes (I slice the big ones and leave the small ones whole).
~1 diced red onion
~1 diced, roasted red pepper
~1 garlic clove, minced
~1 cup of balsamic vinegar
~3/4 cup brown sugar
~2 tbsp. herbs de provence
~a splash of water
~1tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil.
~salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all of these ingredients together thoroughly and pour them into a glass baking dish.  Put in the oven for roughly 45 minutes to an hour.  You will notice that the tomatoes that float to the top will begin to blister–that is the perfect time to stir the mixture and then let it continue to bake.  I usually stir the jam 3 to 4 times during its baking process.

After everything is bubbly and gooey (those are technical words, you know); remove from the oven and allow a resting time of 20 minutes or so.  Everything needs to cool and thicken.  Finally, use this jam as a garnish for anything you would like.  My favorite thing to smother this with is roasted asparagus…per the picture below.  I also find it to be most delightful with smoked gouda, grilled cheeses.  The varieties are endless, so be creative and enjoy~.

Caleb Fortney~

The Perfect Summer Salad

Being that this is my first post and blog of any sort, I feel it somewhat necessary to introduce myself.  My name is Caleb Fortney and I am a culinary-obsessed, 23 year old who resides in the idyllic area of Oak Park, Illinois.  I have worked in an array of restaurants, majority of them being French premised, and have come to find that this is my calling.  My credo to cooking has always been “If I can change one person’s mood with that of my cooking, I have accomplished my goal”.  Above is a picture of a summer salad I recently constructed for myself and a group of friends.  It consists of…..

~Heirloom Tomatoes
~Basil Pesto
~Balsamic Reduction
~Crispy Pancetta
~Caramelized Onions
~Toasted Black Walnuts
~Blue Cheese (I used Danish Blue)
~Micro Greens.

For starters, in the beginning stages of such construction, I find it highly important to leave whatever tomatoes you are working with out at room temperature.  To me, I find them to be most succulent when their juices aren’t cold.

For the basil pesto, call it superstition, but I always chiffonade the basil before putting it into the food processor–it has always kept me from having a brown basil pesto.  After that, toast some black walnuts and toss those in as well.  Throw in a few cloves of garlic, suitable to your taste, and blitz the processor.  Next, slowly stream in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil until you reach the consistency of a loose paste.  Finally, stir in some finely grated parmesan cheese and set aside.

For the balsamic reduction, I prefer simplicity over daunting–pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan along with 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to medium and let reduce for about 15-20 minutes.  Once done, let cool in order for it to thicken.

Crisp up the chunks of pancetta in a bit of olive oil in a saute pan.  In that same pan, once done with the pancetta, use the residual fat to caramelize your diced onions in.  Cook “low and slow” on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.  Once complete, you should have amber jewels looking back at you.

Lastly, slice the tomatoes to your preference and season them with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with your favorite, robust cheese and crumble the toasted walnuts over it as well.  Next, smear the basil pesto along the plate and spoon the crispy pancetta and caramelized onions over the tomatoes.  Top with some microgreens (or spring mix) and drizzle the treacle that is your balsamic reduction.  Be it a group of friends or table for one; this dish is sure to please.

Caleb Fortney~