How, What and Why?

I love to cook...ever since I discovered I could make a (semi-decent) living cooking, I have had a constant and wonderful love affair with food. Food has kept me company through jobs, relationships and friends; in good times and bad I have cooked and fed the people around me.
After a while, those people started asking me questions like "how do you cook an artichoke?" "what's the best way to cook a turkey?" "where can I find (insert new culinary ingredient)? and even "how do we fillet this trout we just caught?" over the phone, no less.
Lucky for me, my friends love to cook and eat as well and the more they cook, the more they wanted to know about different dishes, ingredients, recipes and techniques. foodFAQs came about as my answer to all those questions and more.
Through this blog, I hope to share my experiences in the kitchen while learning new things along the way, always cooking and eating. So please explore, learn, cook, eat and enjoy!


Nothing like tomatoes in the summer...

Tomatoes are everywhere right now, all shapes and sizes, beautiful and juicy and one of the best savory fruits of the summer. The tomato plant is related to eggplants, peppers, tamarillos and tomatillos of the nightshade family originating in South America. These heirloom tomatoes are nothing like the pink supermarket variety that taste faintly of cardboard. Thanks to the careful seed saving farmers and gardeners, heirloom tomatoes are more widely available around the country. Enjoy them in all of their glory while they are fresh off the vine.

Some of my favorites are:
Cherokee Purple
Big Rainbow
Green Zebra
San Marzano
Black Cherry

Tomato Q&A
Q:  "How do you know when a tomato is ripe?"
A:  The tomato should feel heavy for it's size and the flesh should give slightly when gently squeezed.

Q:  "How do you slice a ripe tomato without crushing it?"
A:  I prefer to use a non carbon steel blade that is very sharp to cut through the skin. Another good option is a long serrated knife.

Q:  "Why do some recipes tell you to peel the tomato?"
A:  The skin of a tomato does not break down after cooking like the flesh does so if you are not pureeing the cooked tomatoes, there will be bits of skin floating around whatever the dish is. It's also a matter of personal preference, if you want to make a very refined dish, then I would say peel (make a cross hatch on the skin of tomato, drop the tomato in boiling water for about 30 seconds then shock in an ice bath; remove the tomato from the ice bath and peel away...) and seed (cut the tomato in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds or quarter the tomato and cut away the center and seeds) the tomato before using.

Simple Heirloom Tomato Salad
serves 6

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, assorted sizes, shapes and colors, washed
Maldon's sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 to 3 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
aged Sherry vinegar
small piece Pecorino Toscano, shaved

Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Cut the smaller tomatoes in wedges. For the larger tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half and slice into ¼ inch-thick slices and lay the tomatoes out in a single layer on a large platter.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and scatter the marjoram leaves and sliced shallots over the tomatoes.
Evenly drizzle the olive oil over the salad and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of Sherry vinegar on top.
Garnish with shaved Pecorino and serve with grilled country bread as a refreshing summer meal.

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