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What's Cooking? - Posted July 26, 2013 9:04 a.m.
photos by Shannon Richardson

Summer Tomatoes

Tomato season is at its peak, and this plump and juicy fruit straight off the vine just can’t be beat. Tossed in a salad or pureed for a soup, you’ll soon understand why the French called them the apples of love. Pay homage to this versatile, nutritious food by making it the center of your summer menu.

recipes created by Tanner Exposito, Roosters Restaurant & Catering

Oven Roasted Vine-ripened Tomato Salad
Sweet Pea Puree, Lemon-marinated Artichokes, Double-breaded Mozzarella, Citrus Vinaigrette

4 vine-ripe tomatoes
2 cups frozen sweet peas
1 fresh artichoke
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 cups oil
1 cup water
1 cup flour
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic
3 green onions
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes with stems from vine. Score bottom of each with an X. Drop into boiling water for about 1 minute until skin starts to peel. Take out of water and put into an ice bath. Peel all skin from tomatoes and rub with salt and oil. Place on baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours. To make pea puree, add peas, cold water and salt to a blender and process until smooth. Using a steamer, steam artichoke until leaves pull off easily, about 7 to 10 minutes. Discard all leaves and use a knife to cut away the hairy choke. Once you’re left with just the heart, cut into thin slices and marinate in lemon juice for 2 hours. For the citrus vinaigrette, process green onions, citrus juices, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, and sugar, and emulsify the oil. To make the mozzarella, cut cheese into desired size; dredge in flour then into the egg mixed with water, then into bread crumbs. Repeat once more; fry in 350-degree oil. Fill roasted tomatoes with marinated artichokes. Serve with breaded mozzarella, sweet pea puree and citrus vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings

Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab
8 roma tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 jalapeno
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon cumin

De-seed all tomatoes then put into blender with all other ingredients; blend until smooth. Hold in refrigerator until ready to serve; blend once more before presentation.

4 ounces lump crab
2 tablespoons fresh, shaved Parmesan
¼ cup diced cucumber
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 cup crisp wontons
1 tablespoon lime juice
Cilantro for garnish

Mix crab, Parmesan, cucumber, onion and lime juice and season with salt; mold in center of bowl. Pour the soup around crab tower. Finish with crisp wontons and cilantro.

Makes 4 servings

Layered Fresh Tomato Napoleon
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
16 yellow grape tomatoes
1 eggplant, sliced and grilled
24 basil leaves
8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
¼ cup kalamata olive puree
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Inside a large ring mold, layer all ingredients beginning with eggplant. Bake in 350-degree oven until cheese starts to melt and tomatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove Napoleons from oven and garnish with olive puree and balsamic reduction.

Makes 4 servings

Meet the Cook
Roosters Restaurant & Catering

Chef Tanner Exposito

An Amarillo native, Chef Tanner immersed himself in other cultures’ cuisines, traveling all over the world and adapting different cooking styles before returning to his hometown and buying Roosters Restaurant & Catering two and a half years ago with his wife, Karolina. He earned an Associate’s degree in Culinary Art at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R. I., and completed his Bachelor’s in Food Service Management in Denver.

The inspiration behind Chef Tanner’s dishes is simplicity. For a tomato-based dish, he may use several ingredients, but he will keep the sauce fairly basic so the taste of the tomatoes doesn’t fade.

“Once you start making a recipe and it takes you three hours to make that recipe, then you lose what’s so precious about the recipe to begin with,” says the chef, who worked at the Driskill Hotel in Austin and as executive chef at Seven Glaciers in Alaska. “If you’re making a tomato salad and there are 1,500 ingredients in the salad, the tomato gets lost in it.”

Chef Tanner’s goal with this month’s “What’s Cooking?” recipes was to make them “user-friendly” for cooks of all levels. The ingredients he incorporates should be found in any refrigerator or local grocery store, he says.

“It scares people away from cooking when you make it seem difficult, and food is easy if you let if be easy,” he explains.

-- the AM Team

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