Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers on a Vols-au Vent Venture!

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon . She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook "Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan".

Puff pastry (aka pâte feuilletée) is something most of us usually buy at the grocery store, but I guess being Daring Bakers we have to dare ourselves further! This wouldn't be the first time we would be making puff pastry. In June last year, we were challenged to work with laminated dough to bake a danish braid. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

I had skipped the August challenge so when 1st Sept came, I could not wait to find out what would be this month's challenge. When Steph posted that it would be vols-au vent, I was pretty excited! I had in fact planned to make some in the next week or two, so this was indeed perfect timing. And guess what, another challenge which my other half would love to be my "official tester"! I decided to make bite-size vols-au vent; both savoury and sweet. I toyed with several different ideas .... even to extend of mumbling to myself on the type of filings I would use. I'm not sure if my husband thought it was funny or down right irritating by the end of the weekend. Anyway I ended up with several types of filings. For the savoury, it included carmelized onion with tomato confit, a wild mushroom ragoo, an egg mayo salad, apple and walnut chutney and honey baked ham with creme fraiche. For the sweet version, I simply piped each vols-a vent with lemon pastry cream and topped the pastries with filings such as blueberry confit topped with fresh blueberries, freshly chopped figs and miniature marshmallows. Can you imagine that the preparation part took almost a day and the consumption part took about 30 minutes only. So much for that!

Vols-au Vent

Equipment Required:

- food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-cooling rack

Prep Times:

-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:

-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. Extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.


2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
Extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fig Streusel Tartlets with Pistachios

We don't often get fresh figs here in Singapore, so it was quite a nice surprise to come across some whilst doing my weekly grocery shopping. I must say that they are quite expensive though but I could not resist getting a pack of four fesh figs. I had seen a number of fig recipes floating recently in blogsphere and it's probably because it's fig season. These ones that I bought come from Turkey. Just the thought of this country brings back fond memories of my trip there many, many years ago. It was around September and was fig season as well as the local road side vendors were displaying wooden racks of fresh, sweet figs. My first taste of figs was actually there, standing along a dusty country road-side.

I had some mini tartlet shells sitting in the freezer as a result of trying out a Confit Cherry Tomato Tart . This was ideal to try out some fig tartlets.

Fig Streusel Tartlets with Pistachios

For the pate brisee

For the filling:

60g all purpose flour
60g light brown sugar
60g very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tbsp thinly sliced crystallized orange peel (you can use 1 tbsp orange zest as substitute)
2 tbsp roughly chopped pistachio
12 fresh figs, quartered
3 tbsp orange blossom honey (or any other type of honey will do)

Prepare the filling and assemble:

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. Add the butter and ginger and quickly mix with your fingertips until you get pea sized pieces. Layer 3/4 of the streusel at the bottom of each tart shell. Divide and arrange the quartered figs evenly on top and top with the remaining streusel. Drizzle with the honey and bake an additional 20 minutes or until the streusel is baked and the figs are slightly roasted.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

I recently discovered that my oven thermostat has gone totally out of whack! How did I find out about it? Well, I baked some cupcakes one week day evening after work and mid way through baking, the cupcakes looked a bit too brown at the edges to me. I thus lowered the oven temperature from 180C to 170C. By the time the cupcakes were done, every single one had cracked domes and the edges were slightly crisp. This got me really puzzled. I then decided to test the oven temperature by using an external oven thermometer (which I rarely use) and it showed that my oven was off by about 15C. By the end of the same week when I had to complete my Cake Slice challenge, I again resorted to using the external oven thermometer rather than rely on the oven's one. Lucky for me I did! My oven thermostat is now off by 50C.

Although it took me a while to get the oven to the right temperature, I finally did manage to get my three cake trays baked. I was a bit sceptical about how this cake would taste like as no butter or oil was used at all. Instead the binding agent was mayonnaise. Who would have thought that mayonnaise would have produced such an excellent fudge cake. I had a small slice to taste after the cake layers were put together. It was yummilicious and the sour cream chocolate icing is one frosting (though I didn't care too much for the white choclate mousse) that I will use over again in the future! It's that good! By the way, this cake will be the last cake from "Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes" book which our group, Cake Slice Bakers, will be baking. We will be baking from a totally new book next month, so stay tuned!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake
Makes an 9inch triple layer cake; serves 12 to 16
(Recipe from Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)

2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ tsp baking soda
1¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup milk
1¼ cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2¼ cups sugar

White chocolate mousse (below)
Sour cream chocolate icing (below)


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Line the base of each pan with parchment.

2) Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3) Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.

4) In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

5) Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.

White Chocolate Mousse

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 tbsp sugar

1) Melt the white chocolate with ¼ cup cream in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the white chocolate cream cool to room temperature. When it has cooled, beat the remaining ¾ cup cream until soft peaks form. In a clean bowl whip the egg white with the sugar until fairly stiff peaks form.

2) Fold the beaten egg white into the white chocolate cream, then fold in the whipped cream until blended. Be sure not to over mix.

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing

12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

1) Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barly simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

2) Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Use while still soft.

To Assemble:

1) Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half the white chocolate mousse, leaving a ¼ inch margin around the edge. Repeat with the second layer and the remaining mousse. Set the third layer on top and pour half the sour cream chocolate icing over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don’t worry if some of the cake shows through. This first frosting is to seal in the crumbs, and is known as a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

2) After this time cover the cake with the rest of the icing, smoothing it down the sides. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting around the cake.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Taking a Well Deserved Break!

I'm will be "off" from blogging next week as I'm taking a well deserved holiday to Hanoi, Vietnam. Will be back the next week-end and hope to update everyone on our trip. In the meantime hope you guys have a great week ahead!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Confit Cherry Tomato Tart with Carmelized Onion

My recent cook book purchase from was to have arrived in the third week of July but when early August came, there was still no sign of my package. I was already imagining that the package was lost in post and that would be the end of it. When I emailed Amazon about this, their customer service told me to wait another two weeks and if it hadn't arrived by then, they would do a refund for me. In the meantime, they were kind enough to waive the shipping cost altogether. I was pretty pleased about it and certainly appreciate their excellent customer service.

Anyway a week after that, my package finally arrived. I was very excited as one of the books I had ordered was by Michel Roux . This book covered the different types of pastry from classic puff, tart dough to pizza dough. Most of the recipes came with beautiful pictures, which is exactly how I like my cook books to be. I immediately got down to trying out his pate brisee recipe, slightly adapting the method of mixing the ingredients together. I also adapted the cherry tomato tart in the same book by including carmelized onions. All I can say is the tart dough is extremely, extremely flaky and delicious. You can even make the pate brisee beforehand - line your tart tray and pop the unbaked tart shell into your freezer, and for up to 2 months too. When ready to bake, immediately take it out from the freezer, dock the dough and blind bake the shell according to the recipe you are making. This pate brisee is great with both savoury and sweet tart filings.

Confit Cherry Tomato Tart with Carmelized Onion
Recipe Adapted from Michel Roux "Pastry"
Makes an 8" tart - serves 6

250g pate brisee
1 cup carmelized onion
500g confit cherry tomato
6 basil leaves

For the pate brisee:

250g all purpose flour
150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp fine salt
pinch of superfine sugar
1 medium egg
1 Tbsp cold milk


1) Sift flour into a bowl. Add salt and sugar.
2) Add in the butter.
3) Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles rough breadcrumbs.
4) In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg with the milk and drizzle it onto the flour mixture.
5) Using your hands, blend the mixture together and lighly knead to bring together. Try not to handle the dough too much.
6) Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk and chill for about 45 minutes to an hour.
8) To line your tart tray, I find it easier to roll the dough between two pieces of clingwrap plastic. Roll to about 3" wider than the base of your tray. Remove the top wrap.
9) Lift the dough using the clingwrap plastic and gently flip it into your tart tray. Press the dough onto the tray and trim off the excess.
10) Dock the base of the tart shell with a fork and then place it into the fridge for another hour.
11) Preheat oven to 190C. Bake the shell blind, for about 20 minutes. Then remove the parchment paper and bake for another 20 minutes until the tart is golden brown.

For the Confit Cherry Tomato:
Makes 700g

4 cups light olive oil
1 kg ripe cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, halved
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) Heat a pot over stove and then add the olive oil.
2) With the fire on low, add the cherry tomatoes, dried rosemary, bay leaf and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Make sure that you continue turning the tomatoes around so that they do not break apart. Season with salt and black pepper.
3) Scoop out from pot and place into a bowl to cool.

For the Carmelized Onions:

4 - 5 large white onions, sliced thinly
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) Heat a pot over stove and add 3 tablespoon of olive oil.
2) Add the sliced onions and cook over the medium to low fire.
3) Stir continuous so as the onions do not burn. Cook until onions have soften and turn a light brown colour (should take about 15 - 20 minutes)
4) Set aside to cool.

To Assemble Tart:

1) Spread about 3 - 4 tablespoon of creme fraiche on the bottom of the baked tart shell (can be omitted if you do not have any).
2) Spread a layer of carmelized onion
3) Finally place the cherry tomato on top of the onion.
4) Place the assembled tart into a pre-heated oven of 160C for about 5 minutes to warm up the tart.
5) Scatter the fresh basil leaves on top of tart and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Ever since I first saw my first tagine cook show, I have been fasinated by the preparation of this dish. Tagine is actually a moroccan stew which is cooked slowly over a stove. It usually consist of meat or poultry and is combined with fruit such as prunes, dates and apricots. It must have been the way everything was just added together and then slowly cooked in a special claypot which drew my interest . This claypot also originates from Morocco and is called a tagine. The traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts; a base unit which is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that rests inside the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. Thus the dish itself requires very little addition of water. When the cover is removed, the base of the tagine can be used for serving the dish it is cooked in.

This particular dish which I tried out did not require any fruit. However it does uses green olives and preserved lemons. I made the preserved lemons a couple of months ahead of actually cooking this dish. I have included below how to make your own preserved lemons. The first time I made a batch, I followed the same recipe and placed the jar in a cool place inside my cupboard. I'm not sure if it was humity or what, my lemons started to develop a scum layer and had fungus on it after about 4 days. I had to throw the entire batch away. The next time round, I left the jar in a cool cupboard for about 2 days only and thereafter I immediately placed the entire jar into the refrigerator. The jar of lemons was left in the fridge for slightly more than a month before I finally used it. The preserved lemons came out great.

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons
Recipe Adapted from "French Food at Home" by Laura Calder
Yield: 4


4 pieces chicken drumstick and 4 chicken thighs, skinned
Salt and pepper
2 x onions, peeled and grated or sliced
3 cloves garlic cloves, minced
Skin of 1 whole preserved lemon, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 pinches saffron
1 pinch tumeric
1 cup green olives with pits
A generous handful or two of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped


Put everything except the olives in a pot, add a couple of glasses of water, and cook until the chicken is done, 40 minutes to an hour, removing the lid is there is too much liquid so that some can evaporate. (The dish should be quite liquid, but it’s not a stew.) At the end of cooking, add the olives.

How to Make Preserved Lemons


8-10 lemons (or Meyer lemons if you can find them), scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar


1) Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.

2) One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwize, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.

3) Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.

4) Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

5) Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down ocassionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down ocassionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.

6) To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.

7) Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

You can add spices to the lemons for preserving - cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaf.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caprese Salad

If you had asked me about a year ago what was a caprese salad, I would have said "huh - what?" If you had asked me about 8 months ago what a caprese salad tasted like, I would have shrugged my shoulders and replied "don't know".

Well, I have now been enlighted and have actually tasted it, one time only though. It's actually a no brainer recipe and so easy to assemble but the taste is unbelievable .. sophistication at work - this is how I would put it. I decided to put together this salad to let my husband try it (he hasn't tasted it before either). Now I know why it cost and arm and a leg just to order this at restaurants. Mozzarella balls are so damn expensive! Add a good bottle of extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar, you'd be a pauper for a while. But what the heck, sacrifices must be made for a good meal.

Caprese Salad
Serves 4


1 medium size fresh ripe tomato (sliced)
1 ball fresh mozzarella (sliced)
1 handful fresh basil leaves

For Seasoning:

Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste


1) Slice the tomato and mozzarella

2) Assemble the salad by layering one piece of tomato followed by mozzarella. Top with a basil leaf.

3) Sprinkle with salt and black pepper

4) Drizzle salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

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