Office Eats (2): Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites

Photo by Justin Janowitz

Photo by Justin Janowitz

When Producer Hayley asked me to whip together a simple appetizer that was super yummy and looked impressive for episode 2 of Office Eats on #COIN, I knew just the thing: my Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites. My mom started making ones similar to these for dinner parties long, long ago, and I quickly adopted and adapted them for girls’ night with my friends. They are the epitome of finger foods, and are perfect with a nice glass of wine.

After we shot this episode, Justin Janowitz, our super-talented director of photography (dp), caught me doing a little snappy snap of the camera for my beloved blog. Of course, I knew I wasn’t going to let this fast, fun, and delicious recipe go without featuring it here.

Photography

Justin Janowitz’s handiwork, capturing my funny stance during the photo session.

Although I was a little self-conscious of my novice photography skills amongst the company of professionals, I used the opportunity to ask Justin and the rest of the team some questions about shooting and lighting food. After all, it isn’t every day that I have a full production crew in my kitchen!

CameraShot

This is the photo I took during the shot above.

They were quite generous with their advice, and I was able to get some nice shots that I was proud of. I learned a little about styling, lighting, and even a thing or two about my own camera.

HerbedGoatCheeseStuffedTomatoes

Another shot after my impromptu lesson.

And while my photography skills are still novice-level, I’m always happy to learn new tricks of the trade.

Click here to check out the second episode of Office Eats.

Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Perfect bite-sized dish for a last-minute party with friends.
Ingredients
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh Italian parsley
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. chopped pistachios (optional)
Instructions
  1. Chop the parsley, basil, and oregano, and place in a small bowl. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, and freshly ground pepper, and stir to combine. Put the cheese/herb mixture in a small ziptop plastic bag, and set aside.
  2. Cut off the tops of the cherry tomatoes, and hallow out the main part (careful not to puncture the skin).
  3. Cut the tip off the plastic bag with the cheese mixture, and pipe the filling into the hallowed tomatoes,
  4. Roll the cheese-exposed part of the tomato in the pistachios, add the top of the tomato back on, and place on platter.
  5. Serve or refrigerate for later.

 

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Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Grilled Crostini

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Grilled Crostini

I’m often asked how I got started teaching cooking classes, especially when my career is in a completely different field. Usually, I just tell people that I am very passionate about food and cooking, and I like sharing that passion with other people, but that is really the short answer. The real story is a bit more detailed than that.

It all started at a casual dinner where many of our closest family friends got together to share a meal. My lifelong friend had developed a bit of a reputation for her fear and distaste of the kitchen, and as was routine, was the butt of some jabbing jokes about the type of wife she would be, since she recently got married. These jabs and teasing were always done in good fun, but I sensed that they had begun to sting a little. So, I took my friend aside, and in secret, we scheduled a date for her to come over to my house for a fun cooking lesson. Soon, we were meeting monthly.

My goal for each lesson was to teach her an appetizer, soup or salad, main dish and dessert, so that if she were called to make any of those dishes for a potluck of sorts, she would have something she could fall back on. I kept all the recipes in a binder, with the hopes that at the end of the day, she would have her own “cookbook”  with recipes she felt confident making on her own. As her confidence grew in the kitchen, she started sharing our secret with our other friends, and little by little, everyone wanted in. What started as one-on-one lessons quickly grew to couples’ date nights and children’s classes, as well.

The two young chefs.

The two young chefs.

A few months after we initially started meeting, my friend arrived to a family party with an appetizer in tow. She had tried her hand at the very first dish we made together: Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Grilled Crostini. She shared with me that her husband served as her sous chef, and together, they prepared this dish. I have to say that I was absolutely beaming with pride as the party guests tasted and enjoyed every bite of her appetizer until there was none left to speak of. What’s more, now that my friend is the mother of two beautiful munchkins, her confidence in the kitchen has grown in such a way that she happily makes her own baby food for the kids.

Yes, I have a passion for food and for cooking. And yes, I really do love sharing that passion with others. But watching my friends and loved ones succeed at something they were once afraid to try is precisely what fuels me from class to class.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Grilled Crostini
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Kosher salt activates the natural juices in the tomatoes, and makes this appetizer a simple and delicious crowd-pleaser.
Ingredients
Bruschetta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 7-8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 three-finger pinch of kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • shaved parmesan cheese
Crostini
  • 8 diagonally sliced pieces of French baguette
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
Instructions
Bruschetta
  1. In a bowl, add the diced roma tomatoes. Stack the basil leaves, roll them into a cigar, and run your knife, making thin slices. Add the sliced basil to the tomatoes. Finely mince the garlic (I use a microplane zester for this). Add olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Gently stir and combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Serve over grilled crostini and top with parmesan cheese.
Crostini
  1. Brush olive oil over the bread pieces, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on grill over medium to high heat, and cook until grill marks appear.
  2. Top with bruschetta, and serve.
Notes
Make sure you use good quality parmesan cheese, and not the powdery stuff that comes from the green can. It really makes all the difference.

 

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