The Feathered Nest

The softer side of MaisonBisson

The Adventures of Bloody Mary July 12, 2014

TowerGirl @ 11:05 am
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I just picked up this season’s first case of Dirty Girl Produce’s amazing, dry farmed early girl tomatoes. I’ve mentioned them here before and to say I am obsessed is an understatement.

In those sad months between late November and July, as my stash of tomato-bacon jam, soup, and slow roasted tomatoes dwindled and then disappeared, I was left with nothing but tomato day dreams and plans for what to do with next year’s bounty. This is when I hit upon my current tomato plan: from scratch bloody mary mix. Here at Maison Bisson we are big fans of bloody mary’s; we call them “breakfast salads” and believe they are an excellent way to bring vegetables (and vodka) into the pre-noon hours.

I have found my mission. I must create the ultimate bloody mary mix. This will take time, tinkering, tenacity, and, of course, taste-testing. I believe I am equal to the task.

I just poured the first batch out of the blender and into cups of ice and vodka. They’ve been shaken and my lips are poised upon the straw.

This first batch is made of 6 early girl tomatoes, a clove of garlic, smoked-chili sea salt, parsley, green onion, a dash of Worchestire sauce, many dashes of Frank’s Hot Sauce, the juice of one lime, and a zealous grind of black pepper. I stuck this all my blender and then let her rip. The first sip is super tomato-y, which I like, but it needs more bite. I must procure horseradish immediately. I also want to replace the lime with lemon. I also think a dash or two of red-wine vinegar is in order. It also needs more garlic. Perfection eludes me. Oh geeze, I guess I’ll have to keep playing. Poor me.


Tomato Bliss August 28, 2011

early girl tomatoes

My mother and I have always shared a passion for August tomatoes. Those fresh-off-the-vine orbs of succulent red yumminess. A farm fresh tomato, at it’s peak of ripeness, simply tastes like summer.

Now that I’ve moved San Francisco I am haunted by guilt. I have discovered tomato nirvana and my mother is not here to share them with me. Of course, I am not allowing this guilt to stop me from indulging in tomato gluttony. Yesterday I made my pilgrimage to the farmers’ market and picked up seven pounds of gorgeous Early Girly tomatoes.

When I returned from the market yesterday I de-stemmed and halved my tomatoes. I covered large baking trays with parchment and covered them with tomato halves. Then I brushed on a little olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. They went into a 200 degree oven for about 7 hours. I read about this method in Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and have been obsessively roasting tomatoes ever since.

oven-roasted tomatoes

This morning it was time to take those roasted tomatoes and make soup.

Sandee’s Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 1 large sweet vidalia onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 pounds Early Girl tomatoes, slow-roasted
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 box organic vegetable broth
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar


Melt butter and warm olive oil together in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and let caramelize slowly. I kept mine on the stove for an hour. Then add garlic and raise heat slightly to soften garlic.

Add roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth, and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add red wine vinegar and adjust salt.

Let simmer for an hour and then remove from heat. Puree in batches. Adjust seasoning and serve.

I firmly believe that grilled cheese sandwiches must be served with tomato soup. At the market we also grabbed some delicious Toma from Point Reyes Cheese Company. We’ll be grilling that on sourdough bread for lunch. Sorry, Mom!


Savory Bacon-Topped Pie To Celebrate International Bacon Day September 5, 2009

TowerGirl @ 8:06 pm
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flaky crust

When my husband asks, “Did you know that Saturday is International Bacon Day?” what he is really doing is giving me a challenge. I have a hard time turning away from a challenge. I am a sucker. I awoke about six this morning and I stared at the ceiling thinking bacon-y thoughts. Breakfast was out. Sure, what could be more satisfying than a nice stack of buttermilk pancakes drowning in good ol’ NH maple syrup and a side of bacon? But really, I needed a new angle. I pondered new twists on the BLT, I considered bacon wrapped lobster chunks, and I recalled a post I’d seen on chocolate dipped bacon. I believe all these to have wonderful yumminess potential, but I didn’t want to do something I’d seen before.

I love savory pies. I have featured my salmon pie here before and we haven’t had it in a while. I usually do a lattice top crust on it. What if, instead of pie dough, the top “crust” was a lattice constructed of God’s gift to cardiac surgeons? I mentioned the idea to the hubby. A lustful glint filled his eyes. I had my plan.

I have finally become competent at making pie dough from scratch. I just use the “flaky crust” recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I started work on my traditional salmon pie recipe while the hubs pitched in and lightly browned the bacon on the stove. On top of it all I wove the bacon and put a light egg wash over the whole thing.  Finally, I popped it in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes.

It smells amazing. I am serving it with corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes from the local farm stand. I am adding International Bacon Day to my permanent holiday schedule.


Cinematic Inspiration August 12, 2009

TowerGirl @ 5:54 pm
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Going home
I read the book Julie & Julia, and I loved it. I loved the connection between food and self. I loved that it showed the hard work that goes into marriage. I like that it showed that the hard work is worth it.  I have a passionate relationship with books I love. I become fiercely protective of them. So, when Hollywood decides to meddle with one of my books I am wary.

Today I went to see the movie. I will now confess that I enjoyed the movie too. It was more really good mac n’ cheese than coq au vin. It was comfort food. It was satisfying. It combined the things I love: food, writing, commitment, and the celebration of imperfection. It served them up with a big ol’ side of hope.

I left the theater and went the grocery store. Right now, the house is filled with the smell of garlic and roast chicken. I don’t claim to be an expert on the cinema. I don’t really claim to be an expert on anything. All I know is I watched the movie and then felt an overwhelming need to cook. I give this film two thumbs up and those thumbs are covered in garlic-y, buttery goodness.


Focaccia August 5, 2009

TowerGirl @ 12:21 pm
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I have not given up on bread, I have just been busy. This recipe is a keeper. I used the focaccia recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and divided it into three sections. I froze two of the sections and put the other in the fridge overnight. The next day I took the dough from the fridge and gave it about three and a half hours to come to temperature. I caramelized a bunch of Bermuda onions and cut stems of rosemary from my window herb garden. I cooked it on my new bread stone and the results were super yummy.

A few days later, I took one of the dough balls from the freezer and gave it most of the day to defrost and proof. That night, I baked it on the stone for five minutes in a 500 degree oven and then topped it with seasonal tomatoes, fresh basil, zucchini, onions, goat cheese, and parmesan. Then I stuck it back in the oven until everything was golden and bubbly. It made fresh and wonderful pizza. I plan on always keeping some dough in the freezer. This recipe knocked the socks off any prepared doughs I’ve used. Now, I just need to master the cool dough tossing thing. My attempts left me with a dough hat; neither hygienic nor attractive.