Two Favorites of Summer’s Bounty–Heirloom Tomatoes & Zucchini


Perfect summer brunch, lunch or dinner, appetizer or side dish! We enjoyed it as our entrée with a salad of cucumbers and pickled red onion for a summery light dinner with a well-chilled glass of Chardonnay.

Recipe By: Chef Jim

Serving Size: 4 as side dish 6 as appetizer

Categories: Side Dish, Appetizer

Ingredients — Preparation Method

  1 store-bought pie crust – defrosted if frozen

  1 large egg yolk — beaten

  1/3 cup prepared pesto

  8 ounces cream cheese — softened

  4 ounces goat cheese — softened

  1 large egg — lightly beaten

  1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  1 medium heirloom tomatoes — sliced 1/4 inch thick half moons

  10 multi-colored cherry tomatoes — halved

  1 medium zucchini — shaved into ribbons

  1 teaspoon Olive Oil

  1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  Kosher salt and ground black pepper — to taste

  2 thin slices Prosciutto

  1 14″ x 4 1/2″ removable bottomed tart pan

Optional Garnishes

  1 tablespoon assorted chopped fresh herbs — parsley, oregano, basil

  1 tablespoon Balsamic glaze


Preheat oven to 425°. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, place prosciutto on parchment and bake until crispy.  Watch closely so it doesn’t burn. Set aside to cool.

Place tart pan on large sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Lightly dust board with flour roll out pie crust to 7″ x 16″ rectangle. Fit the dough into tart pan and trim the sides flush with the top of the pan.  Line crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned, remove from oven, remove parchment and pie weights, and brush pastry with egg yolk, return to oven bake another 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Meanwhile prepare zucchini and sprinkle with kosher salt and place into colander for 20 minutes. Blot dry with paper towels. and roll into spirals.

In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, goat cheese, egg and Italian Seasoning. Spread the pesto onto the dough covering the bottom completely. Using an offset spatula spread cheese mixture on top of the pesto carefully to maintain separation. Top with sliced tomatoes and zucchini ribbons. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine Olive oil and Italian Seasoning and lightly drizzle onto vegetables.

Bake about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly; top with crumbled prosciutto and optional garnishes as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pics are fuzzy but you can imagine the vibrant colors of this delicious tart. Looking forward to the next rendition!

Crispy Prosciutto is my go-to protein garnish for lots of pizzas and salads. It’s easy to prepare and provides a great aroma to the kitchen while prepping the other ingredients!

I used store-bought pie crust (because I’m lazy? or it’s summer and the tart has lots of steps already LOL!) but of course you can use your own homemade version. I researched summer tarts finding recipes using puff pastry and phyllo dough as well as Pate Brisee (thank you Martha) for bases and I think any of those choices are adaptable to this recipe. Have fun with it, after all it’s all about the summer bounty!


Eat Well…Be Well!

Chef Jim

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The Cold Soup Project

 The traditional cold soup served here at Poppa’s house is Classic Gazpacho!  A wonderful cooling repast whenever we make it.  And just chock full of incredible fresh summer produce.  Of course over the years there’s been forays into Vichyssoise or other chilled cream style soups. The recent discovery of soups with plain greek yogurt in place of cream, half and half or sour cream is a revelation that I absolutely enjoy with gusto!

So now there’s going to be a Cold Soup Project.  I’m researching recipes and adapting them to accomodate my new favorite ingredient! This recipe below, preceded the Cucumber Gazpacho and was the inspiration for the Cold Soup Project.

This soup is really what started it all Chilled Asparagus Leek Yogurt Soup.  It has a great texture and be sure to serve it right out of he fridge in chilled bowls. I made it for Nana’s birthday dinner and we both loved it. So without further ado here’s the recipe! 


Chilled Asparagus Leek Yogurt Soup

Recipe By: Chef Jim

Servings: 2


AmountMeasureIngredient, Preparation
1PoundAsparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2” pieces
3/4CupWhite Onion, chopped
2 Leeks, white & light green parts, sliced, rinsed and drained
2TablespoonsOlive Oil
1CupIce Cold Water
3CupsLow-Sodium Vegetable Broth
1CupPlain Greek Yogurt
1/2TeaspoonKosher Salt
1/4TeaspoonGround White Pepper
1/2CupFresh Mint, packed coarsely chopped  more for garnish


Add onion & leek to skillet with warmed ghee and oil along with a pinch of salt, saute one minute, add asparagus stems, cook for 2 minutes then add asparagus tips and saute until vegetables are beginning to soften about 4 more minutes.  Do not brown. Remove 6 asparagus tips and save for garnish.

Add broth, pinch of salt, and white pepper, lower heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until vegetables are very soft. Taste the liquid, and add more seasoning if necessary.

Remove from heat and stir in cold water and let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Carefully transfer 1/2 of the soup, 1/2 of the mint and the 1/2 cup yogurt into a blender and puree until completely smooth. Place in a bowl and repeat with remaining soup, yogurt and mint. Add first batch back to blender taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Blend soup again for 30 seconds or so to combine the batches and place blender into the refrigerator.

Chill for minimum of 3 hours to meld flavors together.  Remove from fridge check once again for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in chilled bowls garnished with mint chiffonade and asparagus tips. 

Serving Ideas : Side dish: Crostini with Creamy Goat Cheese and Fire-roasted Tomato Jam, recipe below.

Crostini w/Creamy Goat Cheese and Fire-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Jam

Recipe By: Chef Jim


AmountMeasureIngredient, Preparation
2PintsHeirloom grape tomatoes
3TablespoonsOlive Oil
3TablespoonsBalsamic Vinegar
1/2TeaspoonKosher Salt
1/4TeaspoonGround Black Pepper
1/4TeaspoonGarlic Powder
¼TeaspoonDried Chili Flakes
1 Baguette, sliced on diagonal 1” thick
2TablespoonsOlive Oil
8OuncesCreamy Spreadable Style Goat Cheese
2TablespoonsChopped Chives


Add all the ingredients to a broiler proof baking dish or 1/4 sheet pan and broil on high for 10 minutes, when tomatoes start to burst open. Remove from the oven crush tomatoes with a fork to release the juices.

Return the tomatoes to the broiler for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes soften and the mixture thickens, watch carefully.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile brush baguette slices with olive oil and toast in hot oven until lighltly browned and crispy.  Set aside.

To Assemble:  spread creamy goat cheese on crostini and top with a spoonful of tomato jam, garnish with chopped chives.

Eat Well…Be Well!

Chef Jim

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Cucumber Gazpacho

Summer in a bowl!

After posting pics of this wonderful chilled soup on a few pages I follow on Facebook, I received multiple requests for the recipe, so here it is!

While making this I wanted to use some of the peel to help the finished product maintain some “green color” and since I was using mini cucumbers, with thin skins, I only peeled 1/3 of them.  Next time I won’t peel any! My choice of herbs was Cilantro and Mint but I think any combination of  the ones suggested would be awesome. I also like the flavor White Pepper adds so I increased my amount by doubling, but that’s totally personal preference.  

After the soup was blended to the perfect smoothness, with just a slight amount of texture, I placed the blender into the fridge for four hours to chill then when ready to serve whirred it on the blender for 20 seconds and adjusted the salt, as with most cold foods the salt taste gets lost.  

PS: I tasted it after pureeing and wasn’t thrilled!  Four hours later I tasted for salt and was over the moon. Chilling to allow the flavors to bloom is a must!  It was also a big hit with my resident food critic!  The Cucumber Relish is explained after the recipe.  Next time I will add the Shrimp garnish mentioned in the Serving Ideas section of the recipe. Bon Appetit!



Recipe By: Chef Jim
2 Servings for a meal 4 for appetizer


Amt Measure Ingredient–Prep
1 Pound English Cucumbers Sliced (or Mini Cucumbers) *see notes
1 Small Jalapeno, seeded and deribbed, roughly chopped
1 Small Shallot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 Clove Garlic, peeled
3/4 cup Mixed fresh herbs, roughly chopped ( any two Cilantro, Mint, Dill, Parsley, or Basil)
1/4 Teaspoon Lime Zest
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 1/2 Cups Plain Greek Yogurt
3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil


Slice Cucumbers and sprinkle with salt, set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Add all ingredients and any accumulated liquid from the cucumbers to a blender and puree until smooth consistency. Store in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours to bloom flavors, overnight is great too! Stir or blend for a few seconds before garnishing and  serving. Serve in chilled bowls. See serving Ideas for garnishes.

Serving Ideas : Garnishes: Cucumber, Shallot, Mint & Feta Relish; Bias Sliced Scallions & Julienned Red Radish; Fresh Herb Leaves whole or torn; Creme Fraiche; Cold Lime and Cilantro Marinated Shrimp.

NOTES : If using conventional cucumbers peel before slicing as the skins are too thick and waxed often times.

Ingredient Variations:  You could certainly sub scallions for the shallot or sauteed & cooled leek would be good as well.  Goat cheese in place of the Feta would be interesting in the relish or go South of the Border and use green tomato and tomatillo salsa! 

Cucumber Gazpacho with Cucumber Shallot, Mint, & Feta Relish.

The Relish was made ala minute by chopping 1/2 of mini cucumber, adding salt, chopped shallot about 1 tablespoon, chopped mint 1 tablespoon, 1 scant teaspoon white wine vinegar (lime juice would be a good sub!) and 2 tablespoons of feta that I crumbled and mashed into the relish.  The center garnish is a whole mint leaf topped with the relish and extra relish just off the rim of the bowl.  

Eat Well…Be Well

                       Chef Jim

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