Late into the evening, before dusk settles, might be my favorite time of the summer day. The sun is low in the sky, bathing the trees in a golden light as the locusts buzz noisily in the warm glow. If it weren’t so hellishly hot outside, I’d probably spend every evening on the deck enjoying the day’s lazy transition into a starry night. But it is hellishly hot and no amount of rosé would be refreshing enough to coax me from the glorious air conditioning. Given the heat, the oven has officially been put into hiatus until the mercury drops a bit. Grilling had been our standby, but even that has been questionable lately. It is so dry here that our county has put a ban on grilling. How they think they are going to enforce that is beyond me…
We’ve been so busy lately between work and fun. The stress level has been rising with the temperatures and a dip in the pool hasn’t been enough to wash away the worries of the day. To top it off, insurance denied my follow up scan scheduled for last week, so we’ve been in limbo on that front as well as we wait for word on what comes next. We needed a night off – a fun activity to change our focus for a few hours at the very least. Luckily, we had tickets to a James Taylor concert in a great outdoor theater. A perfect start to a relaxed evening.
The concert was starting early, well, early for us compared to our usual dinner time, so I needed something I could make quickly in the heat of the late afternoon. Ben had been on the road for the latter half of the week, so I decided on one of his favorite summer dishes to welcome him home. I’m not going to lie, this is one of my summer favorites too. I usually wait to make this until my heirlooms are going crazy but without a proper garden again, I needed to rely on the friendly farmers at my neighborhood market for their lovely tomatoes. My poor basil is being properly beaten by the heat of the summer sun, so this was a good way of using a bunch quickly and putting it out of its misery.
The recipe comes together in a hurry with very few ingredients so it is perfect for a quick summer dinner. It also makes an elegant appetizer for summer entertaining – and did I mention it goes perfectly with a chilled glass of crisp rosé? Sets my heart a-flutter just writing those words! Fresh, quality ingredients are really the key here and are what makes this dish sing. Texture is also an important component – the couscous in the flapjacks retains a bit of its crunch after cooking which contrasts nicely with the softness of the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Don’t skimp on the freshly cracked black pepper or the Fleur de Sel. It truly is the crowing glory on this jeweled napoleon of summer deliciousness. Alternating with different colored tomatoes only enhances the beauty of this serenade to summer in a dish.
recipe: jb’s pour house
3 Tbsp. salt
½ c. hot water
2 c. lukewarm water
16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼” rounds
1 c. couscous
4 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ c. buttermilk
1 c. basil leaves, tightly packed
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, preferably different colors, sliced into ¼” rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de Sel
Combine salt with ½ c. hot water in a medium bowl. Stir until all salt has dissolved. Add remaining 2 c. water and add mozzarella slices. Drain after about 10 minutes.
Combine couscous, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Using a mini food processor or blender, combine basil with ½ c. buttermilk and blend until basil is finely chopped. In a small bowl, combine basil-buttermilk, remaining buttermilk, egg whites and canola oil. Whisk wet ingredients into couscous mixture. Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Using about ¼ c. batter per flapjack, pour four flapjacks onto griddle. Cook 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter.
To serve, place one flapjack on a plate. Add one slice of tomato, sprinkle with about 1/8 tsp. Fleur de Sel, and about 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Add a slice of mozzarella. Repeat with alternate color tomato, Fleur de Sel, pepper and mozzarella.
All content and photographs © 2010-2012 jb’s pour house