This is a simple dish that’s light and refreshing. It’s a great summer dish or light side dish when you have a heavy meal planned. It simply consists of tomatoes, mozzarella (you can see how to make Dave’s homemade mozzarella here), basil and dipping oil.
The dipping oil is drizzled on can be made with whatever herbs and seasonings are currently in your pantry and fridge. Dill, Italian seasoning blends, a little balsamic, etc…
Dave makes his homemade dipping sauce with olive oil, basil, pine nuts and garlic. There’s no science to it. Just fill a bottle with olive oil and load in some herbs and seasonings. It’s a sure thing and you can’t go wrong!
Let the olive oil and herbs sit a few days so the flavors infuse and the basil gets soft. Make sure to keep the bottle closed so that dust and other particles don’t get inside. The dipping oil is versatile and can be used for other things as well like cooking and dipping bread! I use mine to scramble egg whites in the morning. It adds flavor as opposed to plain olive oil and is a healthier alternative to butter or other oils.
Layer the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and drizzle on some dipping oil allowing the herbs to flow out with the oil.
That’s it! Simple huh?
Round Top Antique Fair was a BLAST! Carrie and I had so much fun and we got some great deals!! I think we are becoming bargaining pros!
However all that walking in the dusty roads and sun…and driving 2.5 hours in the morning and again in the evening really wore me out. I’m not gonna lie – I completely slept in later than normal and was dragging behind all day yesterday. I think I am still dragging behind today. We’ll have pictures up soon so you can see all the things we saw and experience in Round Top / Warrenton – I promise!
The Dave Cooking Series has not ended yet!! There are still quite a few recipes and cooking tips to share from my recent visit with Dave Young in Los Angeles. If you follow our blog, you know Dave and I became best friends when we lived in Los Angeles and Dave also owns an elite event planning and catering company in Hollywood.
(Dave and I at one of Dave’s events October 2011, Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills)
When Dave and I met, we developed a strong friendship immediately. He is one of the most special people I’ve ever met and I’m so fortunate to have him in my life. Now that I live in San Antonio I don’t get to see Dave often and miss him terribly. One of the things I admire most about Dave is that he is a self taught chef. He’s had no formal training yet he works magic in the kitchen and he’s constantly experimenting with new ideas and cooking methods.
Dave is also Italian and can cook some crazy good Italian food. We are talking blow your mind homemade pasta like lobster stuffed ravioli (which I should try to share with you soon – I think I might have some old pics and recipes Dave gave me before). Dave’s grandmother taught him how to make authentic Italian food and he has fond memories spending time with her in the kitchen making Italian cookies and hanging handmade pasta out on the clothes line to dry.
Dave makes everything he can homemade including cheese. He spent some time with me demonstrating how to make mozzarella cheese which I’ll share with you now!
If you haven’t ever made mozzarella cheese before, Dave recommends buying a basic cheese making kit online like this one by Ricki’s.
The reason this is advised is due to the face that locating things like rennet in groceries stores can be quite difficult. Ricki’s cheese making kit is a cost effective option at $24.95 and includes quite a bit of supplies and even includes a cooking thermometer. The kit makes at least 40 batches of cheese and includes a recipe book for more types of cheese.
So here is what I learned about mozzarella with Dave. I found mozzarella is very easy to make but it’s easier to see with pictures than to just read a recipe. Because of that, there are lots of pictures and even some videos I took of Dave in action so you too can master your very own mozzarella.
1 gallon of organic milk (cheese will not form with ultra-pasteurized milk. It must be pasteurized at low temperatures or raw to make cheese. Cream-topped milk works well and can usually be found at local farmers’ markets.)
1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid
1/4 tablet of vegetable rennet
Cheese salt or sea salt
Start with the rennet tablets by dissolving in 1/4 cup of water. If you use the Ricki’s kit, 1/4 tablet makes one batch of mozzarella.
Dissolve citric acid separately (in 1/2 cup water) also until both citric acid and rennet are completely dissolved.
Pour milk into a stainless steel pot, and put the burner on low. Use good milk for better tasting cheese. Organic whole D is best – you will taste the difference.
Stir in citric acid, and slowly heat the milk to 95F. Turn the heat off and pour in the dissolved rennet.
Stir continuously for exactly 30 seconds.
Cover with lid and let the milk sit completely still for five minutes.
At this point, the curds will separate from the whey. Run a sharp knife through the curds horizontally and vertically into one inch cubes. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pot.
It should look like squares of curds with whey floating in between. (If looking closely at the above pictures, squares can be seen). Lightly agitate and curds can be seen.
Raise curd temperature to 115 degrees. Once raised, use a spoon strainer (with a fine mesh) and scoop the curds into a large glass bowl. (Dave uses a spoon strainer because a cheese cloth is very messy and hard to clean. A few curds might be lost but it’s a much easier method).
Drain as much of the whey as possible.
To form the cheese put cheese curds in bowl and microwave on high for one minute. Remove and drain more of the whey, pressing down on the cheese with your hands to remove as much possible. Microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey.
Start kneading the cheese until it comes together like dough. While you’re kneading, add a generous pinch of salt. If the cheese isn’t coming together, microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey. When you can form a ball, shape the cheese with your hands until the outside is smooth and shiny.
Let the cheese sit in a bowl full of ice water to chill.
Once mozzarella was chilled, Dave used in a Caprese salad with homemade dipping oil. I’ll show you those recipes next Wednesday so stay tuned!
To read more about Dave, check out Dave’s blog here. You will find updates on all his Hollywood parties and inspiration for party and cooking ideas.
This last week I was in Los Angeles for coffee training and to visit the coffee roasters we are going to use in our new coffee shop. It was a nice change because for once in a long time, we actually got to feel like things were progressing for the coffee shop. The last few months in San Antonio, things have been at a standstill dealing with the city trying obtain permits needed for construction. We still have not been able to start any construction work at the new retail location and it sometimes feels like it will never happen –which is quite depressing and stressful since we have a lot of money and time invested in this endeavor. I am sorry I have not been blogging much. Life has seemed so gloomy and with all the coffee shop stress and it’s been hard to find time to blog about decorating inspiration. :( I know things will get better — I just hope it happens soon.
Los Angeles was a much needed get away and a very positive experience. I got to spend quite a bit of time with my best friend there, Dave Young, who own’s Dave’s Catering. Dave’s Catering is an innovative catering company in Hollywood that puts on spectacular events including celebrity dinners, parties and weddings. Dave started Dave’s Catering 4 years ago when I first met him and it’s inspiring to see how much it’s grown since inception. Even since I last moved from Los Angeles 7 months ago, Dave’s Catering has progressed exponentially including having more than 30 events during December!! 30 parties in one month is insane!! I am so happy for Dave because he’s a risk taker and a hard worker and Dave deserves all the success he’s achieved! Hopefully all our hard work in the coffee shop will start to see positive results soon as well.
While I was staying with Dave in LA, Dave gave me some great cooking tips and we even cooked a few meals together. I took lots of pictures and notes and will be sharing all with you!
One of my favorite meals were Dave’s mussels. I had always wanted to cook mussels at home but was hesitant. Even though it only takes a few minutes, cooking seafood hidden in shells seemed risky. I am glad Dave showed me how because it was easy! And it’s also a relatively cheap meal to make which is a plus. The mussels for the batch we made cost $6. And since Dave already had the remaining ingredients in his pantry and fridge, there were not any additional costs.
1 Pound of Mussels
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups of wine or champagne (Dave usually uses champagne but we used leftover white wine for this time)
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup olive oil
Step one: CLEAN, ClEAN and CLEAN! The only small hassle with cooking mussels at home is cleaning them. The exterior of the shells have hair and dirt and must be cleaned thoroughly since the shells are cooked in the broth that will be consumed. Clean the mussels with a brush or abrasive sponge removing as much dirt and hair as possible. Then soak for 15 minutes. Repeat this process 1-2 times until as clean as possible. Remember to leave the shells closed since they will pop open when cooking. Also be careful because the sides of the mussels are sharp. Dave actually cut himself making these. It was just a small paper sized cut but regardless…be careful.
While the mussels are soaking, prep the veggies by chopping the garlic, shallot and tomato.
Melt butter with olive oil on medium heat in medium to large pan on stovetop. One of Dave’s tips to avoid burning is to always add a dash of olive oil whenever using butter. Dave says the olive oil helps reduce the volatility in butter.
Once melted, add the garlic, shallot and tomato. Continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the wine or champagne.
Cook for one minute and then add cream.
Cook for 2-3 more minutes. (Optional addition at this point: salt and pepper. Taste and see if it is necessary or in line with your taste buds. We added just a dash of salt and pepper.)
The next step is important…COVER POT WITH LID!!! Covering with lid creates a steam which cooks the mussels thoroughly.
Keep pan covered with lid but check every minute on progress.
Immediately some mussels should start opening up.
Within about 5 minutes, all mussels should open up. Once they are all opened, this is an indicator they are cooked completely and ready to eat.
Eat and enjoy!
One of the things I enjoy most about mussels is dipping bread in the sauce! And Dave made homemade bread because he is of course AMAZING!
Doesn’t that look unreal!? What until you try to make these mussels yourself.! So easy. And the best part is most of the ingredients can be substituted. The beauty of making mussels is that the sauce is very forgiving and flexible. Feel free to use whatever leftovers you have. We used white wine but champagne or even red wine could be used. Also we used shallots for this version but onions certainly could have been utilized. And lastly, tomatoes could have been substituted for something else or omitted completely.
I can’t wait to share all the other recipes Dave taught me with you. Just to tease you a little here are some of Dave’s recipes I’ll share with you the next few weeks…
Homemade bread, Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Onion Soup Pot Roast, Brown Onion Gravy, Roasted Eggplant Chips, Homemade Mozzarella and Caprese Salad and Coconut Pudding.
If you are in the Los Angeles area or just want to know more about Dave, check out his blog here.