Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen...Recipe and Review

I was actually flabbergasted by how much I enjoyed reading the story of Jacques Pepin and his life learning how to be a chef.  What a down to earth, kind man he is and what a wonderful family he has.  He shared all aspects of his life, the good, bad, happy and sad.  It makes me want to read more of his cookbooks, watch more of him on tv and cook more of his recipes.

There were a lot of recipes included in this autobiography but the one I decided to make as a side dish for our dinner tonight was the Semi Dry Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad.  I make Caprese Salads quite often but this salad has a couple of twists so I wanted to see how it compares to others that I have enjoyed.

The main difference is Jacques has you oven dry the tomatoes. 

This takes 4 hours in a low oven, luckily my outdoor grill has an oven so I didn't need to heat up the house. They came out still soft and very fragrant.  Jacques also includes capers in his salad and I love capers.  Another big difference for me was that he blanches the basil before adding it to the salad.  I am assuming this brightens the color and keeps it from darkening as basil often will if not eaten soon after chopping.

Semi Dry Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad
slightly adapted from The Apprentice:My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin

1 1/2 lbs. plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into halve
Kosher salt to taste
10 oz. Fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/2" slices
2 T. capers, drained and rinsed
ground black pepper to taste
3 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. Basil Leaves

Preheat oven to 250*.  Place tomatoes on baking pan, sprinkle with salt and bake for 4-5 hrs. Remove tomatoes from oven and place in a bowl to cool. (They should still be soft).

Once cool add the mozzarella, capers, garlic and olive oil and salt and pepper (keep in mind that the capers are salty).  Blanch the basil leaves for about 10 seconds and then immediately cool under cold running water. Remove most of the water by squeezing the basil leaves between the palms of your hand then finely chop the leaves and toss them with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature.  Print Recipe

This book was this month's assignment from Cook the Books ClubThis is a new club that I joined and am very excited about.  Every other month we are assigned a book to read and then we review the book and create a recipe from or inspired by the book.  I LOVE this kind of thing!!

I have now started reading the 8th installment in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldan. I absolutely love this series and have been waiting with great anticipation for this book.  This installment is called Written in My Own Hearts Blood.  So far, so good.  I will let you know as soon as I complete it

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In the meanwhile, stop by Booking It July Update: Reviews of Delicious, The Warden and the Wolf King, & Mastering the Art of French Eatingto get reviews of the books others have been reading.  See you there.


  1. Hi Wendy,
    I am so glad you joined us at Cook the Books for this round and I am so happy that you enjoyed the book. Pepin is a class act for sure. ;-) I have had my eye on this recipe--I LOVE capers as well and there is nothing better than a good Caprese-style salad. Yum! Again, thanks for joining in!

  2. I will have to look into the Outlander series. Currently my reading is on hold.

    1. It is a GREAT series but a huge commitment and 8 novels so far all over 1000 pages and once you start you can't stop.

  3. Welcome to Cook the Books! This salad does look very tempting. Big caper fan here. And what's not to love about another twist on the classic Caprese Salad? Great post for Cook the Books.

    1. Thanks Rachel, I really enjoyed this club and look forward to next month's selection.

  4. Wendy, we were on the same page here, both of us made the salad! I love it. I too enjoyed the book very much.

    Speaking of books, I see you are starting on Gabaldon's latest book. I am looking forward to it, love that series.

  5. Oh my gosh Tina, I am just finishing it up.. what a ride!!!! You are going to love it!!!

  6. You must try roasting cherry tomatoes this way....they are like candy. Excellent dish, Wendy. (And, I have been under a rock b/c I just heard of the Outlander series. Must start them!)

    1. I have roasted cherry tomatoes in the past Deb, but not using the slow roasted method. I will, for sure, try it. I just finished the 8th book of the series and all I know is that the 9th one better show up soon because I am at the top of the roller coaster right now and ready for the ride to continue!!

  7. Welcome to Cook the Books! I understand your preference for this recipe, especially this time of the year. Even before eating them, tomatoes in the oven smell so good.

    1. Thank you Simona, I am very excited to be part of the club.

  8. Now I need to try his version of Caprese, it sounds so good, especially at this ultra hot time of year.


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