Tomato Tartine Recipe


A magnificent harvest moon ushered in autumn last night. Though, with today's 93-degree weather forecast, you'd hardly know it. I'm still reveling in late summer produce and sunny afternoons. The Urbana farmers market is one of the great benefits to my new town. It feels like more of a community event than the hurried Chicago markets I am familiar with. Strangers stop to say hello, there are nutrition education games for children, and booths with information on various community services.  It has been nice to run into professors and classmates, and even an old friend from Chicago who works on a local organic farm.


I have to admit I had forgotten how busy an academic schedule can be. It is certainly a nice reprieve from the monotonous daily grind of the last few years, but free time is scarce. I am taking four classes and working 22 hours a week - so to be fair it's not just coursework on my plate. A few readers have emailed to ask about the courses I am taking this semester. I am currently enrolled in Information Organization and Access, Reference and Information Services, Administration and Use of Archival Materials, and Rare Books and Manuscripts. I have also started as a technology volunteer at the Urbana Free Library and I was recently elected (without stiff competition) the Vice-President of the ALA Student Chapter.

It is in my character to thrive when slightly over-extended, though my days rarely feel calm. I am woefully behind on correspondence and photo editing, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I have over 1,000 posts waiting idly in Google Reader.

While I have made some wonderful meals over the last month, my most frequent has been this simple open-face sandwich that barely needs a recipe. It is a quick lunch for a busy afternoon and a great way to enjoy the unique character of different heirloom tomato varieties. I used green zebras in the photo posted here.

Tomato Tartine


1 medium, flavorful tomato
2 slices of thick, crusty bread
2 Tbl mayonnaise*
good quality sea salt*
fresh ground black pepper
fresh thyme leaves


Toast the bread slices and spread with mayonnaise.  Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick and arrange in an even layer over the mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or any other herb you have on hand). Serve while the toast is still warm.

*This is a great lunch to make in a pinch with ingredients you have on hand. But it is extra special with homemade mayonnaise. If you are new to making your own mayonnaise, I would recommend Molly's lovely recipe.  This is also a great dish to use any fancy finishing salts you have stocked away.  My dear friend Harold gave me a box of Ilocano Asin sea salt recently and this was the perfect way to use some of it.

Thyme Cream Biscuits

Thyme Biscuits

Growing up in Woodstock, our house had lilac trees and lily of the valley outside our kitchen window. The flowers were a common addition to our table and remain two of my favorites. The Chicago apartment I live in now has a gorgeous and well-tended backyard, and I was delighted this spring when lilacs and lily of the valley emerged as the primary aromatics. Their heady spring perfume reminds me of that old house and my childhood on Jefferson Street. 

I spent Saturday at a work-related conference and most of Sunday tackling items on my to-do-list.  In the past few weeks I have revived my weekend baking routine and I wanted to put something in the oven even if I was a bit short on time. I had book-marked this recipe for Thyme-Maple Cream Biscuits from the March 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine and they seemed like the perfect project. 

Thyme Cream Biscuits

Adapted from Gourmet


2 C cake flour (not self-rising)
1 Tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C heavy cream
4 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 Tbl pure maple syrup


Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the cream, thyme and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Turn onto a lightly floured counter and lightly press the dough until it is half an inch thick. Cut into approximately one and a half inch squares or cut using a similarly sized cookie cutter. Place the biscuits an inch apart on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.