On Vacation!

All this week, Special Fork bloggers will be sharing recipes for vacation cooking. And to celebrate summer vacations, Special Fork is giving away a beautiful, English-style picnic basket fitted with service for four by Picnic Time. It’s easy to enter the sweepstakes.

Does anyone REALLY like to cook on vacation? I do! I love to visit local farmers’ markets, meandering around stalls, sampling regional produce and buying fresh-from-the-farm ingredients to take back to a vacation home or condo.

Cooking on vacation isn’t the same as everyday, after-work cooking. You have more time and greater flexibility. No need to be on a schedule: dinner is ready when it’s ready. If anyone is hungry, pass the wine and cheese!

While I like to cook, I don’t particularly like to clean up. That’s why we choose rental properties with a grill. There are no pots and pans to wash and besides, everything tastes better when cooked outdoors.

You’ll find many grill recipes on Special Fork suitable for vacation cooking. In the “Find Recipes” tab type in the keyword, “grill.”

I love toasting rustic breads on the grill – they turn nice and crisp, get appealing grill marks, and develop an incomparably delicious flavor that no toaster can replicate. Top the toast with chopped heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil from the farmers’ market and it’s instant heaven.

You don’t really need a recipe for this bruschetta, but here’s a basic one, to get you started.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Tomato Bruschetta
Makes 18 pieces

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup basil cut in thin strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 baguette (you’ll need about ¾ of the loaf)
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
Extra virgin olive oil

  1. In medium bowl, combine tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Slice bread on the diagonal in ½-inch slices to make 18 slices. (Save the remainder to serve with dinner.)
  3. Grill the bread slices over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn slices over to grill the other side. Watch carefully to prevent burning. When both sides are toasted, remove from grill.
  4. Rub each toast slice with the cut side of the garlic clove then brush with olive oil using a pastry brush.
  5. Arrange toast slices on serving tray, top with tomato mixture, dividing equally, and serve immediately.

Tip: To slice basil leaves, stack three or four leaves on cutting board. Roll lengthwise into a tight bundle like a cigar and cut crosswise with a sharp knife to make thin strips.

Note: Improvise on this basic recipe. Use Italian bread instead of a baguette. Try multi-colored tomatoes for a confetti effect. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to intensify the flavors. Double or triple the recipe, as needed.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Posted: May 17th by Sandy_Hu