If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

Burrata and Tomatoes…two ways

  It’s been a really rough winter here so far and there are still 50 days to go.  But I found a couple of ways to conjure happier and warmer days.  This is thanks to the introduction of some delicious, ripe tomatoes that are widely available no matter what the weather is outside.  There are several varieties of Grape tomatoes to choose from. There are also small heirloom tomatoes that are equally good at putting summer on a plate in the dead of winter.  And to further the illusion, there’s beautiful, ripe Burrata cheese. And for Burrata fans fortunate enough to live near one, Trader Joe’s sells 8 onces of the cheese for $4.99 – enough for at least four salads or our second recipe for a Tomato and onion tart.
            For the past two summers, we’ve been using Burrata as a stand in for fresh mozzarella.  We love opening up the mozzarella-like exterior to reveal the luscious creamy center of the cheese.   In fact, it is cream because Burrata itself is made from both mozzarella and fresh cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside is a mixture of both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusually soft  and creamy texture.  The name “Burrata” actually means ‘buttered’ in Italian and one taste tells you why.   Served fresh, at room temperature, it is a perfect  partner to ripe baby tomatoes,  an excellent stand-in for the big boys of summer in the iconic Tomato and Mozzarella Salad.  That dish is an exceedingly  simple thing to put together as you will see here.  The second way to enjoy these wonderful flavors together requires a little more time.  It relies on roasting the tiny tomatoes and some onions then using store-bought Puff Pastry to make a tomato and onion tart that you then heap with fresh burrata.  The tart not only staves off the cold, it makes a perfect appetizer or a delightful side dish.
          Burrata, like all mozzarella, owes its existence to an Asian native, the water buffalo, first brought to Italy in the 15th century. Water buffalo milk is richer and higher in protein than that of cows, yielding 1.6 times more cheese. It doesn’t have the yellowish  pigment found in cow’s milk, so buffalo mozzarella is pure white. True Mozzarella is made with the milk of water buffaloes; in Italy this is a legal requirement, and a similar cheese made with cow’s milk is called fior di latte or fiordilatte, and not Mozzarella at all.  In the US however, this cheese is often made with cow’s milk and sold under the names of mozzarella and burrata.  This is precisely what the Trader Joe variety is made from.   I am not sure how they make it as white as it is.       
        Regardless of contents or national origin, these two recipes are so easy and so delicious, they really do put color and summer on your table in no time.  Here are the recipes:

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