One of my favorite things about cooking is experimenting and trying new things. Not everything is a success, but but usually even failures are salvageable. Unfortunately, I've tried a few recipes in the last two weeks that were utter failures. First, I made the Tomato and Cheddar Pie from this month's Bon Appétit. The pie smelled incredible while it was baking, the crust was fantastic and the pie looked pretty. Unfortunately, the filling was a different story. There was just something wrong about the tomato-mayonnaise-cheese combination. Conclusion: beautiful pie, awesome crust, not the right flavor combination.
Next up were the Ice Cream Bonbons from Food & Wine magazine. I thought that I'd use this Strawberry Ice Cream and dip them in chocolate for a nice treat and some self-imposed portion control (perhaps I'd eat only two bonbons instead of a bowl of ice cream). These ultimately tasted great but the recipe for the chocolate in which you dip the ice cream is really off (I'm not the only one who felt this way, which is comforting). The chocolate was thick and didn't coat the ice cream balls but instead clumped on them and caused them to melt. I reached the conclusion that there was not a chance the recipe was tested and had to Google other bonbon recipes to salvage the chocolate sauce. Thankfully, these ended up edible and pretty but the recipe is not a keeper.
Finally, I made the Roast Chicken with Hot-Sauce Butter, again from the August issue of Bon Appétit. This wasn't bad, but it just didn't stand out. Plus, it is no joke that those peppers are extremely hot and should you decide you want to make it (but please don't... make this Piri-Piri Chicken instead if you want spicy and delicious chicken) wear gloves! I wish I had.... your fingers will burn for about 36 hours after you make these and it is seriously uncomfortable.
This is a long-winded introduction to my decision to make something simple and summery that I knew would turn out well because, well, there isn't much to it. It is a classic combination of tomatoes, burrata, basil and olive oil that is easy to make and is the perfect summer appetizer or side dish.
I first had burrata at Coppa in Boston's South End. Coppa makes their own burrata and it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Burrata's name means 'buttery' in Italian and this soft cheese is made from a ball of fresh mozzarella that is filled with leftover curds and cream and then sealed like a pouch. Serious Eats provides a detailed description (with photos) of how burrata is made if you want to learn more. The real take-away is that burrata is a real treat and if you see it at the farmer's market or at your grocery store, you should buy it -- but be sure to eat it ASAP as it spoils quickly.
Burrata is the perfect complement to the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that are in-season right now. I don't think a recipe is necessary for this dish but should you want some guidance, this is what I did. First, slice the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil, freshly ground sea salt and pepper and chopped fresh basil and toss gently to combine. Quantities of basil, salt and pepper depend on the number of tomatoes you use... just season to taste and err on the side of less seasoning so the burrata is not overshadowed. Place the burrata in the center of a plate and place the tomato slices around the burrata. The nice thing about first slicing the tomatoes and putting them in a bowl is that some of the water/liquid will drain from the tomatoes and you can pour this off before placing the tomatoes around the burrata.
If you have leftovers, chop up whatever is leftover and toss it with pasta for an easy main dish.