Today was a potluck at work.
I was planning on making monkey-faced cupcakes and adding a note that said, "Time to quit monkeying around and get back to work." I felt it was appropriate because 2/3 of our staff usually takes vacation during the summer months and next Monday is the day when almost everyone has to be done with their vacations and back at work (ain't "seasonal" work grand?). Sure, we can still take vacations during fall, winter, and spring (that's when I generally do), but few people take much time off during those months, opting for summer vacations instead.
Summer heat is what stopped me from baking all those cupcakes. I have no real air conditioning in my house and I don't have the wiring to support more than one small window unit (which cools the living room because that's where all the caged critters are and they need the cooling). The rest of the house can get Very Hot even without the oven being on.
So I decided to a little something with all the tomatoes, basil, cilantro, parsley, savory, rosemary, and sage growing in my garden.
I made a Tomato Trifle.
It is insanely simple to make.
Go to the store and buy 32 ounces of creme fraiche (or crema de salvadorena, or even sour cream or whole milk yogurt), 6 ounces of pine nuts, 4 limes, some olive oil, some red wine vinegar, ground cayenne pepper, and sea salt. If you don't have a loaf of stale french bread, buy a day old loaf.
Cube up the bread, toss it lightly with a hint of olive oil and a blend of Italian herbs, then toast it (unless you've already done so and vacuum sealed quarts of seasoned bread crumbs back when it was cooler).
Go out to the garden and harvest tomatoes, basil, cilantro, summer savory, rosemary, and sage (I have 3 kinds of basil growing: lemon basil, Thai basil, and purple basil).
Now make your pesto - 2 cups' worth - with basil, oil, pine nuts, and a touch of red wine vinegar.
Now make the lime cream: Mix cayenne pepper, sea salt, chiffonaded basil, the zest from all 4 limes, and the juice from all 4 limes. Chill the pesto and lime cream while you chop the tomatoes.
About 2 or 3 hours before serving, assemble the trifle: put a thin layer of half your bread cubess in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Spoon a layer of chopped tomatoes over this. Top this with 1 cup of pesto - spread a ring around the outside edge so the pesto shows through the trifle bowl, then dot the middle - spreading it is hopeless because the tomatoes want to cling to the pesto and your spoon and it's an exercise in frustration to get a nice even layer, so I don't bother. Dotting works for me. Then, top that with about half the lime cream. Repeat your layers: bread cubes, chopped tomatoes, pesto, lime cream. Garnish with a row of cilantro, a mid-row of chopped tomatoes, and a center of purple basil.
Let it stand to soften the bread cubes and the flavors sort of meld for a couple of hours (chill it if it's really hot, but if the temp is in the 70's or under, you can leave it out for an hour or so)
Scoop it up as a yummy salad.