Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes." That's the answer to the question: "What are you two things you can't find at the grocery store?" and also the name of a novel my friend Cindie read recently by Julie Cannon, who has also written books called 'Mater Biscuit: A Homegrown Novel and Those Pearly Gates: A Homegrown Novel.

But speaking of Pearly Gates, I was stunned and saddened to read that Smackdown contestant Buffalo Dick of Opinions and Rectums, We've All Got One passed away unexpectedly Monday morning. His son Craig shared the news via BD's blog, saying how much his father had enjoyed blogging and his friends in the blogging community since his retirement. There's been an outpouring of appreciations of Buffalo Dick and condolences for his family in the comments there, and elsewhere, including this post by Smackdown contestant DoggyBloggy of Chez What?, who shared this photo of Buffalo Dick.
I met Buffalo Dick on the internets only in the last few months, via the Smackdown. He always struck me as a gentle and generous man who was proud of his cooking, his family, his blog, where he was from, and especially his BB-Q. His "true love" of those passions and pursuits was apparent in each of his own posts and the many comments he was kind enough to share throughout the blogosphere. He loved simple, straightforward cooking, and was always eager to make his own better. I'll bet he was a guy who would put "true love and homegrown tomatoes" pretty far up on his list of priorities.

For his submission to this month's Veggie Smackdown, Buffalo Dick made tempura fried green beans with a dipping sauce of creamy ranch and hot sauce.
He shared the dish on his blog after a test run here, then took it to the State of Michigan BB-Q Cook-off this past weekend, where those delectable green beans took 3rd place in the vegetable category and he also took 5th in Potatoes. You can tell from his last post, on Sunday, how pleased Buffalo Dick was with his showing at the Cook-off, both exclaiming and undercutting himself in his own way: "We didn't get skunked!" I'm sorry we won't see those additional photos he planned to post about the weekend's festivities, or more tales and tips regarding his love of barbeque. He will be missed. I think Buffalo Dick deserves a "Heavenly Culinary Smackdown Winner Emeritus" badge. Even though I don't have the Photoshop skills to create one here, I'm hoping Photoshop isn't needed wherever Buffalo Dick is BB-Q-ing up a feast now, to let him know what a winner and inspiration he was to so many.

Moving on to the rest of this month's Smackdown entries (and I think Buffalo Dick would want us to) I'll go through the entries in the order in which they were posted in the comments.

DoggyBloggy's entry jumped on board this month's popular tomato train, offering a serious riff on Caprese salad, made with tomato aspic, pesto aspic, and fresh bufala mozzarella.
And, featuring this month's second favorite veggie, DoggyBloggy gave us an incredible stuffed zucchini blossom.

Second to the plate (or comments) was Heff from Heff's Bar and Grill, who, with help from Donna once again, gave us a well-rounded entry filled with an array of summertime veggies, starting with a spinach-tomato lasagna with white sauce:
I've been following the tales (and photos) of Heff and Donna's Topsy Turvey tomatoes for a while.
Sorry to hear you tapped out your Turvy supply for the Smackdown, Heff, but they went for a good cause. The climax of Heff and Donna's entry was this "Heff"-ty plate that also included corn off the cob, fried green tomatoes, and a spicy cheddar shrimp dip in the middle.

Next is Smackdown newcomer Chef Dennis, of More than a Mountfull, whose entry brought us more spectacular stuffed zucchini blossoms.
Plus this delectable Courgette (zucchini) Gratin.
And these Stuffed Eggplant Rollatines.
Be sure to go over and take a look around the rest of Chef Dennis's blog too. He's been getting gorgeous farmers market produce and featuring all sorts of enticing dishes that celebrate the season's produce!

Another newcomer to the Smackdown is Jen, from Our Good (Food) Life. Like me, she has a relatively new food blog based in Cincinnati. Like me, she is a Smitten Kitchen fan and a pickle afficianado. Unlike me, she and her husband have been trying to become active gardeners in a community garden this year (you can find a bit of that saga here and here). I've been following their travails, but am happy to report Jen just keeps on cooking, and baking. Jen really threw herself into her entry for this month's Smackdown, making her own pie crust, getting fierce about her love of in-season tomatoes, and adding roasted eggplant, sauteed onions, thin sliced tomatoes, pecorino, and parmesan for this spectacular Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Pie.
I loved the way she topped a slice of that savory pie with a light, refreshing dollop of yogurt - perfect for summertime.
And I especially loved Jen's suggested variations for this pie in future: zucchini, summer squash, peppers, potatoes, leafy greens, or even beets, in place of the eggplant and tomatoes.

Moi, of Bite the Apple, always inspires me with her creativity, breadth of knowledge and interests, and ability to make her current home territory of New Mexico come alive on the page (er, blog). For her Smackdown entry, highlighting, once again, tomatoes, she brought us this lovely pasta dish featuring fresh veggies and herbs.
Moi also kicked things up by making grilled pizzas, the "green" one with some of her beloved green chiles and lots of other great stuff.

And then there is the indefatigable Buzz of Buzzkill, who gardens, cooks, takes his sons to unforgettable rock concerts, and somehow manages to do it all. I borrowed the photo at the top of this post from Buzz, who in his entry said, in his typically understated manner, that he's growing Early Girls, Beefsteaks, "and a couple other kinds of tomatoes."

For Buzz's dish #1, he grilled eggplant (nice char marks!)

Then Buzz diced the grilled eggplant for a salad with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parsley. No one gets extra suck-up points for using eggplant in their dish, but I have to say this sounds like veggies and flavors I would truly enjoy, especially in that kind of salad format.
For Buzz's dish #2, he made fried tomatoes, stretching himself to try something new - panko (way to read the directions/rules, Buzz - lol). Plus bacon. Ahh, bacon. Good thing the kids don’t like fried tomatoes – more for Buzzy!

Finally, a couple of non-competing entries. Florida Cracker, of Pure Florida, who missed the Smackdown deadline, but wanted to play along for the fun of it, gave us Boilt PNuts, a straight-up dish from his part of the world. No fancy-schmancy seasonings for his dish, just plain old salt. Thanks for treating me to something new, FC!

And lastly, my own late post (which wouldn't have been a competitor anyway, since, as last month's winner, I'm hosting and judging this month), a simple tomato and zucchini salad with bruschetta-ish open-faced sandwich.

On to the winner!!! You guys made this month's decision really tough. So many good ideas, great photos, and fun posts. After much deliberation, and consultation with fellow Team Eggplant member Cindie, I've finally decided that the winner of the July Smackdown: "Summertime Veggies and the Livin' is Easy" is:
DoggyBloggy is a cook and blogger who constantly inspires me with his culinary skill, gorgeous plating, and attention to detail (even if, alas, he shares actual recipes less frequently than I would be happy for him to). For his stuffed zucchini blossoms, he started with these lovely specimens.
He made these bread crumbs in a molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle - I had to google it).
Then he added a fresh salsa of raw tomato, basil, garlic, and olive oil, for a spectacular finished dish.
Using the same flavors as in that salsa, Doggy created what, for me, was the single most creative dish in the Smackdown, thinking outside the box to elevate Caprese salad - the classic summertime salad of raw tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella - with his inclusion of tomato aspic and pesto aspic. I have to admit I've never made an aspic, and would certainly never have thought to try to create a pesto aspic. But his use of these cold, refreshing components in this dish both sounds and looks delectable. 
Congratulations, Dog, for a job well done!!!! As this month's winner, it is up to you to select the August Culinary Smackdown theme and deadline and to play host and judge. Let us know what kind of challenge you have up your culinary sleeve for us, and wear the badge with pride!
A fine showing by all of this month's contestants!!! Thanks again to all who participated, as well as to those who came around to our entries and commented. And to everyone for your patience awaiting these results.

Happy cooking!


Christo Gonzales said...

Thanks so much - I dedicate this award to my buddy Buff - he would've said some snarky comment about how this whole thing is rigged! Stay tuned as I mull over the next challenge.

Sandra Q. said...

Eggy - I've GOT to say - I'M VERY MOVED. Great dedication to Buff, and hell, I've got to be honest here, I've been rooting for Doggybloggy to win the Culinary Smackdown for quite some time now ! The presentation on that blog ALONE is ALWAYS INCREDIBLE.

Thanks for going to the effort to host, judge, AND to send off "Buff".


WaterDog said...

Well, as always Eggie does an over the top job, not just announcing the winner, but going through all other dishes (which all looked good)to make her blog one of the best around this area. Her tribute to Buff was also very appropriate and I think he should have the posthumous (sp) award - It is very late ya'll.
Congrats to Doggybloggy and we will await the next challenge

Making Space said...

Lovely tribute to Buffalo Dick - condolences to all who knew and miss him.

Congrats DoggyBloggy! Gorgeous entry!

Eggy, rockin' job encouraging everyone along the way, and great job honoring everyone's entries even as you picked a winner.

I suddenly want tomatoes...

Karl said...

Good morning Eggy,

Congratulations to DoggyBloggy!

Thank you, for doing such a fine job hosting.

chickory said...

what a great post, eggy! all the entries looked terrific some i would like to try. never have been confident to get the squash blossom thing right...the doggy bloggy plate was a gorgeous display i must say.

so very sorry about buffalo dick. to all his friends who stop here today - i am so sorry for your loss. he sounds like a great friend and blogger.

congratulations to the doggy!! well done.

Buzz Kill said...

You know, when I went to DoggyBloggy's site, I looked at his egg pie dish (which also had zucchini blossoms - where does he get so many?) as his entry and was liking that a lot too. Nice job DB and congrats.

"Indefatigable", there's a word you don't hear too often (yeah I looked it up), especially in reference to me. Just like "sir" unless it's followed by "you're making a scene". Bwahahaha

And nice job on the review IE. You certainly put a lot of work into it with all of the circles and arrows and bells and whistles and pictures and links...what was I saying?. Oh, thanks for hosting and nice tribute to BD. Who knew a food blog could be fatal?

LaDivaCucina said...

Congrats to all that participated but especially to DoggyBloggy! Well done! I am salivating every time I see all those gorgeous tomatoes!

Also nice to see the tribute to Buffalo Dick, I'm still in shock. He was very well liked on the blogosphere and he even did a Meatless Monday dish when I started it. Nice job, dear Eggy, on all counts.

moi said...

LOL to your tagging Buzz with "indefatigable." But that's him, in a nutshell!

Great post and wonderful summations. I was pulling for DoggyBloggy from the get go, so I think your choice was spot on. Yay and congrats on what was a stunning entry.

Lovely tribute as well to Buffalo Dick. My condolences as well to all who knew and loved him. I only just started hopping over to his place and he will be terribly missed.

Christo Gonzales said...

smackdown theme is posted and thanks everyone!

Jen said...

Congrats to the winner. And Buffalo Dick will be missed.

GrumpyGranny said...

Very sad to hear about the loss of your fellow blogger, friend and cook. I'm new here and wish I had known him. I hope to participate in next month's smack-down and look forward to reading about it!


Sharon Rudd said...

Thanks to all for your kind comments - and for making this Smackdown a blast! Doggy's got the details of the next Smackdown up over at:

Should be a good one!

Velva said...

Cheers to Buffalo Dick. I followed his blog. Loved his simplicity and sense of humor. I was saddened to read of his passing. I know that it was sudden and unexpected.
Buffalo Dick would have been proud of this post! This was a great post. The vegetable smack down was awesome.

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