What a wonderful birthday I had. David Leite was my guest on Food Chat, a radio webcast show on HAN Radio, which happened to coincide with my such-and-such birthday.
I was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to be on the show and then ECSTATIC when he said he would be in the Ridgefield, Connecticut area, where we broadcast, so he could come to our studio rather than do the interview over the phone.
Can you say ‘manna from heaven’ three times fast?
I’ve admired David Leite (rhymes with ‘eat’) for many years. As a three-time James Beard award-winning writer, he not only knows his way around the kitchen, but has a down-to-earth personality and relates stories to home chefs and professionals with ease and good humor.
Every recipe I’ve made from David’s website, Leite’s Culinaria, has turned out beautifully (my favorite is Cranberry Buckle). Kudos to him and his staff for testing their recipes and making them reliable for home cooks.
I invited David to have lunch before the show at our office and made a variation of my Weston Grilled Cheese, renaming it The David Grilled Cheese. (For the David, I changed Cheddar to Fontina, used maple bacon instead of regular, and used Heirloom tomatoes, lime juice, and more crushed pepper in the tomato jam). It was so much fun cooking for a man who likes to eat and appreciates good food. I learned a few interesting things from him too, such as why all bacon has nitrates in them, even all-natural bacons.
Being a gentleman, David brought a cake for dessert. But not just ANY cake. He brought an exquisite Lemon Curd Cake. Moist, dense, bursting with lemon flavor. The kind of cake that needs no icing and is just delicious in and of itself. Like nana would make.
David announced during Food Chat that he has created a new company, Leite’s Eats, and his first offering is Lemon Curd Cake (He is making other cakes too, including a Lime Curd Cake). All I can say, is this brand has all the hallmarks of success going for it. The cake is just fantastic. Try it and see.
David also announced on Food Chat that he is writing his memoir. He has had a very interesting life, and not just because he grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, the inspiration for his best-selling cookbook, The New Portuguese Table.
While David is a huge success now in the culinary world, things have not always gone easy for him. He has had many obstacles to overcome. I’m not going to spoil things, but suffice it to say, he’s had to work — hard.
So, a shout out to David for his inspiration and for making Food Chat and my birthday, all that much more special.
For more details on David’s Lemon Curd Cake, his memoir, and the most popular recipe on his website, tune into the 8/15 Food Chat broadcast.
The David Grilled Cheese
(Makes one delicious sandwich)
2 slices sourdough bread, ½ inch thick
1-1/2 ounces Fontina cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1-1/2 ounces Smoked Gouda cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 slices cooked, crisp maple bacon
1 tablespoon Tomato Jam (See recipe below)
For the outside of the bread:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1. In a small bowl combine butter and rosemary. Spread half the rosemary butter on outside of each slice of bread and place each slice buttered sides down in a frying pan over medium heat.
2. Turn heat down to medium low. Top one slice with shredded Fontina, the other slice with Smoked Gouda. Cover with foil or lid and cook about two to three minutes until the cheese starts to melt.
3. Remove foil or lid and add the bacon on top of one slice and spread the tomato jam over the bacon.
4. Lift the other slice with a spatula and place it cheese side down over the bacon slice. Press down on the sandwich with a spatula, or use a cook’s weight or brick wrapped in foil. Cook until bread is toasted and golden brown on the bottom, about two to three minutes. Flip, press down again and cook another couple minutes until second side is golden. Remove from pan, cut and serve!
1 and 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed, cored and chopped (use the skins, seeds and all the juice)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes or longer. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use. It keeps several weeks in the fridge. This recipe can be doubled and tripled, and also canned and processed in a water bath.