Frame Recipe: Annabel Cohen’s Simple Summer Bruschetta
The cooking bug came for Annabel Cohen at a young age.
“My family loved what I would make because it was different than the usual Brazilian food that my mother made,” explains Cohen, a cook since age 6. “Because we were a small family we always had friends over and I would cook for them.”
The Detroit-area doyenne of hosting, Cohen was all but raised at a dinner party by a Brazilian artist mother and doctor father who frequently entertained a diverse cast of guests.
But instead of the restaurant life, Cohen found herself in advertising, working for Campbell Ewald in her 20s and acting as the resident chef when the firm would host guests.
That eventually morphed into a catering company, Annabel Cohen Cooks Detroit, and frequent appearances on TV and in local press for her recipes and hosting prowess.
Following decades in the business, Cohen retired last fall to Florida. But shortly after moving south, she suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with aphasia, the disease that makes speech difficult and recently sidelined the actor Bruce Willis — a challenging ordeal for anyone, but especially for someone who spent their life telling stories.
Thankfully, Cohen is on the mend and making great progress every day. And though she’s no longer throwing lavish parties with the same frequency as when she was actively working, Cohen remains a treasure trove of information about bringing people together at the table.
In this recipe, adapted from one of her Italian cooking classes, Cohen provides a simple passed appetizer perfect for sweet summer tomatoes.
And the nutty aroma of roasted garlic wafting through your home is a great sensory way to welcome guests and whet their appetites the moment they step through the door.
1/2 pound ripe tomatoes
4 medium garlic cloves, roasted* in olive oil and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
1/2-inch thick slices Italian or French bread, brushed with olive oil and baked at 350°F until golden
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1. Chop tomatoes into 1/4-inch chunks then add to a medium bowl with a generous pinch of salt, a small pinch of black pepper, olive oil, chopped roasted garlic, and basil. Stir well.
2. Spoon a generous amount of topping onto each bread slice.
3. Drizzle a little of the juice remaining at the bottom of the bowl over tomatoes (or olive oil) and enjoy.
*To roast garlic: Peel and separate cloves and just barely cover with olive oil (or neutral oil, if you prefer the garlic flavors to shine) in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Place into an oven pre-heated to 350°F and roast for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool before chopping. You can also add dried herbs and/or red pepper flakes before roasting for additional flavor.