Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FFwD: Cafe Salle Pleyel Hamburger

You can scold me.
I am late for my French Friday's with Dorie post.
I know today is not Friday. 

Friday was my birthday so I'm allowed a pass. I was pre-occupied with fun birthday festivities! I went to a French restaurant for lunch, does that count?
The recipe for this burger can be found in Dorie's book, Around My French Table, which I hope you've bought by now. If not, The New York Times published it online a few years ago. 

You got lucky this time.

I was very excited to try this recipe out because it includes many yummy tidbits that I love such as sun-dried tomatoes, capers and onion marmalade. The capers are pungent little flavor buds that complement nicely with the herbs and pickles. The onion marmalade was incredibly easy to make and was not sour or tart, as you might think. I am racking my brain trying to think of what else I can do with all the insides of this burger, minus the meat. Perhaps it would make a tasty relish to top chicken breasts with? Stay tuned on that.

I've never put fresh shredded Parmesan cheese on a burger, but I am not opposed to it anymore! You have to be open-minded when it comes to cheese. (It's a foodie rule.) It's a completely different taste than Cheddar or American cheese. You almost forget that you are eating a burger. Each bite was packed with flavor, that's for sure, but it did almost fall apart on the grill. It's a good thing my fiance is a master of the grill - he caught them before they fell to oblivion in the grates. I noticed that some other bloggers turned their burgers into a meatloaf which is a wonderful idea! That would have helped with the crumbling problem.

If you are looking for a juicy, cheesey, meaty burger - this is not for you. If you are looking for a sophisticated  bistro burger, then go get 'em! Check out everyone else's posts here.

Tutti Mangia! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lemon Herb Chicken (Secret Recipe Club)

This month's Secret Recipe Club assignment was to make a recipe from Concetta's Cafe. Concetta makes so many great desserts and takes beautiful pictures of them all! Don't even ask me how I was able to constrain myself from making one...

The recipe I DID choose turned out to be a wonderful meal. The Lemon Herb Chicken was incredibly juicy and so flavorful. It is easy enough to make on a weeknight but elegant enough to present to guests at a dinner party. The lemon flavor came through nicely and the garlic and herbs were a perfect complement.

6 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped,  plus more for garnish
1 lemon, sliced

Season chicken cutlets with olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and remaining ingredients, except for the 1 sliced lemon. Let chicken marinate in fridge for 4-24 hours. Grill chicken on medium-high heat until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Place on a platter and sprinkle with fresh parsley and lemon slices.

I served this chicken for dinner with pasta and pesto sauce. I am allergic to pine nuts so I omit those from my pesto, but just add more Parmesan cheese instead. Cheese makes everything better! If you want my pesto recipe, e-mail me on the side!
 Tutti Mangia!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Tomato Sauce

If anyone knows me, they know my obsession with watching Food Network for inspiration. The new show Shaun and I have been watching is The Great Food Truck Race - Sunday nights at 9pm. It's only the 2nd week of the show so you can still get into it! I'm cheering for Roxy's Grilled Cheese from Boston, of course. This post is actually in honor of them with my adult version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Who doesn't love grilled cheese?

Check out their amazing menu:
* Green Muenster Melt: muenster cheese, homemade guacamole, applewood bacon
* Mighty Rib Melt: fontina, braised short ribs, caramelized onions
* Mushroom Melt: confit of wild mushroom, baby swiss, fresh arugula
* Rookie Melt: vermont cheddar and vine ripe tomato

Not to mention, they have Grilled Cheesecake for dessert - homemade cheesecake between griddled butter poundcake - ummm yes please!

Anyway... back to me people. Pay attention.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can of diced tomatoes, liquid drained
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil
1/2 tsp oregano
Half of a 9 oz bag baby spinach, washed and shredded
4 long baguette rolls, cut in half horizontally
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Simmer for 5-8 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer until the spinach silts and the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes longer. Cover to keep warm.
 Top 4 sides of the rolls with mozzarella. Spoon some of the spinach mixture over each, spreading the spinach to the edges of the bread. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the spinach and top with the remaining bread sides.

In a large nonstick frying pan sprayed with cooking oil, cook two sandwiches at a time, or whatever fits. Turn them once, cooking just until the cheese melts and the bread is golden, about 4-6 minutes in all. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, keeping the first batch warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven. Serves 4.

Feel free to experiment with different types of cheeses in this sandwich. I think the mozzarella keeps it gooey and melty and the goat cheese adds a nice tang! The tomato sauce really thickens up when cooked down this way - it is nothing like a pasta sauce. This sauce actually holds its own and doesn't drip off the bread. Make sure you actually grill the bread enough so that it can withstand the sandwich ingredients. The baguettes I used stayed soft in the middle but got crusty on the outside - the perfect combination of textures.

I served these grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner with a side of tater tots. What can I say - fries in any form are my weakness! This just goes to show that this recipe is easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. It is surprisingly filling for a vegetarian entree as well.

Try it out if you don't believe me.

Tutti Mangia! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Avocado Fries with Cilantro Citrus Dipping Sauce

You're probably thinking - what are Avocado Fries? 
Well, these are Avocado Fries! Aren't they pretty?

I adapted this recipe from two fellow bloggers - Adventures in Cooking and Circle B Kitchen. These are both two very insightful blogs worth checking out! Eva at Adventures in Cooking is an amazing photographer who really thinks outside the box when developing recipes. Patrice at Circle B Kitchen really cooks and bakes from the heart. I would try almost every one of her recipes, honestly. Please go to their blogs after you read this post!

Vegetable oil, for frying
5 firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp chili powder
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (maybe a little more)

Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling
Chili Powder, for sprinkling

Cilantro Citrus Dipping Sauce:
10 tbsp mayonnaise
5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime

Mix flour, salt and chili powder in a shallow plate. Put eggs and panko in separate shallow plates. Take your avocado slices one by one and start dipping. First, dip each slice in the flour, shaking off any excess.  Next, dip in egg and then panko to coat. Set aside battered avocado slices on a separate plate.
Heat up a small deep-fryer or deep frying pan with 2 cups of vegetable oil (as long as the oil is at least 2 inches up the side of the pan). Let the oil reach 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Fry a few avocado slices at a time until deep golden, turning if necessary half way between cooking. Be careful not to crowd the pan or deep-fryer. Each batch will take anywhere from 1-2 minutes to cook so keep your eye on them!

Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels. As soon as they come out of the hot oil, sprinkle fleur de sel and chili powder on them. Serve immediately.

For the Cilantro Citrus Dipping Sauce, stir all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix until smooth and creamy.

This will be hands-down one of the best appetizers you EVER eat. The avocados stay creamy inside the crunchy exterior of panko breadcrumbs. I like using panko much better than regular breadcrumbs because they really hold their crunch. Personally, I did not like the dipping sauce, but my friends did. I don't love anything with mayo so next time I'll try something else, perhaps with a little more heat. For once, I was happy being in the kitchen during the party because I got to eat avocado fries straight out of the deep fryer with extra salt. So what if I burnt my tongue a little bit - it was worth every bite!

*If you are unfamiliar with how to open and slice avocados, check out this helpful video here. I don't want to hear any excuses why you didn't make this recipe! 

Tutti Mangia!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad

Don't you just love salads that have multiple purposes? Am I the only one who gets excited about things like that? You can eat this particular salad as a vegetarian entree, a summer side dish or as a filling for tacos or fajitas. Why not, right?!? Cilantro, a classic in Mexican cooking, is one of the ingredients used so it makes sense. It has a very pungent taste on its own, but not in this salad. It's one of the main ingredients in probably every salsa you've ever eaten, but you'd never know. When used correctly, it imparts just the right amount of flavor and freshness to a dish.

3 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
2 avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, pour over the salad and gently toss to mix. Serves 6 as a side.

This recipe was adapted from the infamous Paula Deen. The corn is crisp and fresh, the tomatoes are juicy, the avocados are creamy and the dressing is tangy. This salad appeals to all of your taste buds. It is incredibly easy to prepare for even a beginner chef. Make it for your next potluck party this summer. Just look at how colorful it is - it just begs to be eaten!

Tutti Mangia!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Club: Baked - Sunday Night Cake

When I saw this recipe, I thought "Why is it called a Sunday Night Cake? I don't need a specific day to allow me to eat cake." When I told my friends that I was making this cake, they asked me what was with the name as well. These are the responses I got...

"The cake is a breakfast cake (like coffee cake) so you make it for brunch and then dress up the leftovers with icing so that you have cake later that night and no leftovers!" - Vanessa
"Sunday night is family dinner nights so the special occasion warrants a cake." - Shaun (I am totally turning my fiance into an Italian hehe)
"When you've been good all week, Sunday night you can splurge and have a piece of cake!" - Sylvia (I second that opinion.)
"You deserve cake every day - this is just the Sunday version.  Next week we can do Monday cake." - Liz (She is a baker - surprised?)
"Sundays always suck, so you need a cake to make it better." - Anthony

Regardless of why it has it's name, I think this cake was yummy. 
The smell of it baking ran all throughout my house. *sigh*

The yellow cake base had a hint of cinnamon in it so it tasted very similar to coffee cake. Just to clarify, by "hint" I mean I doubled the amount of cinnamon the recipe called for. What can I say, I like cinnamon. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. I baked it for 35 minutes, turning halfway between baking, but it was a tad bit dry. It was even more surprising to me because one of its ingredients was sour cream. I thought sour cream could do no wrong! It said to bake it for 35-40 minutes but next time I'll bake it for 32 minutes.

Lesson learned.

As for the frosting, I loved it on the cake and on it's own. No, I did not lick the beaters and the bowl clean. It was incredibly fudgy with a strong taste of dark chocolate. Overall I did like this cake and will definitely make it again. I'll just try not to dry it out next time.

Julie from A Little Bit of Everything chose the recipe this time around. Take a moment to check out her blog for the full cake recipe. You can see what the other Club: Baked members thought of this recipe here! Next up for Club: Baked is Boston Cream Pie Cake! 

Tutti Mangia!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Adventures with Red Wine

The Goal: To create a meal comprised of 3 dishes, all using red wine.

The Outcome: Successfully completed!

How about Skirt Steak with Red Wine Sauce, Radicchio and Red Wine Risotto, and Red Wine and Maple Glazed Carrots? My inspiration came from one of my many cookbooks - Gourmet Today, compliments of the extremely talented Ruth Reichl. She truly is an amazing writer and editor that I look up to. She was Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine and THE restaurant critic for the New York Times - talk about a jacked-up resume! She knows her stuff.

The sauce on this steak is very rich and warming, at least the little bit I tasted was. I got a little too ambitious and made these three dishes on a weeknight... I was doomed to mess up one of them. Shaun did me the favor of grilling the steak on our indoor grill pan and did so perfectly! He is becoming quite the "Grill Master" I have to admit. I was too preoccupied with my prized risotto to glance over at the sauce bubbling down to nothing in the corner.


I also failed to mention that I forgot to measure how much red wine I had in my fridge when creating these 3 recipes... the steak recipe was last and of course I didn't have enough. Alas, I will try it again some day. Maybe this Winter, when this recipe deserves to be eaten.

Skirt Steak with Red Wine Sauce
1 lb skirt steak
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup red wine
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Pat steak dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet or grill pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook steaks, turning over once, 5-7 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off fat from skillet, then add wine, thyme, bay leaf, sugar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Continue to boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add any meat juices on platter, then remove from heat and discard bay leaf and thyme. Stir in butter and salt and pepper to taste and serve with steaks. Serves 2-3.

Don't let the seemingly weird combination of ingredients in these carrots deter you. They are incredible! Those chefs in the Gourmet kitchen must be geniuses because this recipe just works! They are sweet and tangy all at the same time.

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb carrots, cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (optional)

Melt butter in a 6-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add chili powder, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.

Add carrots, maple syrup, and wine, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. If it seems like the liquid is evaporating too quickly, you can add a little water to give the carrots something more to soak up.

Add vinegar and boil, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill. Serves 2 as a side dish.

I want to end this post on a good note, so I will finish it off with the risotto. Risotto is one of my favorite dishes of all time - no matter what the ingredients used are. Remember these?
Butternut Squash Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach
Risotto with Pancetta and Wild Mushrooms
I have many more up my sleeve so just you wait for more posts to come!

This risotto takes on the flavor and color of the wine used in it so make sure you use a flavorful bottle that you plan on enjoying alongside your meal. The flavors are so intense and pair up nicely with the creaminess of the cheese and butter. As a side note, I normally do not like radicchio because I find it too bitter, but boiling it in water first gets rid of that problem. My only mistake with this particular dish was cutting the recipe in half.

Shame on me!

Radicchio and Red Wine Risotto
2 cups chicken stock
2cups water
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1/4 lb radicchio, quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices
3/4 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine stock and water in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and keep stock at a bare simmer. Melt butter in a 4-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat. Add onion, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring, until onion is pale golden, about 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook radicchio in a 4- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water (with 1 tbsp salt) until just tender about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and squeeze dry.

Add rice to onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, stirring, until wine is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup simmering stock and cook, stirring constantly and keeping it at a strong simmer, until stock is absorbed. Continue cooking and adding stock about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total (there will be stock left over).

Discard bay leaf, add radicchio, butter and cheese, and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining stock. Serve immediately. Serves 2-3 as a side dish.

WOW - I really packed this blog post with some solid recipes. Feel free to make them at three separate times, not all at once like me. Next time you have a half of bottle of red wine to use up, you'll know what to make. You can't let it go to waste *tisk tisk*!

Tutti Mangia!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

One of my ALL-TIME favorite blogs is Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Tracey is one of the most amazing talented home bakers I've found. Please take a look at her blog in your spare time. Even if it is only to admire her pictures, I am fine with that! She also happens to be a New Englander and massive Bruins fan like me... if you needed one more reason to like her.

These cupcakes are absolutely divine! I've made them twice already... once for my boss' birthday at work and once for a summer BBQ. They are moist and delicious eaten cold and right out of the refrigerator. Mint has such a refreshing quality to it. I've explained to you my love for all things chocolate and mint in a recent post... remember those Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies? How could you forget so quickly!?! That winning concoction is number 8 and 27 on the list of 40 Best Cupcake-Frosting Combinations of All Time.

Sorry, disregard the drool on the screen after reading that article.

Does anyone want to challenge me to make their favorite off that list?
I'll never turn down a dare!

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract and water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared pans, filling each well about 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pans to wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and cool completely on the wire racks. Makes 18 cupcakes.

Mint Buttercream:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp salt
Green food coloring (optional)
Garnish: semi-sweet chocolate chips, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, halved, or crushed Andes mints (all optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar and butter (first on low and then increasing the speed to medium) until evenly distributed and crumbly, about 1-2 minutes. Add the cream, extracts and salt and beat on high speed until light, fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. If you want green buttercream, beat in a little bit of food coloring at a time until you achieve your desired color.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost as desired. Garnish with chocolate chips. 

The chocolate cupcake batter is compliments of Martha Stewart. It is so moist and full if intense chocolate-flavoring that it is now my go-to for cake bases. You do not need a Kitchenaid mixer or an electric hand mixer to make this batter - just a big bowl and a rubber spatula! It's so easy to make, trust me. Just don't be alarmed if you think the batter is too watery - you did nothing wrong. I think that is what makes these cupcakes so light and airy!

The star of these cupcakes is most definitely the frosting. I doubled the recipe for the mint buttercream to frost one batch of cupcakes. I like to load the frosting on. A little sugary green goodness never hurt anyone! As you can see in my pictures, I decorated Round 1 of these cupcakes with 3 chocolate chips on each. Round 2 was even better but they went so fast at the BBQ I was at that I couldn't take any pictures! I broke Thin Mints in half and stuck one half in each cupcake and then scattered crushed Andes mints on the sides of the buttercream frosting. Believe it or not, those looked even better!

Does anyone besides me watch Cupcake Wars? It is a great show on Food Network - Tuesday nights at 8pm EST (insert shameless plug here). Boston's own local cupcake artist, Victoria Donnelly, from Cakeology competed once and won with her Mint Chocolate Chip and Fresh Mint Buttercream Cupcakes. They currently operate out of a mobile truck but have a storefront opening any day now - I can't wait!

Tutti Mangia!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 Every summer I search for more creative veggie recipes to try out. When I walk into the grocery store or go to the farmers market, there are so many delicious juicy vegetables just waiting for me to purchase them - how could I say no? These little "boats" I put together are easy enough for a side dish but meaty enough for a vegetarian dinner. I've made them twice already and once was even for company! It was only Shaun's parents, but they still count... they told me they loved them! I think the bold flavors of the sauteed mushrooms and garlic along with the tangy Asiago cheese works wonders together.

I adapted this recipe from a great blog called "For the Love of Cooking". Pam, the blogger, is amazing at what she does! She has inspired me to use more creativity in the kitchen. 
Please check out her blog - maybe you'll be inspired too!

2 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise, center spooned out
1 tbsp olive oil
16 oz white button mushrooms, sliced (I adore mushrooms but you might want less)
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
Fresh basil, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
8 tbsp Asiago cheese, shredded (divided) - or more if your little heart desires!
6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet with a pinch of salt to draw out their liquid. Cook until tender and browned, about 12 minutes. Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, then cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool (your hands will be getting dirty!).

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and slightly scoop out the filling down the center of the zucchini. Drizzle each of them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven; this was just to soften them a little.

Add half of the Asiago cheese, the chopped basil and tomato to the mushrooms; mix well. Spoon the mushroom mixture down the center of the zucchini. Mix the other half of the Asiago cheese with the panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the top of each zucchini boat with the cheese/panko mixture. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Serves 2 as a side dish.

Tutti Mangia!

Friday, August 5, 2011

FFwD: Slow Roasted Tomatoes / Tomatoes Confites

What did I do last night, you ask?

I had nothing better to do than roast some tomatoes for 3 1/2 hours.
No big deal...
(Before Pictures) 
This recipe was as simple as it gets. I would love for each of you to check out Dorie's website/blog where you can see how to make this dish. Even the most novice cooker can proudly make these tomatoes.

Confites is the French word for confit (pronounced "con-fee"). It is a term used to describe the process of immersing different foods in a substance, such as olive oil, for both flavor and preservation. That means you COULD cook these tomatoes, submerse them in olive oil and save them for a rainy day. There are a lot of things I COULD do, but that is not one of them. I'm greedy - I can't "save" good food for another time, I have to eat it right away!

The reason these tomatoes have to cook low and slow is because that is how you concentrate their flavor. They are naturally sweet and this process brings that to a whole new level. I roasted a few garlic cloves and fresh rosemary alongside the tomatoes for another level of flavor. These are absolutely delicious all on their own or you can toss them with pasta or add to a salad... the possibilities are endless! My lunch today consists of some spaghetti, sauteed mushrooms and these sweet little nuggets of goodness.


To see how others fared with these slow-roasted tomatoes, check out French Fridays with Dorie where we make recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

Tutti Mangia!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Open-Faced Prosciutto and Plum Sandwiches

Tart plums, tangy goat cheese and salty prosciutto make an amazing sandwich. The surprise kicker was the hint of ginger in the background. If you do not like these ingredients, then this sandwich is not for you. If you DO like all of the above but  never thought of pairing them together, think again! This sophisticated light lunch was just what I needed to brighten my day. Never mind the fact that I will eat anything with prosciutto on it. I am one of those salty snackers. More often that not, I am reaching for french fries or a bag of potato chips, not a chocolate bar. Not everyone is like me, but if you are, there's one more reason to make this sandwich!
Ingredients (adapted from the July 2011 issue of Cooking Light)
1/8 cup fig preserves
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1 large English Muffin, toasted
1/4 cup loosely packed arugula
1 ripe plums, cut into thin wedges
2 ounces very thin slices prosciutto

Goat cheese always adds a creaminess to sandwiches. This sandwich had layers and layers of tasty goodness. There was the crunch of the toasted bread on the bottom, the creaminess of the goat cheese (as I mentioned), the juiciness of the plums and the zing of the fig preserve mixture, all in one bite! 

You don't want to stop eating because each bite taste a little more like a different ingredient...

1. Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

2. Spread 3/4 ounce cheese evenly over each bread slice; divide arugula, plum wedges, and prosciutto evenly over sandwiches. Drizzle each sandwich with about 1 tablespoon fig preserves mixture. Makes 4 sandwiches.

The great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be adapted to feed just one, as I did above. I was working from home one day, made this sandwich for myself and ate it while watching Food Network. Yup, I did. Now... what do I do with that barely-touched jar of fig preserves - any ideas? Send them my way!

Tutti Mangia!

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