Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Sandwiches

I've heard lots of different names for this fabulous combination: Margherita and Caprese are both popular titles for tomato, basil, and mozzarella together in a dish. The red, white, and green symbolize the colors of the Italian flag, and the name was given to honor Queen Margherita of Italy.

I was immediately attracted to Beth's recipe on Budget Bytes, which featured this famous medley. After a few alterations, I was ready to give it a try. My biggest concern was to preserve the crispiness of the bread. By grilling the sourdough on its own, it is protected from absorbing too much vinegar and keep the stability of the sandwich intact.

Prosciutto isn't necessary to enjoying this sandwich, but Dan the Man highly recommends it! The saltiness goes wonderfully with the creamy fresh mozzarella.

  • loaf of fresh sourdough Italian bread, thickly sliced
  • butter (for grilling)
  • vine ripe tomatoes, sliced across into rounds
  • ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)
  • olive oil (for drizzling)
  • freshly ground pepper 
  • small package of prosciutto (optional)
  1. Heat up frying pan or griddle to medium heat.
  2. Butter both sides of Italian bread slices. Grill both sides of each piece until crispy; remove from heat.
  3. Assemble sandwiches from the bottom up: tomato, mozzarella, basil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. Top with a few slices of prosciutto, if using.
  4. Slice sandwiches in half and enjoy immediately!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

Crisp, crumble, cobbler: what's in a name?

For this dessert, I didn't want to fuss with a pie crust, but did want some oats involved. My trouble revolved around what to search for: which name included oats? Luckily, I found a helpful article on Gourmet.com that articulates the differences. The answer: crisp is the American name for a fruit dessert with a crumbly topping that often includes oats. (Crumble is its British equivalent.) Upon finding this information, I was able to get to work.

I hope you enjoy what I consider to be a perfect spring dessert: the tartness of rhubarb is scaled down during the baking process (and the addition of sugar, of course). The result is a somewhat messy but sweet crisp with only a bit of bite.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Filling Ingredients
  • 5 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Topping Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • more cinnamon for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix filling ingredients together (rhubarb, sugar, flour, vanilla, and spices). Pour filling into 13x9 dish.
  3. In another bowl, mix topping ingredients (flour, oats, and butter). Using your fingers, squish the butter into the flour/oats until it is spread throughout.
  4. Pour oat mixture on top of rhubarb filling. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Green Beans with Simple Dressing

When I was younger I remember not being big on vegetables. My mom was able to sneak carrots or broccoli into my repertoire only if ranch dressing was available on the side.

My taste has matured (slightly) since then, but one thing I still love about vegetables is the crunch. These green beans are cooked, but retain their bright green color. This not only means that the nutrients are left for you to eat (rather than boiling away into the water), but also that the beans still have a bit of crunch to them.

What I love about this recipe is how simple it is to make, yet how fancy it looks when presented.

  • 2-3 large handfuls fresh green beans, ends snapped off
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • sliced almonds
  1. Boil green beans until just barely cooked; beans should still be somewhat crunchy.
  2. Transfer beans to serving dish. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil, then mix just barely. 
  3. Top with salt, pepper, and almonds. Serve immediately.