Monday, October 25, 2010

Recipe 9: Panzanella

Panzanella, or bread salad, is an Italian dish from Tuscany. Traditionally, it includes cubed day-old bread, fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and vinegar. I found a recipe for it in one of my old magazines and added a few things to jazz it up a little.

I recently found out that some people call panzanella, "leftover salad" and add many different ingredients to it. So, I guess I was on the right track.

Here are the ingredients I use. Feel free to add to them.

2 to 3 cups crusty, hard bread. I use a rosemary flavored Artisan bread from FoodLion. It doesn't have to be old.
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Olive oil
3-4 basil leaves
1-2 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/8 red Onion
4 slices mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons Olive oil
2-3 teaspoon red wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (to taste)
1 teaspoon Lime juice
Pinch of sugar or Splenda
Dash of salt and pepper

Step 1: Slice bread into 1" cubes

Step 2: Drizzle frying pan with olive oil and add bread. Saute the bread until it starts to turn brown. Add a sprinkling of garlic and onion powder and cook for a minute or so more, until bread is nice and toasted. Remove from heat and put bread into a large salad bowl.

Step 3: Chop the tomato, cucumber, onion, cheese, and basil leaves. Put them into the salad bowl on top of the bread.

Step 4: Mix together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over the bread salad, mix well, and serve.

This salad goes great with grilled steak or chicken, or can be a meal itself.

Like I mentioned before, many people think of panzanella as a leftover salad, so feel free to add boiled eggs, lettuce, bell peppers, capers, celery, carrots, etc. Whatever your little heart desires.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Recipe 8: Lemony Chicken Caesar Salad

Here is another recipe from my wife. It's a quick, simple, one dish meal.

We love chicken caesar salads, but it tends to get a little boring after awhile. My wife came up with a marinade for the chicken, that gives it a really nice citrus flavor. A heaping portion of Italian cheese, with a little bit of parmesan, makes it a very satisfying salad.

My daughter is not into nuggetless chicken yet, so she just enjoys the salad greens with a generous helping of cheese and dressing.

Here are the ingredients:

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Bag of salad greens
Caesar or ranch dressing
Shredded Italian cheese (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Croutons (optional)

Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.

Step 2: Put the chicken breasts in the bowl and cover with the mixture. Cover with wrap and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Preheat skillet on burner at med/low heat. Add chicken to skillet with and saute until brown on both sides (approximately 7 minutes per side). You don't want to use high heat or the brown sugar will burn.

Step 4: Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Fill 2 dinner plates with salad greens. Sprinkle on a little Italian and parmesan cheeses and croutons. Slice the chicken and place on top of the salad. Cover with dressing and a sprinkling of ground pepper and serve.

You can add additional toppings to it, like crumbled bacon, sliced jalapenos, or green olives.

I'm planning on making grilled steak and panzanella for supper tonight. So, next week I'll try to post my recipe for panzanella.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Recipe 7: Peach Cobbler

I did today's blog a little different from the other ones. I had 2 beautiful assistants to help me cook this time: my wife and my daughter. Since this is my wife's family's recipe, she did the driving this time. My 2-1/2 year old wanted in on the fun, too, so we let her help with the pouring and the mixing, as well as the eating.

Here are the ingredients:
1-2 can of peaches
1 cup of flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 stick of softened butter

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour all ingredients into a small casserole dish.

Step 2: Mix ingredients well.

Step 3: Place bowl in oven, uncovered. Bake for 45-60 minutes. 

Step 4: Remove from oven when the cobbler in lightly brown on top. Let cool slightly, then serve.

Serve by itself or with ice cream.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Recipe 6: Beer Bread

If there is one thing I can't do in the kitchen, it's bake bread from scratch. It's my kryptonite. I've burned more bread and had more baking mishaps than I'd like to talk about. My attempt at making white whole grain wheat bread for my wife this spring was a huge disaster. And it ended up tasting like paste with crust. 

The only bread recipe I’ve been able to make successfully over the years is a simple beer bread recipe I’ve learned from my parents. I’m not sure where they got the recipe. They baked it long before they had the Internet. If I asked them now, they’ll probably give me 3 different answers.

I'm not a big drinker. I only consume 1 or 2 bottles of beer a month. So, you don't have to be a beer drinker to enjoy the bread. Both my mom and my wife hate beer, but love beer bread. Also, you don't have to worry too much about the alcohol content. At least 75% of the beer bakes out. So even if you ate the entire loaf at once, it would only equal a quarter bottle of beer (3 oz). That being said, I still don't serve the bread to my 2-year-old. If you are worried about how much alcohol is retained in cooking, check this link for more information:

Okay, here are the ingredients. The cool thing is, is that you probably have all 4 ingredients in your home already. Oh, and I do use measuring cups for this recipe. I don’t take any chances when it comes to bread.

3 cups self-rising flour*
3 tablespoons sugar (I use Splenda)
12 oz. bottle of room temperature beer. The more flavorful the beer, the more flavorful the bread will be.

* If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can use 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. I’ve never done this, so I had to look it up.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan with butter. You can use Pam, or what ever, but I find butter gives it more flavor.

Step 2: Take a kitchen spoon, and spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then pour into a large mixing bowl. It is important to “sift” the flour and not compact it into the cup. I found this little tip on the Internet. If you don’t sift the flour, you get a loaf that’s like a brick.

Step 3: Add the sugar and beer and mix well with a wooden spoon. Also, I like to add a tablespoon or 2 of soft butter into the mix, to give it a nice buttery taste. You can leave it out, if you want.

Step 4: Pour the dough mixture into the bread pan. The dough will be a little sticky. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Step 5: Let it cool in the pan then turn it onto a rack.

It goes great with chili (recipe posted last week), grilled steak, or beef stew. 

Try experimenting with different beers. My brother likes his with dark beer. I prefer mine with Samuel Adams seasonal beer, though I used Saranac for this blog.

Anyway, enjoy the recipe. And search the Internet. There’s probably fancier recipes out there.

Next week: My wife's peach cobbler.

Guten Appetit!