Sunday, July 5, 2009

Comfort Food

This was a nice twist on a comfort meal. Instead of tomato soup and grilled cheese, I used a couple of Tyler Florence's recipes with a some changes - I bought pesto since I no longer have a basil plant, and I didn't make the chicken meatballs - I used slice chicken sausage since that's what I had in the freezer. When I make this again, I'll purchase the correct sausage and make the meatballs.

The 'grilled cheese' sandwiches were wonderful though. In fact, I'm craving it right now. Don't use the crappy grocery store mozzerella....get the fresh stuff from the deli or from SAMS.

Chicken Soup

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 large carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 bay leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
5 parsley stems, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
4 black peppercorns
Kosher salt
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

For the meatballs:
1 medium onion, diced
Olive oil
6 links organic chicken-apple sausage meat
1 egg
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 handful fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 pounds frozen cheese tortellini, store bought
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the soup:
Set a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, half the garlic, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, and thyme and gently saute until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, add parsley stems, black peppercorns and salt, to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer while you work on meatballs and tortellini.

For the meatballs:
Caramelize the diced onion in a saute pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, egg, onion, thyme, parsley, and cheese to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they all come together. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil until just smoking. Use a small ice cream scoop to drop meatballs onto skillet. Cook, turning, until golden brown.

Drop tortellini straight from freezer into soup. Cook until they float. Once meatballs are browned, add to pot of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Give soup a final seasoning and serve in shallow bowls with a small shower of Parmesan, olive oil, and parsley.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 plum tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh basil pesto, recipe follows (I used jarred)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Basil pesto:
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still rough-textured.

Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of sliced tomato and season with a few turns of fresh pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place another piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. Drizzle olive oil over skillet's surface and place sandwiches on the hot skillet or panini press. If using a skillet, place another heavy skillet over the top to form a "press". Turn after 2 to 3 minutes and replace weight. The sandwich is ready when golden brown and mozzarella has melted around the edges.

Hello Out There!

I guess it's time to get back on this proverbial horse! I have some old things to post, but, I'll start with present day and go backwards.

It was a quiet 4th of July. We stayed in and I made Strawberry Margaritas (that strangely just tasted like regular margaritas).

I marinated a London Broil and sliced it thin. I used a package marinade that I got from SAMS. It's made by Weber and is chipolte flavor. You know the ones - in the packet and you mix with water and oil. I gave the beef a good soakin' - for about 8 hours and did a quick sear on the grill (about 5 minutes each side) for a rare in the middle; medium rare on the ends. It doesn't look like it from my 'resting' picture but this was juicy and very good!

As a side, I made Pioneer Woman's Hot Crash Potatoes. I'm constantly trying to eliminate the number of pans/dishes that need to be used. So instead of boiling the potatoes first and then baking; I just throw them in the microwave. Brillant. No difference as far as I was concerned. I smushed the potatoes with the bottom of a glass and sprinkled them with kosher salt, pepper and olive oil. Baked at 425 for about 40 minutes or until brown. These are seriously good!