whole grain mustard & apple panini

January 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

MustardPanini_1

This may sound a bit childish, but you know the saying “As soon as you’re told you can’t have something, you want it even more.” Well, it’s true!

Late last year, I came home from a doctor’s appointment in tears. Ross rubbed my head and told me we would figure it out. But deep down I knew this was not going to be easy. I was diagnosed with acid reflux disease, while not serious; this is a huge blow to someone who loves making and eating food. It may sound silly to be so upset about this, but I truly was and still am. This now meant I had to stay away from so many foods that I love. All acidic things like lemons, limes, pineapples and tomatoes. Anything with high fat or grease, like pizza, nachos, or anything fried. Caffeine is bad for me too, which is in so many things, coffee, tea and chocolate, to name a few. I can’t eat a lot of raw things like onions and garlic. Nothing spicy. And no alcohol. The list goes on and on.

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I have eliminated a lot of these things from my diet already. I have basically weaned myself off my daily morning coffee. I treat myself to a cappuccino or latte only occasionally. I have thrown out my red pepper flakes and only add a touch of spice when necessary. I rarely drank before, but have decided to eliminate it from my diet altogether. I am struggling in many areas though, the hardest being lemons and chocolate. I put lemon juice in everything, from salad dressings, to pesto, to rice dishes. When I eliminate lemon juice from recipes they fall flat, you can taste the lack of acidic kick the recipe desires. And my love affair with chocolate continues. I’m not sure how to give something like chocolate up; I’m not even really trying to at this point.

It comes down to this. I have been working on my cooking style for quite some time now and I quite like where I’ve ended up. So to have to start all over and approach food completely differently is not only a little disheartening but also quite overwhelming. The alternative though, eating food that makes me feel sick, isn’t really an enticing option either. So although I’m not sure how I will tackle this on a day-to-day basis, I know I must. I’m hoping all this eliminating, experimenting and work translates into a brand new cooking style. A style I can fall in love with too.

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This sandwich is bad for me in so many ways. But I wanted to pay tribute to it one last time, as well as share it with you. It’s a tasty one!

Whole Grain Mustard & Apple Panini
Serves 2

4 slices 8 grain bread
4 slices fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 green apple, very thinly sliced
olive oil for brushing

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Assemble your sandwich by spreading the mustard on two slices of bread. Top the mustard with the mozzarella, apple slices and second slice of bread. (There will probably be a few extra leftover apple slices, which make a nice side to the sandwich. Don’t over stuff!).

Brush one side of the bread with olive oil and place this side down on the grill pan. Press the sandwich down with a spatula to get some nice brown grill marks and leave for a few minutes. Brush the top of the bread with olive oil and flip over. Grill until both sides are lightly browned and the cheese in melted.

zucchini & artichoke sandwich

September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Tree

I noticed it just this past week on my walk to the train during my morning commute, one of the trees in the park was losing its leaves. All the other trees around it were still green and bright. But this big one all on its own had leaves that were turning slightly orange and brown. I took a picture, a bit puzzled. I picked up on another tree on my run the next morning that was bright orange, again standing alone amongst all the other green ones. And then it hit me; fall is creeping in. It’s hard to notice sometimes, especially with the 90-degree day we just had, but it’s coming. With all its glory the cool air is taking over and the leaves are starting to turn.

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I know this is nothing out of the ordinary, the transition into Fall happens every year, and yet I usually miss it. I’m one of those people who all of sudden walks out of their house in a tshirt and jeans and am baffled that I need to run back inside to grab a coat. I forget that I own scarfs and booties. I forget to bring an extra layer of clothing to work, so that when I can’t get rid of that 3pm chill after sitting all day I have something to warm up with. I’m not in denial, but Fall always seems to take me by surprise.

So since I seem to have picked up on this soon enough this year I am trying to take advantage while I can. Apple picking season comes and goes much quicker than you think, mid-September being the optimum time. Leaves will change and be beautiful and then fall and die so quickly that I’m hoping to get in a hike or two while they are at their peak. I want to clear out my summer clothes and make room for the light jackets and colorful scarfs that are only good for a month or two before I resort to my parka and black winter boots. And to that end I hope you enjoy your Fall too.

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Serves 2
Inspired by Goop

4 slices of whole wheat oat bread
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
3 artichoke hearts, sliced
handful of alfalfa sprouts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle the mozzarella on two slices. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

In the meantime heat a flat pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, spread olive oil over the surface and place the slices of zucchini directly on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour the balsamic on top. Saute for a couple minutes then flip over and saute for a few more. The zucchini should shrink in size a bit. Remove from the pan and let cool.

Once your bread is toasted, spread pesto on the two slices without the melted cheese. Pile the artichoke slices on top of the bread with cheese then add the warm zucchini and a handful of sprouts. Top each sandwich with the pesto bread and enjoy.

grilled eggplant & red pepper sandwich

April 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

GrilledEggplantSandwich-1

You may remember me mentioning a couple weeks ago that I had tabbed a bunch of new recipes in my recent Food and Wine Magazine issue. I’m quite impressed with myself; I’ve made almost all of them. There were a few flops. They had an amazing citrus chicken recipe that I tried to do with tofu. It didn’t work. You just can’t get the same baked chicken crunch on tofu. I also won’t be buying a deep-fryer anytime soon to achieve this, so we might have to give up hope on this idea for a little bit. The citrus flavor had great punch to it though, so I’m sure I will use that combination of flavors elsewhere.

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One recipe highlight was the Grilled Eggplant Parmesan. It was a great new interpretation of what Eggplant Parmesan can be. No overpowering marinara sauce, no fried eggplant, just simple flavors. I made it and loved it and am now making it again. This time though I wanted to make it into a sandwich.

Eggplant can be tricky at times. If you under cook it, it can be quite tough and unappealing. In grilling and baking it we’re eliminating the possibility of this issue. I also like that turning a dish into a sandwich automatically makes it feel like a lunch item. I’m not sure why we have these ideas of what we believe to be a “lunch” food versus a “dinner” food, but I think we all do. And a sandwich is the perfect lunch.

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Please note this is quite a messy sandwich to eat. It shouldn’t necessarily be eaten in front of guests!

Makes 4 Sandwiches
Inspired by Food and Wine Magazine

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced
olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper
3/4 cup havarti cheese, sliced
crusty bread, sliced
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat up a grill pan. Brush each slice of eggplant with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill pan for about 4 minutes, flipping over after 2 minutes. You should get a nice char on both sides.

Sprinkle a little olive oil on a baking sheet. Place the eggplant on the baking sheet, with some overlapping edges but no more than 2 layers deep. Add the sliced red pepper in a single layer, then the sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Add a single layer of cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese becomes golden brown and bubbly.

In the mean time, cut 8 slices of bread about 1/2 inch thick and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each. Place in the oven for the last 5 minutes of baking to add a nice crunch to the bread.

Once the eggplant bake is ready, cut into 4 pieces. Put the eggplant bake on the bottom slices of bread and add a few basil leaves to each. Top each sandwich and enjoy warm.

avocado, tomato and mozzarella sandwich & the lovely side street cafe

April 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

BarHarbor-1

This past weekend of running and café visiting was a bust. I’ve been sick on the couch with a stomach bug for a few days now. I can’t eat anything tasty, let alone run anywhere further than from my bed to the couch. It did pain me a bit to not be able to go out and try a new spot in Boston. But it also made me think of a past café and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to share it.

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Last summer, we found a 10k race in Bar Harbor, Maine and decided it was the perfect excuse to get away for the weekend. I would suggest this type of impromptu vacationing to everyone. I always enjoy road traveling; there’s no jet lag, no pressure to see everything and you come home actually feeling refreshed.

We stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast just outside of the main downtown. We woke each morning to communal breakfasts with other vacationers and we spent most of our days outside walking along the rocky shoreline, hiking to sandy beaches and people-watching with some kind of tasty treat.

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The restaurant scene was quite lively, we were happy with all the places we ended up visiting. And the vegetarian options were surprisingly robust. I think one of our favorite spots was Side Street Café. It’s locally owned, with a friendly staff and lots of outside deck seating. There was a live band the night we visited, which seemed like a regular occurrence, and the casual atmosphere fit right in with our laid-back trip. We sat at the bar with the Celtics playoff game high on our priority list. The pita wrap that I had inspired a new sandwich that I make at home all the time. Each time I make this sandwich I get to reminisce about the little town and the lovely café that introduced me to it.

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Recipe inspired by Side Street Cafe
Makes 4 sandwiches

French Batard
1/4 cup prepared pesto*
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced

Cut the bread into eight slices, about 1/2 inch thick.

Toaster Oven: Toast bread until just crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside.

Conventional Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until crisp on the outside.

Spread a thin layer of pesto on both the top and bottom of each bread slice and top with the avocado, tomato and mozzarella. Serve immediately, while the bread is still a little warm.

An excellent addition to this sandwich is broccoli sprouts. I add them whenever I can; unfortunately, it’s just one of those items that my grocery store only carries half the time.

*You can also use any kind of pesto you like. I used a homemade basil-based one, but a store bought jar works just as well.

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