Wednesday, May 25, 2011

White Bean Grilled Panini With Basil, Tomato, And Mozzarella

Bring on the flavors of summer with this delicious grilled panini adapted from A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock And Roll's recipe for Provolone White Bean Grilled Panini With Tomato & Basil.

I didn't want to make changes to Jenn's recipe. It sounded great just as it was with white beans, basil, tomato, provolone, mayonnaise and red onions. I could just imagine that creamy blend and looked forward to those flavors.

But when I looked for the provolone at around 7 pm last night it was gone! My little cheese robbers ate it without my knowing. All that was left was fresh mozzarella so I made a little change. The mayonnaise, I thought, would go well with the smokey flavor of provolone but I didn't think so with mozzarella. So I substituted extra virgin olive oil for mayonnaise in this version. I also didn't have a red onion so I used a shallot. However, I'm still thinking about her recipe and can't wait to make it her way. My son would have preferred it also since he loves sandwiches with mayonnaise.

White Bean Grilled Panini With Basil, Tomato And Mozzarella
Ingredients for 4 sandwiches:

1 medium shallot, minced
Between 1/4 -1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
About 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pepper to taste

1 large tomato, thinly sliced
2 balls of fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
Italian bread, preferably a grain mix or wheat, sliced

1 can white beans, cannellini or navy, slightly smashed

Mix shallot, basil, oil, and pepper together first and let sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Slice tomato, cheese, and bread. Slightly mash beans.

To put this panini together:

Combine oil, shallots, basil, and pepper.

Slice Italian bread and lay slices out on sheet pan. I bought "rustic" Italian bread from the farmers' market over the weekend, thinking it was a grain blend like last week, but it doesn't look that way. I might have grabbed the wrong bag.

Slice tomatoes and cheese. Spread basil mixture over each slice of bread then layer sliced tomatoes over half the bread. Oops! Here is where I should have added the beans. Add beans before the cheese so it helps keep the sandwich together. Don't forget the beans!

Lay down thick slices of mozzarella.

Warm up the grill. Cook over medium heat. Press sandwiches down with a weighted pan. Flip when nice grill marks are achieved.

I can just imagine how amazing this sandwich will taste when my fresh garden tomatoes come in. Can't wait.

To make Jenn's creamy panini go here:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Indoor Pulled-Pork Sandwiches, Napa Cabbage Slaw, And An Evening With Mark Bittman

Before I get to the recipes, let me tell you about this really nice fundraiser event I attended a few weeks ago, "An Evening With Mark Bittman".

On May 5th, I got a chance to briefly meet Mark Bittman at a book-signing fundraiser event for the Rhode Island Food Bank held at The Culinary Arts Museum. I was pretty excited to visit the museum again, and more excited to hear Mark Bittman speak. But at a time when hunger is high in Rhode Island, with food assistance reaching over 55,000 families a month through its food network, I was extremely happy to donate and learn more about the Rhode Island Food Bank.

The food served that night was delicious and was made by a local restaurant using Mark Bittman's recipes. Various food stations were spread around the museum which were fun to search out while looking through the museum's extensive culinary collection. Drinks were served from an antique art deco bar and an antique diner bar.

Before he spoke, he mingled with guests and gave his undivided attention to many who wanted to meet and chat with him. Wanting to meet him myself, I approached him with my friend. We briefly chatted then I asked to take a photo. It was embarrassing. My friend had trouble with my camera and my being determined to get a decent photo with him, she had to take several photos. It took longer than it should have. He was very patient and pleasant about it all. I was very grateful.

After he gave his speech based on his Food Matters book, he sat for the book signing. While I waited for my friend to get hers signed I found just this tiny cupcake sitting next to this decorative cake modeled after his Food Matters book cover picture.

The night was fun, it was great to hear him speak in person, and it was a terrific night out with my friend. More importantly, it was a successful fundraiser for the Rhode Island Community Food bank.

* * *
Spicy Cole Slaw
From the "Fish" cookbook by Mark Bittman

2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar (I used sherry)
1/2 cup olive oil, peanut, or vegetable oil (I used peanut)
1 tbsp sugar
6 cups shredded Napa, Savoy, green, and/or red cabbage (I used Napa)
2 cups seeded and diced red bell pepper (I julienned mine)
1 cup diced scallion with green and white parts
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
I added:
1 large carrot, julienned
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced

To make this, I prepared the dressing first by combining mustard, vinegar, sugar and oil together in a dressing vessel and shook until sugar was dissolved.

Then, in a large bowl, I added the vegetables and tossed with the dressing and refrigerated about one hour to let flavors build. Just before serving I tossed again with chopped fresh parsley.

Indoor Pulled-Pork Sandwiches
When I made this, I was in the mood for pulled pork but all the recipes I found were time consuming and required grilling or smoking. I was happy to find this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine. It's actually a recipe for the slow cooker, a great make-ahead version of pulled pork, but since I love to use my dutch oven and had the time I cooked it in the oven. I didn't make any changes and it adapted well to the oven.

1 4 - 41/2 lb bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced 
3/4 cup jarred tomato salsa*, medium heat
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
Kosher salt
To finish sauce:
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp tomato paste

For the make-ahead version in the slow-cooker, click on this link.

My method for the oven version: I roasted the pork shoulder in a large covered dutch oven with the first set of ingredients about 3 1/2 - 4 hours in a 300 degree oven until done, when meat pulled apart easily (but this is tested, my cast iron dutch oven gets really hot and my oven temp could be off).

*I was surprised to see salsa as an ingredient.  Since I think this ingredient plays a big roll in the dish's flavor, I decided to use Poblano Farm Chipotle Salsa, a local sustainable tomato farm in RI, because I love its thick texture, smokiness, and rich tomato flavor.

Then I removed meat from the pot, discarded bones and fat and shredded with a fork (I made the pork a day ahead. After refrigerating the pork and sauce overnight, it was easier to remove fat from the meat and sauce):

To make the finished sauce, I placed about 1 cup of the juices with onions into a large bowl. Whisked in the second set of ingredients: tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, and salt. Added the pulled pork and combined. (If it seems dry add more broth or water.)

A secret: I thought it still needed a little more smokiness so I added a few drops of liquid smoke.

When I make this again, I think I would add a little whole grain mustard. Somehow, it seemed to lack an ingredient and I think this might be it.

Makes about 8 cups of pulled pork, enough for about 12-16 sandwiches the recipe says. But that depends on how much you stuff between the rolls!

Two days later, leftovers!

* * *

If you haven't seen my post about my first visit to The Culinary Arts Museum, you can take a look here.

Just for fun!