Archive for September, 2011

September 19, 2011

Crunchy Italian Pressed Sandwiches

Crunchy Italian Pressed Sandwiches

Sunday Lunch! Inspired by my husband’s love of the sandwich and Italian smoked meat, we made these savory pressed sandwiches. Layers of sharp provolone, Italian meats and the star of the show, spicy tomato relish – this was an instant hit. To quote my sandwich snob husband, “I think this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.” Quite an endorsement! These sandwiches are wrapped in foil and bake in the oven to create perfectly crunchy bread and melty cheese.  The dense, complex combination of spicy hot cherry peppers, capers and fresh rosemary with the last of the season’s sweet farm ripe tomatoes was an explosion of zesty flavors… simply delicious.

Since we rarely eat sandwiches this decadent (always trying to be healthy), we splurged on the best quality ingredients. If you’re going to take the time to make this sandwich, spend a little extra and get good imported Italian meats and cheese. It will turn a good sandwich into a sensational one.

INGREDIENTS FOR SPICY TOMATO RELISH (makes enough for the one loaf of ciabatta bread sandwich below)

  • 1 medium farm ripe tomato (cored, seeded and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp hot cherry peppers in vinegar, drained and chopped (add more if you like it really spicy)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. You can roast your own peppers if you’d like. I used jarred roasted peppers for this and they worked nicely.

INGREDIENTS FOR SANDWICH (serves 3-4)

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread (or 4 ciabatta rolls)
  • 8 slices sharp imported provolone cheese
  • About 1/2 lb assorted Italian meats (prosciutto, spicy salami, Italian ham, hot capicola…)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the ciabatta bread through, but not all the way… you want to be able to open it like a book. Scoop out the excess dough from the inside of the bread. Whisk the vinegar and oil together in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and some fresh pepper. Drizzle evenly over the top side of the bread. Layer the cheese slices on the top and bottom halves of the bread – it will be the glue that holds the sandwich when it heats through. Next layer the meats evenly over the cheese on the bottom side. Top with the tomato relish (use the entire recipe of relish above, careful to drain it a bit before placing it on the sandwich). Close the bread and press down. Wrap tightly in foil, place on sheet pan in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted. A full ciabatta bread will take longer to bake (20-25 minutes) than if you use rolls. You can always sneak a look to see how it’s coming along, or cut the ciabatta loaf in half and wrap each half in foil separately – this will help heat the sandwich through faster.

Cut into wedges and enjoy!

* This recipe makes one big sandwich using a large loaf of ciabatta bread. We cut our loaf into two large halves so we could try two meat combinations. One half was prosciutto and hot capicola and the other was Italian Tuscan ham with spicy Calabrese salami. I suggest a combination of one mild meat with one spicy. Makes for nice balance of flavors. Choose your two favorite meats, just be sure to use a nice sharp imported provolone. By the way, you could use a panini press to make this sandwich too.

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September 11, 2011

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Kebabs

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Kebabs

When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived in Manhattan. I’ll never forget Thanksgiving one year when I was about 10 years old. My parents and I went into the city for the holiday… you know the best meal of the year? Turkey, stuffing, all the great sides and pie… stuffed till you can’t move. You know… that holiday! Imagine my dismay when my grandfather announced we were going to the Greek restaurant in their neighborhood for dinner. What?! Greek food for Thanksgiving? I might have even cried. Even at that young age, I knew the importance of the Thanksgiving feast.

Greek food is a favorite in our house. I’m sharing this story because quite often when I make Greek food, I crack up thinking of my disappointment. At 10 years old, the words “pass the spanakopita” aren’t singing to you on Thanksgiving. This rosemary lamb does sing when matched with a greek salad, creamy tzatziki & grilled eggplant slices all stuffed into a warm pita. It’s a feast I’m happy to receive… just not on Thanksgiving.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6)

  • 2lbs boneless leg of lamb – cut into cubes, fat removed
  • 4 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Put the lamb in a large bowl. Toss all the remaining ingredients into a food processor, run until smooth. Pour over the lamb and combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the grill. I use metal skewers. If you use wooden skewers, you will need to soak them in advance. Skewer the lamb and discard the marinade. Grill turning on all sides for about 7-9 minutes for medium/medium-rare.

Here’s a peek at what our Greek dinner looked like:

* There are so many things you can serve with this lamb. A greek salad is a must, and I love the combination of the grilled eggplant with the lamb, but feel free to grill-up your favorite veggies. Red peppers and red onion slices would be delish. This would be equally yummy served simply with roasted potatoes or rice. My tabbouleh would also go perfectly.

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