When you feel like packing your lunch box and going home – pack this!

Ultimate comfort food for a rainy summer day, and my favorite sandwich, is the Caprese sandwich. Easy to make, so fresh, and great for summer when the tomatoes are at their best. The first time I had a caprese sandwich was in 1998 at the Au Bon Pain in Cambridge, MA, and it is so good it is still on their menu today 10 years later. The part that I don’t love about their sandwich and always skip on mine is the romain lettuce – unnecessary complication if you ask me. I loved it so much I went back the next day, and quickly set about figuring out how to make it to add it to my kitchen repertoire. And it is one of my top ordered sandwiches. Because there are only a few ingredients to make this sandwich perfect it is important you get the best of everything. The tomatoes need to be fresh with loads of flavour – interestingly one café in Boston where I’ve had this sandwich during the winter they roast roma tomatoes for this sandwich to improve the taste. The bread is key and a nice crusty French loaf is what I find the best, but what ever you choose make sure the flavor of the bread is not overpowering to the simplicity of the sandwich. I prefer to use smaller fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini), but larger rounds of fresh mozzarella also work well. Of course if you need it in a rush you can buy premade basil pesto at the grocery store, but I prefer the homemade if you’ve got 5 minutes.  I’ve given a quick and easy recipe below for the pesto, but lots of other great recipes can be found online for basil pesto.

Ingredients:
Fresh mozzeralla sliced (Boconnini Cheese)
Ripe tomatoes sliced
French bread or other bread
Quick and easy small batch Basil Pesto
1 bunch of basil leaves (stems removed)
3 tablespoons pine nuts (preferably toasted)
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil (~4 tablespoons)
Dash of salt

To toast pine nuts warm a frying pan on low-medium heat. When the pan is warm toss in the pine nuts and stir them until they start to brown. Be careful not to have the pan too hot the nuts will burn quickly. Take them off the heat and remove from the pan immediately after they start to brown so they don’t burn. Cool the nuts before using. I toast them ahead of time and keep them on hand in a jar so I can toss them into salads or use them quickly for pesto. (Pine nuts are a key part of my modern pantry)

For the pesto, in a small kitchen blender throw in basil leaves, pine nuts, dash salt, parmesan cheese, and olive oil – blend to desired consistency, and add more olive oil if needed. You can also throw in a clove of roasted garlic or fresh if you’d like to garlic it up a bit.

Sandwich composition. Pesto on both sides of the bread a must. Salt and pepper the tomatoes to taste. Layer the sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzeralla till your hearts desire, press the bread down to make sure none of the cheese escapes.

 

Share your comments on the Caprese sandwich below!

A Great Sandwich for Strawberry Season

Strawberry Chicken Club Sandwiches

Rachel Ray does drive me a bit crazy, but more importantly she’s got some good stuff especially in a couple of my favorite categories – like sandwiches. Valerie picked this awesome sandwich recipe to make for us which has a surprising but delicious combination of flavors – avocado and strawberry! Rach’ calls these triple decker strawberry chicken club sandwiches, which is a bit redundant as club sandwiches are by definition triple decker. But Valerie made these just single layer which worked really well so you could actually fit the sandwich in your mouth. The other awesome thing she did was substitute bacon with bison bacon, which I can eat and is yummy. I love bison bacon! Strawberry Chicken Clubs get a Dish it! again n’ again!

 

click here for the recipe for strawberry-chicken-club-sandwiches
 
If you have made the Strawberry Chicken Club Sandwiches share your rating using the stars below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Should you make a burger from expensive high grade tuna?

It does seem counterintuitive to take the highest form of Tuna and turn it into a burger, but in this case the answer is yes because it is delicious, healthy, and quick to make! Thank you Tyler Florence and the Food Network magazine.  This was my pick for dinner night but it was a team effort in the making. Depending on the price of Ahi Tuna where you shop it can cost as much as 10$ per person for this meal. But it is worth every penny. I’m giving it a “Quick and Easy” and a “Dish it!”

Recipe: Tuna Burgers with Carrot Ginger Sauce (click link for recipe)

Modifications:

  • Freeze dried cilantro, because that was all we could find in cow town that day. Of course you should try and use fresh if you can!
  • Cut the recipe in half to make it for two.

Notes: Consider cutting out the water from the ginger carrot mixture, it just made it runny, it wasn’t necessary. To mix things up a bit you could probably replace the ginger carrot mixture with any type of salsa on top of the burgers (the one that comes to mind for me is mango salsa).

Roasting and toasting at home in 2009

I first read about cocooning for 2009 on my friend Alyssa’s blog, but since then I’m seeing it everywhere. Popular media has been telling us we are going to spend 2009 indoors making crockpot foods, knitting, and playing scrabble. And while it may be true now, I’m not sure how much of it is because they told us that is what we are going to do, or because it is actually what we had in mind? As part of my new year’s resolutions I have decided to eat meals at ‘home’ a bit more (even if home means a corporate apartment), and saving those nights I eat out for special restaurants and experiences. This is primarily in pursuit of healthier food choices, but an added benefit is the financial savings. So perhaps the trend is a result of the economic conditions and not the seed that CNBC or The Globe and Mail  planted in our minds.

Recipes: Spicy Tuna Melts and Roasted-Tomato Soup

And so in the spirit of my new resolution I was the sous chef the other night to a great meal, and I’d like to share the recipes with you. Spicy Tuna Melts and Roasted-tomato-soup (click on the links for recipes). The Spicy Tuna Melts recipe is compliments of Rachel Ray (who despite having some good home Cook recipes, usually drives me a little nuts, and I’m not the only one). We didn’t use the chipotle chilies, because we couldn’t find them in the store we shopped in, but they were as she would say ‘yummo’. They make a great quick meal. The Roasted-Tomato Soup is a recipe by the former executive chef of West, David Hawksworth featured in this month’s Shape magazine.  It takes an hour and half to make it because you roast the tomatoes, but it is very simple to make, and devine to eat. Your biggest challenge will be finding tomatoes ripe enough in winter, but it is worth the effort. We warmed it up for our lunches later this week to mixed results and we haven’t tried to freeze it yet, but I’m not sure it would stand up well in those conditions. The soup gets a Must Try, and the the Tuna Melts get a Yummy Quick Eats.