Shorelinechef's Blog

Cooking and creating everyday solutions for busy families like mine.

Special Delivery February 15, 2011

So… my children’s elementary school has a great new program whereby I can order organic produce, guaranteed to have been plucked from the ground within 24 hours of delivery. I’ve received two boxes so far:

First February Box

First Box of February

With the first delivery of Chinese Broccoli – with the little white flowers still on it!), I made a delicious stir-fry with garlic, green onions, yellow and orange peppers, chicken, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce. I served it over brown rice. Explaining it to the kids as just another form of broccoli (which they already liked) helped to ease the introduction and, aside from my three year-old, they ate happily.

Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry

Second February Box

Second Box of February

With the chard from the second box (and with apologies to a Martha Stewart feature at least 15 years ago,) I made Swiss Chard Bundles:

Ingredient Assembly

I started by blanching my chard leaves and brushing them with olive oil.

Layered and ready to roll

Next, I layered a base of mozzarella cheese, slices of Roma tomatoes,a smear of pesto, some freshly ground sea salt and pepper, and another drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, use some fresh basil leaves in place of the basil.

Brushing the exterior with olive oil

I rolled up from the bottom, folding in the sides as I went. Then, I brushed the exterior of the bundles with olive oil.

Into the grill pan

One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my grill pan. I actually have two: a cast iron, which is superior for high heat and super-impressive grill marks, and a nonstick version, which is SO easy to clean that it usually wins out over the cast iron. I even make grilled cheese in it, use a press for panini and chicken breasts and this pan goes into the oven, so I can finish off meats that way, if needed.

But I digress… pop these bundles into the grill pan over medium heat and let cook, undisturbed, for about five minutes. I like to use tongs with silicone tips so as not to mar my pan.

The B-Sides

When you flip them, you’ll notice that they have slightly charred on the bottom. I absolutely love this flavor. The second side won’t take as long… probably about 3 minutes, though you could peek to check the browning, if you’d like.

Incidentally, this recipe can also be done on the grill. If you choose to do this, soak some wooden skewers in water a half an hour before you make the bundles and use those to secure the packets. They fall apart much more readily on the barbecue.

Sneak Peek

I had to get a sneak peek to make sure the cheese was melted properly! My kids decided that these tasted like pizza and, again, except for the three year-old, gobbled them up (then finished off the three year-old’s plate!)

I hope you will try this at home. It is so easy, so delicious and an unusual presentation of a vegetable that is often overlooked or considered difficult to cook.

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Panini Party August 1, 2009

Once a year, the time comes for me to host some of my favorite friends for Bunco night. My penchant for theme parties (inherited from my very creative mother) really shows itself right about now. There’s just something about taking the menu and expanding it to color the entire evening and give one’s guests a virtual ticket to a fun escape, if only for a few hours.

This year, my plan for the balmy July evening was inspired by the panini maker my DH gave me for Mother’s Day (yes… in certain circumstances, small appliances are the way to my heart!)

So… off to Italy we go!

tuscany.jpg

Outdoor tables draped with simple cotton tablecloths, scattered with votive candles and a vase of sunflowers set the scene. To greet guests before the main meal, small bowls of olives, mixed nuts and fresh cantaloupe. To drink, Prosecco in blue glass bottles and Italian sparkling water with thin slices of lemon. The soundtrack for the evening was, of course, the soundtrack from “Big Night” (a must-see!),

some Rosemary Clooney and Louie Prima.

The menu was simple. Two kinds of panini were offered. First, prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and basil leaves on garlic sourdough bread brushed with a homemade, garlic-laced balsamic vinaigrette. The second was a delicious broccoli rabe (briefly blanched, chopped and sautéed with olive oil, garlic and finely minced anchovies) with provolone. If you’ve never tried broccoli rabe (also known as rapini or broccolini), it is delicious and slightly bitter, but more tender than broccoli. It is actually a form of turnip green.

Broccoli Raab/Rapini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It lends itself to many of the applications one might use for spinach and is delicious sautéed and served with pasta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Alongside the panini was a salad of mixed baby lettuces and arugula dressed with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

Extra bread was brushed with the balsamic and garlic vinaigrette used on the prosciutto sandwich and then quickly grilled on the panini maker. It was of enormous help that my friend, Julie, brought her panini maker, as well.

The post-dinner treat was a trio of fabulous gelatos – Napa strawberry, white chocolate raspberry and double dark chocolate. I served small scoops in delicate, pressed-glass drinking glasses and topped each with Pizelle cookies, which were a big hit.

The kicker? We never got around to playing bunco, but we had a great night in Italy!