Wednesday, August 28, 2013

white bean, slow roasted tomato and caramelized onion tartine

I'm mad for tartines. I like the word tartine. It sounds posh but its not. Its nothing more than an open-faced sandwich,  a piece of toast with a pile of stuff on it. Essentially the components of a good tartine start with a nice slice or two of country loaf toasted and rubbed with a piece of garlic. Next I like some kind of spread, it needs something to anchor the other components. It can be a spreadable cheese, pesto, egg salad, hummus, nut butter or a mashed avocado.  Next would come a vegetable, fruit or deli sliced meat perhaps and then finished with something like balsamic vinegar, honey, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and some freshly chopped herb. The possibilities are endless. Here's what I used today:

White bean spread (my favorite from Super Natural Every Day)
caramelized onions
roasted tomatoes
fresh basil
Maldon sea salt

I like to cook up big batch of caramelized onions because they are so freaking good and can turn the simplest omelet or sandwich into something amazing. This would have been fine with just the spread and the onions.
There are many different and conflicting approaches to caramelizing onions. I came across this article awhile back that really hit the nail on the head about how and why recipe writers mislead the reader into thinking that the process of caramelizing onions is quicker than it really is.  The articles conclusion states that "the best time to make caramelized onions is yesterday". Ina Garten's approach is "turn your back on them". Low and slow is the key.
I found this yesterday. It's a "How to" blog post with great process photos. I can't even begin to express the beauty of caramelized onions. They're inexpensive, you'll sharpen your knife skills in no time and they practically make themselves.
My next favorite fridge staple is the white bean spread I seem to always have on hand these days. In addition to it being super good, after work, late-night snackage with some baked pita chips, or just spread on my toast, it makes a perfectly awesome bed for holding onto those gooey good caramelized onions and sweet little slow roasted tomatoes. Topped off with some slivered basil and a sprinkle of maldon sea salt and this comes together in no time, providing you've already got your onions in the fridge.  I was finishing them off this morning and I noticed a box of cherry tomatoes I'd forgotten about and in need of urgent care.
To slow roast tomatoes, slice them in half and lay them, cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Roast them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Again, a low and slow approach to roasted tomatoes has its merits too. In Gwyneth Paltrow's first book she roasts plum tomatoes at 200 degrees for 4 hours.  Slivered basil  and Maldon sea salt posh it up

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'm obsessed. I know it, but nothing makes me happier than the grilled cheese sandwich. Just thinking about it makes me all twitchy, especially when I know I've got all the goods in the little kitchen to get this going.  I really wanna go home and make this right now. So I'll make this quick.
After much R & D, I've come to the conclusion that I really like blue cheese in my UGCS along with a Gruyere. I bought a buttermilk blue cheese at work a couple of weeks ago that had just enough bite, it was juuuust right. Because it's not enough for me to dive into the blue cheese, I also love Dijon mustard on my UGCS.
So it goes like this:
1. turn on the broiler.
2. Pull out a skillet
3. Butter 2 slices of bread
4. grate and/or crumble your cheese(s)
5. Pull out that jar of caramelized onions you keep on hand-you do that right? nuke a pile of it.
6. Heat up the skillet and lay in the bread, butter side down and pile the cheeses on each half.
7. When the bread is all golden toasty, transfer the cheese covered slices onto an oven-broiler proof pan and place it under the broiler until the cheese is all melty and slightly browned on top. This only takes a minute or two.
8. If you have any sliced lunch meat or leftover grilled chicken or bacon, dump it in the still hot skillet and heat it up
9. When your cheese is melted and maybe even a little browned on top, remove it from the oven, place your sandwich halves on a cutting board and lay some onions on one half, meat on the other half and swipe some Dijon across your meat side and close the book on your sandwich. Slice in half and admire the layers for a second and dig in.

Friday, August 16, 2013

white bean spread and rosemary pita chips

Mission accomplished!...aaaannnnd several firsts. Busy baking pita chips and whizzing up this killer bean spread for the high school reunion picnic on Sunday. It was the first time I've been to one. 35 years! Yikes-I just hope it's not a bunch of old people sharing the deets of menopause and colonoscopies. Hmmmnnnn...was bean dip the best choice? I did soak them over night and cook them with kombu (a strip of kelp that's supposed to aid in bean digestion), another first.
It's the first time I've amped it up for what I'm told will be about 25 people.  I hijacked a little for my lunch. It's from from Heidi Swanson's (ms. 101 CookbooksSuper Natural Everyday. It's turned out to be such a crowd pleaser. Super simple. Super budget friendly and just plain good. This is a link to the recipe. Now I've got to figure out how to transport it all on my bike.

Class of '78

Class of '78, originally uploaded by michele wynne.
Behold the unsuspecting recipients of some little kitchen magic.
A day late for Throwback Thursday, but as usual, I'm a little late to the party. That's just how I roll. The party in question is my high school reunion picnic coming on Sunday. My initial reaction, when the reunion committee tracked me down a few weeks back, was " if..." to just quietly pass. But, curiosity got the better of me and I have no reason not to go. I've got the day off and live a bike ride and short BART train away.  I was "The Quiet Girl". That phrase turns up a lot in my yearbook.
I started high school a stranger in a strange land.
At this moment, I'm sitting at my favorite table at Simple Pleasures blanketed in the comfort of San Francisco fog. "Lo....Ri....Der" plays on Pandora. Is it me? or has a 70's retro music demon possessed Pandora? I can't remember how many times I've heard "That's the Way of the World" in the last week. I took that as a sign that it would be foolish not to RSVP. Get. Out. Of.  My. Comfort Zone.
I finally got my mitts on David Sedaris' new book Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, courtesy of my public library. My copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day is the most re-read book on my shelf. Whenever I see a copy at Goodwill, I buy it so I can give it to someone. I love his crazy twisted humor and the leaps his mind takes is completely off the rails yet entirely relatable. Whenever I'm into one of his books I tend to ask myself the question WWDSD? when pondering certain situations I find myself in. DS would be all over that HS reunion.
I've got a giant pot of beans in the slow cooker and a pile of pita bread to be baked before I pedal off to work this afternoon. I'm making bean spread. It only just occurs to me that serving beans to a bunch of 53 year olds has some DS humor/disaster written all over it. Good thing were gonna be outdoors.