Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Roast Chicken and Spinach Panini

Not that long ago Psychgrad and "R" were having visitors for a few days.  I was asked what an appropriate gift would be for them.  Who knows??  But ... rather than ask them which is probably what I should have done in the first place, I said "get them a panini press, I'm sure they'd love it".  This was not a "my bad" situation but rather one of those moments that I probably should have thought about whether or not they had the space to store another appliance.  What I thought about was how simple and yummy it would be to create new flavours rather easily and open up a new sandwich world.

Well, I wasn't wrong!  "R" seems to have taken to panini making rather passionately and tells me that he's already made  Prosciutto and Pesto , Pear and Brie , Toasted Whole Grain Apple and Cheddar , and  Roast Chicken and Spinach

To me, the beauty is really in the flavour - choosing great combinations, putting them on wonderful bread and letting the magic create.  Ultimately, don't they all pretty much look alike?  I can't usually tell an Italian panini from a Cuban sandwich in appearance, but taste, well, that's a whole other story.

"R"'s Roast Chicken and Spinach Panini  looks absolutely "to die for".  I'm really not sorry I suggested this gift since I am planning a trip in the not to distant future and would be more than happy to have "R" demo several different sandwiches for my eating pleasure.

I want this right now!!!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Eggplant Caprese Stacks

Where has the time gone.  Seriously, I always have really good intentions about getting a post completed today.  Everyday is "today" and I guess you know the rest of the "good intention" story.  

We're in sunny California and so grateful to be out of the gripping cold that has this firm grip on the north east.  My brother arrived the other day and brought with him what he calls his "new favourite cookbook".  He's determined to cook every recipe in the book.  Maybe we'll see a "Wheat Belly, The Musical" opening on Broadway.  He's already  tried several of the recipes and suggested that we would absolutely love them.  We took the challenge and decided to try one for dinner.

We were pleasantly surprised.  My brother, who is affectionately known as the health nut of our family always has new natural remedies for everything that ails.  When he brought his new favourite we all admitted a little skepticism.  I take it back - this book is the bomb!  Who even knew that ground flax works as efficiently as bread crumbs.  Now I know!!  I would make this recipe again - it's wonderful and we're going to continue with the recipes in the book.

Makes 4 servings

1 eggplant cut into eight 1/2" slices
1/4 cup ground golden flaxseeds
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning Mix (see recipe below)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tomatoes, each cut into four 1/2" thick slices**
16 large fresh basil leaves
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 equal slices

Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a shallow bowl or dish, combine the flaxseeds, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the seasoning mix, and salt.  Place the egg in another shallow bowl or dish.  Dip a slice of the eggplant into the egg until both sides are moistened.  Dredge in the flaxseed mixture to coat.  Place the breaded eggplant on a plate.  Repeat until all the slices have been coated.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil until hot.  Cook the eggplant, covered, for 8 minutes, turning once, or until browned on both sides and tender when pierced with a fork.  If needed, add 1 Tbsp of the remaining oil during cooking  Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Place the tomato slices in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil and sprinkle each with 1/2 Tbsp of the remaining Parmesan.  Broil for 4 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

On 4 plates, place the 4 largest eggplant slices.  Top each slice with a broiled Parmesan tomato, 2 basil leaves, and a mozzarella slice.  Top with the remaining eggplant slices, a Parmesan tomato and 2 basil leaves.

Italian Seasoning Mix

2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp dried garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lentil Moussaka

It would appear that I'm officially in the dog house.  Why you may ask?  Well favourite son in law has been cooking up a storm over the past while and I've become the designated blogger for his creations.  "R" has been "gently" reminding me that he's not seeing enough blogging happening.  He's right - we've been either busy for real or procrastinating.  At least Psychgrad has an excuse - between sleep deprivation, a toddler and a newborn, having a shower is a luxury.  

This time when "R" gave me one of his "gentle" reminders, the tone had changed somewhat.  He compared my not posting his cooking to continuously withdrawing from your bank account.  Eventually you're in the red.  Ugh!!!

With Christmas around the corner and Hanukkah in full swing, one might think that we'd be making lavish meals and incredible desserts.   Not so much.  Truth be told, I'd rather have a vegetarian moussaka than cheesecake anyway.   This dish is the full Canada Food Guide all in one dish.  Although a tad time consuming, the result is just so satisfying that it pays to take your time enjoying it.

*** Did I mention that "R" couldn't remember where he got the recipe from so if we've insulted anyone by not giving them credit for their recipe - my humble apologies,

3/4 cup whole green lentils
1 eggplant sliced
4-5 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp dried mixed herbs
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp soya sauce
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium potatoes, cooked and sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced


2 Tbsp vegetable margarine
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp nutmeg
fresh herb sprigs to garnish

  • In a saucepan, cook the lentils until soft but not mushy.  Drain reserving the liquid in a separate bowl.
  • Fry the eggplant until lightly browned, drain on a paper towel
  • Saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery with a little of the lentil liquid.
  • Simmer with the lid on , stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften.
  • Add lentils, herbs and diced tomatoes simmering for 4-5 minutes.  Add the soya sauce and ground pepper.
  • Place a layer of the lentils in a large casserole dish and cover with half of the eggplant.
  • Cover the eggplant with half the potato slices and all of the tomato slices,
  • Repeat with the rest of the lentils and the other half of both eggplant and potatoes.

For the sauce:

  • Melt margarine and add flour.  Lift the pan from the heat stirring vigorously to create a roux while making sure the flour is well incorporated.  Slowly add milk, stirring constantly to make sure you achieve a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to add the egg yolk and nutmeg.  If you don't cool the sauce, you'll have cooked egg - not pretty.
  • Whisk the egg white until still and fold into the sauce.
  • Pour the sauce over the moussaka covering the whole surface.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.   Garnish with herbs and serve.

Chef's notes:
Don't overcook the potatoes otherwise they'll just fall apart.
Use a large enough casserole that's reasonably deep to avoid spill overs