Riding the wave

No other state shouts organic! louder than California; a fact I discovered on a recent trip to San Diego.

The trend toward restaurants serving organic foods or the sale of organically grown foods in grocery stores is not new by any means. But because California is the leading agriculturally productive state in the country, no wonder it boasts the largest number of organic farmers.

I’ve experienced first hand the difference in freshness of taste from organically grown artichoke pizzas to fish tacos topped with fresh guacamole to the unusually sweet blood orange juice served in trendy California establishments.

Unlike here in Pittsburgh, Pa., the word “organic” on the west coast is just as common place as the wet-suit clad sufers who dot the Pacific on any given day from sun up to sun down.

Since I will not be joining these wave worshippers any time soon, I’ll ride the wave of another growing lifestye trend– searching out and consuming anything organic.

In honor of Califronia being the largest (I think maybe the only) producer of artichokes, here is a recipe for a Marinated Artichoke, Ham and Provelone Panini ( I’m still in love with my panini grill!)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices ciabatta bread, or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced
6 ounces thinly sliced provolone
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
2 ounces thinly sliced genoa salami, or ham of your choice

Whisk 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a brush, divide the vinaigrette equally among 1 side of each slice. Divide the provolone equally among the bread slices. Top 6 of the slices of bread equally with the sliced artichoke hearts and sliced genoa salami and then place the remaining 6 slices on top. Brush the outsides of each sandwich with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Heat a grill, large skillet or grill pan over medium heat.

Add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally to compact with a large spatula or the bottom of a heavy small saucepan, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Or, if you’re lucky to own a panini grill place on grill and press according to instructions, about a total of 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove the sandwiches from the grill, cut in half and serve.

Published in: on February+00:00bWed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +0000000000Wed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +0000pmWed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Leave a Comment  
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Panini Paradise

I love everything about cooking. Especially the numerous time-saving gadgets and appliances on the market for the well equipped kitchen. I can spend hours in William-Sonoma or Sur La Table and often do! The most recent object of my affection (thanks to Santa) is my new panini press/grill. You cannot believe the various delicious sandwiches that can be created on this nifty little kitchen helper. For those of you who just landed on the planet earth, a panini is an Italian grilled sandwich filled with any combination of meat, cheese and condiments to you liking and then pressed between a grill similar to a waffle maker. My favorite so far is the Turkey/Apple/Brie sandwich. Here is the recipe, enjoy! (Don’t worry, you can still make it the tried and try method used by my resourceful father. Just wrap a 4×8″ brick with alum. foil and use it to weigh down the sandwich as you grill it. It works just fine!)

Use any firm, crusty bread…Italian, sourdough, French baguette.

Brush the outer slices of bread with olive oil. Spread the inside with mango chutney, or whole cranberry sauce, your preference. Fill sandwiches with thinly sliced or shredded granny smith apples, turkey breast, and a slice of brie cheese. Close sandwiches and grill as directed on press or with your foil covered brick till golden brown.

Good-bye to ho-hum grilled cheese!!

Published in: on February+00:00bTue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +0000000000Tue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +0000amTue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (1)  
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