Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cheddar, Peppadew & Basil Panini

I have always loved the classic combination of spicy peppers and cheddar cheese.  Adding the sweet, summer feel of basil and  tangy Dijon mustard takes this flavor profile to another level. Grilling it all together panini style? Over the top!

Layer all ingredients, add top slice and press
I have a panini press so these sandwiches are easy and quick to make whenever I have a craving.  If you don't have a panini maker you can make this as more of a classic grilled cheese...either way works. Enjoy!

Cheddar, Peppadew & Basil Panini 
(makes 2)

1/2 sourdough or French baguette, cut in half vertically and horizontally
Dijon mustard
4 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese
10 sweet/hot Peppadew peppers
8 large basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil (I use chile-infused olive oil for this panini)
sea salt
black pepper

Spread about a teaspoon of mustard on each slice of bread. Layer 2 slices of cheese on top of the mustard on the bottom slice of bread.  Add a row of 5 Peppadew, and 4 basil leaves over the cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the basil and season with salt and pepper. Top with another slice of bread, mustard side covering the cheese mixture..  Repeat steps with remaining 2 slices of bread.

Follow the directions on your panini press to grill the two sandwiches.  Cut in half and serve immediately.  (If you are making grilled cheese sandwiches instead of panini, spread butter or olive oil on the outside of each slice of bread.  Grill in a skillet until each side is golden brown, and the cheese has completely melted.

Serve immediately.

Other Grilled Cheese recipes you may enjoy:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pasta Cacio e Pepe (pasta with pecorino & black pepper)

Cacio means "cheese" in Italian and Pepe means black pepper. Cacio e Pepe is an Italian pasta dish that is perfect for one of those "nothing in the house to make for dinner" nights because a well-stocked pantry usually has pasta, salt, pepper, and cheese on-hand. The classic dish calls for only these four ingredients the addition of some pasta water to melt the cheese and help coat the pasta.

I have added butter and olive oil for the taste and texture but feel free to leave them out if you want the classic version. I also was inspired by the addition of greens that I first had in a restaurant in Italy many years ago. The arugula provides a peppery "bite" which is beautiful with the black pepper. A milder take includes baby spinach leaves.  Whatever ingredients you choose, Pasta Cacio e Pepe should become a staple in your cooking repertoire. It is just that good.  Happy Pasta Week!

Pasta Cacio e Pepe (pasta with pecorino & black pepper)
(serves 2)

8 oz fettuccine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded, plus 1 tablespoon
sea salt
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh baby arugula or baby spinach (optional)

Bring a large stockpot full of water to boil. Generously salt water and add the fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain pasta.

Add butter and olive oil to stockpot (off heat). Quickly add cooked pasta, 1/2 cup cheese, a large pinch salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir to coat pasta and melt cheese. If the pasta seems dry add pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until creamy. 

Taste and add the additional teaspoon pepper if you like it spicy. Stir in the arugula or spinach if desired, sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dark Chocolate Truffles- 4 Flavors

I first published this post years ago on my Napa Farmhouse 1885 blog and have been making versions of these truffles forever. A new addition is chile flavored ...perfect for New Mexico or anywhere else. You should make these for your Valentine.

I am not a huge dessert fan...would rather have a little more of the main course...and my favorite way to end a meal is with a bit of chocolate with my last glass of red wine. These truffles fit the bill perfectly...excellent chocolate, either plain or subtlety flavored with my favorite herbs, fruit and/or balsamic vinegar. For Valentine's Day, I thought I would make four of my favorites for those I love.

Please don't be put off by the thought of the herbs, chile or balsamic vinegar...give it a try. As my husband Peter..a die hard plain chocolate advocate says..."They are surprisingly delicious".

My Valentine gifts this year are going to be dark chocolate truffles! I don't think it can be Valentine's Day without chocolate, do you? But, here is the best part, homemade truffles are really easy and they don't have to look perfect. I think the handcrafted look looks best anyway.

This recipe makes an equal amount of four flavors of truffles...pure dark chocolate, chile, balsamic, and lavender. Use the proportion of 2 to 1 chocolate to cream to make fewer flavors...I like the variety! And, because there are only two main ingredients, use the best quality you can afford. The ingredients really do make the difference...

**IMPORTANT** if you are making more than one type of truffle be sure to label each bowl as you go...otherwise, they all look the same and you will need to taste to know which is which*** (not really a hardship)

Dark Chocolate Truffles- 4 Flavors
16 oz best quality (70% cacao) bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharffenberger) well chopped
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp dried organic lavender buds
1 tbsp New Mexican red chile powder (chimayo and/or chipotle) plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp good quality pure balsamic vinegar
1 tsp pure Tahitian vanilla
best quality chocolate cocoa powder (I use Valhrona)
additional lavender buds for garnish
1 tsp pine nuts, sliced in half lengthwise
finely chopped pecans

For lavender truffles:  bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and the lavender buds to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for about an hour. Strain lavender buds from cream (discard lavender) and return to stove. Bring back to a hard simmer. Place 1/2 cup chopped chocolate into a small bowl. When cream is ready, remove from stove and immediately pour over chocolate in bowl. Let sit for a couple of minutes without stirring. After 2-3 minutes, whisk chocolate into cream until smooth. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

**note...the lavender cream is delicious on its own...try it drizzled over pound cake and strawberries...or poured over any fresh fruit***

chile truffles:
Thoroughly wash all cooking equipment to avoid taste crossover. Bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and the chile to a strong simmer. Place 1/2 cup chopped chocolate in a small bowl. When cream is ready, immediately pour over chocolate in the bowl.  Follow rest of directions for lavender truffles.

balsamic truffles:
Bring 1/4 cup whipping cream and the balsamic to a strong simmer. Place 1/2 cup chopped chocolate in a small bowl. When cream is ready, immediately pour over chocolate in a small bowl.  Follow rest of directions for lavender truffles.

pure dark chocolate truffles:  
Follow the balsamic truffles directions, substituting the vanilla for the balsamic.

Remove truffle mixture(s) from refrigerator after a couple of hours and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. The chocolate should just begin to soften. I use a mini ice cream scoop for the next step, but you can also use 2 spoons. Starting with one flavor of truffles, shape mixture into small round balls...whatever size you like. Place each ball on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Remember to label each flavor on the sheet. I just use a post-it. When you have finished with all flavors, refrigerate truffles overnight.

Remove from refrigerator. Place nuts on one plate and cocoa powder on another. I roll the lavender, chile and balsamic truffles in the cocoa powder and top each lavender truffle with a couple of lavender buds, a sprinkling of chile on the chile truffles and the balsamic with 2 pine nut slices...looks pretty and identifies the flavor. I roll 1/2 of the plain truffles in more cocoa powder and 1/2 in the chopped nuts. The fun part of this step is you can be as creative as you want...roll in cocoa, nuts (any kind you like) powdered sugar, sanding sugar, melted chocolate...whatever you like.

Refrigerate truffles until ready to eat.

Winter means comfort food at Food Network and this week we are celebrating Chocolate for Valentine's Day. Do you have a favorite chocolate recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Creamy Cheese Frosting
Feed Me Phoebe: 
Dark Chocolate Beauty Bark with Chia Seeds, Pepitas and Goji Berries
The Heritage Cook: 
Gluten-Free Black & White Brownies with Orange Glaze
Virtually Homemade: 
Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Coconut
Creative Culinary: 
Raspberry Boccone Dolce (Pavlova with Chocolate and Raspberries)
Daisy at Home: 
Mocha Mousse Marshmallow Cake
The Mom 100: 
Molten Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakes
Dishin & Dishes: 
Espresso Truffles
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
The Cultural Dish: 
Moroccan Pots de Creme
Red or Green: 
Dark Chocolate Truffles- 4 Flavors 
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Chocolate-Coconut-Cashew Bark with Sea Salt
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Chocolate and Pretzel Bark with Sea Salt
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Fudgy, Chewy Brownies {dairy free}
Haute Apple Pie: 
Mississippi Mud Pie
Taste with the Eyes: 
Chocolate Mint Parfaits with Chocolate Hearts
Food for 7 Stages of Life: 
Everyday Chocolate Granola
FN Dish: 
Melt Hearts with Handmade Chocolate Sweets — Comfort Food Feast