Monday, May 22, 2017

Mozzarella in Carrozza (inspired post)

I learned about this magnificent cross between a grilled cheese and savory monte cristo from Andrew Zimmern’s fascinating post on Google+. I usually write my own recipes, but I really loved the flavors he put into it, so I used his recipe as a guide with a few minor touches of my own. His recipe is a departure from the original dish as it is enjoyed in Campania: he makes a salty, herbaceous spread to cut the richness of the cheese and rather than batter it in egg and then breadcrumbs he makes a thin egg and flour batter. I have yet to try it the traditional way, although I definitely plan to have a go at it, but I particularly loved the sound of his recipe and I was almost convinced to try making them myself. Almost. Until Paul posted his recipe for homemade tomato soup during Foodies+ cheese month and I knew it would be a match made in heaven.

When you are making these lovely, crunchy, flavorful sandwiches, you’ll want to cover the pan with a lid so that the cheese gets all melty. And luscious. I’ve cut Mr. Zimmern’s recipe down from 6 sandwiches to 4 and I’ve made other changes. I’ll include the link below so you can compare the two.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
1. Make the spread: in a small saucepan, saute shallots in olive oil until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add pepper and anchovies and cook, stirring frequently, until anchovies have dissolved. Add tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to marry flavors and slightly rehydrate. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, make the batter: whisk together eggs and flour, and then add cold water, a little at a time, until it is the consistency of crepe batter (think thin pancake batter). Set aside.
3. Finish spread by mixing parsley in. Assemble sandwiches: evenly divide the spread between four slices of bread. Top the other four slices with an even layer of mozzarella slices and cover cheese with spread slathered bread, spread side inward. One or two at a time (to avoid pan overcrowding), carefully dip each assembled sandwich in batter. Carefully flip to cover each side.
4. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed saucepan over low-medium heat. Lay sandwich(es) in in a single layer. Cover pan with a lid and cook for 4 minutes. Flip each one, cover, and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

Serve and enjoy for dinner, lunch or a decadent late night snack.

Andrew Zimmern's Mozzarella in Carrozza:

Notes: if you are using sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil you can use the olive oil they’re preserved in (as I did).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beef, Black Bean & Roasted Sweet Potato Chili

I have already written a chili recipe, which is a hearty, healthy and satisfying meal. However, I recently became inspired eating at the cafes at my husband's work. He is lucky enough to work for a company which not only feeds its employees for free, but also has many fabulous gourmet cafes to choose from. Some of the 23 cafes my husband's company sustains are open for breakfast and dinner and all are open for lunch. Since he is allowed the occasional guest for a meal I have sampled the food from a few cafes and can attest to its remarkable quality and diversity. One thing most of the cafes seem to do is soup or chili. This sweet potato and black bean chili is one that pops up from time to time. It usually features quinoa instead of beef, but my family loves their red meat, so I've changed it up.

Why try this chili? Well, while it is savory it has just a touch of sweet, courtesy of the sweet potatoes and cinnamon. Far from being a handicap it enhances the rich beef tallow and the starchy beans and is delightfully reminiscent of a rich mole sauce. We love it and it makes a perfect quick meal, garnished with crema (Mexican sour cream) and sprinkled with cotija cheese. I usually serve it with cornbread, but you can serve it with just about any starch.

Beef, Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Chili

1 lb 85/15 ground beef
2 (15 oz) cans organic black beans in their liquid
1 1/2 sweet potatoes diced & roasted (see notes)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 a yellow onion, julienned
1 Tablespoon butter, melted (see notes)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Tiny pinch Cayenne (see notes)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. heat a dutch oven or heavy bottomed large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions and saute until they begin to caramelize.

2. Add spices and cook for another minute. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and break it up into small bits. Cook until thoroughly browned.
3. Add tomato paste, beans in their liquid and about 20 ounces of water.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.
5. Add sweet potato, cover, and simmer until fully cooked (about 5 minutes).
Serve drizzled with crema and sprinkled with cotija cheese alongside cornbread.

Notes: to roast sweet potatoes: preheat oven to 400. Dice sweet potato and toss with butter and Cayenne. Spread on a cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake until slightly undercooked according to your preference (~20 minutes).