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Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches

26 Aug

 

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 (2-ounce) ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place zucchini in a shallow dish. Add 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; toss to coat. Arrange zucchini in grill pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Cut each zucchini piece in half crosswise. Return zucchini to shallow dish. Drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
2. Brush bottom halves of rolls with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Top evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
3. Brush cut side of roll tops with remaining liquid from shallow dish, and place on sandwiches. Heat the sandwiches in pan until warm.

Jackie Newgent, Cooking Light, August 2011

At this time of year, there is absolutely no excuse for not eating locally farmed, locally crafted food in Chicago.  The vegetables are literally pouring off the tables at the farmers markets, peaches on being sold at reduced prices and you simply can’t go wrong with buying blueberries straight from farmers in bulk.  The reasons are endless: on average you spend the same or less than major supermarkets but your money goes straight to the hands of small farmers (no corporate middle man), you can talk to the farmers about where your food was grown, their methodologies, even the kind of weather they’ve had all week, if you’re interested.  By the end of the summer, you’ll know their faces and you’ve probably seen or made a handful of friends at the market.   It helps the environment by cutting down on fuel for shipping and encourages varied-crop farming which decreases erosion often found on massive single-crop farms and, let’s face it, it’s a whole lot nicer to look at than an endless field of corn (and yes, I am from Iowa).   And let’s be serious, the biggest reason is taste.  There is simply no comparison.  Luckily, all of these ingredients can be purchased at the farmer’s market in Lincoln Square except the salt and pepper, which hopefully you have in your pantry already.

This is one of those recipes that shines in its simplicity, bringing out the fresh tastes of the basil (from my garden), tomatoes and zucchini.  The acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar are perfectly balanced by the sweet mozzarella.  The crispy, warm bread, slightly softened by the garlicky olive oil and vinegar is the perfect texture for the softened cheese and veggies.  And I appreciated that this was a one-pan-wonder, ready in 15 minutes since I, and many others, returned back to school this week.

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Butter-Almond-Crusted Fishwiches

17 Jun

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pickle relish
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespooon vegetable oil
1/2 head small cabbageor 1/2 pound shredded slaw mix
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Flour, for coating
2 eggs, beaten
4 fillets tilapia
3 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon
8 slices good-quality white bread or split rolls of choice, toasted
Salt-and-vinegar or black-pepper potato chips
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the mustard, relish and honey. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil. Add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper; toss.

2. Using a food processor, grind the almonds. Stir in the breadcrumbs and thyme. Place in a shallow bowl. Place the flour and beaten eggs in 2 other shallow bowls. Halve the tilapia fillets crosswise, making 8 small pieces of fish. Pat the fish dry and season with a little salt. Dip the fish first in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture.

3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the coated fish and cook, turning once, until brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side. Douse the fish with the lemon juice. Stack 2 pieces of fish and a big pile of the slaw on the toast. Halve the sammies and serve with the potato chips.

-Rachel Ray

I’ve been searching high and low for a fish sandwich that can even begin to compare to the delightful tilapia sandwich at Hopleaf in Andersonville.   While this recipe could use a little tweaking here and there (how to get the breading just a little crispier!), it certainly holds its own.  So while I apologize for subjecting you to the ingratiatingly annoying term “fishwich”, I simply had to share.  Is it obvious I’m excited about this?

I have already made a few substitutions including the use of olive oil (and less of it) in the slaw sauce, serving the sandwich on a sliced baguette rather than white bread and I like to splurge on waffle fries, preferable with a tasty aioli sauce (though I’ve still never mastered aioli either – damn you, Hopleaf!).  Nonetheless, the ground almonds are absolutely genius.  They add a mild sweetness, similar to marinating the fish in milk but without the sloppy, soggy mess that can create.  The sweetness of the fish is balanced by the slightly acidic sauce to create the perfect fish sandwich at home.  It’d be a shame not to serve this with a tasty, lighter IPA such as Dales Pale Ale which I recently tried in Denver (a new personal favorite).

Fish Sandwiches with Jalapeno Slaw

21 Dec

1 cup milk

Salt & Pepper

4 5 to 6-ounce  tilapia fillets

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños

Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

3 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce (about 1/2 small head)

4 soft hoagie rolls, split and toasted

1. Put the milk in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add the fish and set aside to soak until ready to fry.  Put the cornmeal in a baking dish and add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

2. Combine scallions, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeños and 1/2 tablespoon pickling juice in a bowl.  Heat about 2 inches vegetable oil in a large pat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees.  Remove 2 fillets from the milk, shaking off the excess, and dredge in cornmeal to coat.  Carefully lower into the oil and fry until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.  Repeat with the remaining fillets.

3. Toss the lettuce with the jalapeño dressing and season with salt, pepper and more pickling juice, if desired.  Divide the fish and slaw among the rolls.

Food Network Magazine, November 2010

Made these last night.  Each individual part is fantastic.  The dressing for the slaw is incredibly tasty and cornmeal-crusted fish always makes a tasty sandwich.  I just thought the dressing completely over-powered the fish and combining the lettuce with the dressing ahead of time made it all a little soggy by the end.  As an easy to solution to both of these problems, I would recommend making the dressing as a sauce for the sandwich, then building the sandwich with the fish and lettuce separately.   Then, perfection!

Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Sandwiches with Italian Barbecue Sauce

27 Nov

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated

1 14.5 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper

4 pieces skinless boneless chicken breast, halved horizontally

12 thin slices smoked mozzarella (1 pound ball)

2 cups loosely packed baby arugula

1/2 cup basil leaves shredded or torn

1 loaf ciabatta bread, split lengthwise and cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and chicken stock and heat through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and lots of pepper.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7-8 minutes.

2. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook on the grill pan, turning once, for 6 minutes.  Remove from the pan and layer 1 chicken piece with 2 mozzarella slices, another chicken piece and another mozzarella slice.  Repeat 3 more times to make 4 double-decker chicken stacks.  Tenant with foil for 1 minute to soften the mozzarella cheese.

3. Combine the arugula and basil.  Pile one quarter of the greens on each of the 4 bottom pieces of ciabatta.  Pile the chicken stacks on top, then cover with the barbecue sauce and bread tops.

Everyday with Rachel Ray, December 2009

This recipe is great for a quick, hearty dinner.  The size of the sandwich and abundance of sauce makes for a messy meal, but it’s definitely worth the napkin consumption.  I made this last night for my boyfriend and me so I only used two chicken breasts. I skipped the stacking of the chicken and cheese under Step 2 and simply melted the cheese on top of the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.  The sandwich is messy enough with a single  layer – I’m not sure how one could eat a double-decker version.  I also used the fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles from Trader Joe’s because they are always out of plain fire-roasted tomatoes, but I thought the chiles added a nice hint of spice to the peppery sauce.  I wouldn’t actually call this meal Italian or barbecue, more a mix of both with a dash of sloppy-joe American, but it certainly satisfies the best of both worlds.