Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mediterranean Chicken Panini

This is a very flavorful panini.  It was a bit of an experiment that came about when I had few ingredients on hand.  Amazingly enough, not only did this work, it was by far one of the best paninis I've ever come up with.  The flavors are bright and vibrant, and compliment each other nicely.


1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cooked and heated
6 tablespoons olive tapenade
1/4 lb chorizo sausage, sliced thin (the cooked &cured deli kind-not raw)
1/4 lb sharp provolone cheese
1 tomato, sliced
8 slices bread of ciabatta, saloio, or Tuscan pane (thin slices)
olive oil

  1. Heat your panini press or pan to med. high - high. Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
  2. Place bread, olive oil side down. Place a layer of provolone, then spread a thin layer of olive tapenade. Add a layer of chicken, a layer of tomato slices and then a layer of the chorizo. Top with another piece of bread, olive oil side out. Repeat for additional sandwiches.
  3. Place sandwich on pan or press, cooking till both sides are golden brown (with a pan, you'll need to flip the sandwich). Cut in half and serve immediately.

For the chicken, feel free to use any cooked chicken you may have-- rotisserie chicken would work fine, though I usually cook mine in a bit of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.  For the chorizo, be sure that you do not use the raw kind, but instead use the kind that can be found in the deli are and is already cooked and cured.  If you can't find that kind of chorizo, the deli style pepperoni can be substituted in a pinch though it won't be as spicy. Also, you can always add the tomato after the sandwich has been cooked if you're worried about the bread getting soggy.  The amounts recommended are estimates, and will vary depending on the size of your bread.  I hope you enjoy it!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Apple & Pear Crisp with Cranberries and Pecans

    Every time I make this the entire house smells of apples, butter and cinammon.  The quintessential comfort food, this is far better than just an apple crisp, since the pears add an aromatic sweetness that's unexpected while the cranberries balance it out with a tartness.  But it's that hint of pecan in the buttery crisp topping that pushes this desert over the edge.  This is my own recipe though I make it regularly for the restaurant I work at, and I'm proud to say people come in looking for it.

    2.5- 3 pounds of apples- a tart variety (I use empire)
    2 pounds of pears (I use Bosc- be sure they're ripe for maximum flavor)
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    3 tbs. flour
    3 tbs. sugar
    1 tbs. cinammon

    1.5 sticks of salted butter (room temp.)
    1 cup flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
    1.5 cups pecans, roughly chopped
    2 tbs. vanilla extract
    1 tbs. cinammon

    1. Peel, seed and cut apples and pears into bite size chunks.  Place fruit in a oven safe pan (approx. 9"x13") and toss in the cranberries, and the few tbs. of flour, sugar and cinammon.  Give a quick mix.
    2. While preheating the oven to 350 degrees and making the topping, toast the pecans for about 10 min.
    3. For the topping, mix all the topping ingredients (as listed above and including the pecans) until thoroughly mixed.  Mixture should be moist enough that it sticks together easily and is almost dough like in consistancy.
    4. Top fruit with buttery topping, making sure to crumble it on as best as you can.  Once all the fruit is covered, place in the oven for approximately 50-60 min.  Topping should be golden brown and fruit should be just getting bubbly. Serve warm, topped with icecream.

    This really isn't an exact science, and you can easily eyeball the amounts and play with the recipe.  The only thing I'd recommend is sticking with a tart apple to prevent it from becoming too sweet.  When adding the topping, try and get as uneven a texture as you can since it will give you more surface area to be crisped.  Also, the riper the pear the more "pear" flavor it will have, so if you can buy them ripe or let them sit for a few days to ripen, you'll get far more flavor.  Hope you enjoy!