Friday, May 28, 2010

BRUSCHETTA TWO WAYS (Lets Start Simple Here)

The weather in Chicago these past few days has been sweltering. Except for the day that I had to work, I spent as much time as possible in my room with the shades drawn and the air conditioning on. It was spectacular. But that still doesn't mean that I'm enjoying this weather. It also has stalled my cooking because there's only so many fabulous things you can make when you feel as though you'll get heat stroke if you're out of your air conditioning for more than 10 minutes. To make matters worse, our kitchen has no air conditioning. In fact, our whole apartment has no air conditioning. Hence, the holing myself up in our bedroom where I have a window A/C unit, a fan, and usually a cold pack. I'm not a fan of heat.

Naturally, I'm not terribly kee
n on turning on the oven this week. But I was starving and determined to eat something healthy and delicious. On my bruschetta day, we had just had a shopping trip to Stanley's, local produce market extraordinaire, so I had tons of new vegetables and I was dying to use some of my fresh basil, now that both of my basil plants are thriving. Ta Da! Perfect timing for Bruschetta!

I very loosely used a "bruschetta with tomato & basil" recipe from Simply Recipes to make sure that I wasn't leaving anything out. Also, this is a smaller batch because it was only for Benny & me and we were running low on bread.


2 Large Tomatoes, diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, Roasted and then minced

1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (more or less to taste)
6 Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffenade
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese
(diced onion to taste as well if it pleases you - I definitely added it. And also a bit of fresh parsley)
Half of a baguette or whatever other bread you have hanging around
Olive oil for bread (Butter that you've mixed with garlic is a good one as well)

1. Cut the bread into slices, brush with olive oil and toast in either the oven (450 F on top rack for 5 minutes or until bread is golden brown) or a toaster oven until it's golden brown, then take out and set aside. *I know it seems doubtful - I'm just finally becoming a believer after living with the thing for a year - but the toaster oven is crazy effective for this. Also, notably cooler than turning your oven on at 450 during a heat wave. - I even roasted my garlic in it!
2. Put the tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil, and balsamic into bowl and mix well. Add the basil, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste
3. Spoon bruschetta onto toasted bread or serve in a bowl

I like bruschetta way too much and I couldn't resist the temptation to make it again, especially considering how great my basil plants are growing.

A few years ago at my last apartment, where I lived with my sister, we had get-togethers quite often and I was usually in charge of the cooking/baking. As you can imagine, I definitely had my lazy days where I just did not feel like making anything. But i still wanted it to look and feel semi-impresive. One of my heights of laziness spawned something I originally called "Tuscan Grilled Cheese." I'm not sure where I got that name from and its not very Tuscan at all but its fun to say. Everyone loved it and all were impressed, but it was one of the easiest things to make. I cut big hearty slices of french bread and let everyone choose their cheese combination. (There were quite a few choices and fresh mozzarella was definitely one of them) Then I grilled em all up and sandwiched some bruschetta and baby spinach in there.

I had some extra bread from my panzanella this week and I decided that I would do a mini version of this for myself. i ended up making more because benny liked it too and stole one when I wasn't looking. I consider that a good sign.



4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 slices baguette, thick cut
Brushetta from above recipe (With onions and less balsamic)
2 leaves baby spinach


1.In a skillet over medium heat, drizzle about a teaspoon of oil and let sit for about 30 seconds. Then add all 4 pieces of bread, each with one slice of mozzarella on top.

2.Cover until mozzarella begins to melt (a little less if you like your bread lightly toasted) and remove from pan.
3. Place one piece of spinach on two of the pieces of bread. When doing so, try to get curvy spinach pieces and sit them upside down on the bread, to make a little cup for the brushetta and keep it all in there while you eat it. Spoon the bruschetta onto the spinach and take one of the 2 pieces of bread/mozzarella without spinach, sandwiching it on top of brushetta. Serve immediately.

So there you go. Two recipes that are delicious, simple, and just enough food to fill you up without making you feel like you ate too much.

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