Panini!

I just bought a Lodge cast iron grill pan and a Lodge cast iron panini press, and I am in love. Last night for dinner (and again for lunch today), I made panini. They tasted delicious, and the pan and press were easy to clean. (Also, both the pan and the press were made right here in the USA!) Here’s what to do:

Melt about four tablespoons of butter in the grill pan over low heat. Make a sandwich–I used Berlin Bakery non-GMO spelt bread, Hope Springs Farm grass-fed farmers cheese, and Wegmans organic turkey breast slices–and put the whole sandwich in the grill pan. Top it with the panini press.

Keep in mind that cast iron gets VERY HOT. Always use oven mitts with a suitable level of insulation when you handle the grill pan or the panini press.

Allow the sandwich to cook for about five minutes; then remove the panini press, flip the sandwich using tongs, and replace the panini press on top of the sandwich for another five minutes. Ta-da! Panini! My daughter said that she prefers my panini to Panera. Now that’s high praise!

Fattoush!

No recipe today–well, not exactly. I’d like to share a link to someone else’s recipe, which looks like a close approximation of the awesome lunch to which my mom treated me today.

We went to Olive Branch, an amazing Levantine restaurant in South Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), and had chicken fatuche (also spelled fattoush and probably many other ways, in case you’re searching for recipes online). I wondered if I could reproduce the amazing crispiness and juiciness of this traditional dish, and although I haven’t (yet) tried, I have found the recipe I’m going to use. It’s here. The only ingredient that looked tough to obtain is sumac, which I am happy to see that Amazon carries here. I’ll let you know how my Levantine experiment goes in a few days…

Bacon!

Here’s a fun recipe to use up a head of cabbage you may have in your refrigerator. My five-year-old daughter will eat a few bites of my coleslaw, but she told me this dish was “super terrific,” so I’ll be making it again 🙂

Plan to be working in your kitchen for at least 90 minutes, and perhaps as long as two hours. This is a stew, so it’s a great dish for winter, but on any non-super-hot day, it works well.

Cut one pound of sliced bacon into 1.5-inch-long bits and fry it all in a skillet (with a bit of olive oil, if needed). Keep poking the bacon with a fork (or two) in order to cook it all thoroughly and evenly. Don’t let it get too crispy, but make sure it all gets cooked.

While the bacon is cooking, peel two pounds of potatoes and cut them into one-inch cubes. Put the potato cubes into a small pot, cover them with water, put the lid on, and heat the pot on high until it boils. Then cook the potatoes at a managed boil for five minutes. DO NOT DRAIN THE POTATOES.

Take a Dutch / French oven and sprinkle garlic salt (I love Himalasalt), pepper, and minced onions on the bottom. Wash a head of cabbage, peel off the grody outer leaves, core it, and cut the cabbage into small chunks. Place the cabbage chunks in the Dutch oven on top of the seasonings.

When the bacon and the potatoes are ready, put them (along with all of the potato water) into the Dutch oven, and add as much water (or homemade chicken broth–just boil the legs and wings in a soup pot for an hour the next time you roast a chicken) as you need to cover everything in the pot. Heat the pot over low (or, at most, medium-low) heat to a simmer, and keep it simmering for an hour, stirring periodically.

Serve with bread. (I like the Rye Sourdough recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, although I make it with Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour.) Enjoy!

Beer!

Now, I know this is a situation that seems unlikely, but I just happened to have some extra beer around the house. Extra beer? you’re thinking. Yes, extra beer–in the sense that we bought it for a barbecue, had a lot left over, found it to be taking up too much room in the refrigerator, didn’t really feel like moving it to a box in the basement, and realized that we definitely shouldn’t just drink it all to clear some space in the refrigerator.

So here’s what we did: put four brats in a 9×9-inch Pyrex dish, poured two beers on top, and cooked them (uncovered) in the oven for two hours at 375 degrees, turning the brats once (at the halfway point of the cooking time). You know, it worked quite well. My daughter put ketchup on hers (because she’s five years old), and my husband and I put mustard on ours. Quite tasty!

(Note: Many of my recipes are gluten-free, but this one is not. I don’t know if it’s possible to make a gluten-free beer, but I’ve never seen one.)