Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chicken Panini with Provolone and Sundried Tomato Pesto

Ever since Paul got a panini press from my mom for Christmas, we've made paninis at least once every couple of weeks. These are one of our favorite recipes. And they're super easy.

This recipe makes more pesto than you'll need for two sandwiches, but it keeps well covered in olive oil in the fridge. Use in eggs, soups, or to toss with pasta (and a handful of parmesan cheese) for a quick weeknight meal.

Chicken Panini with Provolone & Sundried Tomato Pesto

Tomato Pesto:
1 8 oz jar sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 cloves garlic
2-3 oz fresh basil leaves (a good handful)

4 slices sturdy, whole-grain bread
2 slices provolone cheese
2 chicken breasts

Drain oil from sundried tomatoes. Reserve.
Place sundried tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a food processor. Pulse until well blended, but the mixture still retains some texture.

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thick. Cook over medium-high heat to sear (we use our grill pan) -- 1-2 minutes/side, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Smear both slices of bread with tomato pesto. Place chicken and provolone between, and place in a panini press for 4-5 minutes. OR place back on the grill pan for 3-4 minutes/side -- until bread is beginning to crisp and cheese is melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Dead of Winter Veggie Pie

The weather was cold. And all but root veggies were out of season. What better to do than to bake a pie? This savory pie was a hit at our house -- and the concept probably has an infinite number of variations to boot. Enjoy!

The Vikings are here!

A few Octobers ago, we ventured out to Dallas, WI with our good friends from Fargo for the Dallas Oktoberfest. This quaint town happens to have it's very own brewery, Viking Brewery. At that time, their distribution only went as far east as Madison, WI. Apparently things have changed!

At a recent visit to our co-op I took a happy stroll down the beer aisle. And to my amazement, I saw cute little 4 packs of beer with the Viking logo on them! I did a double take. Could this be? Is this for real? Yes. It is true. We now have Viking beer here in our area. This makes me very happy since they do some fun seasonal beers that they did not have at the festival. Like Hot Chocolate Beer. In addition to a cocoa flavor, it has a little cayenne pepper to it, so it has a bit of a kick. Keeps one nice and warm during the bitter cold.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Restaurants We'd Like to Try

While the kitchen at BURP! is less active (we've been busy, and Paul has been out of town on business quite a bit), I figured I'd share some of our food related ramblings.

It's been a while since we ventured out to try a new Milwaukee restaurant. But, lately, the itch has hit. And I think we might just have to try one of these out in the near future.

  1. Stonefly - We like the Riverwest neighborhood for its bohemian appeal, and we seem to find hidden gems there all the time (like Nessun Dorma, one of our favorite summer haunts). So, we're hoping that Stonefly, owned by the former co-owner of Barossa (one of Milwaukee's first restaurants to feature "local, organic fare"), will be a winner.\
  2. La Merenda - Yay for tapas! Lo has been enamoured by small plates ever since her first visit to the Black Bottle in Seattle (where she feasted on such delicacies as blasted broccoli and grilled portobella and butter bean salad). Now that Milwaukee has joined in on the small plates trend, she's ecstatic, and excited to try this new spot.
  3. Triskele - This casual, comfortable-looking spot seems to be a nice place to lay low and enjoy a nice dinner.
  4. Meritage - Not sure why we haven't tried this hidden gem, since it's just a mile or two away (and the emphasis is on seasonal, local food). Jan Kelly (former owner of Barossa) is one of our heroes, and I've heard raves. So, let's go!
  5. Hinterland - I remember when the first Hinterland location opened in Green Bay. In the land of snow, ice, and Packers, it was before its time. Now, I'm curious about the Milwaukee Third Ward location... although we'll have to wait until we have a few more pennies to slide together to try this one.
  6. The Social - Not really a newcomer, this used to be an old favorite of ours, but we haven't visited their new location yet (despite the fact that they've been there for over a year now).

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Creamy Potato Soup

This potato soup is a vegetarian variation on one of our favorites, although it's probably too rich to make a regular appearance on our menu.

It also happens to be the winning soup from our January 2008 Soup Night.

Lo's Creamy Potato Soup

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Smoky Sweet Potato Chowder

Another vegetarian favorite of ours. This soup was originally found in an airline magazine -- of all places! But, it turned out to be a keeper.

This soup has had any number of variations at our house, and seems to lend itself well to improvisation. We like it on a cold night accompanied by an apple, sauerkraut, & cheddar quesadilla.

Lo's Smoky Sweet Potato Chowder

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Chowder

This delicious soup was the clear winner at our very first Soup Night.

Broccoli, Red pepper, and Cheddar Chowder
Inspired by the recipe from Gourmet Magazine (2001)

2 medium heads broccoli
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, depending on saltiness of broth
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream (half & half is also very acceptable in this recipe)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Thoroughly clean broccoli. Discard lower portion of stem, and peel remaining stem if tough. Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets.

Steam florets for 5-10 minutes, just until tender. Run under very cold water to stop cooking process.

Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion until beginning to soften. Add garlic, bell pepper, potato, and broccoli stems. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is completely softened, 5-8 minutes. Add cumin, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in cream and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, then season with salt and pepper. Partially puree soup in pot with an immersion blender, being sure to leave some texture to the soup. (OR purée about 2 cups of chowder in a blender until smooth and then return to pot).

Add florets and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Time for MORE Veggies

I've been scanning the posts over here at BURP! and I've got to tell you, I'm appalled at what I see. Seems there's a real shortage of veggie recipes here. You'd almost think that we were turning into bonafide MEAT eaters.

The truth of the matter is that we subsist on a great amount of fairly simple vegetarian fare. Some nights it's a simple sauerkraut & apple quesadilla with smokey sweet potato chowder. Another night, it's a batch of black bean enchiladas with a side of sauteed kale. On the weekend, we like a nice deep dish pizza with spinach, broccoli, and a bit of aged provolone. Sometimes those things just don't feel RECIPE worthy.

But I know that some of you would be excited to see a few more veggie-friendly recipes around here. So, we're going to work on that.

Starting now.
Stay tuned for the winning soup recipe from December's SOUP NIGHT. Broccoli & Red Pepper Chowder.

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