It’s Getting Toastie in Here

In Scotland, you will see the word “toastie” as an option for your sandwich.  What this means is that it will be toasted, or griddled like a grilled cheese.  At St Andrews Brewing Company, I ordered their cheese toastie alongside a mug of their tomato basil soup, and it felt like a taste from home.  The soup was really thick and creamy, and the grilled cheese reminded me of my mum, who would make that for the four of us kids growing up.  Dipping the toastie in the soup was definitely the way to go.img_5769

I really liked the vibes of the Brewing Company.  Their menu is stacked with stick to your rib favourites like mac and cheese, burgers, and nachos.  The bar is the central focus of the restaurant where you can order their homemade beer.  The dark wood and slightly narrow layout makes it feel really cozy and intimate, especially as more people saunter in throughout the night.

Definitely give it a go! And check out their merchandise and beer bottles as well.  Their logo is a really cool design.

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Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

I got the idea for this sandwich from my go to order at Cafe Rustica in Somerville.  Fresh bread topped with pesto and sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Simple but good ingredients make it a treat whenever I order it.  This version has an addition of prosciutto de parma, which melts in your mouth and adds another salty element.  Wicked easy to make you will be stunned by how delicious it is!

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Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

Sliced focaccia

Pesto

Thinly sliced prosciutto de parma

sliced mozzarella

sliced tomatoes (sprinkle with salt and pepper)

Slather the bread on both sides with the pesto.  Layer with the prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato.  Dig in!!

Minestrone Pasta

Seeing as a couple of people in my family have become sick this past week, I thought soup would be a good choice for a comforting meal.  My aunt had told me about a minestrone recipe she had from a friend’s grandmother and I decided to try it.  I added in beans, bacon grease, and pasta, and forgot the peas!  The pasta proceeded to absorb the broth, which was delicious, but made it so that I could no longer call the dish soup!  I served this alongside pesto bread, which is just a crusty baguette slathered with pesto and finished off in the broiler.  I also topped the pasta with fresh romano cheese.  The vegetables all melded down beautifully together and it was really filling even though there is no meat.  Next time I think I will add a little bit of wine for added flavor. photo 2

Minestrone Pasta

olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup of cauliflower, chopped

2 cartoons of chicken broth

1 cup of water

1 can of tomatoes or 1 cup of fresh tomatoes

1 cup of asparagus, chopped

1 can cannelloni beans

1 pound small shaped pasta

a couple tablespoons of bacon grease

Directions

Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and add the bacon grease.  The temperature should be on high. Add the chopped onions, garlic, celery, garlic, carrots, and cook for a few minutes.  Add the broth.

Add 2 bay leaves, parsley, water, chopped zucchini, cauliflower and one can of diced tomatoes.

Let the soup boil for about an hour and a half, then add asparagus and pasta.

Allow to cook until the pasta is finished.  I proceeded to cover it up and let the flavors meld for around 6 hours.  I think this dish just gets better the longer you wait.  Enjoy!

Romaine Greek Salad

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Romaine Greek Salad

romaine salad

chickpeas, washed and drained from a can

feta cheese

fresh tomatoes

cucumber

kalamata olives

sunflower seeds

lemon juice

olive oil

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together to make the dressing.  I went 1/4 parts lemon juice 3/4 parts olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the tomatoes and add salt to help counteract their juiciness.  Let them dry a little on a towel.  Chop the cucumber.  Chop and pit the olives.

Place the romaine in a large salad bowl.  Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, and olives.  Crumble the feta cheese on top.  Sprinkle on the sunflower seeds.

Drizzle on the dressing and toss the salad.

 

Gazpacho Andaluz

While in Spain, I fell in love with gazpacho, which is a cold vegetable soup that originated in southern Spain.  My favorite gazpacho was prepared at the Restaurante Botin, and I found a recipe supposedly mimicking the dish online.  I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted it, it transported me right back to Madrid!  It is a perfect summertime dish and I think next time I will top it with grilled shrimp.

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Gazpacho Andaluz (four large servings)

6 slices of bread, diced

3 tomatoes, VERY ripe

1 cucumber, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 quart water

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 ice cubes

Garnish: chopped egg, drizzled olive oil, extra chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, croutons

In a large bowl combine the diced bread, tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil, and water. Let it soak in the refrigerator for an hour.

After the hour puree the mixture in the blender in batches and pour into large bowl.  The original recipe called for you to put this mixture through a sieve, but I did not have one and it still turned out great.

Add the garlic, wine vinegar, salt, cumin, and ice.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

When plating pour the soup in a bowl and top with cubed vegetables, egg, etc.  Drizzle over a little olive oil on top.

 

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Chopped Greek Salad

This salad is an effortless side dish perfect for spring and summer BBQ’s.  All you have to do is chop up the vegetables and feta, and whisk together an easy dressing.

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Greek Chopped Salad (equal parts of all ingredients)

chopped tomatoes

chopped cucumber

pitted kalamata olives

crumbled feta cheese

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Top with balsamic dressing below.

Balsamic Dressing

1/3 part olive oil

2/3 part balsamic vinegar

freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cheddar, Tomato, Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

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This is a “fancified” version of your traditional grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s still just as comforting! I made mine in a panini press, but you can also grill it on a pan with some butter.

Ingredients 

2 slices of bread (I used whole wheat bread)

2 large slices of tomato

1-2 slices of cheddar cheese (depending on how much cheese you like)

1 onion (chopped into small slices)

olive oil

Procedure

In a hot skillet add a drizzle of olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook the onions, mixing them every few minutes, until they caramelize, or become light brown.

On one slice of  bread, put the cheese. Then add the tomato, and then the caramelized onions. Place the second slice on top.

Put the sandwich in a panini press and grill it until the cheese is well melted.

Tomato Feta Salad

One of the days in Barcelona we went to the Park Guell, home of the famous El Draco sculpture (seen below), and I had a really simple but delicious salad for lunch.  Composed of fresh tomatoes, feta, croutons, and sliced onion, it was a perfect light meal.  It also works as a wonderful springtime/ summer side dish!

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My own version I whipped together under 10 minutes and I omitted the croutons and raw onion.  If you want an added kick drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top for flavor.

Tomato Feta Salad

tomatoes (sliced into wedges or cubes)

feta (cubes around 1X.5 in)

olive oil to drizzle on top

black pepper to taste

salt (I found I did not need to add salt because feta has a briny flavor, but it is all up to your personal preference)

Mix all the ingredients together and serve!

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Chicken Florentine

This meal is amazing.  Full of fantastic flavor, it is a meal fit for a king.  I love the sweetness of the balsamic, paired with the creamy goat cheese, and the tanginess of the sundried tomatoes.  If you want to add a funkier element, switch out the goat cheese for blue cheese!  I used a recipe from Ellie Krieger (picture below), but added a balsamic vinegar sauce (second picture down).

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Chicken Florentine

One 10-ounce package fresh spinach

4 medium sun-dried tomatoes

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

4 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre)

salt

freshly ground black pepper

4  skinless boneless chicken cutlets (make sure they are thin, you can pound them if needed)

1 tablespoon olive oil (probably will need to add more)

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400F

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, grate the cheese, chop the spinach, crumble the goat cheese, and chop the basil.  Pile each ingredient by itself on a cutting board.

Sprinkle on each ingredient to the top half of each chicken breast, roll up, and secure with either rope or toothpicks. Sprinkle the chicken rolls with the salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken until golden, 5 minutes per side.

Place the chicken on a cooking pan and pour the broth on top.  Bake until the chicken is cooked all the way through which took me around 15-20 minutes.

In the large skillet you cooked the chicken in, add the balsamic vinegar and a little more olive oil if needed.  Heat on high for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.  Drizzle over the chicken when you are plating.  Next time I think I will add a couple of chopped walnuts on top for a crunch factor.  Dig in!

Tomato, Pesto, and Basil Pizza

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My sister actually came up with this wonderful pizza.  Pesto, tomato, and basil always taste great together, so naturally we expected this pizza to be scrumptious. And it was! It looks like a dish because we folded the edges over the tomatoes – this made for a really thick crust, which is basically my favorite part of all pizzas (Don’t worry, the ingredients are good too). For the pizza dough, we used the multi-grain one from Whole Foods. We had never tried it before, and we were pleasantly surprised. It had a lot of flavor and was perfectly crunchy. I would definitely recommend  trying this pizza dough!

Ingredients

3 large tomatoes

1/2 cup of pesto

1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (in a jar)

Tarrago (as much or as little as you want, depending on how much you like it)

Basil (as much or as little as you want, depending on how much you like it)

Cheese (we used swiss, but mozzarella would work well too)

Directions

Lay out the dough.

Spread the pesto on the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edge.

Add the diced tomatoes and then put the fresh tomatoes (sliced) on top, maintaining the margin of dough.

Sprinkle on the basil and the tarragon and then sprinkle with cheese.

Add salt and pepper.

Fold over the edges of the dough.

Put the pizza in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. And enjoy!

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