Monday, February 26, 2007

Tuna and Spinach Sandwich with Olive-Lemon Mayonaisse

Watching Giada on Food Network several weeks ago, we spied this tuna sandwich that she was making with some kind of olive-mayo dressing and tuna that's been packed in oil. Not a traditional tuna salad, mind, but tuna chunks with a layer of mayo above and a bed of greens below.

Since we like a good sandwich (and since I like pretty much any sandwich), I made a version of this for lunch. It came together really easily, and it tasted great.

We started with a small ciabatta, which we split into enough pieces for four pieces of sandwich. I can't remember exactly what kind of tuna we used, but we did get it packed in oil. I drained it in our colander but didn't rinse. The oil added some really good flavor. For the greens, we used baby spinach.

To start the dressing, I pitted about fifteen black olives and dropped them into the food processor. Then, I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon and some salt and pepper. I processed until smooth. Then I mixed in a spoonful of store-bought mayonnaise (unfortunately, it wasn't until after I made this sandwich that I decided to try making my own mayo from scratch; remarkably simple, there'll be a post about it soon). The result is a bright lavender-colored dressing that really brightens the sandwich.

For easy transport, and to keep the bread fresh, I wrapped the sandwiches in parchment first. This kept them from getting too dry and crispy.

I ate mine at home and added a crisp apple and some rice pudding to balance it out.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cranberry-Walnut Power Bars

We're always on the lookout for good portable snacks, especially something that can give us a little afternoon energy. Last month (in Food & Wine, I think), I spotted a recipe for cranberry-walnut power bars from Heidi Swanson. They were, as with a lot of things I've been cooking lately, extraordinarily simple. And they should be just as easy to manipulate next time we make them.

First came the dry ingredients. These included cranberries, toasted walnuts, oat bran, rolled oats, puffed Kashi cereal, and diced crystallized ginger. Next, I boiled brown rice syrup with vanilla. When the syrup was hot enough, I pulled it off the stovetop and poured it over the dry ingredients.

After stirring to incorporate everything, I pressed the mix into a greased 9" x 13" Pyrex pan. (If you try making your own power bars, make sure you press down hard at this step so you'll have firm, chewy bars that will hold together nicely.) They cooled for about 45 minutes. I cut the whole batch into about 16 bars and wrapped each individually in plastic wrap to keep them fresh. We stored the bars in some Tupperware and ate a few as snacks when we weren't sick from the flu.

I'm already planning to make these again, possibly with chocolate chips and soy nuts or dates and figs. I suspect you could make two half-size batches of dry ingredients and have two flavors of granola bars at the same time.

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Black-Bean Burgers with Lime-Pepper Fries

Turns out, vegetarian burgers are even easier to make than meat burgers. Thus begins our obsession with black-bean burgers.

One can of black beans gave us four burgers. Just rinse the beans and mash to desired consistency. In go some herbs and spices and an egg to hold them together. I cooked these on our cast-iron grill until browned on both sides. At the end, I topped each burger with a couple of slices of avocado. We spooned salsa on them at the table. Simple, quick, and delicious. On the side, we served some oven-baked fries, tossed with lime zest and pepper.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Out of the kitchen.

The one-two punch of a brutal stomach flu and preparing for a vacation has made the kitchen a quiet, lonely place this past week.

So, instead of the usual cooking photos, I invite you to share some of our culinary adventures from the weekend. Lee and I spent four days in Tucson for a pre-wedding getaway, where we feasted on a variety of organic, local foods at Cafe Poca Cosa, ate the most amazing goat cheese and shrimp quesadillas ever at Barrio, and snacked on fry bread sandwiches at a little cafe on the Tohono O'ldham Indian Reservation.

Check out vacation photos here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Moroccan-Style Potato and Egg Sandwiches

I spotted these sandwiches in Gourment magazine and couldn't resist making them. The original recipe called for Portugese rolls, but, for some reason, I had a hard time tracking those down around here. At one nearby bakery, the guy behind the counter responded with "what are those?" At Whole Foods, though, I found some really nice ciabata rolls.

The recipe itself is a cinch. Basically, hard boil enough eggs for everybody to have one. Sauté some sliced onion, potato, and cubanelle pepper. Then, when everything's done (vegetables are soft, eggs are cooked and quartered), stuff the sandwiches. First, hollow out the rolls. Then, make a bottom layer of two egg quarters. Pile some of the vegetables on top of the eggs. Top the sandwich off with two more egg quarters. We sprinkled a mix of cumin, cayenne and paprika on ours. Next time, we'll either mix that in as we layer the filling, or else we'll put them out on the table so we can add more when we get down to the bottom of the sandwich.

They made a great, quick breakfast, and they'd probably make a great brunch food, too.

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