Cooking Italy~Tomato Bruschetta

5 07 2009

One of the marvelous things about cooking with on-line groups is the fascinating group of folks you meet!  Our new friendships made at Whisk Wednesday had an unexpected bonus…Angela of Spinach Tiger is of Italian decent, has been to Italy, and is willing to share her expertise in this cusine! And thus, Cooking Italy was born.  We’re cooking out of Marcella Hazan’s Essential Italian, and will be presenting a weekly dish.

To start us off, Angela selected Tomato Bruschetta…an Italian classic.  While the history of this dish is rooted in the Fall season, with the bread being grilled over an open outdoor grill, the recipe is equally fitting for Summer dining.  Crusty Italian bread is grilled, rubbed with garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with tomatoes and grilled again, and served with fresh basil topping the toasted, smoky bread.  This is a perfect starter for any grilled meal.  You can set it out while you or your partner is putting the finishing touches on your supper, and they won’t mind at all if it takes a little time.

Our rendition has us still using up odds and ends of the great refrigerator debacle (see previous posts), so we used *shhhh* French bread.  Regardless of the origin of the bread, this was wonderful!   We used it in place of a salad with our grilled 4th of July supper.  Grilled chicken breast, garlic sauteed asparagus and bruschetta…mmmmmm!  We found it absolutely delightful, and can hardly wait until we have our own, fresh off the vine, tomatoes available.  We had a few very small tomatoes ready, but no big ones yet. We did have fresh from the garden herbs though. I thinned a bowl of basil starts for this dish…truly fabulous flavors!

What a great start to a new cuisine!  I’ve been reading what Ms. Hazan has to say about Italian cookery, and the similarities between Italian and French are many and varied.  I suppose that’s to be anticipated. When you look at a continental map, they’re part of the same land mass…much like two sides of the North American area, where there are a lot of similarities, yet differences depending on local availability.  But the history…oh my gosh! The Americas can’t begin to touch the history…simply because no one recorded ours! LOL!

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TFF~Chicken Fajitas

2 07 2009

I really didn’ t expect to be able to do a post this week.  We’ve been nursing our refrigerator for a couple of weeks, and the situation was getting no better. Exit one; enter the next. Seamlessly. Except for the food that got thawed while the freezer wasn’t doing so well. With all the odds and ends that thawed (can’t these things happen in January or February when it’s COLD?) we haven’t had a lot of choice about what’s for dinner. This time…things worked out perfectly.

I was surfing the web earlier that evening, and noticed that Tyler’s web blog has a section of clickable menu items with recipes!  This is the coolest place! So many of the recipes we know and love and share are right there at the click of a mouse! It saved me a bunch of hunting, later, when I realized that we had chicken breasts that needed to be cooked PRONTO!! I had seen Tyler’s recipe for Fajitas earlier while I was looking at the recipes available on his site.  I though quickly about all the odds and ends…onions-yep, peppers-yep, chiles-yep…now what about the marinade…off to visit our man, Tyler!   Even in the midst of all the weirdness of changing out a refrigerator, we had everything we needed to make the marinade (ok, it helps that we have citrus trees in our backyard).

TFF-Fajitas

I apologize that you’re getting the tail end of the dinner… I was on a roll and didn’t even think about pictures until we’d finished eating.  The fajitas were superb!  I toasted the cumin seeds in a small skillet, with some peppercorns until they were fragrant, then ground them by hand. Mmmm!  I love that aroma!  I cooked the marinated strips of chicken separate from the veggies, but basted the veggies with the remaining marinade as they were cooking. The sugars in the fruit juices helped carmelize the peppers and onions.  All were tossed together at the end.  One word of warning though…the chipotles go with the beef… I threw them in with the chicken breast before I realized they were for the beef.  Not that that was a bad thing…it just made them a tad spicy!  I think a good tablespoon of adobo wouldbe fabulous with the chicken though! That smokiness….MmmM!  We dressed our tortillas with lettuce, tomato cheese and crema. What a meal!  Thanks again Tyler!