Thursday, September 3, 2009

Something special to begin your tailgating!

Tailgatin' Mufalletta
It's football season! Let the fun begin!
Here is a recipe for a fantastic sandwich that travels well, keeps well and feeds the multitudes. It is my variation on a "Muffaletta", a classic from N'Awlins that my family loves. Let me give props to some research I did on the the Food Network website, which I combined with a sandwich I grew up with that we called a "Zep", short for zeppelin, that my parents discovered when we were stationed near Valley Forge, PA.

Tailgate Muffaletta

First make the dressing:

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced

1/3 c. olive oil

2 T. jalapeno olive spread (from a jar, I used Mezetta's)

10 pitted, chopped black olives

6 green olives, with pimentos, chopped

1/4 c. roasted red pepper, chopped

a little fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

Whisk together the vinegar, dried oregano and garlic. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add in the rest of your ingredients

Now, for constructing your sandwich:

1 round crusty, loaf ("boule") of bread, about 1 lb., 7" diameter and 3" high

6-8 slices thinly sliced, smoked ham, such as Sahlens Smokehouse Ham

8-10 slices hard salami

6-8 slices provolone cheese

1/2 onion, thinly sliced and soaked in some cold water**

1 c. shredded lettuce (iceberg or romaine)

1 dill Kosher spear pickle, minced

Cut the top inch off the bread and set aside. Hollow out almost all of the interior of the round bottom, leaving a sturdy shell intact. Spread several T. of your dressing mixture over the bottom of the shell, and up the sides. Layer in the meats and cheeses. Top them with the onions, lettuce and pickle. Spread a little more of the dressing on top. Carefully cover with the reserved top of the loaf.

Wrap this tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 min. and up to 24 hours.

Use the bread you pulled out of the middle of the boule' to soak up the rest of the dressing mixture as a yummy appetizer!

**Cooks note: Soaking the onions takes some of the bite out of them and makes them more palatable. Simply slice them very thinly, and put them into a bowl with some cold water. Let them soak about 10 minutes, and drain off the water before using.

When you are ready to serve, cut the sandwich into pie shaped slices. They can be as thin or as thick as you need them to be, depending on how many people you need to serve. This will AMPLY serve 6 and could serve as many as 12.

And Let Me Just Say, GO HOKIES!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fresh, Simple Salsa

There is simply nothing better than fresh salsa, and it is so very easy to make. Why not try it this week, while tomatoes are delicious and inexpensive at the markets and peppers are abundant?
We have been trying our hand at growing tomatoes and peppers in our backyard in containers. The peppers were extremely successful, the tomatoes, not so much, but we did get a few. Luckily, we have a friend who had lots of tomatoes on his vines and he was very generous! In a addition to that, the local favorite Hanover tomatoes have been on sale at several Richmond area grocery stores, including Kroger and Ukrops.

Here is a very basic, simple and tasty salsa recipe. Enjoy!

Simple Salsa

4 - 5 large Hanover or farm stand tomatoes
1 or 2 Hanbanero pepper (1 makes it spicy, 2 makes it medium hot)
1 handful fresh cilantro, washed, dried and stems removed
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut in quarters
1 tsp. sea salt
a few grindings fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 T. white vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. olive oil

Bring a medium sized pot of water about 2/3 full to a full boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, get out your food processor and dust it off. Wash your pepper and VERY CAREFULLY cut it open and remove most of the seeds and the stem. Wash your hands with soap and dry them with a paper towel. DON'T TOUCH your face while handling the pepper!

When the water comes to a boil, using a slotted spoon, immerse your tomatoes, one or two at a time in the boiling water for about 15 seconds. Remove them to a heat proof bowl and let them cool. When they have cooled, take off the skins and cut out the core at the stem end. Put the onion, garlic and pepper into the processor and pulse it a few times to begin the chopping process. Add in all but one of the tomatoes, the cilantro, and everything else. Pulse the salsa til it is almost smooth then add in the last tomato. Pulse a few more times until you reach the desired consistency.

Don't leave out the olive oil or the vinegar. The oil gives the salsa a little richness and the vinegar kicks up the fresh flavor. The lime juice makes is zesty! Don't be afraid of adding the habenero, using only one or 2 and seeding the pepper keeps the extreme hotness in check while spicing up the salsa for an authentic flavor! This salsa is really good just like it is, but don't be afraid to keep going! Makes about 5 cups.

Make this your own! Add in, as you like:

1 cup. fresh, roasted corn

1 c. drained and rinsed black beans

another hot pepper or 2

3 or 4 minced oil-packed sun dried tomatoes