Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Girl's Lunch

It has been awhile. I got stuck into a new book series and now I have to play catch up! Last Saturday I had some girlfriends over for lunch. I made a panini bar, which is a simple matter of slicing up fresh cheese, tomatoes, herbs, meats and letting everyone build their own sandwich and throw it on the press. I also made stuffed artichokes and honey, walnut and gorgonzola crostini-both Giada De Laurentiis recipes. I love her! Her cookbook Giada's Family Meals is great. So without further ado, here are the recipes!

Panini Bar:
1-2 balls sliced, fresh Mozzarella (Fior di'latte or Mozzarella di Bufala)
2-3 sliced vine-ripened tomatoes
Prosciutto or other deli meats of your choice
bunch of fresh basil
1 loaf crusty Italian bread sliced into 1" thick pieces
olive oil for oiling the outside of the bread before putting it on the press
salt and pepper to taste

Stuffed Artichokes:
1 lemon halved
2 whole garlic cloves
3 large artichokes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
3 tbsp. chopped, fresh, falt-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh basil
2 tbsp. chopped, fresh mint
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1.25 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp. drained capers
3 oz. italian bread, crust trimmed, cut into 1/2" cubes

Squeeze juice from the lemon halves into a large pot of cold water. Add the squeezed halves and whole garlic cloves. Cut off the top 1/3 of each artichoke and discard. Trim off the stems. Clip the tops of the outer leaves. Cut artichokes in half and using a small, sharp knife cut out the fibrous choke and the small purple-tipped leaves. Submerge in the lemon water. Boil until just tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain the artichokes and set them aside while you make the filling.

In a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice, parsley, basil, mint, minced garlic, and lemon peel. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl toss 1/3 cup of the dressing with the tomtoes and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Place artichoke halves cut side up on serving platter. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the dressing around each artichoke and spoon tomato mixture into the center of each artichoke half.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crostini with Gorgonzola, Honey, and Walnuts

2 tbsp. olive oil
24 1/3" thick diagonal baguette slices
6 oz. creamy gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush lightly with oil. Toast in the oven until baguette slices are golden, about 8 minutes. Toss the Gorgonzola with the walnuts in a small bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture onto the baguette slices and press lightly to adhere. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts, about 8 minutes. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey. Serve warm.

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