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All things meat

Father’s Day meat & mushroom panino: always a hit with protein-loving dads

Happy Father’s Day to the fathers among us! Hope you are having an amazing weekend with your loved ones.

In case you’re wondering whether I’m making anything special to eat on this very special day – yes, I am. I am making a blended meat panino. I have been so inspired by the blenditarian movement and by last month’s Culinary Fight Club Blended Burger Challenge that I’ve decided to make something my family loves – a panino, and not just any panino: a blended meat & mushroom panino! Made up of a delicious mix of ground chuck and cremini mushrooms sitting pretty on Swiss cheese goodness, this truly is a great gift for the protein-loving dads 🙂

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Our Cinco de Mayo weekend: It’s time for a double-stacked corn tortilla sandwich – or two, or three!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! How many tacos do you usually eat in one sitting: two, three, more? I can only eat two, which is a shame because I just love corn tortillas. 🙂 The rustic flavor and unadulterated simplicity of corn tortillas reminds me of the polenta I used to eat in my home country in industrial quantities. Both corn tortillas and polenta have recently become very fashionable, yet to me it is their purity of flavor that makes them the most appealing. Unencumbered by non-essential additions, corn tortillas exude honesty, an appreciation of the simple things in life, and a vast journey through history – and for these reasons I come back to them again, and again, and again.

I often use corn tortillas to make double-stacked sandwiches, which my husband loves to eat at the end of a long work day. The heat of the chorizo cuts through the layers of creamy chihuahua cheese to bring fire to the dish, while the tomatoes, sweet pepper and chopped cilantro add freshness and crispiness. Finger-licking at its finest, this sandwich is messy to eat, succulent and oh-so satisfying 🙂 Keep Reading

Back to sour cream-packed deliciousness: my chicken, celery & bocconcini salad and sandwich

You will have a hard time trying to find sandwiches with mayo on this blog. On the other hand, when it comes to sour cream, you will find lots and lots of options. This is hardly surprising: We are sour cream lovers – are we are loud and proud about it 🙂

My family considered sour cream a delicacy when I was growing up. Hard to imagine, but sour cream was difficult to find in the local grocery stores, and we would form a line to buy it. We would take it home in jars we’d brought with us, and we would eat it on its own with a spoon, or on white bread. For the ultimate family treat, we would serve it with hot polenta – a delicious combo with a  creamy consistency and a wholesome flavor.

These days, I eat sour cream with polenta at least once a week. However, I have also been trying to use sour cream as an ingredient in various salads or sandwich fillings. Keep Reading

My review of Smithfield 2016 Chef’s Table: bringing together flavors from all corners of the world to highlight the beauty of pork

Slaughtering a pig can be a rather gruesome event – and I remember it well. When the days were getting colder and holidays were approaching, families all across my home country would gather together and slaughter pigs to have food to put on the table during the harsh winter ahead. Ambushed by people who would get on top of them and leave them unable to breathe, with screaming noises and terrified eyes, the pigs would give their last breaths under the knife, their blood leaving a trail on the velvety snow, their guts exhaling steam in the icy cold morning. This was way before “humane” slaughter practices gained momentum, before “sustainability” became a buzzword and “social responsibility” turned into a big commitment for companies. Back then, there were no private hog producer companies to speak of, and we didn’t much care about how the animals had died. On an empty stomach, one is only concerned with the meat.

Time has passed and practices have evolved, and these days companies are under intense public scrutiny to ensure that they deliver on their promises of good care for the animals and for the environment, in addition to delivering flavorful products. Such is the case with Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. Smithfield has its own DURoC breed of pig, and the company has held a series of Chef’s Table events throughout the country to highlight the flavorful versatility of the DURoC pork products and to emphasize its corporate sustainability policies. I was invited to attend the event which was held in Chicago earlier this week – and that was an offer I couldn’t refuse 🙂 Keep Reading

My 4th of July bell pepper & black bean burger topping: fast to make and easy on the eye – and wallet!

I came up with this burger topping idea almost by accident. We used to love eating chutneys when we lived in the UK, and so I was looking for a burger topping similar to a chutney yet faster and easier to make. I also wanted the topping to have a good consistency and to be able to hold up beautifully when served on a burger. Last but not least, I wanted a relatively inexpensive burger topping, with ingredients that were easy to find and affordable.

Since we love peppers, bell peppers were a “must” from the start. I knew I needed a starchy element for my dish, and initially I didn’t know what that element would be. However, I did have a lot of canned beans in my pantry, so on a whim I decided to experiment with them – hence the “almost by accident” part. 🙂 After several rounds of “bean testing,” my conclusion was that canned black beans worked the best, especially in terms of texture.

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A meat bonanza which holds up beautifully: my three meat panino – with plenty of cheese and veggies to boot!

Some time ago I asked a “panino pro” for tips on creating the perfect panino, and here’s what he said: 1. Use quality bread; 2. Don’t put too many ingredients in the panino because it will fall apart. I fully agree with tip #1. Inspired by the artisan bread I tried at the recent National Restaurant Association Show (you can read my review here), I have been exploring local bakeries in search for tasty and nutritious bread to use in my panini and sandwiches, and some of the culinary discoveries I have made have been nothing short of amazing. When it comes to tip #2 however, I don’t think that’s true in all situations. As long as you handle the panino carefully and choose a good foundation (aka a sturdy quality bread), the panino will hold up beautifully even if made up of more than a couple of ingredients. To support my case, I’m bringing you this delicious three meat panino 🙂

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Let’s wrap things up after Christmas! My turkey and three cheese wrap

It’s that time of the year again – the time to ask the question: what should I make with the leftover turkey meat? As a small family, we always buy turkeys that are on the small side. Even so, there is always extra meat left, which lingers in the fridge for days on end. I use shredded turkey in the omelette I make for my husband in the morning, and in the occasional post-Christmas turkey sandwich. Moreover, I have recently started to use leftover roast turkey to make wraps.

My husband is not a big fan of wraps. He gets to eat a lot of them at work, and the ones that are delivered by the catering company are always on the heavy, greasy side (or so he says) and have a lot of mayonnaise in them. Thankfully, I have persuaded him to give wraps another try, with promising results.

As you know by now, I hardly ever use mayo in our home-cooked meals, and wraps make no exception. Instead, I use cheese – a lot of it! In this wrap I used no less than three cheese varieties, all to my and husband’s liking: cottage cheese, feta cheese and mozzarella. The fluid wholesomeness of the cottage cheese works well with the constant assertiveness of the feta and the gooey seductiveness of the mozzarella. In my opinion, this combo can really do no wrong.

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