Monday, July 6, 2009

Cantaloupe Alone is Born

Pre-Thanks was doing double duty as my dinner party blog and recipe blog until Cantaloupe Alone came along.

Please visit Cantaloupe instead of here. All of these photos, recipes, and on have been migrated over. Goodbye until fall, when its dinner party time. A tout a l'heure.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Uncle of all Sandwiches

Inner strata after cutting in half. See how the pesto seeps into the bread.

I don't quite know what the mother or father of all sandwiches would be. Maybe a pb&j, or pastrami on rye? What would the grandfather of all sandwiches be? I guess the Earl of Sandwich would know, but he was not at my 4th of July picnic. The uncle of all sandwiches is a big pan-bagnat style Italian sandwich topped with sopressata, smoked mozzarella, basil, roasted red peppers, artichokes, and pesto on hunky wheat bready. He smells like an Italian deli, is rich (with textures), and is sort of falling apart. Recipe to make it:

1 8-9 inch round loaf of bread
(You want the best! I used Balthazar's Wheat)
1/2 cup pesto
1/4 cup packed with fresh basil leaves
(don't substitute with dried basil, if you must replace use arugula)
1/4 lb thinly sliced sopressata, sliced thinly
1/4 lb smoked mozzarella, sliced medium to thin
1 6-8 0z jar of roasted red peppers
1 6-8 0z jar of oil marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
black pepper (red pepper if you like it hot!)

This sandwich which will be pressed under weighted plates in your fridge, so first make sure you have 10-12" square by 6-8" high space open.

Cut your loaf of bread in half with a long serrated knife. Insides out, which means pull about half (or less) of the bread out from inside of the cut halves. You are making space to layer the ingredients. Spread half of the pesto on the bottom half of bread and the other half on the top. Drizzle a little bit of the artichoke marinade on the each bread half for extra flavor. Arrange the sandwich fillings in this order:

1/2 of the basil leaves
1/2 of the smoked mozzerella
roasted red pepers
artichoke hearts
1/2 of the smoked mozzerella
1/2 of the basil leaves
sprinkle with pepper

Cover with top half of bread. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place on a plate, larger then the sandwich. Cover the top of the wrapped sandwich with another large plate. You are making a plate-sandwich sandwich! Set in fridge. You will need to weigh down the plate sandwich with something heavy. I used 4 cans of beans which I placed in a skillet on top of the plates. The skillet prevents the cans from sliding off the plate. If anyone sees this pile of dishes in your fridge they will certainly think you have the whole idea of cooking backwards. Chill the sandwich for 3 hours to 24 hours, so the juices and flavors mingle.

After slicing in half, cut width-wise to make managable pieces.

Remove from the fridge. Unstack and unwrap the sandwich. Slice in half. Slice each half into 8 pieces, width-wise. Return slices to plate or serving platter. Allow to come to room temperature for about 1 hour.

Craig savors his slice. The uncle of all sandwiches was
pretty popular at the 4th of July Picnic I attended.

I can't lie, this sandwich is tricky to cut! Its innards flop out. Do not sweat it, you can shove those rebel fillings back in the bread with clean fingers. I suggest cutting the sandwich when its as cold as possible. It serves 10-8 with no leftovers, because everyone loves it.

Picnic Perfect

This talented-typography-loving lady decorated her strawberry mascarpone
cream pie with home-made tempered chocolate letters.

I love to be the guest. Forget dealing with directions, gathering gear, and worrying about enough food and paper plates. Its glorious to show up, and bring a thing-or-two to please. 3 categories of food always go over well on the picnic blanket.

1) Alcohol. Especially a slightly fancier mixed drink. Spiked lemonade, shaken margaritas, sangria. If in doubt a bottle of effervescent champagne or prosecco plus juice always are welcome.

Snacking on gooseberries & strawberries

2) Snacks and nibbles. Nuts, olives, fruit, crudité, mini sandwiches, chips, dip. You can be clever with this category, and a mix of health and slightly decadent please em all.

A little goes a long way in making a group feel full.

3) Dessert. Anything sweet makes everyone feel special. Group gatherings are the best place to test out your newest recipes and ideas. All the better if you recipe is a little fancy. Doesn't it feel good to spoil your friends and family?

Oh you could have an ice cream cone. My genius friends
successfully brought ice cream in a cooler bag to a hot day at the park.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rosé Sangria for a Park Day

The apple juice gives it a mellow pink-orange color.
It rained about 2 minutes after I took this pic, can you tell?

Most sangria recipes involve red wine and brandy plus fruit. I thought I would bring an intoxicating rosé and vodka for a lighter sweeter day on the picnic blanket. This recipe is designed to make 2 large bottles of sangria. Perfectly portable to sweeten any group up with.

5 medium peaches, plums, or nectarines - pitted and sliced
1 small granny smith apple- cored, quartered and sliced
1/2 pt black berries
juice of 1 lime
1-3 tblsp sugar

1 large bottle of rosé or blush wine
(I bought a Beringer zinfandel which conveniently does not label its volume, but rest assured it the larger looking bottle)
1 gallon of apple juice
1 cup vodka

Macerate the fruit in a medium bowl with the lime juice and sugar. Macerating gives the fruits time to get to know one another and absorb each others flavors. The less ripe your fruit the more sugar you need, so add sugar as needed. Forget about it for 1-2 hours, this is a casual weekend recipe that doesn't so much attention.

This sangria is not in prison, just sitting in a Brooklyn window.

All of the apple juice into an empty pitcher. Pour half of the wine into the now empty apple juice bottle. Divide the fruit and its sweet nectar-like juices between the half empty apple juice bottle and half empty wine bottle, or are they half full, you tell me. Add 1/2 cup of vodka to apple juice bottle, and the other 1/2 cup of vodka to the wine. Fill each bottle close to the top with apple juice from the pitcher. Taste each bottle. I found I need to add a little more vodka at the end to give the drink just a little zing. You will have extra apple juice for another purpose.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day before serving. Oh dang, its refreshing and punchy. You will have 2 bottles to intoxicate a crowd with.