Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tomato, Prosciutto And Mozzarella Sandwich

I love a good sandwich, but I hardly ever eat them. Over the years I've had a few fantastic, mouth watering offerings like the one I had at Schwartz's Deli in Montreal a couple of years ago, but it seems like the best sandwiches are the ones you make yourself. I like to make them on a whim as I'm usually in a hurry if I'm making a sandwich, and just look around the kitchen to see what I have on hand and make something I think would be good to eat.

Over the years, I have experimented with various different ingredients. When I was about 16, I made a peanut butter and pickle sandwich as I heard they were good. Awesome. If you're not adventurous, then you may never find out what tastes good and what doesn't. I hate throwing food away, but sometimes even a starving person shouldn't be subjected to some of the things I have attempted. Around the same time as the pickle incident, I came home from a party and was quite hungry. I looked all through the kitchen to see what my mother had for groceries and nothing clicked. I was going to give up, and then envisioned cheese slices, bread, peanut butter, crab apple jelly and chocolate syrup all together. Wow, what a bad idea. The next day I told my mom about it and I thought she was going to kick me out of the house for being so stupid. Needles to say, I haven't tried anything that dumb since. Gone are the days of making abstract sandwiches.

Keeping fresh produce around is an important part of eating and staying healthy. It also helps when you are looking around for ideas. If you eat bread, buying different types and flavors of loaves is also a helpful thing as you can really get your creativity going when you want to make anything, including a great sandwich. Today as I was trying to figure out what I wanted on my plate, I noticed I had two loaves of bread out, a whole grain and an olive loaf. The whole grain was almost done, so it was best to finish it off first. Next, there were a couple of tomatoes in a bowl on the counter we picked up this weekend at the farmers market. In the fridge I found a little prosciutto and a tub with some fresh mozzarella in it. Got it figured.

Ingredients

- 2 slices of bread
- 2 slices of prosciutto
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 2 slices of fresh mozzarella
- a schmear of mayonnaise and Dijon or grainy mustard
- 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- EVOO, the good stuff
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions (if you really need them...)

1) Spread the Dijon and mayo on the bread
2) Slice the tomato


3) Place the tomatoes on the bread and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them


4) Lay the prosciutto over the tomatoes and place the cheese over top of that


4) Pour a little EVOO over the cheese and sprinkle the rosemary over top. Eat.


You could consider this comfort food, I guess. I like to eat this when I'm hanging out with O at home or with the Mrs. It's simple, quick and it hits the spot. Using good EVOO makes a big difference as it pairs up well with the tomatoes. I would normally use fresh basil for this but I ran out yesterday, so rosemary was a nice substitute. I don't normally use mayonnaise for anything, but it was there so I grabbed it. Dijon is something I try to use a lot of as it is a good source of selenium, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps me out when I'm having issues with my allergies. After I take a bite I take a deep breath. The mustard helps open up my lungs like I was in a steam room. Take advantage of it when you get a chance to use it, on whatever it is you're eating. There's a reason why it outsells ketchup 2-1.

Little O's Menu

We found some natural yogurt with fruit at Costco this weekend. This is perfect as we can take it with us on the run without making up a cup ourselves. There's nothing I can't pronounce on the ingredients list, but there is cane sugar in it which is actually good for you rather than the normal refined sugar. There aren't any words ending in 'ose either, meaning fructose or glucose. I try to stay away from anything like that as they aren't good for you to be eating. They come in individual 175 g (6 oz) cups and she just about finishes it all herself. Great deal for her and us.

Foodie Happenings

A friend of mine who owns several liquor stores here in town has been helping out with a few things as I am looking into starting a wine importing business. He asked me to go along with him to Vinitaly in Verona starting on April 7th. If you ever want to know anything more than you know now about Italian wines, this is the place for you. I think this is an event I really should be attending, but a certain little person in my life makes this trip a no-go for me this time around unfortunately. John has promised me he will meet with some of the winemakers there in my absence to see how they operate and to try their wines, and I am very grateful for this. I look forward to seeing what information he brings back for me.

Quote Of The Day

"There's nothing like unrequited love to take all of the flavor out of a peanut butter sandwich."

~ Charlie Brown (Cartoon character in Charles M. Shulz's comic strip, Peanuts)


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cinnamon French Toast

If you haven't noticed, the name of this blog has changed to Big City Eater. I did this because originally I wanted it to be called The Urban Eater. I grew up in a small city and found my passion for food there. As I have lived on both sides of this enormous country in big cities and smaller ones, I find my passion for food comes out more in the bigger cities. So, that makes me a big city or urban eater rather than a country or small city eater. But due to other people using the name The Urban Eater, I decided a name change had to be done. I hope this doesn't confuse or make any of you mad. I am extremely grateful to all my readers and hope to continue to grow this blog. Onward and upwards.


I don't eat a lot of bread, or at least as much as I used to. We have French toast about once a month, usually on a Sunday morning for our little family breakfast. As it's not as healthy as having our usual berries, granola, yogurt and ground flax seed breakfast, I try to make sure it is at least extremely tasty.

Yesterday was kind of a laid back, hang around the house kind of day. As I was channel surfing, I saw the Seattle PBS station KCTS had a pledge drive happening called KCTS Cooks. I watched a few people make their favorite dishes and the one which caught our eye was the Campagne French Toast from Cafe Campagne in Seattle. The chef, Daisley Gordon, makes what looks like the best French Toast I've ever seen, or very close to it, so we thought it would be worthwhile to try it. He uses brioche for the bread and also adds orange juice, nutmeg and bourbon to the batter. But, as bourbon makes my spine twist, shake and shudder, I don't have any in the house. Besides, O probably shouldn't be trying it until college anyways, so I opted to go without it. Everything else was on hand, so I was ready to go.

The cinnamon bread came from Cobs Bakery. They make a half loaf and this works perfectly for the three of us. I figured this should be used to make French Toast instead of just plain, old normal bread, and we're very happy with the outcome. Although I can find brioche just a few blocks away at The Carriage House, we'll have to try that another time. I'm looking forward to when I can make that happen.

Ingredients

- 1 small loaf of cinnamon bread. These loaves have 9 or 10 3/4" thick slices. If you can't find any cinnamon bread, just add 1 Tbsp cinnamon to the batter.
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp canola oil

Directions

1) Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them until well beaten. Pour the eggs through a strainer into another bowl. This will make the batter nice and smooth without those clear egg blobs.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients to the batter and mix well.


3) Heat a frying pan or griddle to medium heat and add the oil.When ready, dip a piece of bread into the batter and flip it over so you cover both sides.


Let the batter drip off as you don't want to make a mess. Put the bread into the pan and cook for about 1.5-2 minutes per side.


4) After cooking the bread, put onto a plate and cover it, or place in the oven on low heat, about 125 F (52 C) to keep warm. This is a lid we use for when we are re-heating something in the microwave.


Serve when ready.
Yield: Serves 3.


I usually eat this with a little butter and maple syrup. You can use jam or any kind of fruit spread if you wish. Normally anything sweet goes well with this.

There are some healthy properties in this breakfast dish, believe it or not. Cinnamon is something which should be consumed on a regular basis as it helps regulate your blood sugar levels. It also helps stop the growth of bacteria and fungi, including Candida which is not a good thing for you. Cinnamon is also high in manganese, dietary fibre and iron. The OJ in the batter gives you a nice, big hit of vitamin C, dietary fibre and folate. Nutmeg, although it appears in a very small dose here, aids in digestion and helps increase blood circulation.

Little O's Menu

Cinnamon is one of her favorite things, so she loves this for breakfast. It's nice when she eats what we eat because we can all sit down together. She learns how to eat on her own as we are letting her go crazy with her own spoon, but no fork yet. She is also eating with us when we have the berries, granola, yogurt and flax seed. She gobbles this right up. When it comes to dinner, she still seems to like yogurt and berries or oatmeal. Some of the things we eat she's good with. If there's tomatoes or sweet potatoes, she will eat some of those. She seems to draw the line now on a few things, but her palate will let her know when it's time to do more experimenting I'm sure. Besides, she will have an abundance of different and healthy food in front of her for years to come, so she will have to be adventurous. She will have no choice in the matter. :)

Quote Of The Day

"I went to a cafe that advertised breakfast anytime, so I ordered French Toast during the rennaisance."

~ Stephen Wright, American Actor, comedian and writer


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark