Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

The Perfect Panini

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Well, I just bought myself a Panini press and I’m thrilled. This new toy gave me an idea, fresh Focaccia for my panini. I’m using my Homemade Focaccia With Garlic And Rosemary for The Perfect Panini.

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Prep Time: 1o minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 8 minutes
Total Time: 18  minutes
Yields: 2 to 4 servings
Equipment: Panini maker

Ingredients:
Homemade Focaccia, 4 slices (substitute Ciabatta or a good artisanal bread)
6 slice of fresh Mozzarella cheese, 1/4-inch thick slices
6 slices of Proscuitto, thinly sliced
6 slices of Capicola, thinly sliced
6 slices of Genoa salami, thinly sliced
6 slices of roasted Piquillo peppers, julienned
6 large basil leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh store-bought (Buitoni) basil pesto, divided per sandwich
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, fresh ground to taste

Directions:
Preheat the panini press according to manufacturer’s directions. Using non-stick cooking spray, liberally spray the panini press.

On a flat surface, lay two slices of focaccia to use as the bottom portion for your sandwich. Spread 2 tablespoons of the fresh store-bought basil pesto, evenly divided, on the bottom half of each piece of Foccacia. Place three slices of each of deli meats on each slice of focaccia.

Next, the sliced Mozzarella, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Finally, top with the roasted julienned peppers and fresh basil leaves. Place the tops on each sandwich and press down firmly. Place the sandwiches into the Panini press and close. Cook until the bread is golden-brown with beautiful grill marks, and the cheese is completely melted 5 to 8 minutes. This is my version of The Perfect Panini. 

To get my recipe for Homemade Focaccia With Garlic And Rosemary click the link below.

Homemade Focaccia With Rosemary And Garlic

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Honeydew Melon And Cucumber Soup

Soup’s Chillin’             Let's Dish

Honey Dew Melon And Cucumber Soup

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I love all the little toppings that go on top of a delicious soup as a garnish.  I also like to use certain garnishes to let you know what’s in a particular soup. Today I’m making a cold  Honeydew Melon And Cucumber Soup. I’m displaying a variety of garnishes just to give you a few ideas and would be really delicious to pair with this soup. You could use all or any combination of these toppings you like.

I think cold soups are underrated and not used nearly enough. They are really refreshing, and super healthy too!  You can use this as an appetizer, served in shot glasses, or as a first course.

I’m using fresh mint from my garden for this recipe.

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Fresh Mint Leaves

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First, I want to set aside the ingredients that will give my soup lots of texture and can also be used as toppings or garnish. I’m going to need thinly sliced cucumbers, using a food Mandolin is the perfect tool for the job. I have some other goodies up my sleeve too!

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Roasted Pancetta

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Food Mandoline Slicer

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Honey Dew Melon And Cucumber Soup

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor or a blender, food Mandolin, melon baller, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
1 to 2 melons (8 cups), not overripe, large dice, honeydew melon, plus 1 heaping cup of melon balls for garnish
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, 3/4 peeled and seeded and diced small, reserve 1/2 cup for garnish, plus 12 very thin slices, skin-on (using food Mandolin) reserved for garnish
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves plus 4 small sprigs for garnish
12 slices of crispy Pancetta, optional
4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (keep refrigerated until ready to serve)
1/2 cup of pistachios, optional
2 tablespoons of Agave nectar
1/4 cup of water
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:
First, is to get all the ingredients you’ll be using for the garnish and toppings prepared. The pistachios, diced and sliced cucumber, melon balls, and Pancetta.

Directions For The Pancetta:
Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.
Place the pancetta slices, evenly spread out, onto a rimmed baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and let cool. Transfer a plate lined with a paper towel,. Set aside.

In a food processor, add mint, lime juice, diced melon, diced cucumber, Agave nectar, water, cayenne pepper, Kosher salt. Pulse all the ingredients together, until smooth. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

To serve, equally, divide the soup between 4 bowls. To each of the bowls, add 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt, a few small diced cucumber, and 3 melon balls. Finally, garnish with cucumber slices and a sprig of mint. Crispy pancetta and pistachios are optional. The sweet and salty flavor combination, delicious!!! This is my Honeydew Melon And Cucumber Soup.

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A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home With My Kale And White Bean Soup

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My very good friend Lynn asked me if I would have a cooking class/ luncheon at her home. Without hesitation, I said yes! Her home is located in the historic district of Orlando. A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home With My Kale And White Bean Soup was the perfect place for Lynn and her friends, Marian, Jean, Diane, Gloria, and Sandy to spend some quality time together. I thought it would be a great idea to put a menu together, show the girls some tips, and cooking techniques they could take home and use when they’re cooking for their families.

Earlier in the week, Lynn and I met to iron out all the details. We came up with a plan and set it in motion. Gifts for the girls, a tablescape that would compliment the Italian theme, and then, of course, the menu. The day before the luncheon, I went shopping and found some great seasonal ingredients at the local farmers market in town. I wanted the centerpiece for the table to also echo a few of the ingredients I was using. A large rustic bowl filled with pink grapefruits, lemons, fennel fronds, and fresh bay leaves.

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I set up a small cheese board filled with shards of different types of Parmesan cheeses. The saltiness of the cheeses paired really well with the Peach Bellinis made with fresh peach purée mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, finishes with a strawberry garnish. A traditional cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy.

I went through the steps for each course step by step. The ladies were taking notes which made me feel pretty special. They asked great questions and I think they went away realizing, when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be super fun as well as satisfying.

These were some of the sweetest ladies, I hope that we’ll be able to get together again in the near future. Lynn, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to help you with this amazing luncheon.

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Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds

I love to save the cheese rinds to add to the soup. They add so much flavor!

E.V.O.O.

Olive Oil

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Homemade Croutons

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 to 40 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 (6-quart) Dutch ovens with lids

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board; Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Garnished With Edible Flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade Ciabatta Croutons
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Mint and Peach Iced Tea

Ingredients For Kale And White Bean Soup:
(better known as Beans And Greens Soup)
All ingredients below divided evenly into 2 (6-quart) heavy bottom pots

2 bunches (approx. 12 cups chopped in total) of organic kale, center ribs removed, roughly chopped
4 (15.5-ounce) cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery, 2-inch dice (include leafy tops)
2 large onions, 2-inch dice
8 carrots peeled and 2-inch dice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of nutmeg freshly grated grated
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of vegetable stock, unsalted
8 cups of water (amount of water may vary slightly)
2 (2-inch) pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (1 tablespoon per pot)
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pot)
2 fresh bay leaves (substitute dried)
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary leaves
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for garnish
*E.V.O.O drizzle (drizzle on top as a finish to the soup)
Accompaniment: homemade croutons

Note: smoked sausage is an option to add to this soup (sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick pieces)

Directions:
Turn the burners to medium-high heat allowing the two heavy bottom pot to heat up. Remember that all the ingredients will be evenly divided into the two pots. Once the pots have come up to temperature, adjust the temperature to medium. Add in the olive oil, diced onions, minced Fresno chili, celery, diced carrots, and tomato paste. Stir all the ingredients together cook until vegetables start to soften, around 10 minutes. Make sure to season as you go by adding Kosher salt, black pepper to taste.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, and freshly chopped rosemary leaves continue to stir. About 3 to 5 minutes in, add in the unsalted chicken stock, cheese rinds. Slowly add in half of the chopped kale leaves to each pot. Using a spoon, start to submerge the leaves into the liquid. Next, slowly add in the water and the rest of the chopped kale. This is the point is where you’ll be able to see if you have enough liquid, (refer to the pictures above) allowing 3 inches of space at the top of each pot.

The kale will wilt as it cooks, and most of the ingredients will also release their water. Not to worry, (cooking soup uncovered) as the soup comes up to a boil, water will also evaporate as the soup cooks. Now, the drained Cannellini beans. Next, it’s time to add the 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the freshly grated nutmeg to each pot. Stir all the ingredients together. Bring the soup up to a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the kale and carrots are tender. Once finished, cover the soup pots until ready to serve.

Serve in porcelain bowls with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a drizzle of good *E.V.O.O.

The dessert you see in the pictures above, “Eton Mess By Way Of Italy”  and “Homemade Croutons” recipes can be found by clicking on the links below.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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