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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

California-Style ABLT (Avocado, Bacon, Lettuce, And Tomato)

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A BLT is a staple in American cuisine. Needing only a few simple ingredients means using only ingredients of the highest quality. This California-Style ABLT (Avocado, Bacon, Lettuce, And Tomato) is a whole different level of deliciousness. Thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes, and leafy greens make the ultimate BLT sandwich. Avocado puts the “A” in BLT giving a much-loved traditional sandwich a California-style makeover.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (3)

Tuscan Soup (36)

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Toppings

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 rimmed baking sheet pan with a rack, 12-inch sauté pan, small mixing bowl

Ingredients:
8 slices of thick-cut applewood bacon
2 heirloom tomatoes, 1/2-inch thick slices
Romaine lettuce, substitute leafy greens
1 sliced avocado
1 (7-ounce) store-bought container of fresh basil pesto
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup of good mayonnaise
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted
4 slices of Ciabatta Bread, buttered and toasted

Pesto Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon of fresh store-bought basil pesto

Directions For Pesto Mayonnaise:
In a small mixing bowl add 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of fresh basil pesto, stir to combine.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Use a foiled covered baking sheet with a rack. This makes for crispier bacon because it cooks the bacon from all sides. The bacon should take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Check the bacon progress after 12 minutes. Once fully cooked, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

In a sauté pan over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Cooking two slices of bread at a time, rub one side of each slice of bread in the butter and flip it over and rub the other side. Once both sides are coated in butter, cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until light golden brown. Repeat this process for the next two slices.

Spread a light coating of pesto mayo on all four slices. Place the lettuce down first, then the bacon, then tomato, with a very light sprinkling of Kosher salt, and then the avocado with another sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Set the tops on each sandwich and they’re ready to serve This is my secret to making a great California-Style ABLT (Avocado, Bacon, Lettuce, And Tomato).

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

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There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

Let me say this if you love good bread, and you’ve made homemade croutons then you know what I’m talking about.

These are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

My Tuscan Soup, French Onion Soup, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Rotisserie Chicken Salad, Panzanella Salad With A Twist, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you two techniques I use when making croutons. One is the stovetop method, the other is the oven-bake method.

Stuffed-Acon-Squash

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French-Onion-Soup

Rottiserie Chicken Salad With Homemade Croutons

Panzanella Salad (2)

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Tuscan Soup (40)

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (1)

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Parsley And Parmesan Croutons

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Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minute
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 cups of croutons

Ingredients For Stove Top Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh herbs, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Ingredients For Oven Bake Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
Fresh herbs, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Directions For Stove Top Method:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure not to overcrowd the bread cubes and that they’re in a single layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot add freshly chopped herbs and/or grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Updated-Tuscan Soup With Parmesan Croutons

French Onion Soup With Mini Meatballs

Roasted Acorn Squash Filled With Italian Sausage And Pears

Panzanella Salad With A Twist

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Pestos and Tapenades

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It’s a meat-free day today at my house. Anything you can spread over grilled and/or toasted bread is delicious.

Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil anymore. You can substitute arugula or spinach, you can add walnuts or pistachios. The possibilities are endless.

The difference between a Pesto and a Tapenade is generally Tapenades are olive-based… yes there are olives in certain Pestos.

In the pictures above I’ve made a Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto, a Pea With Fresh Mint Pesto, and Artichoke Pesto, and a Kalamata Olive With Cannellini Bean Tapenade.

I love to shake things up by using different kinds of ingredients. For example; roasted red peppers, artichokes, peas, Cannellini beans, Kalamata olives, or Ricotta cheese, mix in nuts and fresh herbs.

Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, fresh lemon juice, and a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil are key in making a great pesto or Tapenade. Let’s not forget about the nuts. Traditionally pine nuts are what’s used, not today, it’s pistachios. I even used a variety of herbs like basil, chives, mint, and Italian flat-leaf parsley. I say let your imagination go wild!  Then spread it on grilled bread.

In the next section, is my recipe for the Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto. Recipes may vary from one pesto to another, some tend to be thicker than others. A secret I use to thicken certain Pesto recipes is by adding a small amount of Cannellini Beans. They add creaminess and give great texture to the Pesto or Tapenade.

Sweet Basil (2)

mint

Chives (2)

Roasted Red Peppers

Piquillo Peppers (2)

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Ciabatta

Toasted Ciabatta Bread

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Pestos And Tapenades

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: 10-cup food Processor, rimmed baking sheet pan, chef’s knife, small and large mixing bowls

Ingredients For RoastedPiquilloPepper Pesto:
1 12-ounce jar of roasted Piquillo peppers, drained (substitute roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of Pistachios
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 small clove of peeled garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.
1 loaf of Ciabatta (substitute baguette)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

Slice the Ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2 -inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Brush the top surface of each slice of Ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Start processing the nuts ( Pistachios) garlic and the herb of choice first. You can see this in the pictures above. Once this has been processed, add in the main ingredients. In this case, the drained and rinsed roasted Piquillo peppers, Cannellini beans, fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Next, through the feed tube, at the top, drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. slowly. This will allow you to control the consistency of the pesto as it’s being processed, and you can adjust the amount accordingly.

Finally, add the grated cheese. The reason I do it this way, is so the cheese doesn’t get too hot from that blade doing all this processing and change the integrity of the cheese. I only pulse the cheese through the mix just until it’s mixed through.

This is the method I use when making any type of pesto. I also want to mention, using Cannellini beans gives extra body to the pesto without changing the flavor.

*E.V.O.O. is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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