Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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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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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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Homemade Chili

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There are times when I crave a bowl of my Homemade Chili. Chili that’s smokey, spicy, and with real depth of flavor. In this recipe, I bring out all the stops. To add texture and sweetness, I like adding shoe peg corn. Shoepeg corn is small sweet white corn kernels, and I believe, is an ingredient that’s underutilized. I’m also a believer in adding a moderate amount of black beans to chili.

Everyone who loves chili knows, the longer it simmers the thicker and better it gets. The making of chili takes a lot of love. If you can dedicate 30 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of cooking time, I promise you will really love this chili.

Ancho chilies are dried smoked Poblano peppers. They’re a mild pepper with a smokey flavor that’s perfect for chili.

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Ground Sirloin

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The next day I like to do something a little different. You know how chili’s always better the second day well, that’s when I grab a warm corn tortilla and make a taco. A little Homemade Chili, Pico de Gallo, Chunky-Style Guacamole, and Queso Fresco. YUMMY!

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven with a lid, 10-cup food processor, 3-quart saucepan, 2 small mixing bowls

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
6 ancho chiles, reconstituted and puréed (yields 1/2 cup of ancho purée)
3 tablespoons of Mexican chocolate (optional)
1 (7-ounce) jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed
3 tablespoons of chili powder
3 packed tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of smokey paprika
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers, packed in adobo, seeded and minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 diced red bell peppers
1 diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup of sliced green onions ( reserving the green tops for garnish)
1 large onion, diced
2 (28-ounce) cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 (10.5-ounce) can of beef consommé
2 cups of beef stock, unsalted
1 (15-ounce) can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) package of frozen shoepeg corn, thawed

Toppings:
cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges
guacamole
diced red onion
sliced tops of green onions
tortilla chips

Directions:
Start by reconstituting the dried ancho chilies. Fill a 3-quart saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peppers to the hot water and allow them to soften/reconstitute for 30 minutes.
As shown above, while the dried ancho chilies are reconstituted on the stove, you want to move on to the prep work for the chili.

In the meantime dice the green onions (reserving the green tops for garnish), a Spanish onion, red and green bell peppers, mince the garlic, and seed and mince a jalapeno pepper. Alongside those ingredients, I’ve seeded and chopped a couple of Chipotle peppers. Another ingredient is, I’ve puréed Piquillo peppers and puréed using a food processor then transfer the Piquillo puré to a bowl. I’ve drained and rinsed the black and kidney beans. Thawed the shoepeg white corn.

Next, remove the stems and seeds before adding them to the food processor. Add 1/2 cup (if needed add a 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency) of the cooking liquid to the processor. Pulse until peppers are puréed. After the ancho chilies have been processed, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. then you want to get all your liquids together for the chili, beef broth, beef consomme, and the San Marzano whole tomatoes.

Next, is to get together all the spices for the chili. First, and this is totally optional, is the chocolate. I’m using what’s known as Mexican chocolate. It’s used as a spice and gives a real depth of flavor to the chili. Then there are the standard chili spices, chili powder, ground cumin, sweet and smokey paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, light brown sugar, Kosher salt,  and black pepper. I like to arrange all the spices on a large plate as seen above.

Using a heavy Dutch oven pot over medium heat, start with vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot. To bloom all the spices, add them right in with the vegetable oil. Stirring and mixing all the spices, including the brown sugar. Once the spices release their aroma, add the lean ground sirloin to the pot. Once the meat is combined with the spices, add the Chipotle pepper purée, again, stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, the meat for another 10 minutes, or until the meat is brown and cooked through.

Next, add all the diced veggies along with the minced garlic and jalapeno. To that, the tomato paste. Continue stirring all of these ingredients together, making sure the meat and veggies are well combined.

Now for the liquids. Start with the canned whole tomatoes. Once they’re in the pot, using a wooden spoon, start breaking them up. Add the beef consommé and beef broth, again, giving everything a big stir to combine. Still, on medium heat, allow everything to come up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, simmer for 50 minutes. Once the chili has been simmering for 50 minutes, add the black beans, kidney beans, and shoepeg corn, simmer for another 10 minutes.

Finally, the usual suspects, shredded cheddar, diced red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and of course some Chunky-Style Guacamole! There you have it my Homemade Chili.

Mexican-Style Corn On The Cob

Chunky-Style Guacamole

Pico De Gallo

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