Monday, June 16, 2014

Flat-bread sandwiches (schiacciatine)

I prepared this flat-bread sandwich for my friends over the weekend and they absolutely loved it.  Even though I bake my own homemade flat-bread, you can also use baguette, or other  bread of your choice, as the true star of this sandwich is the filling.

The picture shows the open face sandwich before the other half of the flatbread is placed on top.

It contains thinly sliced prosciutto, pickled eggplant with a pesto made of parsley, fresh garlic, and red chili peppers, and boiled quail eggs.

In this video recipe you can learn how to make the pickled eggplant. I prepared one vegan sandwich with the eggplant and roasted red peppers, and one with the prosciutto and eggplant as in this photo, although the variation in this photo has added boiled quail eggs, which go very well with the prosciutto and eggplant combination.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rustic Artichoke and Stracchino Cheese Tart

While visiting my parents' vineyard, I was put in charge of a couple of dishes in occasion of the family gathering, using the produce that we had in our pantry. 

My mom informed me that we had artichokes, so I decided to make a rustic tart, which would be simple to make, easy to serve, and delicious to enjoy.

However, these are the artichokes that were presented to me, which, even if visually pleasing, 
they  resemble those we find in the US, which are normally roasted and served with most of the leaves removed, as they are tough and fibrous. 

But I had to make due, and still proceeded with my plans, so even though I utilized mostly the hearts, the tart was delicious, and a big hit with the crowd.


4-6 medium artichokes or 8 baby artichokes
1 onion
1/2  glass of dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 
1 cup of non-MSG vegetable stock  or water
Olive oil-enough to coat the bottom of a pan
Salt and pepper to taste
Stracchino cheese. If unable to find stracchino, you can substitute with good quality mascarpone cheese, although it is a bit heavier. Alternatively, one can use some kind of melting cheese like Fontina.
Homemade or store bought puff pastry (1 roll)

To clean the artichokes, I cut most of the stem off, leaving about an inch, and trimmed off the green part. I removed most of the leaves by pulling them off,  since they were too tough. However, if using baby artichokes, which are more tender, one can keep many of the leaves on, and then slice off the thorny ends.

After slicing off the ends of the remaining leaves, I quartered the artichokes, and with a knife removed fuzzy hair coating the hearts. Then I sliced the quarters into halves or thirds, and placed them in water containing freshly squeezed lemon juice, which prevents oxidation. Keep the artichokes in the lemony water until ready to use, then strain.

Slice the onion and saute'e in olive oil until translucent. Add the strained artichoke pieces, turn up the heat, toss in the pan for a minute or so, then add the wine and allow to evaporate. 
Once the wine has evaporated fully, add  1/2 the water or broth, and cook down for a few more minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the balsamic vinegar and deglaze,  cooking the artichokes until they are slightly browned on each side. If necessary, add more water and cook down again and drizzle a bit more of balsamic and deglaze again. Maintain a relatively medium to high heat the whole time, as we want the artichokes to maintain their firm texture, and not "poach". Salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the artichoke saute' on top of the rolled out pastry and top with stracchino  or other cheese, and bake in the preheated oven at 350F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Slice and serve.

Can also be served at room temperature.