Now that the Saints of New Orleans are the 2010 Super Bowl champs (Yippee), I’m reminded of a recipe I would like to share in the Saints' honor. It’s the Muffuletta sandwich and one of the most wonderful and flavorful sandwiches I've ever tasted. It was created in New Orleans more than 100 years ago. But, believe it or not, it's not a Creole or Cajun or French sandwich. It's completely Italian.
According to gumbopages.com, "The muffuletta sandwich was invented by Signor Lupo Salvadore, who opened the now-famous little Italian market called Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906.”
The ingredients that make this sandwich stand out is the crusty Italian bread loaf and the Italian olive salad. The bread is easy to get, but finding the olive salad is another story. I had to coerce a friend to bring some back from Southern California for me. It comes in a jar, and can be found in many Italian speciality stores. It's worth ordering some online if all else fails.
1 round loaf Italian bread (10-12 inches) 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced 1 cup olive salad with oil Split loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Hold sandwich together with toothpicks. Tent with foil and heat in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!
It's party time again and I offered to bring an appetizer. It's always challenging for me to come up with new ideas for appetizers. I was looking for something that would be easy to transport, was warm, and didn't require the use of the hostess' oven when I arrived. At last, after searching long and hard, I found a fun little recipe that met my criteria.
Brie en Croute is a wheel of brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked to a golden brown. The beauty of it was it has to set for an hour after it bakes before serving it. This was perfect because it allowed me to bake it at home and transport it easily. By the time I got to the party an hour had passed and it was ready to be devoured. If you cut into it too soon the cheese is too runny and flows everywhere.
I found several recipes for Brie en Croute on www.puffpastry.com. This one is filled with dried cherries and pecans and was just different enough to interest me. Some other fillings that would be yummy are almonds and parsley, caramelized onions and thyme, or cranberries and walnuts. The possibilities are endless.
BRIE EN CROUTE WITH DRIED CHERRIES, PECANS AND ROSEMARY
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet) 1 egg 1 tablespoon water 1/3 cup dried cherries, softened* 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans 1/4 cup honey 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves OR 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed 1 (13.2 ounces) Brie cheese round 1 package (26 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Entertaining Quartet Distinctive Crackers
Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it's easy to handle. Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Stir the cherries, pecans, honey and rosemary in a small bowl. Spread the cherry mixture into the center of the pastry square. Top with the cheese round. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg mixture.
Fold two opposite sides of the pastry over the cheese.Trim the remaining two sides of the pastry square to 2-inches from the edge of the cheese. Fold the sides up onto the cheese and press the edges to seal. Place the pastry-wrapped cheese seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture Decorate the top with pastry scraps cut with coolie cutters, or additional rosemary, if desired. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with the crackers.
*To soften cherries, mix the cherries and 1/2 cup hot water in a small bowl. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain and pat the cherries dry.
** I had a hard time finding a 13 ounce wheel of brie cheese ( it's easier to find during the holiday months). I did find a 19 ounce wheel at Costco, so I just rolled the puff pastry a little thinner so it would fit over the wheel. I didn't have as much dough left over to decorate with, but it still worked.
If you would like to view a three minute video of step-by-step preparation, go to: www.puffpastry.com and click on watch video next to the picture.
I have lemons coming out of my ears. This happens about this time every year. I can't bake fast enough to use them all, my friends only want so many, and it's against Mother Nature to just throw them away.
So, one way I have found to get more use out of them is to juice them and freeze the juice. I pour the squeezed juice to ice cube trays and freeze it. The next day I pop the frozen lemon cubes out of the trays and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag for easier storage and to prevent them from picking up freezer odors and frost. Now I have easy access to pre-measured cubes of semi-fresh-squeezed lemon juice to use throughout the year.
If I want to add more lemony flavor, I sometimes will grate some lemon zest in the lemon juice before freezing it. Each frozen lemon cube is equal to about two tablespoons. Don't forget to put a date on the freezer bag so you know how old the juice is.
While I'm on the lemon kick, let me tell you about my all-time favorite kitchen gadget. It's called a citrus trumpet. All you do is screw the trumpet into the end of a lemon or lime and squeeze out the juice. You can store the trumpet while still attached to the lemon in the refrigerator for a few days if you don't use all the juice.
Another nifty little kitchen gadget is the citrus juicer shown below. This is the tool to use if you aren't juicing enough lemons to get out the electric juicer, but too many lemons for the citrus trumpet. It's designed to prevent the seeds from being expressed with the juice.
Now, what can you do with all of the juiced lemon peels? Throw several of them in the garbage disposal and turn it on. This not only cleans the disposal, it fills the kitchen with the fragrance of lemony goodness.