Italian Caprese Sliders – Top 5 in LA Times Battle of the Burgers

Italian Caprese Sliders – Top 5 in LA Times Battle of the Burgers

Italian Caprese Sliders

Ok I admit it, I lied. It is #NationalHamburgerDay and it’s been years now so I’m reposting this one. I’m also making them for the holiday.

I know everyone is probably tired of these, but in honor of their being chosen in the Top 5 by the LA Times Battle of the Burgers, I’m reposting them (for the last time I promise).  I’ve made a new batch because I really didn’t like the pictures in the old posts.

When I was growing up my father was a true grill man – charcoal only and whatever he was making, there was one beer to splash on the food and one for him!  I on the other hand, love my gas grill (and I think dad has one now too) mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to mess with the charcoal.  Of course, dad would probably not been caught making “wimpy” sliders and I am generally prone to enormous burgers stuffed with cheese but as I mentioned in a previous recipe for the Bacon Sliders, my husband brought home a “slider” pan which I determined wasn’t worth much, but I did like the sliders so here’s another variation.  If you have the time, it is well worth it to make fresh rolls from either your own or the frozen dough.

Italian Caprese Sliders Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2      lb            ground beef

1             lb            hot Italian sausage

1             tsp          dried Italian seasoning

1             med       onion finely chopped

1                            bell pepper finely chopped

3                            cloves minced garlic

18                          (White Dinner Rolls freshly baked – your recipe or frozen dough best)

8             oz           fresh Mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4 inch thick

4             large      Roma tomatoes sliced in 1/4 in thick slices

36          large         fresh basil leaves stems removed

freshly ground black pepper

3             Tbs         extra virgin olive oil

3             Tbs         balsamic vinegar

Freshly baked rolls
Garlic, Onion, peppers and fresh herbs
Ready to mix
Mix gently

1             Gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef and ground Italian sausage (removing from the casings if any), along with the Italian spices, chopped onion, chopped Bell pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Flatten
Use spatula to measure squares
Use spatula to measure squares
Cut squares
Cut entire pan into squares

2             Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan using a rolling pin to make a flat even layer.  Cut the meat into 2″ squares.

3             Grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through to a temperature of at least 160.

4             If not fresh from the oven, wrap the rolls in foil and warm on the top rack of the grill while the burgers are cooking on their second side.

5             When the burgers are done, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.

6             Whisk together olive oil, balsamic and remaining 1 clove minced garlic

7             Place the burger with cheese on the bottom of the bun, add a slice of tomato and two good-sized basil leaves and drizzle each burger with 1/2 teaspoon of the balsamic/olive oil dressing.

Italian Caprese Sliders

Potato LeekTart

Potato Leek Tart


I’m sad to say this dish was just not very photogenic.  It has great flavor and was a big hit with family and friends but I just couldn’t get a good picture so I had put off posting it.  However, it was very tasty and I’ve been requested to put it up so here it is!
Printable Recipe for Potato Leek Tart
Ingredients:
1 pkg frozen puff pastry
4 slices of bacon chopped finely (optional)
2 large well washed and finely sliced leeks
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lb peeled medium diced potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
Procedure:

Puff Pastry


Place both sheets of pastry on a jelly roll pan pinching together the sheets in the middle to make one single layers and bake at 400 degrees for approx 5 minutes – it will not be fully done.  Remove from the oven and set aside, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Boil the potatoes in a large pot for 15-20 minutes, they should be firm but mostly cooked.
In a  large skillet or dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces until crisp.

Saute the leeks until wilted


Saute Leeks


Add the sliced leeks and cook until wilted.

Add garlic and pepper


Saute with garlic and pepper


Add the garlic and pepper and sauté for 1 minute

Add cream


Add the cream 1/4 cup at a time while stirring constantly and allow most of it to absorb before adding another 1/4 cup.

Add potatoes


Mix well


Add the potatoes and mix well.

Add cheese


Add 1/2 of the cheese

Spread on tart shell


Pour onto the partially baked tart shell and spread evenly.

Add cheese


Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is browned and bubbling.

Baked potato leek tart

The Daring Cook's Challenge: Tomato Consomme

The Daring Cook's Challenge: Tomato Consomme

Tomato Consomme


I admit it, I took the easy way out this time.  As much as I love soups and really wanted to go all out, I’m preparing to travel to California to serve 40-50 people on Sunday (family, including a group from Canada who I can’t wait to see) and then another 20 the next Friday (a friend went back to school and just graduated)  so I have a lot of prep to do and just didn’t have the time to properly devote to it.  I used Jamie Oliver’s simplified version requiring only that you strain the ingredients. I so apologize to Peta who prepared such wonderful instructions and I promise I will use them soon!
Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!
So here’s what I did:
Tomato Consomme Printable Version
Ingredients:
2 lbs tomatoes chopped
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup basil leaves torn
1/2 small red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chives or basil for garnish
Procedure:
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and blend until completely smooth with a hand or regular blender or food processor.

Processed Ingredients


line a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and/or coffee filters. (I used both as the cheesecloth seemed like it was going to be too open.

Drain the Ingredients


Place in the refrigerator and let drain for 4-6 hours.  Discard the solids (or use them in another soup or sauce) and serve the liquid garnished with some chives, basil or other herb of your choice.
It was surprisingly flavorful and makes a great summer dish.  Thanks again to Petra for the great ideas!

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad (from someone who doesn’t like salads) – Daring Cooks (very challenging) Challenge

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

As we have already established, I’m a picky eater.   I generally don’t do salads of any kind mostly because I don’t like condiments – no ketchup, no mustard, no dressing (or anything with vinegar in it), absolutely no mayonnaise and healthy is clearly not my strength so coming up with a healthy potato salad recipe was a big challenge for me. I’m not a big yogurt fan either, but some of the flavored ones are ok so I went with that.  The best part though is that I do love potatoes in pretty much any form so I had something to work with! This was inspired by the sweet potato casserole that usually goes with Thanksgiving dinner.  Thanks to Jami for a great challenge.

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Printable Version

Ingredients for 4 side or 2 main course salads:

2 large sweet potatoes cubed into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon bacon or regular salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

6 pineapple rings

1 1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 cup coconut (1/2 toasted)

1 6 oz orange yogurt cup

1 11 oz can mandarin oranges

4 large fresh lettuce leaves

1/4 cup dried cherries

1 tablespoon marshmallow cream

Sweet Potatoes for baking

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet.

Drizzle

Drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle

Sprinkle with cinnamon and bacon salt

Mix

Drizzled and sprinkled

Mix to coat.

Coconut, pineapple and pecans

On a second baking sheet place the pecans, 1/2 of the coconut and the pineapple cut into half circles and sprinkle the pineapple and pecans with brown sugar, cinnamon and bacon (or regular) salt.

Sprinkle

Roast both pans in 400 degree oven for approx 10 minutes until the coconut and pecans are toasted – watch carefully they will go from brown to burned quickly.  Remove them from the pan and continue to roast the sweet potatoes and pineapple for  a total of 30-45 minutes until tender and lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Roasted sweet potatoes

Roasted pineapple

Drain the mandarin oranges, reserving the liquid.  Mix enough of the liquid with the orange yogurt to thin it to a pouring consistency.

Roasted and ready to mix

Reserve 2 pineapple 1/2 slices and cut the remaining into bite sized pieces.  Mix the sweet potatoes, pecans (reserving a few for garnish), toasted coconut and bite sized pineapple pieces together in a mixing bowl with the dressing.

Plated

On the serving plate lay down the lettuce, add the potato mixture, surround with the reserved pineapple half slices and the mandarin oranges, sprinkle with the untoasted coconut, reserved pecans and dried cherries.

Almost done

Top with a dollop of marshmallow cream.

Roasted Sweet Vidalia Onions

Roasted Sweet Vidalia Onions

Ready to Bake

I am a picky eater, everyone knows it including me.  Not only that, I’m inconsistent.  Many things I will only eat certain ways – mostly cooked.  I don’t like unmelted butter, don’t eat too many raw vegetables, especially raw onions and never, never eat meat unless it is completely brown.   (We have a running discussion at my house over what is crispy vs. burnt).  I do however love melted butter and cooked onions, especially if they are really browned.  I can’t explain it and have given up trying – that’s just me.  These onions are simple, wonderfully soft with lots of flavor and are a great side dish – even good enough to eat alone.

Printable Version

Ingredients:

Large Sweet Onion

1/2 stick butter sliced very thinly

1 teaspoon Better than Bullion or 1 bullion cube

1 tablespoon minced garlic

pepper

Procedure:

Large Sweet Onion

Peel the onion, core out a small hole in the middle and cut an X almost through the onion but not quite.

Cut the onion

Gently separate the onion and place a pat of butter in the center of the onion and between the “petals”.

Onions and Butter

Buttered Onion

Place a dab of the Better than Bullion throughout the petals or place the Bullion cube in the center.

Onion with Butter and Bullion

Sprinkle the garlic throughout the petals.

Onion with butter, bullion and garlic

Sprinkle with pepper and wrap in foil.  Grill or bake in a 400 degree oven until very soft, about 30-45 minutes.  These could have actually baked and browned a little longer for my taste, but the natives were hungry so they were done enough!

Baked

Served

Fresh Herb Pasta

Fresh Herb Pasta

Pasta made into Ravioli

I’ve watched the little Italian ladies on TV make fresh pasta on a board by just putting down the flour, making a well for the egg, adding a little water and maybe some olive oil and gracefully mixing it up into a beautiful dough.  Unfortunately my first few attempts were not nearly so successful.   I ended up with either the flour dam breaking and egg all over the floor, a struggle to get the dough to form and then the pasta was either too wet or too dry and stubbornly refused to make anything resembling a proper shape either by hand or with the pasta machine.   When I finally got something I could roll, apparently I didn’t do it enough and it was so thick it was like eating a wet sock.  I readily admit that I love fresh pasta but I also admit that for the few cents it costs, I was willing to just buy it.  Finally though, I have discovered this method that makes a great, easy to work with dough with very little effort.  It works with just a rolling-pin, or a pasta machine and cooks up wonderfully.  Of course, the use of the food processor is probably cheating, but that along with using the semolina flour makes all the difference in the texture.

Printable Version

Pasta Ingredients

Ingredients for 4 servings:

1 cup fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme or whatever  combination you prefer, this time I used lemon basil)

1 cup semolina flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons water (approx. add just enough to make the dough form a ball)

Procedure:

Add herbs to the food processor

Pulse several times until the herbs are finely chopped

Add the flour, salt and eggs

Pulse until well mixed

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, it shouldn't take long to become smooth and elastic since the food processor has done most of the work

Kneaded and ready to rest

Wrapped in plastic to rest - at least 10 minutes 30 is better

After the pasta has rested, you can roll it out with a rolling-pin or run it through a pasta machine and make whatever shapes you want.