Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Panini

It all started with a failed Italian bread recipe.

The loaves spread out instead of rising up.  The bread was still delicious, very soft, probably due to too little flour, and nice crumb.  I halved the loaves lengthwise and widthwise and froze them, hoping to come up with a good way to use them knowing that they would be perfect for paninis if only we had a panini press.

A few weeks later it hit me, why not use two cast iron skillets, one to grill and one to weigh down the sandwich?  While we lack a panini press, we have lots of iron skillets, I love them almost as much as mason jars.  They are inexpensive, indestructible, simple and they cook everything you can think of.  Yes, you will miss the nice grill marks, but you'll still have a nice grilled sandwich.  To further test the idea without wasting ingredients, I searched the Internet to see if this was possible.  Of course theKitchn had a post about it, they think of everything!  If you don't have two cast iron skillets, you could try using a regular stainless steel pan.

For the filling, I used what we had in the fridge.  We are lucky enough to have access to delicious, local greenhouse grown tomatoes and peppers in the dead of winter, shiitake mushrooms and greens.  Feel free to use your favorite veggies or whatever you have that is seasonal in your area.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kale Pesto

While traditional pesto consists of raw herbs, garlic, cheese and oil, this version uses cooked greens and roasted garlic.  Perhaps I should use quotation marks around pesto or just call it kale sauce.  Either way, it's a nice way to use up extra greens you may have on hand and my husband, who is not a fan of pesto, will actually eat and enjoy this.  This recipe is a slight variation of a Collard Green Pesto recipe that I submitted for my local farmer's market cookbook, which I note not just to brag, but to bring up the point that this will work with any hardy green.    

Italian Seasoning

For those times when you want something to taste more italian, try this spice mix.

2 tablespoons dried basil 
2 tablespoons dried oregano 
2 tablespoons dried rosemary 
2 tablespoons dried marjoram 
2 tablespoons cilantro seeds
2 tablespoons dried thyme 
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1. Whirl together in a spice blender or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container.  

Adapted from