Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Black Forest Ham Panini and Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup

My B is usually in for a treat during my days off. He gets to eat more than once a day:-). Since I have too much time in my hands this week, what better way to spend my day off but in the kitchen, right? Ah, just where I belong! If I am not cooking, I am sitting  in front of the big screen watching cooking channels. It's just too cold outside to even go out. One show in particular that I like watching the most is Food Network's Giada at Home. I like the simplicity of her food but at the same time, there is so much flavor to it.

Here is my take on Giada's Ham, Gruyere and Apple Panini. Although, I used a blend of shredded Monterey, Muenster and Pepper jack. You can pretty much use whatever cheese you prefer.  Whatever availability you have in your fridge will do. Giada's recipe called for whole grain mustard. I used honey mustard instead. The mustard in this sandwich really does put a kick to the Panini. Easy and tasty!
What you'll need: whole grain bread (or any old country bread you prefer), shredded cheese (any kind will do), apple (peeled, cored and cut into thin slices, fresh thyme, whole grain or honey mustard, spinach (optional, this was my own addition), and butter.  Melt butter in a heated pan and saute your apple with fresh thyme for a few minutes. Let it cool. Preheat your panini press now if you have one. If not you can just use a heated pan also.  Now let's assemble the sandwich.  Spread each bread slice with 1 tablespoon mustard. Arrange 1/4 cup of cheese on each of 2 bread slices and top with 2 slices of ham. Divide the apple mixture evenly on top of the ham. Add the spinach on top of the ham.  Add the remaining cheese and cover with the remaining 2 bread slices. Grill in the panini press until the cheese has melted and the tops are golden and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup
One of the best and creamiest soups I have ever made. Not only that but this was so easy to make as well.  If you like anything with sweet potato and Mascaporne cheese, you would absolutely enjoy this one.

What you need: butter, chopped shallots, chopped garlic, two big sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into cubes), butter, low sodium chicken broth, mascaporne cheese, maple syrup, rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper to taste.

In a round pot, melt the butter and add the shallots and garlic. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the rosemary stems. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender (but needs to be pureed in batches), blend the mixture until smooth and thick. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Voila! Such a hearty soup during this cold weather. 
Stay warm mes amis. Bisous, Contessa