Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brushetta in the kitchen

Remember last week when we made American Brushetta? I had four e-mails from people willing to try using their ovens if it would, in one person's words, "really get me ready for a real recipe." In addition, the young woman whose e-mail had inspired Bonnie and I to put our heads together for a simple, get to know your oven recipe, made it three times and feels she can handle the oven.

A "real" recipe? Here we go, but note that you put more into the oven with last week's recipe than you will with this week's (where all you will be cooking is sliced bread).

8-10 slices of bread
1/3 cup of olive oil

Topping ingredients:
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 cup chopped Romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon of basil spice
1 garlic clove, minced or chopped
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/3 cup crumbled cheese (feta or blue cheese)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush olive oil on both sides of bread slices. (I prefer Italian bread but you can also use French bread.) Don't have a cooking brush? Use the back end of a large spoon. Remember, you are dampening the bread, not soaking it. Put bread slices on a baking sheet. Place in the oven. After seven minutes, remove baking sheet, flip bread slices over and bake for seven more minutes. (Remember, oven temperatures may vary. As a guideline, the bread should look the same as you prefer it for your toast.)

While that is going on, take the topping ingredients and put them into a bowl. You can add any left over olive oil to the bowl as well. Stir the ingredients.

When the bread is done, guess what? You are done cooking. Turn off the oven. Now spoon the mixture onto each slice, about 1 tablespoon per slice.

Warning: You can cook the bread in a toaster oven following the same directions; however, I would not recommend that you brush the bread with olive oil and then attempt to cook the bread in a standard toaster.

This is a "real" dish, with a real "name," that is cooked and requested. Wally's mother and I were talking on the phone this week and she prefers to serve it on bagel chips she's bought at the bakery in her local grocery store. For that, or if you don't have an oven and use a standard toaster for the bread, you can brush with olive oil after.

If you are using the oven, congratulations because you've cooked a "real" dish in your oven. You'll find that it wasn't that hard. Marci e-mailed saying she had eaten Brushetta and she looked forward to the recipe but what would really help her would be a "meal." She'd like to serve the Brushetta on small slices as an appetizer and would enjoy having an easy to cook main dish. Which meant I was on the phone with Elaine, Rebecca and Betty checking to see if the recipe I have planned for next weekend was as easy for others as it seemed to be to me. Betty's concern is time because she has three small children. Elaine's concern is "easy" and time because if it's too much work, she's just as likely to stop on her way from work and pick up something instead of cooking. Rebecca feels she's a so-so cook unless she's got someone in the kitchen or on the phone walking and talking her through each step the first time she makes a dish. They helped me pick a recipe that they found easy. Then I ran the idea past Cedric. He's more apt to toss something frozen in the microwave but he's started using the recipes here and is getting comfortable with "cooking more than eggs." Cedric listened to the steps required and said that not only could he handle that but that he could cook it for the woman he's dating now and have a romantic dinner.

So thank you to Marci for the e-mail and next week's recipe will be baked dish to ensure that we're still using our ovens. It will also involve boiling water on the stove and, for some, browning meat in a skillet. If that has some of you excited, great. If it worries some of you, wait until next week and you'll see how easy all the steps are. (Those who don't eat meat or would prefer to skip meat for that dish will just be using the oven and boiling water on the stove.)

I saw something in Ruth's Public Radio Report today that I wanted to pass on:

From KPFT in Houston:
Program Preemption on Tuesday, February 28 - 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Senate hearings on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.
I do not doubt that other Pacifica stations may carry this but this morning only KPFT had a note up about it on their main page. Eight in the morning until five in the evening are Central Time Zone times.

That's this coming Tuesday. You can listen to Pacifica radio over the internet if you don't live in one of the areas that broadcasts it over the airwaves. Ruth's noting the 10th anniversary of Democracy Now! in her latest report. That is a program we watch in my house. I get more useful news and information from that program than I do from our local paper. As local TV news becomes more and more a crime watch and focused on the petty misdeeds of city workers, as opposed to the city's elected officials, I've found my desire to watch it has decreased. But Monday through Friday, I make a point to watch the hourly broadcast of Democracy Now! If you've never caught a show (which also airs on the radio and online), take a moment this coming week to check it out. I think you'll be impressed. For her report, Ruth called a number of us and asked us to select a report from the show that has stayed with us. I was impressed with various choices and it brings home just how much the show has covered. If you want to know what's going on in the world, watch or listen to Democracy Now! (and online, you can also read transcripts).