Category Archives: Appetizers

Spectacular, Spectacular: Grilled Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil, and Shrimp

This past weekend my Uncle Daniel took us on a boating adventure up to the San Juan Islands. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful up there, with vistas you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the States. We boated, we kayaked, we laughed, and of course, we ate. Happily bobbing along on the Moon Dance II, a handmade wooden craft by the renowned Sam Devlin, we enjoyed cooking up feasts in the boat’s galley, aptly named the Moon Dance Diner for all the impressive creations Daniel whipped up there.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

A little pre-trip prep…slow roasting the tomatoes.

Day 17 of no buying groceries, coupled with boat friendly cuisine made this one a little tricky, but no less spectacular. The robust and bright flavors of the slow roasted tomatoes come to life when paired against the sizzling buffalo mozzarella. Basil freshly picked from the garden just the day before provides a welcome depth, and when topped with one impeccable grilled shrimp helps elevate an otherwise generally standard antipasto to an elite affair.

Mt. Baker in the distance.

The gents determining where the afternoon kayak should go.

Sunset at Sucia Island up in the San Juans.

We may have briefly lost a kayak, but it resulted in a midnight paddle where the phosphorescent were absolutely extraordinary, lighting up the water as we paddled through its stillness.

A cup of coffee, a morning kayak ride, and returning to Daniel cooking up omelets in the Moon Dance Diner. Doesn’t get better than this.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

  • 2 Ciabatta loaves, cut in half
  • 1 TB butter
  • 4 slices buffalo mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slow-roasted-tomatoes, room temperature (I’m loving the Smitten Kitchen recipe, right now)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, raw and tail on, tossed in 1 TB Olive Oil
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Using either a grill pan or skewers, cook the shrimp until pink and cooked through. About 2 minutes a side. Once done, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, butter ciabatta loaves and grill until nicely marked, buttered side down, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove ciabatta and top with mozzarella over grill marks. Return to grill and cook until mozzarella melted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Cut loaves in half and top with basil, slow roasted tomatoes, and shrimp.
  6. Enjoy!
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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Appetizers, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio Stuffed with Arugula and Fontina and a *Free* Bottle of Olive Oil

Living in the city, I find that I’m often on guard. This is especially true in my neighborhood, which proudly boasts the most diverse zip code in the USA, but also has the (not so) occasional high-speed car race / gun fight. It’s not really that bad…this is Seattle we’re talking about after all, not Detroit or St. Louis, but it’s also not leave your windows open, drop your bikes in the front yard, walk alone at midnight, small town Americana.

One of my favorite Summer Salads: Mozzarella, Basil, and Heirloom Tomatoes, Drizzled with Olive Oil and Finished with Salt and Pepper

This is why the friendships that we’ve built with the people in our neighborhood are so extraordinary. Perhaps it takes a certain type of person to live in a transitional neighborhood, so there’s some kind of natural pre-selection, but in our little microcosm of the city we’ve managed to create a small town feel, where keys to each other’s homes are shared, dog walks are traded, and calling the neighbor for a cup of sugar is welcomed and often completed with a glass of wine to boot.

In the summer this results in impromptu BBQs, days at the lake, and of course the inevitable doggy play dates. All the gals have made a pact that they won’t fuss about cleaning their house before others come over (though this goes against every bone in my body and occasionally results in an eye twitch), and we’ve all become comfortable enough in each other’s kitchens that taking over a quick salad production or setting the table is second nature.

Getting ready for our most recent feast…three hours of eating, drinking, and laughing.

Perhaps somewhere deep, deep inside me I’ve got some Italian grandmother or something, because I love nothing more than feeding a crowd. Sitting outside with finally snoring puppies at our feet, as evening sets in, and the fire begins to crackle, feels like near perfection.

These appetizers are admittedly a bit of work, but are such a wonderfully unexpected combination of flavors I find myself craving them often. The combination of a mandolin and sliced fontina cuts down on the preparation time significantly, and with a few extra hands these can be quickly whipped together.

GIVEAWAY: The olive oil you use in these is key, which is why I’m very excited to be able to offer one reader a bottle of their choice from the spectacular California Olive Ranch. I’m partial to the Arbequina, which is what I used in this dish, but they have a wonderful selection pending on what you want to do with it. Will happily ship anywhere in the United States.

HOW TO ENTER: Simply share this post using whatever social media channel you prefer (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Messenger Pigeon) and then provide the link to your share in the comment section. Easy as that!

DEADLINE: Friday, August 24th. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday the 27th.

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio Stuffed with Arugula and Fontina
Makes approximately 15 – 20 appetizers, pending on the size of the eggplant, but these things go like hot cakes, so plan accordingly

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio, Stuffed with Fontina and Arugula and Drizzled with Arbequina Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

1 large eggplant, top and bottom chopped off

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best you can afford, I used California Olive Ranch because I’m currently obsessed with their Arbequina variety

Coarse Salt & Pepper

Sliced fontina cheese (if pre-sliced size cut in half so doesn’t lay over the eggplant)

1/2 bag baby arugula

Balsamic vinegar

  1. Using a mandolin, cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips and place slices on a cookie sheet.
  2. Brush each side generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat BBQ and grill eggplant on both sides for about 4-6 minutes or until soft and nicely marked.
  5. Place cheese in center of each eggplant slice and keep on grill until cheese begins to melt.
  6. Remove from grill and return to cookie sheet.
  7. Place small bunch of arugula, perpendicularly, on top of each slice and roll up lengthwise.
  8. Drizzle with more olive oil and balsamic and serve warm or room temperature.

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Filed under Appetizers, Entertaining, Giveaways, Uncategorized