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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grilled Garlic Cheese Toasts 
With Spicy-Mango-Pineapple Salsa

Talk about easy-peasy! This is another favorite pot-luck-dish. It has few ingredients, and they are either easy to prepare or they come in very acceptable pre-made forms, 
(like canned or frozen corn kernels). Of course the salsa is the best made with the freshest ingredients possible. If you haven't cut corn off of the cob to use raw in a salad or salsa, you've missed out terribly! The gorgeous sweet corn from summer just begs to be eaten in any form possible.
We are just wild about sweet white corn. We watch the weekly grocery circulars for our favorite Hispanic grocers corn specials. As soon as they are advertised, we  pretty much drop everything and go get some. The normal special is 8-12 ears for $1.00! Yup, I said one US dollar! I used to buy major bulk in summer veges and prep them for freezing. I don't generally do that anymore because fresh corn now comes from everywhere in the world it seams, all year round, like fruits. And, possibly because I don't own a 25 cubic foot chest freezer anymore. Yeah, I'm betting that has a lot to do with it! : }

The fragrance of the garlic toasts grilling in the kitchen is soooooo tantalizing it's hard to not stand there and scarf them all down. I have an iron stone grill pan that heats up very well on the stove top. I heat it on high until water drops flicked on the surface sizzle and quickly evaporate, just like testing a pan's readiness to cook pancakes. Then I turn it down to medium-high heat, coating well with non-stick spray. Just as soon as it's beginning to smoke lightly I add what ever it is that I'm grilling. Of course since this pan is iron stone it can also go on the barbie (I just really wanted to say that!)- gas or coals. 

In fact, I've actually made lasagna in an iron Dutch Oven, oiled very well inside, and set down in a campsite fire ring, covered with ashy-hot coals and baked. We literally drove the entire campsite wild! People came from all directions to find out what was cooking and what time dinner was served. I took that as a great compliment, especially since it was the first time I either thought of doing it, and then did it. Campfire hotdogs and burgers are great, I just wanted to see how it would do, and thought it would be fun. I was right! I love iron stone ware.
We were camping with a Church group at the time. There wasn't really any planned agenda really, it was more of a group of friends fellowshipping together. This was the camping trip where we met up with a new family that we'd met the week before. We were all very happy that they came. They had the sweetest little blonde girl about 4 years old, named Chelsea. She had a brother a couple years older that was very protective of her, and just loved her so much. Chelsea and my daughter Candice - who was about 6 1/2 years old had so much fun playing together. Every time we saw them after that weekend, the two girls would just hold hands and play, and play. That's such a blessing to make fast, endearing friends at any age. When I became pregnant with my last child, we found out the baby was a girl. We of course started thinking about unique and beautiful baby-girl names. Candice said one afternoon after Church, that how about naming her Chelsea? We loved it, and the next time we were with that precious family, we let Candice tell them that we were naming our baby after their Chelsea. There were some happy tears to wipe that night. 

So, onward to the recipe!

Grilled Garlic cheese Toasts With Spicy-Mango-Pineapple Salsa
*Many stores now sell "fresh-frozen chunks" of tropical fruits and vegetables - like Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Whole Foods

Ingredients:
Salsa
2 ears sweet corn, frozen kernels will do but don't cook it!
*2 cups frozen and thawed mango chunks, cut into smaller chunks, reserve any liquid
1 medium red onion, chopped small
*2 cups frozen and thawed pineapple, chunks, cut into smaller chunks, reserve any liquid
**1 cup fresh basil,  see the chiffonade technique below 
2-3 teaspoons Kosher salt, if using table salt reduce the amount in half
4 teaspoons sugar

Option: add chopped chilies or pepper flakes to spice it up

Bread
1 cup salted butter
4-6 cloves garlic, smashed and very finely minced
1 Tablespoon dried parsly
1 Tablespoon dried basil

2 fresh Gluten Free French baguettes, sliced in half lengthwise
8-10 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Basil sprig for garnish

Directions:
Prep the basil as shown before moving ahead.
**Basil Chiffonade - Remove all of the leaves from the basil plant, lay one atop another, roll them altogether and slice thinly.
A demonstration of the chiffonade technique, using sage leaves
Free Software FoundationInc. <http://fsf.org/> Wikipedia 
Chiffonade (French pronunciation:  [ʃi.fɔ.nad]): "Chiffonade" means little ribbons in French, referring to the little ribbons you create while cutting. It is a chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips.
  1. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll. 
  2. The technique can also be applied to crepes or thin omelets to produce strips. 
    This technique is unsuited to small, narrow, or irregularly-shaped herb leaves such as parsley, thyme or rosemary due to there being less surface area for the knife to do a practical job.                               
  3. Slice across the roll into thin strips.                                                                                                  
  4. You can now unfurl the strips and sprinkle them over the food, or roughly chop them to make smaller pieces.

Salsa:
5. First - chop the basil chiffonade roughly into medium-small pieces. Then in a large bowl combine the corn kernels, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, red onion, chopped basil chiffonade, salt and sugar, and reserved liquid. (Don't worry if there wasn't any liquid, sometimes the fruits will produce quite a lot, and sometimes not. It will produce some liquid during the rest time before serving). Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Bread:
6. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, add the smashed and minced garlic, dried basil and dried parsley.
7. To grill the bread: heat up a stove top grill pan, or a bar-b-que. Brush the melted herbed butter over each of the four lengthwise cut baguettes. Place the breads cut side down and grill/toast the breads until beautiful "char" grill marks have imprinted on the cut sides. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with the fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
8. Place the stirred bowl of salsa, with a spoon, and the bread platter together. Let guests spoon their own. 

Enjoy!