A beautiful, bright sunny day helps to elevate our mood into a positive and higher vibration; so when we have one at this time of year, enjoy it.
When eating out, there are usually two or more of us enjoying the experience. All is great until the waitress brings our "bill" (never understood why it is called a check?). Money is never an issue, it is the fact that they put all our meals onto "one bill," so here we are, trying to figure out who had what, who is paying cash and who is using a credit card. It makes the experience somewhat annoying, instead of flowing nicely like the meal and conversation.
My point is, please separate our orders. If I am paying, I always tell the server "one bill, please" when ordering. Thank you.
Better yet, why not ask if separate bills are needed.
Now let's prepare a light and tasteful meal, which we can savor while in the company of your special guy, or watching a favorite TV show. A Classy Cuban Sandwich, served along with a hot bowl of Tomato Soup or Cheese Broccoli Soup from a can and for dessert, a rich Chocolate Mousse that can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator covered.
Classy Cuban Sandwiches
8 ounces thin asparagus spears, trimmed
4 hoagie buns or torpedo rolls, split
2 to 3 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard
6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese
6 ounces thinly sliced Serrano ham or any cooked ham
6 ounces thinly sliced cooked turkey breast
Dill pickle slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
Place asparagus in a microwave-safe, 9-inch pie plate or shallow baking dish with 2 tablespoons water: cover with vented plastic wrap. Micro cook on high (100 percent power) for three minutes. Drain and set aside.
Spread bottom halves of rolls with mustard. Top with cheese, asparagus, ham, turkey, and pickle slices. Add roll tops. Heat oil in a very large skillet or grill pan over medium heat (or preheat a covered electric indoor grill and brush with oil). Place sandwiches in skillet or grill pan or on electric grill (may need to cook in batches); cover sandwiches in skillet or grill pan with a large heavy plate and press gently (or close electric grill lid). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side (3 to 4 minutes total in covered grill) or until bread is toasted and cheese is melted. Makes 4 sandwiches.
3/4 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur or orange juice
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brandy or orange juice
2-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream
shaved chocolate for garnish
In a small saucepan melt 3/4 cup raspberry jam over low heat, stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur or orange juice; set aside to cool.
In another small saucepan, heat and stir 3 ounces semisweet chocolate and 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon brandy or orange juice, and 1 tablespoon whipping cream until well combined - Transfer to a large bowl; set aside to cool completely.
In a chilled large mixing bowl, beat 2-1/2 cups whipping cream just until stiff peaks form. Remove 1 cup of the whipped cream; set aside. Stir 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Spoon chocolate mixture into 6 stemmed wine glasses or dessert dishes. Top with reserved whipped cream. Spoon completely cooled raspberry sauce over the whipped cream-topped desserts. Cover and chill for 1 to 6 hours. Top with chocolate curls before serving.
Makes 6 servings. (For curls, slowly draw a vegetable peeler across the edge of a bar of semi-sweet or milk chocolate. It works best if chocolate is at room temperature.)
"Love is not something to be understood, it can only be lived."
Here is another version of the Cuban Sandwich, and the bread with which to make it.
Cuban Bread and Sandwich
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup bread flour
Prepare the starter the day before baking day.
Dissolve the yeast in the water and stir in the flour.
Cover the bowl and allow the starter to ripen in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Leftover starter will keep for several days in the refrigerator or can be frozen for up to 6 months.
4-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons solid shortening
1/2 starter batch
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups bread flour
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 3 tablespoons water in a large mixing bowl. When the mixture is foamy (5 to 10 minutes), stir in the lard, the remaining water and the 1/2 batch of starter. Mix well with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Stir in the salt and the flour, 1 cup at a time, to obtain a dough that is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but soft enough to knead. The dough can also be mixed and kneaded in a mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a food processor fitted with the dough blade.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour as needed, but not too much. The dough should be pliable, but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down the dough. To make the loaves, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each to form a 14 inch long log or cylinder. Divide the cylinders between 2 baking sheets with 6 inches space between and let rise in a warm place until doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
The dough can be allowed to rise at a lower temperature, even in the refrigerator, but the rising time will be 3 to 4 hours. Preheat oven to 375F.
In the bottom of your oven, place a pan filled with hot water. The steam will help to make a nice crust on the loaves. Lay a dampened piece of thick kitchen string or twine about 1/8" thick on top of each loaf, running the length of the loaf. Bake until the breads are light browned on top and sound hollow when light tapped, about 30 minutes.
Let the loaves cool slightly and remove the strings.
Transfer the breads onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 4 loaves.
Sandwich Filling (for 1 serving):
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 oz roast pork
2 oz ham, cooked
1 oz Swiss cheese
3 tomato slices
1 Iceberg lettuce leaves
3 slices dill pickle
1 tablespoon butter
Butter the outside crust of a Cuban loaf.
Split the loaf and spread mayonnaise and mustard inside. Layer with thinly sliced ingredients and press in a sizzling hot panini grill or sandwich press until toasted to your desired doneness and the cheese has melted nicely.
Slice the sandwich diagonally and serve.
The ingredients for the sandwich filling are sufficient for one sandwich.
Muffalettas are a staple of "fast food" in New Orleans, but here is an Italian version.
1 sm. jar olive oil
1 lg. salad olives
2 tsp. oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. parsley
Mix all above ingredients (don't drain olives). Let set.
Po-boy (French) bread
Slice bread. Spoon sauce mixture on bread. Top with cheese, ham, salami and lettuce.
Italian Tuna Sandwich
1 (6 oz.) can Italian dark tuna
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 1/2 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 tomato, seeded and chopped
6 or 7 black olives, chopped or sliced thin
1 teaspoon balsamic or wine vinegar
NOTE: If you're not going to use Italian tuna (such as Pastene or Tonno), don't bother making this salad. It just won't taste right.
Drain off the oil that the tuna is packed in.
Place the tuna in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, and break up the tuna, mixing it together with the oil. Add the chopped onion, celery, tomato, and olives, and vinegar. Mix everything thoroughly.
Will make 2 or 3 sandwiches, depending on type and size of bread slices.