Sunday, April 22, 2012

Small Bites Sunday


This winter I resurrected "Small Bites Sunday." With my son living "in the Cities" and busy with graduate school and work, I made a promise to him that I would continue to make a "proper Sunday dinner" and there would always be enough for him. No reservations required.  With the men in my life training again for the MS 150, I like to have "small bites" available to the returning cyclists.


I love small bites! There is the time for the complete symphony, the never-ending book and there are times for the short story and for a Bach concerto. (Or a Fats Waller song.)


Yes, the open-faced sandwich is in fact a grilled cheese. My husband's reward for accomplishing the first lawn mowing of the season! Apparently April is grilled cheese month. But that's not why I made it. I made it because it has melted cheese. If you say "cheese," melt cheese or put pistachios into your dish, there is a chance that I will open up my umbrella and fly in through your kitchen window.

Besides, this recipe is adapted from Sophia Loren - she seems to have an understanding of Italian food. It uses asparagus and this is the time to use it. Sophia puts this on any bread, minces her ham and only uses the tip of the asparagus. I left the ham whole and used the entire asparagus stalk. Adapt, play but know this makes a welcoming snack or light lunch - have it for breakfast! Add an egg. Take away the ham and make it vegetarian. But do keep the asparagus and do melt the cheese.



Asparagus-Cheese Melt (for 1, easily doubled and tripled and quadrupled...)
1 slice favorite bread
2 asparagus spears
1 slice favorite ham (prosciutto, anyone?)
fontina cheese
Optional to finish: freshly-ground pepper, fresh Parmesan, arugula


Lightly toast your bread. Simmer the asparagus in salted water for 3-4 minutes. Cut into 2 inch slices. Place ham slice on bread. Lay asparagus stalks on top of the ham. With a vegetable peeler, peel of thin slices of fontina cheese. But on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted - about 5 minutes. Sprinkle pepper and Parmesan over if you wish. Serve.

Below is another recipe for April - featuring asparagus. You can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature. You roast the asparagus first - and try not to eat them before you use them. 

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto (serves 4) - adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
16 asparagus spears - thick bottom chopped off or peel thick part of stalk
small amount of olive oil
8 slices of thin prosciutto
Optional: freshly ground pepper and Parmesan to finish





Brush the asparagus with olive oil. Salt and pepper if you wish. (The prosciutto adds enough salt for me.) In a 350 degree F oven, roast the asparagus on a baking sheet for 5-6 minutes - until almost tender. Remove from oven. With scissors or a knife, cut your prosciutto slices in half length-wise. Wrap the prosciutto slice around the asparagus. Giada now serves this at room temperature. I pop it back into the oven to let the prosciutto crisp up a bit (3-4 minutes), drain it on paper towels and then serve it with ground pepper and some Parmesan.


I have a southern friend who tells me she has never met a vegetable that she couldn't make unhealthy with her down home Texas cooking. I think of that when I take the innocent asparagus and then cover it with ham. Of course Italians are famous for Eggplant Parmigiano and you know what we do to the health quotient of the eggplant in that dish! But remember - these are small bites! If you need an indulgence, small bites will deliver.

I am going to pause here for a moment and let you know that I have a most excellent husband.


As I read that Bon Appetit noted the ten best places to get the perfect baguette in America, I saw that one was in Minneapolis. And  my husband's wonderful reply was:


"When do you want to go?"

That's love.

So along with our small bites this weekend, we also were treated to a crusty loaf of bread from Rustica Bakery in Minneapolis (and if you're in town - go, bike, skate or fly, and get there in the morning and feast - it delivers - the right amount of chew but not tough. hearty but not filling and brings you to an understanding of why bread is the staff of life). And just because - I bought a mini-focaccia - because that fit the theme of "small bites." It was diminutive. It was cute. And I really wanted it.

I will be doing Small Bites Sunday for awhile. If you have a "small bite" you'd like to share, send it over with a photo and a link to your posting by Saturday at 5 p.m. Nothing fancy - no badges - just for fun.

Today is Earth Day and even in Minnesota which is often the frozen tundra and icebox of the nation, the earth kept her promise. In return, I have some promises to keep for her. Hope you had a lovely Sunday, a small bite here and there and had time to appreciate our planet.


44 comments:

The Mom Chef said...

Ooooh, I love the idea of that open faced sandwich. And the asparagus (I just happen to have a bunch in the crisper).

I'll have to make sure to tell my sister to head to that bakery. The bread looks amazing!

Happy earth day!

Heidi {Young Grasshopper} said...

this is simply FABULOUS, I'm putting proscuitto {i just murdered that spelling I know] on my list!

Barbara F. said...

Your small bites are BIG on flavor! Glad your tulips are up. What is that ground cover? I like it a lot. Your bread looks delicious. A really good bread store is a necessity of life. xo

Rebecca Subbiah said...

love that toast and love the tulips

My Little Space said...

Claudia, I wanna visit the most famous baguette shop in US too. Ya, maybe one day! And missed those tulips too. The last time I got to visit these flowers was around 21 years back, in New Zealand. :o)
Anyway, hope you're having a great week ahead, dear.
Blessings
Kristy

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love, love, love the small bites idea and you've come up with some winners with the asparagus Claudia. This is the way we love to eat.
Sam

Ola said...

simple and delicious! I am waiting unpatiently for the asparagus season here:)

Life and travelling
Cooking

Lizzy said...

Aw, what a sweet hubby! Prosciutto wrapped in asparagus is one of my most favorite appetizers...mmmmmm.

Joanne said...

I feel like warm weather absolutely calls for small bites. Especially small bites with good bread, veggies and cheese. :)

Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a sweetie-pie husband. I'd love those small bites using that bread. Happy belated Earth day to you in the unfrozen tundra.

Susan Lindquist said...

Those small bites contain all of my favorite things! I do love a good bread, too!

Your gardens are so pretty ... what is that variagated leafy groundcover? I have been looking for it at garden centers, but don't know what to ask for! And your tulips are such a great shade of pink! The deer in our back yard love to nip the blossom buds off any tlips I try to plant, so I always admire others (at this point!).

Claudia said...

The ground cover is easy-to-grow "Snow on the Mountain." Come early summer, there will be white blooms. It's wonderful but beware - it spreads!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love asparagus and always buy the giant bag of it at Costco ealmost every time I I see it. i have to try it grilled with cheese on a wonderful slice of bread like this. Claudia! I'd also add the ham.

It's raining cats and dogs here todsy...much needed!

Tina Bk said...

This really is a smart way to go with the sandwich. I like that it packs a lot of the food groups in it but the elements are far from the standard fare. Also, sandwiches are a great way to control portion size.
Tasty post!

Mary said...

Beautiful and "Mouth Watering" Blog. It gives me so much inspiration. Thanks.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Scrumptiously seasonal! I cannot resist a good asparagus dish.

Cheers,

Rosa

Barbara said...

Yummy small bites here, Claudia. That asparagus and brie combo works famously for me. And that bread! Could I borrow your magic umbrella to whisk me there for some? Sublime. And I love your tulip pic. Spring has sprung here, but quickly turned to summer and some of my tulips got fried in the process. Yesterday's rain was the perfect tribute for Earth Day, providing our valley with a much-needed drink! Best to you.

Juliana said...

I love small bites...if I could I will just have small bites every meal...prosciutto and asparagus, topped with cheese look so flavorful!
Have a great week Claudia :)

Erica said...

The open sandwich looks amazing,Claudia!Perfect snack for spring!

Gina said...

You husband is a dear for taking you to the bakery. There is nothing like pulling a piece of the crust off the top and popping it into your mouth. Oh gosh, now you having me wanting to run out for bread. Good idea on the small bites, I need to do more of them myself. We have the best asparagus right now and I need to eat more of them. I see you are getting a little Spring over there. Hope you have a great week.
-Gina-

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, I just love Sophia Loren.
I would use the whole asparagus too though.
It does look light and delicious. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

BeetleBuggy said...

You made me laugh out loud with your comment about flying through our windows with an umbrella because I pictured that in my head LOL Love those little bites with ham and asparagus...that Sophia Loren was on to something huh. And you certainly have a wonderful husband!

Mary said...

That bread and the toppings you've used to "dress" it are wonderful. This is a fabulous idea and your small bite concept is great for lazy Sundays. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

Angie's Recipes said...

Both asparagus snacks are really tempting, esp. the cheese melt!

Balvinder Ubi said...

What a coincidence!, I made herb infused bread toast and my husband said, I should add some crunchy vegetables to it and I asked, Like what? Then he kept quiet.
After looking at your recipe I think Asparagus would be a great idea. I am not joking you can check my simple herbed bread toast at http://simpleglutenfreekitchen.blogspot.ca/2011_09_01_archive.html

Balvinder Ubi said...

This is the link, the above one is wrong.
http://simpleglutenfreekitchen.blogspot.ca/2011/09/back-to-school.html

Reeni said...

Your small bites are enticing! I would love an egg on top! And those baguettes look wonderful - I'm completely jealous.

Chiara Giglio said...

Yummy small bites Claudia! I really love those baguettes !

Natasha Price said...

Especially loving the idea of an asparagus melt sandwich, so great for spring!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Prosciutto for me, please. It goes so well with asparagus. And I love the concept of Small Bites Sunday! I'm finding more and more that I like to make a meal of several different small dishes rather than one big one. Nice post, nice blog - glad I found you. I'll be back. ;-)

easyfoodsmith said...

The small bites look gorgeous and so inviting.

Jenn Kendall said...

this looks super delicious! bookmarking it!

Martha@ Simple Nourished Living said...

I'm a sucker for grilled and/or melted cheese sandwiches and love that the idea for yours is from Sophia Loren. I love small bites and for years made them to enjoy while watching a video on Friday nights. It's a great way to unwind after a long week.

Cake Duchess said...

ahhh...Sophia, Giada, that cheese, the bread. I'm in love. I love this recipe and you gave me a wonderful way to make a grilled cheese. We enjoy them for lunch sometimes and this is delizioso!

Fresh Local and Best said...

That is a terrific husband that you have for making food a priority. The sandwich and prosciutto wrapped asparagus are perfect for the spring season.

SKIP TO MALOU said...

small bites sunday... what a novel idea? it sounds so apt for spring... you know that time spent in the kitchen should be spent outside enjoying the beautiful season.

thanks for sharing for the reminder!
happy spring!
malou

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Small, but immensely enjoyable! I love asparagus. At the moment, I cannot get enough of them...

Cheers,

Rosa

Beth said...

Love the asparagus in that sandwich. I like small bites too - they're fun to eat, and I love the variety of flavors.

Kathy said...

Claudia, Love your first photo…so very delicious looking! Makes me very hungry! Very nice post!

Velva said...

Proscuitto wrapped in asparagus is divine- simple, pure and downwright delicious.

You are good to your men. Enjoy this wonderful Spring!

Velva

Amy said...

I love small bites and I am especially loving that openfaced grilled cheese! The cheese is the best part, and not covered by bread even better ;)! Happy you are enjoying the early spring flowers as well!

Jeannie Tay said...

I love asparagus and cook it as a stir fry dish whenever I can get it, it's not cheap here! Those open sandwiches looks perfectly done and the roasted asparagus is a great accompaniment I would say! Those tulips are gorgeous!

Kristen said...

I can never get enough asparagus this time of year. The spears wrapped in prosciutto look right up my alley.

What a treat to go into the city for a baguette. You hold on to that husband!

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Small bites are ofter tasty bites! I loved your asparagus, smokd ham & melted cheese a lot! Yummy Yummy!

You have a very lovely husband! :) The baguette looked so tasty & crunchy too!