Tag Archives: Sandwiches

Chicken Shawarma #SundaySupper

Chicken Shawarma in a pita

Welcome to Sunday Supper, where today we are all bringing you the theme of Middle Eastern Cuisine! I’m sure it goes without saying that my severely unadventurous childhood palate wasn’t the least bit willing to try such food, so this culinary area of the world is relatively new to me. But I must say, I quite like it! I’m certainly not a Middle Eastern cuisine expert by any stretch, but what I’ve tried I have immensely enjoyed.

assembly of chicken shawarma

I chose to make Chicken Shawarma for today’s post. Shawarma is a classic Arabic dish of meat or poultry that is marinated then roasted on a spit, usually all day, and shaved off little by little for serving, usually in a pita with a delicious white sauce. I don’t have a spit in my NYC kitchen – shocking I know – so I just grilled strips of chicken thighs over high heat.

chicken shawarma

So what made me pick shawarma? Because 1) it’s delicious, and 2) it carries warm and fuzzy memories with it. The first time I had it was in Christiania in Copenhagen. For anyone unfamiliar, Christiania is a neighborhood in Copenhagen that started off as a hippie commune back in the day. The goal was to live off the grid, be environmentally responsible, and build a like-minded community free of materialistic and governmental intrusion. Today, it’s mostly a tourist attraction and an ode to graffiti, Bob Marley dreadlocks, and marijuana. Now, technically, marijuana is still illegal in Denmark, so the official party line in Christiania is that they do not sell it or smoke it. One deep breath tells you that ain’t true.

Christiania, Copenhagen

Rows and rows of outdoor vendors have tables set up selling all manner of weed paraphernalia, but not any actual pot. Apparently to get the stuff you have to ask locals in the right way and they’ll lead you to the sale. Matt and I were well behaved and did not partake. We were just there to see the place.

graffiti in Christiania, Copenhagen

After walking around and, you know, breathing, for about a half hour, we realized we clearly didn’t need to buy anything to partake. We looked at each other like, “I know we just had lunch, but gosh, I’m really hungry for some reason.” So we found the food vendors: an outdoor area with picnic tables, live music (and by live music I mean some stoned guy strumming a badly made guitar and intermittently hitting the pitch on whatever indecipherable song he chose) and a loose semi-circle of food stalls set up. Most stalls had really long lines – can’t imagine why – so we got in the shortest one, which happened to be selling chicken shawarma!

Christiania, Copenhagen

We got a couple of pitas, took them to the picnic table and noshed on the deliciousness, all the while giggling at nothing in particular through our contact highs and just generally having a wonderful afternoon on vacation with each other. I loved recreating (most of) this experience at home. You know, minus the spit, “live music”, and the second-hand buzz. This dish is unbelievable. I don’t care who you are or what your experience level with Arabic food is, I promise you will LOVE this. It’s insanely delicious, and we were truly blown away. Try it soon, don’t smoke pot, and be sure to check out the rest of the Sunday Supper team!

Chicken Shawarma

{One year ago: Apple Jalapeno Cheddar Scones}

Source: adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, May 2011

Ingredients:
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced and divided
3 tbs fresh lemon juice, divided
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, visible fat trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
½ cup tahini (sesame paste)
½ cup mayonnaise
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
4 pita breads, warmed, cut in half, and each half split into pockets

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the cumin, oregano, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbs lemon juice, olive oil, and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Add the chicken and onion and let stand 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the white sauce. In a blender or mini food processor, combine the tahini with ½ cup water and the remaining garlic and remaining 2 tbs lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and puree until very smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Season with salt and set aside.
Heat a large griddle or grill pan over high and let it get very hot. Add the chicken and onion, along with all the marinade. Cook over high heat, turning with tongs occasionally, until the meat and onion are charred and tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to plates.
To serve, place chicken, onions, and tomato slices in the pita pocket and top liberally with white sauce.

Mezze {Appetizers}

Salata {Salads and Sides}

Main

Halwa {Desserts}

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

pork schnitzel sandwiches with pinot-blackberry gravy

Today I find myself a bit pensive, as yesterday was another thirty-something birthday for me. It made me feel very reflective and somewhat well, odd, I guess. See, back in my mid to late twenties, I picked an arbitrary age – seriously arbitrary, as in, not even a “milestone” age – and set two goals that “should” be accomplished by that age. Yesterday I turned that age. And neither goal has been met.

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

The first goal was financial in nature, and looking back, it was almost laughably ambitious. So I don’t feel particularly bad for not meeting it, but it does make me pause and reflect on my life and the unexpected twists and turns it’s taken. Like the legal career I abandoned. And if I can be brutally honest, there’s always a part of me that feels a little bit like a failure for no longer being a lawyer. Even though I know I made the right decision, a small part of me saw fit to pop up yesterday, unwelcome, and derisively ask if I would have met that financial goal by now were I still an attorney (in all realistic likelihood, probably not). But it still made me feel a little bit bad.

pinot noir blackberry gravy

The other goal I set for myself had to do with having kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt extremely ambivalent about becoming a parent. It’s a feeling I always expected would go away to one side or the other, and when it hadn’t by my mid-twenties, I set a goal that by the age I turned yesterday, I would know for sure whether or not I wanted kids. Well, here it is, and I still don’t know. In truth, I feel perfectly fine without a baby, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything in the present; but I also don’t feel averse to the idea of having one, and I worry that years later I’ll regret it if I don’t experience motherhood.

pork cutlet sandwiches

So what does all this have to do with pork sandwiches? Well, nothing really; it’s just what’s on my mind today. Anywho, these sandwiches are insanely delicious, and I did promise you some more blackberry posts. This recipe was apparently inspired by ingredients local to the Portland, Oregon area, a locale I haven’t yet visited, though I’d very much like to someday. And I don’t really have any recipe notes, it was very straight-forward and easy to pull together. Enjoy!

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

Source: adapted from The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
SANDWICHES:
½ cup whole, peeled hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and black pepper
Flour
2 large eggs
4 (6 oz.) boneless, center-cut pork chops, pounded to about ¼-inch thick
Olive oil
Small handful each of fresh parsley and mint, minced together
4 brioche hamburger buns, split and toasted
PINOT-BLACKBERRY GRAVY:
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbs flour
¼ cup pinot noir
A small handful of fresh blackberries
¼ cup chicken stock

Directions:
Grind the hazelnuts in a mini food processor to fine crumbs. Place them on a plate and add the panko to them. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine. Add a bit of flour to another plate, and season with salt and pepper. In a pie plate, beat the eggs with a splash of water and a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the pork chops first in the flour and coat on both sides. Shake off the excess, then dip in the egg wash. Let the excess drip off, then place in the hazelnut-panko mixture. Coat on both sides, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining chops.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the olive oil. Add the chops to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chops to a plate.
Make the gravy. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking or stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, and cook about 1 minute to reduce (it will bubble immediately and reduce very quickly, so keep an eye on it). Add the blackberries and chicken stock. Mash the blackberries with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Once it has thickened to a desired consistency, reduce the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You want the consistency to be thick enough to spread on a sandwich and not make too much of a mess.
To assemble the sandwiches, place the pork chops on a bottom bun, then top with a few heaping spoonfuls of gravy, then sprinkle some of the chopped herbs on top. Top with the top hamburger buns and dig in!

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches #SundaySupper

pulled lamb barbecue sandwiches

Welcome to another Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is TAILGATING!! Which makes me incredibly happy, as tailgating is all about football, which is one of my favorite things on earth. Especially college ball.

leg of lamb in the slow cooker

So what to make for tailgating fare? Many options out there, but in the end I decided to share these unbelievably delicious sandwiches with you. Firstly, I think these would work well for tailgating because they could be made at home the day before, in your kitchen where there is hopefully no dust, car exhaust or mosquitos, and then piled into a food storage container and kept warm on a hot plate or a grill at the game.

pulled lamb barbecue

pulled lamb barbecue

Secondly, at least where I come from, lamb is not associated with barbecue much at all. But I thought, if you can have pulled pork, pulled chicken, and chopped beef at the barbecue table, then why can’t you have lamb? Well, now you can. And you definitely should.

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

OMG, you guys. This was incredible. Matt even pronounced it one of the Top 5 barbecue plates he’s ever had. And he’s had some goooood barbecue, y’all.

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

So in closing, I will say happy tailgating to you all! May your team always win, unless they’re playing against my team, of course. And no matter what’s happening on the field, may your tailgating and game day grub always be delicious. Be sure you check out the rest of the #SundaySupper links. Some amazing food bloggers have brought some scrumptious recipes to the table!

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

{One year ago: Whole Wheat Ricotta Raspberry Scones}

Source: Mint Barbecue Sauce adapted from BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
For the Lamb:
3 ½ lbs. leg of lamb, boneless
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder
1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bottle beer
8 hamburger buns

Mint Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup veal, beef, or chicken stock
3 tbs light or dark corn syrup
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs Dijon mustard
½ cup ketchup
2 tbs chopped fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Trim the lamb, if necessary, then season on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the garlic powder on one side of the lamb only.
Into your slow cooker place the onion slices and garlic cloves. Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker, nesting it atop the onions and garlic. Pour in the beer. Let it go on Low for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat the medium and let the sauce simmer until thickened slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the lamb is done, use tongs to transfer it to a plate (discard the onions and garlic). It’ll probably start falling apart on you; that’s okay. Use two forks to shred the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a mixing bowl and toss with enough barbecue sauce to coat it thoroughly, but not enough to drown it and make it a soupy mess. (This will likely use up quite a bit of your barbecue sauce, though – it’s a lot of lamb!)
To serve, pile shredded lamb on the hamburger buns and dig in to your messy but delicious sandwich!

Warm Ups (Appetizers):

Bacon and Onion Dip by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chicken Fajita Dip and Quesadillas by Chocolate Moosey
Crab Rangoons by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Double Cheese Dill Scones by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Fried Yucca With Pink Sauce by Basic N Delicious
Grilled Corn Dip by Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Grilled Gameday Nachos by Supper for a Steal
Homemade Potato Chips w/ Blue Cheese Sauce by girlichef
Liptauer Cheese Spread by Magnolia Days
Mahogany Baked Chicken Wings by The Dinner-Mom
Mexican Corn Dip by Growing Up Gabel
Pizza Dip by Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Posh Pigs In a Blanket by The Weekend Gourmet
Pretzel Nuggets by I Run For Wine
Roasted Balsamic Smoked Sausage, Red Grape and Brussels Sprouts Bites by Eat, Move, Shine
Roasted Garlic & Tomatillo Salsa Verde by Killer Bunnies, Inc
Savory Baked Pinwheel’s by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Sesame Glazed Cauliflower “Wings” by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Stuffed Banana Pepper Bites by Daily Dish Recipes
Sweet Potato Hummus by Alida’s Kitchen
Sweet Potato Skins by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Tabbouleh Salad with Golden Raisins by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Vincent Jackson’s Buccin’ Delicious Nachos by My Other City By The Bay

Game Time (Main Dishes and Sides):

1,2,3,4,5 Chinese Spareribs by The Urban Mrs
Bacon Burger Sliders by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Beef on Weck by Healthy. Delicious.
Carrot Slaw by The Foodie Army Wife
Cheerwine BBQ Pulled Pork by Nik Snacks
Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Quesadillas by Cookin’ Mimi
Chicken, Brie and Apple Turnovers by Shockingly Delicious
Easy Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches by Momma’s Meals
French Onion Chicken Sandwiches by Foxes Love Lemons
Frito Olé by Home Cooking Memories
Gomoku Treasure Rice by NinjaBaking.com
Grilled Fajita Kebabs by CuriousCuisiniere
Hatch Cheddar Burgers by Doggie at the Dinner Table
Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese Burgers by Juanita’s Cocina
Italian Sliders with Basil Pimento Cheese by La Bella Vita Cucina
Italian Tuna and Shells Salad by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Pressed Brick Sandwich by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches by The Texan New Yorker
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Soup by Neighborfood
Smoky Turkey Burgers by Webicurean
Snorker and Spicy Slaw Sandwiches by Food Lust People Love
Tandoori BBQ Chicken by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Tortilla Hot Dogs by La Cocina de Leslie

Overtime (Drinks and Desserts):

Coconut Funfetti Ice Cream Cake by What Smells So Good?
Funfetti Sugar Cookies by Pies and Plots
Individual Elvis Pies by Treats & Trinkets
Portuguese Sangria by Family Foodie

Italian Sausage Hoagies with Caprese Relish

Italian Sausage Hoagies with Caprese Relish

I think most of us would agree that sounding the death knell of summer needn’t necessarily mean the end of grilling for the season. It seems like most people will grill as long as the weather will allow. And if that’s year round for you, then I hate you! I kid. 🙂

cherry tomato skewers

grilling sausages and tomato skewers

NYC weather has definitely cooled down, but it’s going to be fine grilling temps for a couple more months (minus the rainy days, of course). So today I thought I would share this recipe with you, as it’s a terrific late summer/early fall dish, perfect for tailgating, or for one last day at the beach. I thought it was awesome! Kind of like a more upscale grilled hot dog, but just as easy to pull together. Enjoy the weekend! May you have great weather and delicious grilled grub!

caprese relish

grilled sausages and caprese relish

A few recipe notes: I enjoyed using a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausages, but of course use all of either if you prefer. Bocconcini are little bite-size balls of fresh mozzarella and most grocery stores have them these days. Look in the cheese section or near the deli. Make sure you get salted, plain and not marinated, as often they are sold marinated in various seasonings. If your store doesn’t have them, or they are jacked up in price, get a 1 lb. ball of fresh mozzarella and simply chop it into small bite-size chunks.

Italian Sausage Hoagies with Caprese Relish

Italian Sausage Hoagies with Caprese Relish

{One year ago: Blueberry Pancakes}

Source: slightly adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
¾ lb. sweet Italian sausage links
¾ lb. hot Italian sausage links
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Canola oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 pint bocconcini, each ball quartered
1 small red onion, diced
1 tbs brined capers, drained
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
6 soft hoagie rolls
2 garlic cloves, halved

Directions:
Heat your grill to high for direct grilling. Soak a few wooden skewers in water for half an hour.
Thread the tomatoes onto skewers. Prick the sausages all over with the tines of a fork. Brush the tomatoes with canola oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the sausages until cooked through and lightly charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Grill the tomato skewers until slightly charred and softened, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the sausages to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the skewers, cut in half, and put in a bowl.
To the bowl of tomatoes, add the mozzarella, onion, capers, basil, parsley, vinegar, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper toss to combine.
Slice open the rolls and put on the grill, cut side down. Grill until lightly golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove the rolls and rub the cut surfaces with the garlic cloves.
To assemble, place a sausage link in a roll and top with caprese relish. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwiches

PB&J

Last night I had a version of my recurring nightmare. My recurring nightmare, which I have every couple of months or so, is that I’m back in law school (and that right there is quite enough to qualify it as a nightmare, trust me); so anyway, I’m back in law school, and exams are imminently approaching, and I realize that I somehow forgot I was in school and that I haven’t been to class all semester. Yet I paid for the semester, so I don’t want to just say screw it and no-show for the exams. So I’m studying like a maniac to test on subjects with which I’m not remotely familiar, and then I wake up as I’m sweating bullets through an exam I’m not at all prepared to take.

making rhubarb jam

Last night was another version of the same thing. I was a contestant on “The Voice” – team Shakira! – and somehow I’d made it to the final show. By the way, this is even funnier if you’ve ever heard me sing. So I was prepared for all the ensemble numbers, but somehow I’d forgotten that I would have to do a solo, and I hadn’t prepped a song for it. I figured I’d have to wing it, but I was terrified because I didn’t even know the words to the song I’d been assigned. So I sang it onstage in front of a huge audience, and did the whole elementary school choir “watermelon” trick on the parts I didn’t know. Except that doesn’t exactly work on a solo… I awoke as Matt was trying to find a diplomatic way of telling me that it had really sucked.

white bread dough

I don’t know what’s going on with my subconscious. Sometimes it’s just better not to ask why. Did I mention that Rachael Ray was one of my competitors on Team Shakira? Yeah, I don’t want to know…

white sandwich bread from scratch

sliced white sandwich bread

Like with this sandwich. I’d just as soon you didn’t ask why I felt compelled to take the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, one of the quickest and simplest sandwiches to make ever, and turn it into the single most complicated sandwich I’ve ever made in my life by making the whole thing from scratch. Because honestly, I don’t know, and finding out might be rather frightening. So I figure, best to just leave it be and enjoy the sandwich!

peanuts

homemade peanut butter

This was the typical PB&J, with only the three ingredients, but for whatever reason I insisted upon making all three elements myself, from scratch. I have to say, it was the best PB&J I’ve ever tasted; it’s amazing how much extra sugar and salt is added to store-bought peanut butter! I’ll definitely keep making my own nut butters.

peanut butter spread on bread

homemade rhubarb jam

And I suppose I’m glad I did this at least once. Enjoy this recipe, whether you decide to make all of it, none of it, or any one part of it!

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwich

WHITE SANDWICH BREAD:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tbs lukewarm water
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 generous tbs kosher salt
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
Cooking spray

Directions:
In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let it proof for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, melted butter, and milk powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Once the yeast has proofed, add the mixture to the stand mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on medium-low and let the dough hook knead the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough becomes soft, pliable and smooth. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or so of flour, and if it is dry enough that it’s taxing the mixer, add a tablespoon or so of room temperature water.
When done kneading, cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel and let it rise for 1 hour, until about doubled in size.
Spread a thin film of oil or cooking spray on your rolling surface (counter or cutting board). Grease a standard loaf pan and set aside.
Transfer the dough to the counter and roll it into a 5×8-inch rectangle. Starting with the narrow end, roll it into a log and pinch the seam closed. Make sure the ends are tucked in nicely and evenly. Transfer the log to the prepared loaf pan. Lightly grease a sheet of plastic wrap, lay it over the dough and let it rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan. This can take up to two hours, possibly longer. I got impatient and probably should have let mine rise more. Oops.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking. It is done when the top is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped. Turn over the pan to release the loaf immediately and let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

PEANUT BUTTER:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 lb. shelled raw peanuts, preferably not organic*
½ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
2 tsp honey, or more to taste
4 tbs canola oil

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, or just until they begin to brown. You’ll smell them. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
Place the peanuts, salt, and honey in a food processor. Blend for 20 seconds. With the motor still running, drizzle in the oil through the chute, and process for another 30 seconds. Stop the motor and check for seasoning. Add more salt and/or honey, then process for another minute or so to reach your desired consistency.
*Matt was reading the other day that organic peanuts have a fungus that naturally grows on them that can be harmful if consumed too often or in too high a dose. Best to be safer and buy non-organic, since those peanuts will be treated with an anti-fungicide.

RHUBARB JAM:

Source: ‘wichCraft by Tom Colicchio

Ingredients:
4 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups plus 1 tsp sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp powdered fruit pectin

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the rhubarb, 2 cups sugar, and lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight in a tightly covered container. The next day, in a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the pectin and remaining teaspoon of sugar. Temper it by adding small amounts of the hot rhubarb mixture and quickly stirring it. Add it to the rest of the rhubarb and return the saucepan to the heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and place into a clean container with a lid. Once it has cooled down, close the lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This makes probably way more jam than you’ll need for a few sandwiches. Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing next week what you should do with the leftovers. And it’s really yummy, so don’t miss it!

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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This is Part Six of my Favorite Food Bloggers Series!

Closet Cooking is a great food blog owned and operated by Kevin. Kevin lives in Toronto, Canada, shops often at farmer’s markets, and is a self-taught home cook. I love, love, love the name of his blog – he calls it closet cooking because his kitchen is the size of a closet! How can you not love him after that? Especially if you’re like me and can totally identify.

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Kevin got into cooking after realizing he ate the same boring thing over and over again, and needed to make some changes in his cooking style. He took the challenge seriously, as I think he is one of the more inventive and creative cooks in the blogosphere.

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One of the great things he does is take a dish, let’s say buffalo chicken wings, and then turns the concept completely on its head by reinventing it into many other dishes. Like buffalo chicken deviled eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches, and dips, and well, you get the picture. Seeing as this is one of my favorite ways to cook and eat, his blog definitely speaks to my stomach and heart.

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While he features many different recipes on his blog, I would say that Kevin is your go-to guy for two things in particular: dips and grilled cheese sandwiches. He is forever creating new versions of those beloved classics, and they all look amazing. He also cooks up quite a bit of Vietnamese food, a cuisine that I personally love very much. I know Toronto has a large Vietnamese community, and though I’ve never been there, I’ve heard that it’s one of the best places to get a banh mi in North America.

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It was particularly tough to pick one recipe to feature for this post, as I’ve been following Kevin’s blog for quite awhile and have pinned more of his recipes than you can imagine, but I knew it had to be one of his grilled cheeses. So I picked the Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich, because 1) I love jalapeno popper anything, and 2) it really showcases what his blog is all about; it’s one of his famous grilled cheese sandwiches, but it’s also a terrific example of how he takes one concept and turns it on its head to make it into another delicious meal. And delicious it definitely was.

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If for some reason you haven’t already, please check out Kevin’s delicious blog as soon as you can!

Other delicious-looking recipes of Kevin’s I considered: Pizza Quesadillas; Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip

Read the rest of this series!   Part One    Part Two    Part Three
Part Four    Part Five    Part Seven    Part Eight    Part Nine    Part Ten

Source: slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

Makes 1 sandwich as written

Ingredients:
2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 slices good quality white sandwich bread
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Monterey jack, shredded
1 tablespoon tortilla chips, crumbled

Directions:
Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the cut side facing down.
Place the baking sheet on the top shelf in the oven and broil until the outer layer of the skin has blackened, about 8-14 minutes. You can also do this on your stovetop if you have a gas stove. Simply use tongs and place the peppers cut side up on your grates with the flame on medium heat until they blacken.
Place the peppers in a zip-lock bag or other sealable container, seal and let them cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
Remove the skins from the peppers. The skins should easily “pinch” off.
Butter the outside of each slice of bread and spread the cream cheese on the inside. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the cream cheese of one slice of bread, top with the jalapenos, crumbled tortilla chips, the remaining cheese and finally the other slice of bread.
Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat.
Add the sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Meatless Muffulettas

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Well, it seems that Mother Nature did get my memo that it is now officially spring! The weather has warmed up a little, and we’ve had a slew of gorgeous days. Today is chilly but breezy and beautiful blue skies all around. Hooray! Thank you Mother Nature!

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I think one of the reasons I love spring so much (aside from obvious reasons we all share) is that I met my husband during the spring. It was March, 2003, and I still lived in Texas, where the month of March is just beyond gorgeous and so, so pleasant. So now spring gives me a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling, kind of like when you hear a certain song that reminds you of a past great memory. The song comes on, and unexpectedly you’re transported to reliving that time or specific memory. Well, gorgeous spring days remind me of meeting Matt.

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As I’ve mentioned before, we met in most random fashion, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And no, neither of us lived in New Orleans at the time. I won’t say it was love at first sight (not sure I believe in such a concept), but there was an immediate connection and attraction, the likes of which I’d never before experienced. We spent two evenings together, then my friend exchanged our phone numbers and email addresses for us. Upon leaving New Orleans, I was sure I’d never hear from him ever again. I mean, he lived 2,000 miles away from me. It made me kind of sad,  but I figured best to just accept it and move on.

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When I got home, I sent him a brief email, thinking that endeavor would turn out to be little more than 15 minutes I’d never get back, but I was wrong. He phoned me a few days later, and we spent about an hour talking. A few days later he emailed me, so I wrote back. A few days after that he called me, and before I knew it we were corresponding daily by email and weekly by phone.

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A couple months later, he uttered six of the sweetest words ever: “I want to see you again.” So we met up in New York, each of us having absolutely no clue we’d be living there together someday. Perhaps it was a sign…

And the rest, as they say, is history! The following spring we got engaged, and thirteen months later we married. The entire thing was completely unexpected and really turned my world upside down. To say I went on a road trip to New Orleans in spring of 2003 with one of my girl friends not really expecting to meet the love of my life is a gargantuan understatement. But that’s exactly what happened, and ten years later, I couldn’t be happier about it!

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I made this wonderful NOLA classic sandwich shortly after returning from our anniversary trip. Of course, traditional muffulettas are packed with deli meats; but I decided to make a vegetarian version. Matt and I are eating less meat these days, so this fit our lifestyle a little better. And it is still delicious! Matt gave it the highest compliment when he took a bite and said, “Wow. I almost don’t miss the meat at all!” Which, trust me, coming from him is very high praise…

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Source: adapted from Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson

Ingredients:
2 medium garlic cloves
¼ cup drained capers
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup drained pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped celery hearts
4 soft Kaiser rolls, split and hollowed out in the center
4 deli thin slices Monterey jack cheese
4 deli thin slices provolone cheese
4 deli thin slices Swiss cheese
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
¾ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, halved

Directions:
First, make the olive spread. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor. Add the capers and pulse to chop. Add the olives, vinegar, and oregano. Pulse to chop again. Add the olive oil and celery and pulse again to mix everything together. You want it to have the texture of a slightly chunky paste. Set aside.
Make the sandwiches by spreading 2 tablespoons of the olive spread on each half of each roll. Divide the cheese evenly among the sandwiches. On top of the cheeses, arrange a portion of the artichokes and tomatoes. Top with the roll tops, cut in half and serve. This makes 4 large sandwiches.

Banh Mi

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A banh mi just might be the best sandwich on the planet.  If you’ve never tried one before, I implore you to track one down in your city as soon as possible. Or just make this one!

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The banh mi sandwich is Vietnamese street food.  They are very popular in Ho Chi Minh City and in many North American and European cities with a strong Vietnamese immigrant community.  The sandwich came about as a result of French colonization of Indochina.  It’s truly a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors.  In New Orleans, which has a large Vietnamese community, they are called Vietnamese po’boys. (Which reminds me, Matt and I are headed to New Orleans next week, I need to track one down while we’re there.)

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I ate my first ever banh mi about a year ago, in my own city of New York.  A little bit of searching Google and Yelp led me to a small restaurant on the edges of Little Italy and Chinatown called Banh Mi Saigon.  These are apparently the best in New York you can find, or so I was told. You know what? I believe it.  Matt and I both had a religious experience with those sandwiches.  They were so amazing, and I knew instantly that I had to make them at home sometime.

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A banh mi is marinated pork that is cooked up and sliced or shredded.  The sandwich is assembled on French bread, with mayonnaise (that part is not optional!), and pickled Asian vegetables, plus some sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos.  You can add Sriracha as a condiment if you like. And some versions call for mousse pate. This particular recipe is based on the NOLA version and does not include it. And I do not recall the sandwich I ate in NYC having the pate. But some do.

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The recipe I made called for pork tenderloin to be grilled and sliced.  You could easily sub in the same amount of pork shoulder, then slow cook and shred it.  Making these at home does require some prep ahead of time, but they are much easier than I was anticipating.  I hope you will make these sometime soon.  There’s no reason to deprive yourself of such deliciousness!

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Source: Emeril at the Grill by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
2 green onions, minced
1 fresh red chile, such as Fresno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs Vietnamese fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 French baguette
Spicy Vietnamese Mayonnaise (recipe to follow), or plain mayonnaise
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (recipe to follow)
1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste

Directions:
In a resealable bag, combine the green onions, red chile, garlic, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pork, turn to coat evenly, and seal the bag. Allow the pork to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, turning it occasionally.
Remove the pork from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
Pat the pork dry and brush it all over with the oil. Grill the pork, turning often, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F. Remove pork and let rest, tented with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes. Then cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Cut the baguette crosswise into 4 pieces. Cut each piece in half horizontally, but don’t cut all the way through. Remove some of the interior bread so it is less dense. Spread both sides of the bread liberally with the mayonnaise. Divide the sliced pork evenly among the bottom halves of the sandwiches. Top with the Pickled Carrots and Daikon, then cucumber slices, then jalapeno slices. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.

SPICY VIETNAMESE MAYONNAISE

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs Sriracha sauce
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend thoroughly. Serve immediately, or refrigerate a few hours to let the flavors marry more intensely.

PICKLED CARROTS AND DAIKON

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Ingredients:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp crushed chile flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonol
1 cup thinly sliced daikon

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, crushed chile flakes, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive bowl or baking dish and add the carrots and daikon. Make sure they are all coated. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Spinach Artichoke Paninis

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I really have to give the classic, ubiquitous spinach-artichoke dip some credit for helping me get over my aversion to vegetables and eat more wholesomely. Growing up, I was never a fan of spinach or artichokes and avoided them both whenever I could. But I always enjoyed the spinach-artichoke dip. I even ordered it at restaurants quite often.

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So I would willingly eat and always enjoyed this dip that contained both spinach and artichokes, yet I kept insisting that I hated both spinach and artichokes. Until the day came that I realized how completely stupid that sounded.

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And on that day I thought, “Get over yourself. You like spinach and artichokes in at least one preparation; isn’t there at least a teeny tiny chance you would like them in other preparations?” And so I decided to give them both a try. And you know what? I love spinach! And I love artichokes! Full stop.

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So then it got me thinking, if you have come around on these two produce items, aren’t there other foods that deserve a second chance? Turns out, yes there were (to say the least). And my world opened up to all the beautiful, healthy produce I’d been missing out on. Thus, I must say a big thank-you to the wonderful spinach-artichoke dip, an appetizer I still love on its own merits.

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So why not turn that dip into a pressed sandwich? Heck, yeah! This was beyond delicious, like fist pump and high five someone delicious. And also incredibly easy to throw together on a tired, busy weeknight. I used my handy-dandy sandwich press for this, mostly because I love it and feel I don’t utilize it enough. But you could always cook up these sandwiches on a griddle and use a hand-held panini press, or a heavy skillet to press them. If that’s the route you choose, be sure to butter the outsides of each sandwich first. Enjoy!

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Source: adapted from Kicked-Up Sandwiches by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbs minced garlic
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
18 oz. jarred marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
15 oz. baby spinach
8 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed if desired
4 oz. Monterey jack cheese, grated
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 slices White sandwich bread

Directions:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook another 2 minutes. Add the spinach in two batches and cook until wilted after each addition. When the spinach is nice and tender, remove from the heat.
Set a strainer over a bowl and add the spinach-artichoke mixture to it. Allow the excess liquid to drain, about 5 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the three cheeses, tearing the Brie into pieces as you add it in. Then add the warm spinach-artichoke mixture and stir until nicely combined and the cheese has begun to melt.
Assemble the sandwiches: evenly spread a packed half-cup of filling between two slices of bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and filling.
Preheat your panini press to manufacturer’s instructions. When ready, carefully place each sandwich onto the grates and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. Do this in batches if necessary. Remove, cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Adobo Salmon Salad Tartines

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I still have the flu. It’s getting better. My fever broke yesterday morning, which is great news, but I am still fatigued and dizzy and generally not terribly coherent, so we’ll see how blogging goes.  If it’s just too painful to read my illness-induced prose, at least you can look at the pictures.

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A tartine is simply a fancy French word that means open-faced sandwich. Adobo is a crazy good Mexican sauce/marinade usually seen with chicken, but it also works with fish, shrimp, and pork quite nicely. It’s made with dried red chiles and garlic, and it turns this lovely brick-red color.

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Now, this salmon is poached. And in the past, I have found poaching salmon to be quite a scary undertaking. The first time I tried it, it was so bad that I swore off poaching for good. I spice crusted the fish with Indian flavors, then overcooked the salmon and basically made us some Indian-spiced cat food. And thanks to the garam masala, my cats wouldn’t even eat it.

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Fortunately, I ventured back into the land of poaching, initially with chicken, to discover that it’s a very useful kitchen skill to have in one’s arsenal of tricks. It produces a moist, tender protein and it’s really quite easy once you figure out the method. So don’t be afraid of the poached salmon – it’s wonderfully moist and flaky in the end.

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So go out and cook this one. It’s a lovely, elegant treat that is light and flavorful and will maybe, possibly, trick your mind into thinking you’re somewhere warm and festive during this longest, coldest month of the year.

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Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef, by Ellise Pierce

Ingredients:
14 oz. salmon fillets
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water, maybe more
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small shallot, sliced
2 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
10 black peppercorns
A big pinch of kosher salt
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs Adobo (recipe to follow)
2 tbs minced scallion
Handful of fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
4-6 slices good quality sandwich bread, like a Pullman loaf, toasted and cut in half on the diagonal
1 medium avocado, sliced
1 tbs fresh dill, chopped

Directions:
Place the salmon fillet(s) in a medium saucepan. Add the wine, water, parsley, sliced shallot, lemon zest, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the heat to a simmer, then turn it down to medium-low to low heat. Poach for 3 minutes, then test for doneness. It will likely take a bit longer; mine took around 8 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan, place in a large bowl, and cool.
Using a fork, gently flake the salmon into large pieces. Add the mayo, Adobo, scallion, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to eat, heap a couple spoonfuls on each toast point and smooth out. Top with two avocado slices and sprinkle on some fresh dill. Serve immediately.

ADOBO

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Ingredients:
5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
2 dried cascabel chiles
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Preheat a medium saucepan to medium heat. Toast the chiles for about 30 seconds per side, just until they are fragrant. Don’t let them burn. Cover the chiles with hot water and return to high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and shut off the heat completely. Let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the softened chiles to your blender, along with the rest of the ingredients and about half a cup of chile soaking water.
Puree until completely smooth – give it at least 5 minutes.
This makes about 2 cups. Use the rest to marinade chicken, pork, or shrimp later in the week.