St. Paul Sandwich

St. Paul Sandwich

St. Paul Sandwich

 

People are usually better in the abstract.

It’s a line from “Orange is the new black” and one that stuck with me because it’s spot on, especially concerning my online dating exploits.

I’m concluding my sandwich series with one that I’ve been anticipating making for over a year – the low-brow St. Paul Sandwich. Called the St. Paul, but created in St. Louis, and not even available in St. Paul (go figure), it a piping-hot egg foo young patty (how 1960’s!) with lettuce, tomato, zingy dill pickle slices and unctuous mayonnaise, all sandwiched between pillowy-soft, Wonder-style, white bread. It’s dirt cheap and the perfect foil after a night drinking.

This was to be my sandwich magnum opus. But alas, my St. Paul sandwich is…also better in the abstract. I took two bites, plucked out the egg foo young and pitched the rest in the garbage. Perhaps they’re better in St. Louis.

St. Paul Sandwich

St. Paul Sandwich

 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts Sandwich with Bacon and Pickled Onions

Roasted Brussels Sprouts sandwich with bacon

Roasted Brussels sprouts sandwich with bacon & pickled onions

A drunken evening at Searsucker Restaurant which included some mighty-fine Brussels sprouts resulted in the following:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Sandwich with Bacon and Pickled Onions
Serves 2

½ Red onion, thinly sliced
¼ c. Cider vinegar
1-2 Bay leaves
1 sprig Thyme
½ t. Salt
5-6 peppercorns
½ c. boiling water
½ – 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
3 T. Walnut oil
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
2 T. Mayonnaise
2 T. Pomegranate molasses
4 strips Applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp
½ c. Gruyere cheese, grated
2 Kaiser rolls, toasted

Preheat oven to 375. Combine onion, vinegar, bay, thyme, salt and peppercorns in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and slightly stir. Set aside (I weigh mine down with a saucer to ensure the onions are submerged). Combine brussels sprouts, walnut oil and salt and pepper in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast for approximately 45 minutes until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally (I cook my bacon on a separate rack in the oven at the same time, about 35 minutes). While brussels sprouts cook, make aioli by combining garlic and mayonnaise and set aside. After 45 minutes, drizzle sprouts with pomegranate molasses and return to the oven for 10 minutes longer or until molasses thickens and coats the sprouts.

Spread aioli on rolls. Layer with drained pickled red onion and bacon. Pile Brussels sprouts on bacon and cover with Gruyere cheese. Drizzle a small amount of Pomegranate Molasses over melting cheese.

Tuna Fennel Sandwiches with Pink Polka-dots

Tuna Fennel Sandwich

Tuna Fennel Sandwich with pink radishes (polka-dots)

While waiting for my plane, a nattily dressed man sat down next to me in my pleatherette chair. His breathing was labored, as if he had OJ Simpsoned through the terminal to catch his flight. I didn’t bother looking over until I noticed he was still breathing intensely five minutes after he planted himself next to me, as if it was a triathlon and not an airport sprint. When I glanced in his direction, his socks instantly seized my attention. He had removed his oxfords, revealing brown socks with hot pink and orange polka-dots. Inscribed across the instep were the words “Funky Socks.” I should say so!

“Excuse me,” he said after a few minutes. “I seem to have left my wallet at the security checkpoint. Would you mind watching my bag while I go back?” Why me; why is it always me? I vacillated for a moment, but was eventually convinced. He placed his orange and hot pink polka-dotted feet back in his brown oxfords and leisurely made his way back towards security.

I waited for his return. Over the PA, they called for First Class passengers to board. I waited a while longer. Gold, Platinum, One World Alliance and military personnel were invited to line up. I peered back towards his trail, hoping to catch a glimpse, but there was nothing. Group 1. Still no sign. Group 2 come on aboard. Where is he? All remaining passengers, this is the final boarding call…

The dilemma – Do I miss my flight, waiting until Mr. Polka-dot returns or do I desert my watch and hop on my plane? I attempted to hand the bag to the flight attendant at the door, but she would have nothing to do with it. In the end, I abandoned his bag near the jetway and settled in seat 16D with just moments to spare.

I feel guilty and maybe a better person would have missed their fight. I’m certain I now have a black mark on my traveler’s Karma which will most likely appear as lost luggage, four hours on the tarmac or a missed connection. Sigh.

Tuna fennel sandwiches with Pink Polka-dots
Inspired by a Real Simple recipe
Serves 2

1              Small Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
½ c.        Italian parsley, roughly chopped
3 T.         Olive Oil
2 T.         Mayonnaise
1 t.          Siracha (or to taste)
2              6 oz. cans Spanish or Italian oil packed tuna
2 T.         Capers, chopped
2 t.          Caper Juice
2 T.         Balsamic vinegar
2              Lettuce leaves
2              Radishes, sliced thinly
4              Slices sourdough bread, buttered and browned in a cast iron skillet

Combine Fennel, parsley, 2 T. oil, salt and pepper. Roughly mix with hands to bruise and soften fennel. Set aside. 2. Combine mayonnaise and Siracha. 3. Combine tuna, capers, juice, 1 T. oil, balsamic and pepper. 4. Spread two slices of bread with siracha mayonnaise. Cover with lettuce and radishes. Pile high with tuna and finish with fennel. Cover with additional bread slices, cut in half and enjoy.

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

With my non-stop travel schedule, I’ve learned some rules for airport dining – Rule #1: those pre-packaged airport sandwiches should be avoided whenever possible. They range from soggy and insipid to rock hard and dry, with not much in between. The lettuce, usually green leaf, is wilted, the chicken overcooked, and the dry bread is usually lacking any spread. Last weekend, and to my surprise, I grabbed a noteworthy sandwich from La Provence Café at LAX. The sandwich itself was simple enough – a baguettini stratified with sliced turkey breast, sautéed mushrooms, brie cheese and a few red onions – and it was more than satisfying. The cashier asked me if I’d like it warmed up; I declined since consumption was sure to be hours away, but heated, with the ripe brie oozing and comingling with mushrooms and fresh bread would surely have been divine. I couldn’t help but think it would have only been improved with a thin veil of arugula pistou.

In honor of my little turkey-brie sandwich that got me through a 6.5 hour flight, I have decided to dedicate the next few posts to the humble sandwich.

The Ultimate Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Inspired by Cowgirl Creamery Cooks
Makes 1 Sandwich

1 oz cream cheese
1.5 oz white cheddar, grated
1.5 oz fontina cheese, grated
2 slices crusty sourdough bread
unsalted butter room temperature

Combine all three cheeses. Generously top one slice of bread with all of cheese mixture and cover with other slice.  Butter both sides of sandwich and place in a preheated cast-iron skillet set on medium.  Cook slowly (low and slow is key) until golden brown underneath, flip with a fish spatula and cook other side.  Cheese should ooze out and create brown crispy side bits and bread should be crisp and golden.

Alternative
Replace cheddar with mild blue cheese, replace sourdough with cranberry walnut bread.  Add Dijon mustard and caramelized onions and green apples – messy and rich!

Wonderful world of Stewwiches

A couple of years ago, my ex boyfriend told me about his idea to open a shop that sold sandwiches with stew fillings.  For lack of a better word, I’ve been calling them “Stewwiches”.   I caught on to his concept quickly: tummy- warming, home-comfort stews wrapped in a crusty roll – what’s not to like?  So, while we were still dating, I put my culinary skills and his brainchild to the test.

Stewwich numéro un : Boeuf Bourguignon.  I used my My Frenchy-French culinary school Bourguignon recipe (authentic and time consuming) on an Argentinean roll (Have you had Argentinean sandwich rolls?  Crusty outsides wrapped around fluffy interiors – perfection) with Dijon mustard, pickled onions and smoked gruyere cheese.  The first night, they were good, but the day after – perfection!  I should have known -a good stew always gets better overnight.

Fast forward two years to what seems to be the warmest summer day in history (without A/C, it sure FEELS like it) and I decide to make Stewwich número dos, Chicken Tinga.  Since when does “summer” and “stew” not go together?  A few weeks ago, In Phoenix, I sat in on a cooking class for making Chicken Tinga.  Translation, it’s Mexican shredded chicken stew.  As I sit in my sweltering dining room, I envision a crunchy roll with a layer of more-smokey-than-spicy chipotle mayonnaise, Chicken Tinga, pickled onions (yes, there was pickled onion on the last one, which was a good crunchy, vinegary contrast to the stew), cotija cheese, creamy cubed avocado, cilantro and crisp lettuce.  Oh, dream on, dear Phoren.

The result:

Chicken Tinga Stewwiches

Stew
2           Chicken breasts, roasted and very thinly sliced
1/2        small onion, cisele
1/4-1/2 pasilla chile, cisele
2           garlic cloves, chopped
3           tomatillos, diced
2           tomatoes, diced
1           chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
1 T.       adobo sauce
2 t.        Mexican oregano
1/2 t.     cumin
1/4 t.     cinnamon
3/4 c.    chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

**quantities are estimates

Sweat onion and pasilla.  Add garlic and sauté briefly.  Add tomatillos and tomatoes and cook until softened.  Add chicken, broth, chipotle, adobo and spices.  Cook uncovered until chicken is shredded completely, 75 to 90 minutes.

Pickled Onions
1/2        small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c.    vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 t.        sugar
Juice from 1/2 orange
1 t.       dried oregano
1/2 t.     salt
1/2 -1 c. boiling water

Mix together all ingredients except water.  Pour hot water over ingredients and stir together.  Let sit for 30 minutes or more.

Stew-wiches
Chicken Tinga
Pickled Onions
Rolls (I used ‘take and bake’ telera rolls)
Chipotle Mayonnaise (mayo mixed with adobo sauce)
Crumbled cotija cheese
Cilantro leaves
Cubed avocado
Shredded lettuce

Spread rolls with mayonnaise, layer lettuce and chicken.  Garnish with onions, cheese, cilantro, and avocado.

When assembling, I forgot the avocado,  and it was still frickin’ delicious!

Chicken Tinga Sandwich - even without the avocado, still amazing

Chicken Tinga Sandwich – even without the avocado, still amazing!