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Thanksgiving Feasting Favorites

24 Nov

Although tradition dominates the Thanksgiving feast, leaving little room for variation much less something entirely new, here are a few favorites and tips to stir up inspiration prior to the big week ahead.

COOKING THE BIRD

For a turkey deep in flavor and a moist, yet firm consistency, try following the award-winning Judy Bird technique inspired by the roast chicken made famous by the late Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. (See my post here about the chef, her philosophy and restaurant and her recipe for Salmon with White Beans, Bacon and Red Wine.)

NOTE: I do not follow Step 7 and start the bird in the oven breast side down.

Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine
Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine

The turkey is dry brined for three days although I have done it for much less with equally good results. Here is a tasty dry brine recipe.

APPETIZERS

Ellen's Nuts
Ellen’s Nuts
Rustic Bakery Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread
Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread, recipe from Rustic Bakery
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips, by Minimalist Baker
Crab Cake Bites
Crab Cake Bites, from Savory Simple
Artichokes
from The Real Deal Marin

 ACCOMPANIMENTS

Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Pearl Onions
Thomas Keller’s Creamed Pearl Onion, via Smitten Kitchen
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin via The Food Network

STOCK and GRAVY

How to Make Stock, A video tutorial with simple instructions from Mario Batali on Food 52.

How to Make Gravy, from The New York Times Cooking

DESSERT

Although no dessert would be shunned, Apple Pie is a must. If you have any doubt, read this, and you may get lured into making it a regular closer to your feast too, if it isn’t already.

    Butter Pie Crust, from Epicurious

    Crust Tipsfrom Joy the Baker

    THE Apple Pie, inspired by Kierin Baldwin

    Ala Mode, a basic vanilla ice cream recipe

    Best Apples for Piefrom Baking Bites

LEFTOVERS

Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Tetrazzini, from The Real Deal Marin 
Loaded Turkey Panini
Loaded Turkey Panini, from Pinch of Yum

 (This is a good framework that you can alter based on what you have leftover.)

If you try one of these recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. Or take a photo and post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #realdealmarin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grilled Cheese: From Home to High End

10 Apr

The grilled cheese sandwich, like many food items, has transitioned from plain to couture. At one time somewhat floppy and slightly soggy with a knack for permeating the kitchen, it has hit the big time with entire cookbooks devoted to the melted sandwich.

What’s not to like? A hot sandwich beats a cold one any day and is much more forgiving. Leftovers take on a tasty new life, a tomato that’s about to turn is revived and a bland slice of bread becomes flavorfully caramelized.

With its grander stature, the grilled cheese has achieved a more fitting designation … The Panini. And the Panini Press has arrived on the top of the list of gadgets that could be considered frivolous were it not for its true usability and value. There’s no end to suitable, delicious combinations – see links to recipes on the bottom of the page. But for an easy pleaser for all ages, try the Mini Panini recipe below for simple goodness. Kids go crazy over these.

PANINI PRESS

If your interest is strictly sandwiches, the well-rated model below will expand your recipe repertoire significantly. The flat vs. ridged plates will more evenly conduct heat and be easier to clean.

Panini Maker

Click for Link to Amazon

But if you’d like to put this device to full use and cook everything from chicken to cakes, go with a ridged-plate model.

Cuisinart Panini Maker

Click for Link to Amazon

Your sandwiches will have marks, but you’ll have a very versatile new cooking appliance.

Grilled Cheese

FROM HOME: The Mini Panini

INGREDIENTS

  • French Baguette, cut in 1/2 inch slices
  • Softened Butter
  • White Cheddar Cheese, sliced
  • Optional: Tomatoes, Spinach, Basil, Bacon, Ham or anything your taste buds find would go well between two slices of bread.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the panini maker according to manufacturers instructions.
  2. Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch pieces. TIP – To avoid having your French bread go rapidly stale after purchasing, slice it into whatever size you typically use (I do a sandwich size and then slice for grilled cheese when defrosted) and freeze in a zip lock bag. Defrost on the counter or slowly in the toaster oven and slice.
  3. Cut or slice the cheese.
  4. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice.
  5. Drop half of them butter side down in the panini plate.
  6. Top with cheese and cover with the second half, butter side up.
  7. Drop top, let sizzle, open and eat.

 TO HIGH END

Farmers Wife

If you’ve ever meandered the farmers markets at the San Rafael Civic Center or Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, you’ve likely come upon The Farmers Wife food truck and the emanating wafts of their outstanding melted sandwiches including Farm Egg & ArugulaKimchee & Avocado and Magruder Ranch Smoked Ham, Gruyère & Mustard.  Menu changes daily. They’re on the pricey side but well worth it.

Owners Kendra and Paul Kolling are on a mission to provide the best in locally sourced, seasonal products in keeping with the farming legacy of their extended family. Paul’s grandmother was the inspiration behind the unique, heirloom flavor blends in Nana Mae Organics apple juices which you can also find at the farmers market. With over 25 heirloom varieties, Paul farms in harmony with nature to bring out the best in the land.

Nana Mae

And Kendra, as The Farmers Wife, sources the ingredients of her outstanding food truck sandwiches from local farms which set them a far notch above.

AND IN BETWEEN

The Melt TruckAnd finally, another eating option at the Corte Madera Town Center. Parked outside the center entrance you’ll find The Melt Bus and a few tables for dining.

Melt BusThe menu of all-natural, wholesome items includes everything from the classic grilled cheese to braised short rib and pepper jack to aged swiss, portobello and grilled onion. They also have soups and milkshakes as well as breakfast options.

The Melt Bus is open Friday to Sunday, 11am-3pm.

RECIPE LINKS

Here are a few recipe links worth checking out.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Grilled Figs and Brie

Grilled Figs and Brie

Tomato, Avocado and Pesto

Tomato, Avocado and Pesto

Happy Grilled Cheese Day on April 12th!