Archive for the ‘Sandwiches’ Category

A plethora of tomatoes from the Farmers Market: multi-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes, Green Zebras, yellow grape and bright red Early Girl tomatoes.

A plethora of tomatoes from the Farmers Market: multi-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes, Green Zebras, yellow grape and bright red Early Girl tomatoes.

Alright, so I was a little excitable at the Farmers Market recently. Tomatoes were in and I had to have every shape, size and color available. Each stall was better than the last. Needless to say, I came home with pounds of tomatoes. I mean, look at them. Could you resist?

One of my all-time favorite food memories is the first time I brought home a perfectly ripe tomato from the Farmer’s Market and bit into it like an apple, juices running down my arm and into my kitchen sink. It was like candy and I was in heaven.

Since then, one of the rights of passage of summer for me is a Tomato Sandwich with the best summer tomatoes I can find. Nothing simpler. Nothing better.

Does it warrant a recipe?

rench bread layered with garlic aioli, heirloom tomatoes, a drizzling of balsamic vinegar and parmesan shavings.

French bread layered with garlic aioli, heirloom tomatoes, a drizzling of balsamic vinegar and parmesan shavings.

No. Probably not.

What I do is slice a mess of tomatoes (remember my tip for slicing small tomatoes?) Different sizes and different colors are best cause it just looks so summery.

Then I grab some good, crusty bread.

Slather on a layer of (cheater’s) garlic aioli*.

Then load it up with tomatoes, a sprinkling of sea salt, some shavings of Parmigiano-reggiano, a drizzle of the best balsamic vinegar I’ve got on-hand and voila.

The best summer sandwich imaginable.

And an alternative on baguette rounds.

And an alternative on toasted baguette rounds for an easy appetizer.

*Cheater’s garlic aioli = store bought mayo + a clove of crushed garlic. Summer is for relaxing my friends.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Sour cream adds a little tang to this grilled cheese.

Sour cream adds a little tang to this grilled cheese.

It’s National Grilled Cheese Month!

Now, THAT is a cause worth celebrating, no? In homage to this festive gala of cheese, I had planned on making a ton of different sandwiches and posting my favs. But lo-and-behold, a blogging event at Panini Happy was egging me on. No time to debate which cheese has the best tang to meltability (it’s a word) ratio. Time to get cooking!

Sour cream in grilled cheese?

I recently read something that cookbook author extraordinaire,  Donna Hay, had developed a grilled cheese recipe which involved mixing cheese with sour cream. I thought that might work really well for cheeses that aren’t great melters – plus give it an added tang. And since I have a penchant for aged cheese (a 12 month Manchego in this case), I thought this might be a good idea for me.

A little sweetness

Next up – I like grilled cheese with a touch of something sweet. A thin layer of chutney, hot pepper jelly, or maybe a little fig jam might be nice. In my fridge is a container of dates just hanging out – all bored and neglected. I thought maybe pureeing them with a little pomegranate molasses might make a nice spread.

And meat

Finally, who doesn’t love a little cured ham? Serrano would have been my first choice given the Manchego cheese and date combo, but my grocery didn’t have it. So prosciutto it is!

Put the whole thing on some country bread, fire up the cast iron skillet, add a ton of butter and a fabulous sandwich is only minutes away.

Date, Manchego and Prosciutto Grilled Cheese

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 oz grated Aged Manchego cheese
1 T sour cream
pinch salt
4 slices Country bread
4 slices Prosciutto or other cured ham (cough Serrano…Jamon Iberico…cough)
1-2 T buttter for skillet

For Date Spread:
1/4 cup dried, pitted dates
1/4 cup boiling water
1 t pomegranate molasses


1. Make the date spread: soak the dates in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Add the pomegranate molasses. Puree in blender/food processor. Set aside.

2. Combine grated Manchego with sour cream and pinch of salt. Set aside.

3. Take 2 slices bread. Spread date spread on one side of one piece of bread. 

4. Layer one slice prosciutto on each slice of bread.

5. Place half of the cheese mixture on one slice of bread. Spread to edges.

6. Place other slice of bread with prosciutto on top.

7. Heat cast iron skillet over medium for a few minutes. Add half of the butter. Swirl to coat the pan. Place sandwich in pan and grill on both sides till as golden brown as you like it (some of us like things more burnt than others!).

8. Repeat steps 3-7 for second sandwich


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Transports you right to France - although I've bastardized it by adding Feta and Mascarpone

Transports you right to the south of France - although I've bastardized the effect by serving it with Feta and Mascarpone


AKA – Food only chicks like

My husband has an aversion to olives. Most men seem to share this trait and I simply do not comprehend it. I do try to help cure him of this ailment, but to no avail. Unbeknownst to me, he also has an aversion to capers. And sundried tomatoes. And basil. After 10 years together, I JUST found this out. And sadly, these are a few of my favorite things.

As I was reading The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, I came across a delicious sounding dish that had all of the above in it. A Provencal Tomato Spread. Paired with bread slathered with mascarpone and feta cheese shot under the broiler and a nice salad, what could be better? This is my kind of eating. Too bad my husband doesn’t agree. 

What else could you do with this?

Toss with pasta. Serve over chicken. Wish fish. It’s highly versatile. I’m quite certain it will end up with pasta by week’s end – that is, if I don’t tire of loading it on top of fresh bread first.

Provencal Tomato Spread

From Kathleen Finn. Read her book for more great recipes (and a lot of fun too).


4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red medium bell pepper, peeled, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 ½ cups) 
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (1 cup) 
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (¾ cup)
12 Nicoise olives, chopped
3/4 tablespoon capers
2 cups chopped fresh basil


  • In a small sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat.
  • Add bell pepper, onions, and garlic and cook until soft.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and capers and cook gently.
  • Remove from heat. 
  • When cool, add the basil.
  • Add coarse salt and pepper to taste.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Great Lebanese at home! 


Great Lebanese at home!

My neighborhood is known for two things: 1. the home of notorious, soon to be ex-governor Rod Blagojevich and 2. being one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation (according to Barrons magazine).  Since I don’t care much about number one, let’s focus on number two. Thanks to our diversity, we’ve got tons of great ethnic restaurants. One of which has the best Chicken Shawarma ever. Since I don’t get to go there often (since my husband doesn’t share the love), I thought I’d give it a whirl at home. I scoured the web for recipes.  Lebanese? Persian?  Greek? I had no idea what I was looking for, but I did know that most of the recipes I came across seemed flatout wrong (curry powder??). Then I came across this one that seemed promising. I made a few tweaks – broiling the chicken instead of boiling it and not marinating it nearly as long as recommended since I didn’t want the meat to turn mushy – and it turned out pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. Next time, I might try with an olive oil marinade instead of the yogurt. I served it on Naan with some Sabre Hummus (tahini garlic sauce would also be a great choice, but hummus was on-hand), tomato and cucumber. Fabulous!

Chicken Shawarma

Adapted from About.com


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (thinly cut)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • juice from 1 lemon


Combine all ingredients except for chicken to make marinade.  Add chicken, cover and refrigerate at least an hour, preferably more (maybe overnight).  

When ready to bake, turn oven broiler to HI (or use your grill). Remove chicken from marinade and let drain in colander to remove excess.

Arrange chicken on a baking sheet. Broil 6-10 minutes or until chicken is done and looks brown and crispy in parts.

Serve with naan, pita, lavash, whatever you’ve got. Hummus or a garlic tahini sauce would make a nice addition. Add some veg – tomatoes, cucumber, a little thinly sliced onion. Perhaps a sprinkle of ground sumac if you’ve got it. 


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