Chevre and Strawberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It’s berry season in Florida!  Strawberries have invaded markets and stores, and soon the blueberries will begin making an appearance.  I had the opportunity to go on my very first farm tour earlier this month in Plant City, FL.  This is home to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, as well as the location of the Florida Strawberry Festival.  It was a gorgeous day, and my fellow central Florida food bloggers and I had fun tromping around the patches, and through the packaging factory.  I had no idea there were so many varieties of Florida strawberries.  My favorite were the radiant reds, which are a deep hue and are the perfect shape for dipping in chocolate.

I took home an entire flat of berries plus a few extras that day, and have been making good use of them.  First off, I made jam.  Then, I ate a lot of these grilled cheese sandwiches.  Lastly, I froze the rest of the berries, which my husband uses in his daily smoothies.  The sandwiches make a perfect light lunch, and I’ve found myself stopping at home on my lunch break a lot more often this past month.

original recipe

Chevre and Strawberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients

For the walnut spread
½ c chopped walnuts
1 Tbs honey
½ Tbs vegetable oil
Few dashes of salt
For the sandwiches
4 slices bread
2 oz. goat cheese (not crumbles)
5-6 fresh strawberries, sliced
2 slices provolone
1 Tbs butter

Instructions

  1. Place ingredients for the walnut spread in a small food processor. Puree until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.
  2. Lay out the slices of bread. Layer half the goat cheese, walnut spread, strawberries, and provolone on each of two slices. Top with remaining slices of bread.
  3. Heat half the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and brown on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove sandwiches to a plate. Melt remaining butter and swirl around the pan. Carefully flip the sandwiches and add to the pan, browning on the other side.
http://kokocooks.com/2015/02/chevre-and-strawberry-grilled-cheese-sandwich/

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Grilled Peach And Brie Sandwich

Last summer, I made a decision to improve my grilling skills.  I dodged the daily downpours and grilled something nearly every day.  The discovery of the summer was that celery tasted great when grilled.  This summer, I dusted off the grill, got back into it.  Peaches and pineapple are my foods of choice this summer.

This sandwich name may be a bit misleading.  It’s not a grilled cheese sandwich with peaches and brie.  Rather, it is a sandwich of grilled peaches and combined with brie.  I suppose you could heat the sandwich up after assembling it.  The brie would get all gooey and melty, which sounds delicious as well!

original recipe

Grilled Peach And Brie Sandwich

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Grilled Peach And Brie Sandwich

Ingredients

1 peach, pitted and sliced into eighths
1 tsp olive oil
4 slices bread
Lettuce leaves
3 oz. brie, thinly sliced
Chopped, fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill. Toss peach slices and olive oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
  2. Place peach slices on grill and cook until the surface of the peaches begins to caramelize, about 4 minutes per side. Toast bread on the grill, if desired.
  3. Assemble sandwiches: layer lettuce, brie, and peaches on two pieces of bread. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Top with remaining slices of bread.
http://kokocooks.com/2014/07/grilled-peach-and-brie-sandwich/

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Chicken Cuban Sandwich

Remember that Lite Brite cake, and the ensuing contest that I participated in? After much online campaigning, I ended up in second place.  About 20 votes behind. I was so bummed.  For the rest of the weekend, I moped around the house. Then, around midnight Sunday/Monday (that’s about 31 hours of moping) I read an email from Guster’s management.  They invited all the contest participants to the concert, along with backstage passes to meet the band.  Squee! I was going to see three of my favorite bands in concert – Guster, Ben Folds Five, and Barenaked Ladies.

So Joey and I scrambled around making travel plans. We flew up to New England Tuesday morning, and by that afternoon we were enjoying this view of the Berkshires. We had an awesome time at the concert, and I got to wish Brian of Guster, “Happy Birthday” in person!

If you ever visit Tanglewood or the surrounding area, I highly recommend eating at Cafe Reva, Brava, and Patisserie Lenox. There’s also great antiquing – I picked up an awesome ice cream scoop. And I was in heaven with how important music is to the town.

After we returned, I was craving Cuban sandwiches like mad.  I picked up one from our local shop, but wanted to make some at home.  A classic cuban sandwich consists of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard. Since roast pork is not something we usually have in the house, I decided to use roast chicken.  And since I was using chicken, I decided to try a pork-free version.  The turkey bacon gives the sandwich the same smoky flavor as ham.

original recipe

Chicken Cuban Sandwich

Yield: one 8-inch sandwich

If you can't find Cuban bread, you can substitute with the fluffy-style French bread that is available at supermarkets.

Ingredients

1 loaf Cuban bread
Yellow mustard
3 slices cooked turkey bacon (or sliced ham)
⅓ c shredded chicken
2 slices Swiss cheese
8 pickle slices

Instructions

  1. Cut an 8-inch piece off the loaf of Cuban bread. Slice bread lengthwise down the middle. Spread a thin layer of mustard on both open sides of bread. Layer ham, chicken, Swiss cheese, and pickles in an even layer on the bottom piece of bread. Cover with top slice of bread.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place sandwich in the skillet. Place a bacon press (or other heat-proof heavy object) on top of the sandwich. Cook until sandwich is heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove sandwich from heat, slice diagonally, and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2013/08/chicken-cuban-sandwich/

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Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Calzones

 

I’ve said it before, but there’s something about calzones. They’re a lot more work than pizza. There’s a lot more dough in calzones, which makes them richer than pizza. But there’s something about all that wonderful, steaming hot filling encased in the perfect pocket of dough. They’re the perfect portable meal. And in the busy days we have coming up, that will be a life saver. Especially these calzones. They taste like spinach artichoke dip, only less greasy and with the added protein from the chicken.

 

I’ve always had trouble estimating the amount of filling to put in calzones. Usually I under-stuff them, which leads to way too high of a crust-to-filling ratio. So here’s my tip: put more filling than you think the dough will handle. Fill the calzone so more than half the dough is covered. The dough that gets folded over will easily stretch to accommodate the filling. And that way, the filling will balance out all the crust.

 

adapted from Cuisine At Home, August 2012

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Calzones

Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Calzones

Ingredients

Filling
2 c diced (or shredded) cooked chicken
1 c shredded Asiago cheese
5.2 oz package of Boursin cheese
¼ c minced onion
14 oz. can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cloves minced garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Calzone
1 lb pizza dough, proofed
1 Tbs all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, Asiago, Boursin, onion, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat oven to 450°F. (If using a pizza stone, place stone in oven before turning on heat.)
  3. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Dust a large area of the counter with flour. Stretch dough into a six-inch round. Let rest. Stretch a little more. Place ¼ of the filling to one side of the dough, leaving a border around the edge. Stretch the dough over the filling and crimp edges to seal.
  4. Brush the top of calzones with egg (see note above.) Cut a small slit in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape. Place calzones in oven and bake until they are browned and make a hollow sound when tapped, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

note: when brushing egg on the tops of the calzones, I find it easier to lightly dust your hand with flour, and hold the calzone in your hand rather than doing it when the calzone is on the counter.

http://kokocooks.com/2012/09/chicken-spinach-and-artichoke-calzones/

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Egg Salad Sandwich


My last year of college, I worked at this little cafe in the downtown area. I got there every morning at 6:00 a.m. and did the baking. I was tucked away in a little upstairs kitchen, blasting classical music on the local NPR station. When lunchtime hit, I would head downstairs and make sandwiches. It was tiring, but one of the most fun jobs I’ve had.

The cafe served a breakfast sandwich that consisted of a sliced hard-boiled egg, provolone cheese, some sprouts, and the teeniest swipe of mayo. I would eat eat one almost every morning. It was healthy, light, and got me through my morning activities. It works for breakfast or lunch. I believe the sandwich is still on the menu. The herb mayo gives it the flavor of traditional egg salad, but without as much fat.


inspired by the breakfast sandwich at Uptown Cafe

Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

For each sandwich you will need
English muffin, lightly toasted
Provolone cheese slice
Hardboiled egg, sliced
Tomato slice
Handful of alfalfa sprouts
Herb mayo
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, minced
Small handful of minced fresh herbs - I like a combination of parsley, dill, basil, and chives
Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. For the sandwiches: Layer cheese, egg, tomato slice, and alfalfa sprouts on the English muffin. Spread a thin layer of herb mayo on the inside of the top of the English muffin. Place on top of the sandwich.
  2. For the herb mayo: Mix mayonnaise, garlic, and herbs in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/egg-salad-sandwich/

 

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Crab Cake BLTs


Bacon is one of those foods that we don’t cook often, but when we do it is completely celebrated. We munch on the extra slices while we continue to cook. We freeze the bacon fat to use in future recipes (usually for making refried beans.) It’s probably a good thing we don’t keep it in the house often.


Celebrating bacon was a part of Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker Program for the month. Their partner Denny’s is celebrating BACONALIA, and featuring lots of bacon dishes on their menu. For my part, I made these crab cake blts. I love crab cakes, and I love bacon, so why not pair the two together? Tom Douglas‘ recipe seemed the most popular, but instead of his horseradish mayo, I made an Old Bay mayo. I thought it complemented both the bacon and the crab cake.


Adapted from Tom Douglas’ recipe

Crab Cake BLTs

Crab Cake BLTs

Ingredients

Crabcakes
¼ c red bell pepper, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
12 oz. lump crabmeat
¾ tsp fresh lemon zest
¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
¼ c dry bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
Sandwiches
4 hamburger rolls
Tomato slices
Lettuce leaves
8 slices cooked bacon
Old Bay mayo (below)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the red pepper, celery, thyme, parsley, crabmeat, lemon zest, Old Bay seasoning, and tabasco. Break up lumps of crabmeat as you stir. Add bread crumbs a little at a time, and stir to combine. You may not need entire amount. Divide mixture into quarters, and form into patties.
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place crab cakes in the pan and browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and let the crab cakes rest for 5 minutes. To assemble the sandwiches, layer lettuce, tomato, crab cake, and bacon on a bun. Cut bacon in half if necessary so it doesn’t hang too much over the edge of the sandwich. Top with Old Bay mayo.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/crab-cake-blts/

 

Old Bay Mayo

Ingredients

¼ c mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp salt
Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/crab-cake-blts/

 

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Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

 

Mardi Gras season is here! Unfortunately, I won’t be making the trek to New Orleans this season. But, I can still get my fix of cajun food.


The very next night after making these po’ boys, we stayed at the Port Orleans resort. The resort is beautiful – like a cleaner, idealistic, more compact version of the real place.


A plain po’ boy is just the meat and bread. A fully dressed po’boy includes the lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo. I used remoulade sauce in place of the mayo for a little something extra. And even though the seafood was deep fried, we loved that the sandwiches weren’t overly greasy tasting (one of the benefits of home-frying).

Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

Fried Seafood Po’ Boys

Ingredients

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb fresh oysters
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 package of fish fry
Oil for frying
Black pepper
French bread
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices
Dill pickle slices
Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

  1. Pat shrimp and oysters dry with paper towels. Place egg whites in a shallow dish; place fish fry mixture in another shallow dish. Dip all the seafood in the egg, and then dredge in the fish fry, coating completely. Place coated seafood in a baking pan.
  2. Pour enough oil in a fryer or Dutch oven to reach a 2-3 inch depth. Heat to 350˚F. Fry seafood in batches for 1 minute. Remove to another baking dish. Season lightly with black pepper.
  3. To prepare the po’boys, divide bread into sandwich-sized portions. Slice bread open, and stuff with seafood, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and some remoulade sauce.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/fried-seafood-po-boys/

Remoulade Sauce

Remoulade Sauce

adapted from Chef John Besh

Ingredients

1 c mayonnaise
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs prepared horseradish
1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 small (or ½ a large) shallot, finely minced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce
½ tsp paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
Dash of salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/fried-seafood-po-boys/

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

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Banh Mi

I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. Hubs and I usually go out for dinner on each other’s birthdays, but this year we decided to stay in. He asked me what I wanted for dinner, and I was craving banh mi sandwiches. All those episodes of “Food Truck Road Race” got me thinking about banh mi.

Hubs found this recipe on the epicurious site. I nixed the jalepenos, since I’m not a fan of them raw. When choosing bread, look for the skinny baguettes. We had them on both the wide, poofy baguettes, and much preferred the thin ones. Sometimes you can find pickled carrots and daikon already made at Asian markets. We intended on freezing half the meatballs to eat at a later date. However, we liked the sandwiches so much that we ended up eating them all within a few days.


Banh Mi
Adapted from Bon Appetit
January 2010

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground pork
¼ c finely chopped fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, white and light green part, chopped
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sriracha
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

For the pickled vegetables:
1 c coarsely grated carrots
1 c coarsely grated peeled daikon
¼ c rice vinegar
¼ c sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

For the sandwiches:
1 Tbs sesame oil
Baguettes (2 or 3)
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Fresh mint sprigs

Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Mix all the meatball ingredients together. Using moistened hands, roll into meatballs, using a scant tablespoonful of meat for each one. Arrange on baking sheet. Cover and chill for at least an hour. (Can be made a day in advance.)

For the pickled veggies: Toss the carrots, daikon, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Preheat oven to 250˚F. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, browning on all sides and cooking through. Lower heat if they start to brown too quickly. Transfer cooked meatballs to a clean baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

Cut baguettes into sandwich-sized portions. Slice in half horizontally. Place meatballs, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and mint on the bottom half. Top with the other half and press together.

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