burgers & sandwiches

boo fly pie and steak sammies

grilled flank steak sandwiches with avocado and spicy cremaFor B on his birthday: grilled flank steak sandwiches with avocado and hot sauce crema.

grilled flank steak sandwich with avocado and spice crema

This Franken-sandwich is a conglomeration of the steak preparation from this recipe and the open faced sandwich preparation from this recipe. Definitely let the steak rest in a foil tent for at least 10 minutes off the grill for the juiciest, most flavorful slices. However, not eating meat myself I can’t really comment on the end result, but I can comment that these were GONE in 60 seconds.

shoo fly pie

Served with shoofly pie which I feel more qualified to comment on because I am a pie-avore. I might’ve overbaked a bit as it was more cakey than gooey to be considered a real wet-bottomed shoofly pie, but simple and molassesicous nonetheless.

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baking, burgers & sandwiches

red carpet brown bag

pan bagnat

Whilst packing for an all-day whale-watching excursion, I had a moment where I thought I’d slap together a good ol’ PB&J and call it a lunch. There is nothing dishonorable about this traditional option, but I decided on this day to honor the sea by treasuring one of it’s finest offerings, the humble tuna.

pan bagnat

On the Mediterranean coastline of France, the clever and life-affirming residents of Nice created the best tunafish sandwich known to mankind, and it is the pan bagnat. The best quality tuna is simply dressed in fruity olive oil and acidic champagne vinegar or lemon juice. Leave the gloppy mayo to your tuna melts. Then you add in some vegetables for crunch and flavor (artichoke hearts, peppers, red onion), some nice salty olives, aromatic fresh basil, and hearty hard boiled eggs. Add it all in loving layers to the partially hollowed out casing of a crisp baguette or boule. I used a mish-mash of this recipe from Food 52 and this one from Martha Stewart.

pan bagnat

The beauty of this sandwich is that you can use up a lot of stuff laying around your fridge, pantry, and condiments shelf. No, the beauty of this sandwich is that you can make it entirely ahead of time, press it down in your fridge under a heavy skillet or a baking tray weighed down with heavy books overnight. No, no, no the beauty of this sandwich is that you need to make it ahead of time, because the multitude of bright flavors really come together and then soak into the bread to make it taste even better after a night being pressed.

bourbon dark chocolate blondies

While you sit back and admire your work on a lunch well-packed, might I suggest adding these supremely easy one-bowl bourbon dark chocolate blondies? Whales will be watched, seas will be sailed, and tummies will be satisfied, fortified, and nourished to forge forward into the wild blue yonder.

burgers & sandwiches, lunch/dinner

what i had for dinner: condiment cleanout edition

My fridge is usually empty (gasp!) – but the door shelves are always full. I got capers for something and used only a teaspoon, then found a great recipe for miso poached cod and have a big container of miso languishing, and hit up another specialty store for authentic Indian pickle and then forgot to use it in anything else…and so it goes. Recently, I procured a jar of zesty harissa paste full of acidic and subtly spicy red chile as well as a pricey bottle of aromatic tangy preserved lemon for a Moroccan night. I really, really (really?) enjoyed the flavors of these new-to-me condiments so I’d been looking for an excuse to use them again (and use them up) in a less conventional format.

B’s Adam (not to be confused with my Adam, of Polish pierogi and pie proclivities) was dropping by for a doctoral candidate study break so the guy could use a good meal and some comforting convo. I imagined harissa, much like a tomato relish or tapenade, would be a perfect contrast to some creamy, buttery, melty cheese and a grilled cheese is always welcome on a comfort food menu. I was going to do a bright, tangy preserved lemon soup for the grilled cheese, but decided that their zing would go rather well with a juicy salad to balance the richness of the gooey sandwich. To bring it back full circle, I used up both harissa and preserved lemon to make an elegant yet easy-peasy sauce for shrimp – served over yesterday’s leftover rice and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal for fueling your dissertation-addled brain. I muddled together a bunch of different recipes and found the right balance for my tastebuds somewhere in between them, and ended up leaving the fridge door shelf just a bit lighter.

Harissa and Pear Grilled Cheese (aka Best Grilled Cheese Ever)

(inspired by Thierry Rautureau’s Top Chef Masters recipe)

– cut 4 slices of good quality white bread or French bread, about 1/4 inch thick (I used the sublime Acme sweetdough loaf, which is crusty and bubbly, salty and sweet like a delicious French baguette)

– butter each slice on one side (softened butter works best)

– in a small bowl, mix together 2 ounces of fresh goat cheese (chèvre) with 2 teaspoons harissa

– spread the cheese mixture on the non-buttered side of the bread

– fry the slices of bread (buttered side down) on medium low, go low and slow for that perfectly melty crunch

– while frying, top each slice of bread with a thin slices of a good melting cheese (I used Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette which is buttery smooth and made for melting. A similar cheese would be Gruyère or Jarlsberg)

– fry up the bread until crisp golden brown and the cheese is melty, then remove from pan

– add some thin slices of pear to 2 slices of bread (I used crisp Bosc, but a greener Bartlett would also add that snappy crunch)

– top the pear with another slice of gooey melted cheesy buttery crisp bread

– slice up and serve (I cut into quarters for an appetizer)

makes 2 sandwiches

Avocado and Tomato Salad with Preserved Lemon

(a mashup of Cooking Light’s recipe with one of Ghillie Basan’s)

– add to a bowl: 2 diced roma tomatoes, 1/2 rinsed minced preserved lemon rind, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion, fresh squeezed juice of 1 lemon,  and 5-6 tablespoons good fruity olive oil (more or less based on how sharp you want your vinaigrette). mix it up.

– add salt and pepper to taste

– add 1 diced avocado and stir together gently

– serve with chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, a teaspoon of rinsed capers, and a good sprinkling of paprika

serves 4

Harissa and Goat Cheese One-Pan Shrimp

(inspired by this recipe by Carr Valley Cheese Company)

– heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, add 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion, and/or  1 minced shallot

– when soft, add 1lb deveined, peeled shrimp

– when shrimp starts to become opaque add 2 diced roma tomatoes

– add 2 tablespoons harissa and 1 cup white wine, mix to incorporate and simmer until shrimp are cooked through and tomatoes start to soften

– add 2 ounces of fresh goat cheese (chèvre), mix well

– add 1/2 chopped preserved lemon rind (rinsed)

– add salt and pepper to taste

– just before serving add chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

– serve with rice or crusty bread

serves 4

burgers & sandwiches

a fire in the belly

Summer is ending, but here in the sunshine state grilling season is in full bloom.  Every saturday and every Gator game, you can smell the earthy smoke in the air and hear the sizzle of the heat.  My uncle in Bangladesh took great pride in his grilling skills (as many XYs do); he would prepare for a week – choosing cuts of various meats, mixing spicy  yogurt marinades, and skewering kebabs all for the grand finale in a flaming hot fire coaxed over a clay pit.  Me – I’d much rather enjoy the rewards than stand watch over the flames.  I guess that teenage pyromaniac that burned a hole in my parents’ dining room table didn’t quite survive with me to adulthood.

Here, a grill-worthy recipe for vegetarians and their tolerant loved ones.  Wes’ mom passed this one down to me and it makes for a delicious and hearty meal.   I didn’t mess with the recipe the first time except substituting my beloved black beans for the red/kidney beans.  But I think next time I may toss in some mushrooms for a different texture and increase the chili wattage even more.  The burgers freeze extremely well, and in northern climates can be fried up over a stove to spicy results.

Chili Burgers

Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, The Moosewood Collective

1 cup chopped onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup peeled, grated carrot

1 and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Two 15oz cans of pinto, kidney (or black) beans

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup or 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in oil about 5 minutes, until softened.

Add carrots, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook on low about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Mash drained beans in large bowl with potato masher.  Add mustard, soy sauce, ketchup and sauteed vegetables.  Mix in oats.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Moisten hands and form burger mixture into six 3-4 inch patties.  Lightly spray or oil skillet (or grill) and cook burgers on medium to low heat about 5-8 minutes per side.