Archive for the 'sandwiches' Category

Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts

Growing up in Ohio, we had an electric range in my kitchen. I knew of nothing else and was comfortable with the four red-hot coils.

Moving to Chicago, an electric range in your kitchen meant your apartment was owned by someone from Ohio. It was unheard of. I don’t think I saw a single one the four years I lived there. Every kitchen in Chicago has a gas range. At first, they scared the bejeezus out of me. A flame! An actual flame in my kitchen?! But I eventually warmed up to the turning of the dial, the clicking and the small explosion of fire that consumed my pan. I learned to cook over a gas flame. I loved the control, the speed, and the consistency. But I was afraid of the broiler drawer.

Then I moved to Indiana: Home of the Electric Range II. Suddenly, all the dishes I could cook with my eyes closed were burning. Chicken breasts had a black skin. My Calpholon pans – branded with a spiral. I HATED ELECTRIC RANGES!! The only thing good about them is the storage drawer under the oven and in-oven easy broiling. I had a broiler revolution my first year here. I was toasting bread, roasting red peppers, and cooking fish. I had mastered the broiler!

Then we moved into our new house and I INSISTED on a gas range. I didn’t read the owner’s manual, I just dove right in. I feel like an old pro sauteing over my easily adjustable gas flame. I can scramble an egg in the time it takes an electric burner to just heat up.  I am in heeaavennnn. Then I came across this recipe. Broiling required. Oh crap. I got down on my knees and literally stuck my head in the oven. “I have a storage drawer,” I thought, “So where the heck do I broil?” I turned on the broiler (after I removed my head) and voila! Furious flames shot across the ceiling of my oven. Modern cooking technology has embraced me! I can have the best of both worlds! Then I promptly made this dish which took almost no time at all.

Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts
Adapted from Annie’s Eats. Originally from Everyday Food, March 2008.

1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 portobello mushrooms (stems removed), cleaned and sliced ½-inch thick
2 red bell peppers (or as you can see, I used yellow), seeded and sliced ½-inch thick
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
4 thick slices country or italian bread
2-4 oz. provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat broiler (I used the high setting. In retrospect, I should have used the low setting) and place rack 4 inches from the heat source.

Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil. Add broccoli to the pan, drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss around to make sure the broccoli is coated evenly. Broil for 3-4 minutes and remove pan from oven.

Add mushrooms and peppers to the pan, drizzle with remaining olive oil and season again with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Broil for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times, remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, spread about a tablespoon of pesto on each slice of bread and top with 1 slice of provolone. Divide broiled vegetables on top of each slice of bread and top with a half slice of provolone.

Remove old aluminum foil from baking pan and reline with fresh foil. Place assembled sandwiches on baking sheet and broil for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.


Chicken Caprese Sandwich


Last week, the butcher only had really small chicken breasts. Instead of buying extra I just stuck with two and figured I’d just make quesadillas or something with them. If you couldn’t tell from my most recent posts, we’ve been eating a lot of Mexican lately. I had some beautiful Indiana grown tomatoes from the farmer’s market that needed to be used as well as some fresh mozzarella in the fridge, so I thought I’d try something new and came up with this sandwich. It’s by no means a novel idea, but it was sooo good and I was quite proud of this. The chicken breasts, which were about a quarter pound each, ended up being the perfect size. And to be quite honest, this would be just as good without the bun.

Chicken Caprese Sandwich

2 small chicken breasts pounded very thin (1/4 inch) and cut in half crosswise
garlic powder
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup your choice grated Italian cheese (I used and recommend Asiago)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 thin slices ripe tomato
2 1/4 inch slices of fresh mozzarella
6 basil leaves
2 sandwich buns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese in shallow dish.
3. Heat oil in large oven proof pan over medium high heat. (If you do not have an oven proof pan, you can just use a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.)
4. Dip chicken in egg and allow excess to drip off. Then dredge in breadcrumbs.
5. Place chicken in pan and quickly brown both sides of chicken breasts (2 minutes each side).
6. Place one mozzarella slice on two pieces of chicken. Transfer pan to oven and bake just until cheese begins to melt (3-5 minutes). Remove pan from oven (careful – the handle will be hot!)
7. Stack two pieces of chicken, one with mozzarella cheese, on sandwich bun. Top with 2 slices of tomato and 3 basil leaves.

Grilled Zucchini Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich


Last week I met up with Jeff’s cousin and her little girl at the Indianapolis City Market. I’d never been there before and had high hopes not only for the market itself, but for the farmer’s market outside. I’ve been rather unimpressed with the Carmel Farmer’s Market. It’s not terrible, but just okay. I go looking mostly for produce, and there is only one vendor at Carmel’s FM that offers a decent selection of produce. Consequently, there usually is a line about 15 people long just to view the fruits and veggies at this stand. Annoying.

This isn’t the case at the Indianapolis City Market’s Farmer’s Market. I was overwhelmed with produce stands. Not only were there tons of fruits and veggies on display, there were tons of Amish vendors. I have a slight thing for the Amish. I’ve been told that a handful of generations back, one side of my family was Pennsylvania Dutch. So maybe that explains my deep rooted trust in these fine people. I think I would buy a poop pie from a wholesome looking lady in a cotton dress and bonnet. They weren’t selling any of that last week, but they were selling dozens of quick breads, eggs, cakes, and jams. None of which I needed, therefore, none of which I bought. (Kinda throws a wrench in the poop pie theory.)

I did find quite an assortment of what I did need – the ingredients needed to recreate the delicious sandwich I just had for lunch inside the market at Cafe Olivia’s. A fine young man in front of me in line suggested I order their Grilled Zucchini, Tomato & Mozzarella sandwich. He didn’t need to twist my arm, and I’m so glad I asked him for advice because I was really close to ordering the Pulled Pork Sandwich (which surely would have been good too, but not unique). The sandwich was to die for, and the likeliness of my getting Jeff to the market to eat one too is nilch. So, I decided to buy up some tomatoes and zucchini and make one at home. Here’s how I did it.


Grilled Zucchini Tomato & Mozzarella Sandwich

1 French baguette
about 1/4 cup of olive oil
garlic powder
1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 ripe tomato sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella sliced like tomato
balsamic vinaigrette
dried Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette open lengthwise and place crust side down on a baking sheet. Brush the flesh of the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Place in oven to toast 5-10 minutes, until golden.
2. Meanwhile, heat grill pan or panini press on a medium-high heat. Brush both sides of zucchini slices with olive oil and salt and pepper both sides. Place on grill pan and cook 4 minutes, or until grill marks form, then flip and cook another 4 minutes.
3. Line up zucchini slices and cover the bottom piece of the toasted baguette. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella and then with tomato slices.
4. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette to your liking. Season with Italian herb seasoning and salt and pepper. Top with other half of baguette and enjoy!

Burgers with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Sauce

“This is quite possibly the best burger I’ve ever eaten.”

No joke. That’s what Jeff said to me following the “mmmmm” after his first bite. I’m not going to kid myself, it’s not true. It couldn’t possibly be the best one he’s ever eaten. He’s eaten a lot of good quality burgers. Like the burgers at Ted’s and Bub’s. But they seemed to all be forgotten last night. I would have to agree with him that it was a pretty awesome burger, and that’s a good thing because it took more prep work than usual. This wasn’t just a slap some ingredients together, mold into a patty, and grill kind of burger. The sauce takes a good half an hour to make. But boy is it worth it!

The original recipe called for blue cheese to be incorporated into the sauce. We’ve tried blue cheese burgers before and neither of us like them, so I left it out and just sprinkled some Asiago shavings on top. Glad I did. They were seriously perfect, and quite possibly the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

Burgers with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Sauce
Adapted from Closet Cooking

2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion sliced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme chopped
6 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
salt & pepper
glug of red wine (original recipe calls for brandy – we don’t keep brandy in the house)
1/3 cup beef broth

3/4 lb. ground beef
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. shaved Asiago cheese (optional but necessary all at the same time)

1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute at medium heat until caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Be careful here not to burn the onions. I lowered the heat a tad and stirred quite frequently.
5. Add the wine and broth and deglaze the pan (scrape up all the brown delicious bits from the bottom).
6. Simmer until it has reduced and thickened, about 3-6 minutes.

For Burgers:

1. Season ground beef with salt and pepper to your liking. Mix well with hands (seriously get over it and use your hands).
2. Form into two equal patties.
3. Grill over high flame 3-5 minutes each side depending on how well you like your burgers done.
4. Lightly toast sandwich buns on grill.
5. Top toasted buns with burger and spoon sauce over burger.
6. Feel like a million bucks when your family swoons.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

If it’s warm enough to walk outside without shoes or a jacket, I’m grilling dinner. There’s nothing better in my opinion than food cooked over a flame. It tastes better and there are no pans to wash afterwards. When we lived in Chicago we were deeply deprived of any private outdoor space in which we could keep a grill. But I made due inside. I had a nice little Cuisinart indoor grill and gas burners, and I used them to their full extent. One thing I absolutely love to cook with is roasted red peppers. In Chicago, I could make them year round by just sitting the little peppers on the gas flame burner to blacken the skin. But here in Indiana, world of the electric range, I’ve had to retire all my roasted red pepper recipes for the season. I know that you can blacken peppers in the broiler in the oven. I just don’t think they turn out as well so I never do it.

So the beautiful night last night got me all excited to cook up something on the grill. I’ve made these sandwiches twice last summer and really enjoyed them, so I thought it would be a nice change up from all the chicken and pork we’ve been eating. I started roasting the red pepper on the grill only to discover that my grill ran out of gas about 80% of the way through. Great. I had these beautiful mushrooms marinating and all my other high quality ingredients ready to make these sandwiches and no fire. (**This was just one way my night turned to hell last night. I also knocked over a full Brita pitcher in the fridge and spilled Jeff’s beer all over the counter top. Yeah it was a good night. No, I’m not pregnant.)

So, I pulled out my trusty indoor grill, fired it up and made due. The end result was tasty but not as good as I recall it being the last 2 times. I blame this on a not-roasted-enough red pepper and somewhat flavorless mushrooms that would’ve grilled up beautifully if the Blue Rhino tank would’ve lasted just one more night. Oh well, trust me, if your grill doesn’t betray you half way through, they’ll taste great.

And if you’ve never had portobello mushrooms, you should really try them. Back when I was a loser and wouldn’t eat mushrooms, my life was pretty boring. I credit Jeff for opening up my small town Ohio palate. Portobellos have really great flavor and a very nice texture. If my grocery store has them, your grocery store has them.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Preparing the Mushrooms

Buy two portobello mushrooms that do not show any signs of spoiling (no mushy, slimy spots) and have nice, undamaged gills (the produce lady at Meijer taught me this). Remove the stems – they should just pull off. You aren’t supposed to rinse your mushrooms under water. Instead take a damp cloth/paper towel and wipe the caps down. Now I have a hard time with the “unknown” of what may be lurking in the dark depths of the underside’s gills, so I give the gills quick rinse and dry – so shoot me. I’ve seen some portobellos prepared with the gills removed. You could do this as well, they are a little weird.

Marinade (adapted from Food Network):

1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp. lemon zest

Place mushrooms gill sides up in a shallow baking dish. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the mushrooms and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, turning once.

While the mushrooms are marinating, roast the red peppers. Place the peppers over high flame turning as each side blackens. Once pepper is completely blackened, remove from grill and immediately place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Steam for 15-20 minutes. Remove from bowl (careful, it’s probably really hot!) and strip away the charred outer layer of skin and remove the stem and seeds. Cut into 2 pieces. Set aside.

Pat mushrooms dry and place gill sides up on grill over a medium/medium-low flame. Grill slowly for about 20 minutes. Flip and grill for 5-10 more minutes.

Assembling the Sandwiches

2 hamburger buns
4-6 large basil leaves
fresh mozzarella
roasted red pepper
2 grilled portobellos

Place the grilled mushroom on the bun. Top first with half the roasted red pepper, then with two 1/4 inch slices of fresh mozzarella and finally with basil. I like my sandwiches dry, but I think adding mayo or pesto to the bun would be nice for all you condiment lovers out there.


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