Monday, August 23, 2010

The delicious and grand world of sandwiches!

It is now what I consider to be the "dog days" of summer here in good ole South Kakalaki. Well, okay. Let's face it. It's been the "dog days" of summer since about June 1st. It's hot, muggy, sticky, buggy, and just all around unpleasant until about 11 o'clock at night. Who wants to heat up the oven and do serious cooking in that kind of weather? I know I don't. That's a sure-fire way to heat up the house and send your electric bill skyrocketing. I tend to use the stove as little as possible during the day. The grill is most definitely my friend in the summer. Sure it's hot outside, but I'll have a nice cool house to walk into when my steaks are done, provided I haven't used the oven. I also tend to make a lot of salads. Nice for a couple of reasons- I don't have to heat up the house and I use the fresh produce from my container garden. As much as I love to grill and as versatile as salads can be, there is still one thing meal that is my "go to" meal in the summer. A sandwich (which can be made using something grilled or can be paired with a yummy salad). To me, the sky is the limit when it comes to sandwiches. There are so many different categories and varieties and they are extremely customizable. You've got burgers, tortas, pitas, subs, panini, deli sandwiches, po' boys, breakfast sandwiches/biscuits, banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich) many wonderful options.

One of those options happens to be Charlie's favorite. He loves burgers. I compare him to Wimpy from the Popeye cartoon and comics for his love of hamburgers. "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." So for my dear boyfriend's birthday, he wanted burgers; and lots of them. I got a bit creative and decided to make him a sampler of sliders. The sliders turned out a little bigger than planned, but I can assure you that Charlie didn't mind. I made 2 of the burgers with fresh, lean bison. I made the other 4 with 80/20 ground chuck. That's right. 6 burgers in all! They each had a different kind of cheese and a strip of bacon on them. I used Maytag bleu, Ementalar, Provolone, Kerrigold white cheddar, gruyere, and regular cheddar cheeses. Between that and some sweet potato oven fries, he had a very happy birthday dinner!

I, personally, have been on a panini kick. I love the melty goodness of Provolone cheese over warm, sliced ham and turkey. Finish it with some crispy bacon and fresh, juicy tomato (from my garden). All of that gets piled between two crusty, buttery slices of toasted bread. I'll give you a minute to clean the drool off your keyboard. (Okay, ready now?) It's wonderful! Now, I don't have a fancy panini press. Who needs it! I'm sure it's a nice gadget to have if you have the counter space...just like that George Foreman grill that is now gathering dust and grease in kitchens across the country. Uh huh. There's no point in hiding it now. I'm talking to you! But honestly? I find that a cast-iron grill pan and another plain cast-iron pan do the trick very nicely. Cast-iron isn't necessary. Neither is a grill pan for that matter, though I do enjoy the lovely brown grill marks the sandwich gets. Basically you need two heavy duty pans. Build the sandwich, heat one pan to medium-high, add a touch of butter or cooking spray to the pan, place the sandwich in the pan, put the other pan (bottom side down) on top of the sandwich to weigh it down. Press gently or set a few cans of beans/fruit/tomatoes in the pan if necessary to add more weight. Your goal is to make a thinner, crispier version of the sandwich you initially built. If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, I highly recommend the panini method for those as well.

Burgers and panini are not the end-all-be-all of sandwiches. As I said, the sky truly is the limit. So if you're looking for something different to make for supper without heating up your kitchen, don't forget about sandwiches! They aren't just for lunch anymore.


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  2. I now have Udi's gluten free white sandwich bread. OMG heaven. You should test blog it. Sprouts has it in the freezer section, as does the Whole Foods. I had grilled cheese with bacon! Nom Nom


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