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Cheese

YES. YES! YES? YES. It is grilled cheese day, my friends.  Who among us does not love grilled cheese? Those melty, melty, magical, magic melts… Think about the first time you ever had one. I bet YOU CAN’T, because if you are like me, you grew up eating grilled cheeses for lunch and dinner when your loving parent either 1) did not have the time to make you a proper meal with actual vegetables, or 2) badly wanted an excuse to eat their own grilled cheese.

(Although, I did once teach a group of English students about grilled cheeses when I was studying abroad during college and ate a grilled cheese and ham sandwich every. single. night. (because metabolism).  They loved them but insisted upon calling them “cheese grills” no matter how persistently they were corrected. An English cheese sandwich, for the record, is bread, butter, cheese, and pickles and they are also delicious.)

Join us as we prepare the ultimate comfort-sandwich.

Preparation:

We have heard from some new readers that it would be helpful to post recipes.  Although this is excellent feedback and we will start doing so, it is interesting indeed that we will start this with the grilled cheese: a sandwich that most people know how to make straight out of the womb.  But I will share with you my proven grilled cheese method.

Proven Grilled Cheese Method:

Makes 2 Sandwiches – for you and a friend, or just for you if you’re extra hungry

Four slices good quality bread – we used Como bread from Grand Central Bakery

4-5 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Whipped butter

Optional (but not really…)

Tomato soup

Use high quality bread and high quality cheese.  Grate the cheese for extra meltability.

Butter the outer sides of the bread liberally.

Assemble the sandwiches by placing roughly half the cheese on each (approximately an handful’s worth [ed. note: 2oz should suffice]).

Heat a skillet on high, cast iron works superbly, and put a sandwich butter-side down on the heated skillet.

Hover over it with drool streaming down your face.

After you think the bread has toasted to your liking, flip the sandwich and press down on it with the spatula.  This probably accomplishes nothing but it makes it seem like it’s cooking faster.

Put on a plate and serve with tomato soup (or ketchup, or both).

*

Impressions

Perfect. Duh.

Do you immediately want another of this sandwich?

Yes, for taste reasons. But it is important to note that with the soup this is a complete meal. There are so many variations as well.  Any kind of cheese, any kind of bread.  Add a slice of ham or a slice of tomato.  One of my personal favorites is a grilled cheese and avocado! The limitless possibilities, economy, and of course, the deliciousness of the cheese sandwich make it an undeniable classic.

Chacarero

HOORAY, SECOND SANDWICH OF THE CS! We’re actually doing this, friends. Riding home from work today (for the Vicomtesse is gainfully employed, yes!), I couldn’t help but think what a fabulous service we are doing unto the world. YOU ARE WELCOME, all two of you! *cough* pardon me sorry excuse me sorry

These beautiful Chilean sandwiches took us both by surprise, contained as they were of skirt steak, avocado, tomato, and green beans (?!). What’s beautiful about this club is that we put many things on many breads, MANY things, that we never would have considered to be husbandsandwich material. So let’s get back to the ingredients. Her Eminence picked them up, and thank goodness we went to New Seasons (sidenote: as it’s probably fairly evident that we are based in Portland, Oregon, I shall further refrain from obfuscation of ingredienteries, unless it is a place we have found distasteful/unseasonably expensive). They have the very very very finest meat of any grocery I’ve ever been to, and the skirt steak that Her Eminence picked up there was not only – like $10 for more than a pound, which for very good beef, is damned economical (if “buying steak” were on the list of things that are economical). I regret, my darlings, not getting a photo of the steak before we seared it – its grain was beautiful and its flesh RED, that harlot (note to self quit anthropomorphizing steak).

The green beans, jalapeño, and avocado were all of terrific quality, but alas, the December tomato is not what you might want. We cut it up and it was in such a sorry state that we made the Official Decree and it was stricken from the sandwich, as it would have palely and sandily detracted from the composition.

As we’ve done in many of our roll-based sandwiches, we hollowed out the bread and took a good fourth of it out. Please do not get us wrong, comrades, we are bread fanatics here at the CSSC, but it must be said! A giant chunk of white roll with no sandwich containment is a sad, sad state of affairs, so more often than not, we forego it.

The steak took no more than about two minutes on each side on high heat with the (lovely, trustworthy) cast-iron, while we charred the green beans in a bit of butter and salt and pepper, a method I picked up in a little place called FRANCE, EVER HEARD OF IT??

sorry

moving on

After we thin-sliced the jalapeño and cut up our perfect, perfect avocado, we took one look at the tomato & threw it out. Hollowing out the french rolls (not completely) made lovely little pockets for us to put the pieces of this interesting sandwich together, and then I put a good amount of the adobo sauce (left-over from the last sandwich – that tells you how recently we did this, AND HOW AMAZING WE ARE ahem sorry again) on it once assembled.

This was a really good sandwich. Speaking as The Vicomtesse of the Bacon Lettuce & Tomato, it didn’t blow me away. I loved the interesting crunch of the green beans and the richness of the (very rare [in France the word for rare translates to “bloody,” isn’t that beautiful]) steak, but I put a bit too much of the adobo on, and honestly, I think the sandwich deserved a bit of mayo over the red sauce! I know this is a pretty ugly American POV that I’m expressing here, but god I love mayonnaise, and a little goes a long way toward tying a sandwich together. Mayo is the salt of the sandwich world (or, um, maybe salt is the salt of the sandwich world) and I feel that it melds the spicy, the umami, the rich and the sour together in a way that brings out the flavors of each. But it WAS good, and Her Eminence liked it I think a good deal more than I did, and I would absolutely make it again with a few tweaks of my own – adobo, yes, but a bit less of it, and a little swipe of the Hellmann’s. For about $20, we had enough for three sandwiches, so again, somehow not cheaper than getting a sandwich out somewhere, but seriously quite good for a terrific steak sandwich, the ingredients of which were purchased at a Fancy market.

SUCCESS FRIENDS

Cemita

Hola, sandwich lovers…we are back! And we have triumphantly entered the C-section (ew) of our most excellent mission.  Man, I thought we were going to be in the Bs forever.  Oh do we have some epic sandwiches coming up, we are SO excited.  But first, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge a major misstep on the part of this here sandwich blog.  Yes, November 3 was National Sandwich Day and neither of us noticed or commemorated this illustrious holiday (though we probably ate a sandwich considering it was a day that ended in Y).  We promise we will never make such a careless error again.

Anyway, today’s sandwich is the Cemita:

The Cemita is a traditional sandwich from Puebla, Mexico and it takes its name from the kind of roll used.  We did not find traditional cemita rolls, but used torta rolls and topped them with sesame seeds to recreate it.  The sandwich assemblage is quite simple, just a meat, queso blanco, avocado, onion, and salsa roja.  

We picked up most of the ingredients at a local shop/taqueria, Don Pancho, and the proprietor was so kind as to run next door to the restaurant and give us a pound of delicious, tender carnitas.  The only real work we did was to heat up the carnitas and swish them around the pan with some fresh oregano, onion, and some of the salsa roja, and then toast the bread with the sesame seeds on top.

This sandwich was very, very good.  It was hearty without feeling overwhelming. The flavors were bright.  The cheese, though mild, added depth to the sandwich and counterbalanced the heat of the fiery salsa roja.  Speaking of salsa roja, these sandwiches improved exponentially once we decided to dump the stuff on.  Don Pancho makes the salsa roja fresh with only natural ingredients (ed. note: seriously – roasted adobo peppers, vinegar, salt, water, garlic, I think that’s it. fresh daily or close to it.) and it’s like $3 for a generously sized tub (pro-tip).

In all, this was very tasty, a complete meal, and very easy to put together, though we lightly toasted some sesame seeds & cooked up a bunch of fresh oregano in the carnitas, which added some really nice, bright texture to the density of the pork. Totally not necessary, and some cilantro would of course be a gorgeous addition.  Unlike some of our more laborious sandwiches, I can easily see myself making this again and again because it is so convenient for a work-night dinner.  And isn’t convenience really what the sandwich is ultimately all about?

Do you immediately want another of this sandwich?

Yep. Heartily regretting not making enough to bring for lunch the day after.

Broodjie Kroket

Oh my, are you ready for your second meat slurry sandwich in as many weeks?!???!!! OHHHH YEAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.  

The Broodjie Kroket is a Dutch sandwich, traditionally served as street food.  And I will tell you, this is a sandwich that should be eaten (and made) while drunk.  Because you have to overcome all of your instincts NOT to eat this sandwich, but, oh friends, it will be worth it.  

I am just kidding about making this sandwich drunk because it had approximately ONE BILLION steps, the most critical of which involves a deep fryer.  Ok, let’s get into it:

First, purchase your ingredients. Some nice soft rolls, roast beef, spicy mustard, mushrooms and onions, soy sauce, thyme, and stuff to make bechamel.  I followed this recipe. I will tell you now (SPOILERS) that our krokets looked absolutely nothing like the picture in this recipe and this woman must be some kind of wizard.  

Second, blend all of your ingredients in a food processor, save the rolls and mustard.  This includes the bechamel that you have lovingly stirred on the stove.  Note: in retrospect, I think I used too much bechamel sauce.  The recipe is in UK standard measurements and I would just urge you to be judicious in your bechamel use.  This will create a meat slurry.  Pop that bad boy in the fridge for several hours.

You would think that the fridge chilling would solidify your meat slurry, but in our case, it sure did not! Friends, I am going to be crude here for a second: these meat slurry “logs” that you form straight up look like doo-doo.  

Take your meat slurry logs, which are not easy to pick up and will definitely make you gag, dip them in flour (flour covered turd logs), then in egg, which in our case was, uh, unnecessary, then in bread crumbs. 

Then, deep fry for 5 minutes.  I believe it is also possible to fry on a stovetop if you are not like me and have not purchased a countertop deep fryer on Craigslist.  A deep fryer hides a multitude of sins.  Those sins are virtually unrecognizable when put in a nice soft roll and slathered with mustard.  They were actually pretty dang tasty.  

A couple of tweaks: the Vicomtesse had the brilliant idea to carve out some of the bread, a trick we learned from our Bauru days.  It helped.  The Vicomtesse also added some pickles to her sandwich number 2 (haha, get it?!), which she contends brought to sandwich to epic levels of deliciousness.  

So, final question: Do you immediately want another of this sandwich?

Vicomtesse: I did want another, so I made another one, con pickles. The pickles changed it from a pretty good sandwich, to an incredible one.  Though not strictly traditional, I stand behind my decision. 

Her Eminence: While the sandwich exceeded my admittedly very low expectations, I was so traumatized by the process of making them, that I did not immediately want another one.  I feel, however, with the lessons learned from this first go-round, that I would perhaps try to make it again.  Even if only to conquer the turd beasts and show them who is truly the master.  

Bun Kebab

SO. This week’s scheduled sandwich was to be the Brodje Kroket, but being short of time and long of hunger, we opted for the mighty Bun Kebab instead. A traditional Pakistani street food item, this is something that both Her Eminence and myself have never made before, SO WE WENT ALL OUT (I know, I know, we wanted to save time, so instead we SPENT ALL OF THE TIME). I made the ghee two days ago with a number of delightful videos and tutorials, found here and here! (this’s fantastic and charming) and many other places besides.

Her Eminence found a fabulous recipe at some Aussie website which differed a bit from the vision of the Vicomtesse re: the chutney. Because the called-for tamarind chutney was approximately $7,600,492.89 at our local too-posh grocery, we made our own with apples, garlic, onions, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, & chili pepper. Oh, and of course, the ghee that we made – the ghee went in EVERYTHING, because it tastes like the imagination’s ideal version of Butter that your grandmother brags about eating every morning as a kid.

For the lentils, we DID scrimp a bit on that for time’s sake, and bought the blandest can of low-sodium lentil soup we could, and strained all the water and other mushy veggies off. What little herbs were added to the canned soup delight were of no import, Her Eminence and myself ruled. After skimming those off, we threw some glassy onions cooked in ghee, fresh ginger, jalapeno, cumin, cinnamon, and salt into the food processor along with the cheater lentils. chentils? After mixing those up, then the pound of ground lamb & an egg went in, and it was all ground to a fine, gross looking grayish paste. Sorry friends! It all already smelled amazing, though, so we knew we were onto something.

Per the instructions, we let the hand-formed, mushy, fluffy patties (that all still sounds really gross) cool & gel in the fridge for a while, and after sitting and catching up for a bit, we fried up some shredded ginger (also in the ghee, because DUH) and set that aside with all the other sandwich toppers.

OK. PHEW. THIS WAS ACTUALLY A LOT OF WORK. After an hour of stone chillin’, we took the patties out of the fridge and fried them up. This part, you guys, this part smelled really, really, really good. Ahhhhh. After AT LEAST eight months (perhaps upwards of ten minutes) of waiting and frying, we assembled the bun:

d

Oh my god.

Impressions

These were both light and intense, delicate and heavy-hitting. The fried ginger added a dimensionality to it that neither of us was expecting, and the fresh cucumber, tomato & superthin jalapeno slices were complex and so, so good. The homemade chutney added depth and sweetness, and the fried egg (!) on top, which Her Eminence and I both thought was superfluous, ended up contributing a lot of richness to what was by itself a rather delicate affair. This was up there with the Bauru. It’s hard to use much hyperbole here because it was just a solid, delicious, incredible sandwich.

Do you immediately want another of this sandwich?

YES. yes. yes. Planning on eating just one (basically a burger), we instead each ate two. Good gravy, my friends, this was a perfect sandwich. Yes, lots of prep, but just totally incredible, so impressed with how good this was. it was so good! sorry guys!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME, SANDWICH DWEEBS

British Rail/Bruschetta

We have another two-fer today.  You’d think this would be to make up for all the neglect in the last few months (we thought we could finish the Bs by the end of last year and now it is May), however, today we do a strategic two-fer as one of these sandwiches is delicious and one of these sandwiches is terrible.  Try to guess which one is which!

We start today with the “British Rail,” which I put in quotes on purpose.  A British Rail sandwich is tied to a particular place and a particular era.  A British Rail sandwich is a crummy sandwich you could get on the nationalized railroad of Great Britain.  It is a national joke. I strongly encourage you to check out the Wikipedia page for the British Rail, as it is hilarious and informative, but I offer you now this brief yet telling snippet: “Historian Keith Lovegrove wrote that it was ‘a sandwich of contradictions; it could be cold and soggy, or stale and hard, and the corners of the isosceles triangle-shaped bread would often curl up like the pages of a well-thumbed paperback'” ISN’T THAT JUST DELIGHTFUL?!

Listen, I know we here are dedicated to the task of eating and rating the world’s most notable sandwiches.  And, of course, if allowed to decide between a “grass-fed slow braised beef with coddled onions and massaged greens and artisanal cheese on double-artisanal bread” and a 7-11 “sadness sandwich” as defined by our Vicomtesse, we all know we’re going for the fancier sandwich.  But there are so many times in life when the fancy sandwich, or even the “good” sandwich is not available to us.  But you know what? Whether by virtue of desperation, boredom, drunkeness, or other circumstance, those “bad” sandwiches become good. You know they do.  You know that 6 hours into your 12 hour Amtrak trip (that was supposed to be 8 hours), you love that crummy train sandwich, because that sandwich is the only thing breaking the monotony and melancholy of solo travel.  And you relish every bite of that cold, hardened bread, “turkey” lush with sodium, three packets of condiment that you glom on to the wizened lettuce and tasteless, but somehow still substantial, cheese.  And in that moment, that sandwich is your everything. That sandwich saves your life.

No? Just me? Well, okay then. So onto the sandwich.

Not being in Great Britain, and not being on a train, we were at a bit of a loss as to how to effectively recreate the sad travel sandwich experience.  My partner in this adventure was to handle the Bruschetta that we shall be discussing later, so it was my task to make a shitty sandwich.  I LITERALLY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DO THIS.  I went to the non-fancy supermarket, just to look for some standard bread and cheese, but then, then I stumbled upon these:

Image

Look at how that ham sweats.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Image

Oh these will do quite nicely.

Friends, these sandwiches were terrible.  Just terrible.  This is not an example of when the situation transforms a bad sandwich into a good sandwich. The bread stuck persistently to the roof of your mouth and the lettuce was sad and old.  The ham was just salt and the cheese tasted like nothing. The vicomtesse couldn’t even finish hers. But I did. For Science.

The bruschetta was, of course, much better. The V and I are fortunate enough to live in an area of the US where we have access to abundant, delicious produce, and as we all know, a bruschetta is only as good as the tomatoes.

I will confess that I am not especially a fan of tomatoes (something about the texture and the seeds) but I do like bruschtta. The vicomtesse’s hubby specializes in bruschetta so we let him direct the process. He heated the chopped tomatoes, which has never been my method but was delicious. We spooned the cooled heated (what?) tomatoes over some nice crostini that we heated in the oven for a bit, after brushing with olive oil and garlic, and added some fresh mozzerella because fresh mozzerella never, ever makes anything worse.

photo 4

In summary:

British Rail = bad, notoriously bad. Nobody wants more of this.

Bruschetta = good, very good. A tasty treat that is easy as pie to make.

Breakfast Sandwich/Breakfast Roll

Today, all of our friends, all friends, is a two-fer.  Today we did both the Breakfast Sandwich (and how!) and the Breakfast Roll. As these are remarkably similar ‘wiches (you heard it here first, y’all), we opted to combine the two into one utter delight.

The breakfast roll is a convenience food in the UK, a gentle sausage, cheddar and egg sandwich on a soft roll, though we used an english muffin because we are but the American-est of rubes. We threw together (ok, poured over the sandwiches, separately) ketchup and some Lea & Perrins worcestershire to sub for the HP sauce. Ok, ok, ok, I know we’re getting off track here, authenticity-wise, but YOU AIN’T PAYIN

ok I’ll try to bring it down, sorry I keep getting so combative

MOVING ON, the reason that we are only middlingly authentic is because, again, we literally combined the two sandwiches into one. So we fried up some sausage (hooray!) and a few over-mediums, and shredded some of the world’s yummiest (and most accessible!) sharp cheddar, the Tillamook vintage blah-blah cheddar on top. Wow, dudes. DUDES. instead of a dang ol’ pleeb slice of cheese, shred it.

I swear to god, somehow it makes it 9824579375987.9 times tastier. We may have covered this before.

Impressions:
The Vicomtesse of the Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato: Quite pleased! Not the finest of all sandwiches, I wanted the sausage patty to be a little more intensely meaty-spicy (ew, why am I always so gross) but the eggy-cheesy-english-muffin-y portion was fabulous, and as always, the worcestershire & ketchup combo is the tops. For, in the most traditional of Ameritravesties (that probably doesn’t work), the combining of the two sandwiches made one that, for me, was just a little better than ok!

Her Eminence of the Italian Deli Sandwich:
It seems like Her Most Emanant of Eminences liked it, and NOW IN HER OWN WORDS:
Delicious. Breakfast + sandwich = magic. I liked the sautéed mushrooms very much and I was pleasantly reminded of how delicious ketchup is on breakfast foods. Two thumbs up!

thank you one and all

see you next time