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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.

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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.

Banh Mi

Ah, the Banh Mi.  We decided to outsource this one and go to a restaurant that the Vicomtesse and I were already acquainted with.  Best Baguette.  It’s not just a clever name.

One of the Banh Mi’s many virtues is that it is HELLA cheap.  A generously sized baguette stuffed with all manner of delicious pork-based meats, topped with daikon, carrot, jalapeno, cilantro, and mayonnaise is like $2.50. (we love us some mayonnaise)

Predictions: 

Please, no predictions necessary.  We knew this was going to be amazing. 100% certain.  And we were not wrong…oh no.

Preparation:

Well, in this case, there was no preparation as we are incapable of making a Banh Mi as delicious as the $4 ones that Best Baguette offers.  They bake their bread hourly, people, holy. crap. so. good.

The Vicomtesse ordered a pork meatball variety, and I opted for the house special with Vietnamese Ham and Pate and probably some other stuff (because I fear no organ meats).  We both loaded up on the cilantro and jalapenos.

Accompanied by some delicious iced coffees, this really was an ideal dinner.  And so economical!  I mean, look at how substantial this sandwich is:

DAAAAAAAAAAANG!!!

Needless to say, they went quickly.

We left sated, and with mouths aflame from the jalapenos.

Impressions:

V: Perfect and magical.

E: What she said.

Final Question: Do you immediately want to eat another of this sandwich?

Duh.

The Baked Bean Sandwich

Well, it’s the Baked Bean Sandwich, the most coolly-anticipated sandwich yet.  So cool, in fact, that we postponed this Sandwich not once, but twice.  Her Eminence and I resolved to buy the highest quality baked beans, as the thought of lumps of childhood coagulated cold beans, disregarded on styrofoam plate after plate was enough to turn the stomach of the Vicomtesse.  Not that we have any styrofoam.

To the sandwich!  The organic beans that we did buy were $2.50 for the box and could make three sandwiches.  Economy!  We toasted and spread lots of butter before adding the heated beans.  I initially only put ketchup on half, and after one bite, knew I could not eat this sandwich without ketchup, and added another 200% of what I’d initially spread.

Impressions:

V: Come on, The British (thus far poorly represented on this blog)!  You have to put more than one thing on a sandwich! [ed: apparently, even though the British are fond of beans on toast, this is not, in fact, a British sandwich.  We borfed it on this side of the pond.]  Once again, Portland Ketchup Co has saved the day.

Its fresh sweetness was a great counterweight to the, ahem, pasty-textured beans.  As it would be to any bottom-heavy ingredient.  The very first “flavor profile,” as it were, was the taste of the very good butter (some kind of european style unsalted butter) melted into the toasted Dave’s Killer bread.  Ahh – perfection.  Until the beans hit.  Then… uh, it was regular?  It was just back to regular life, after the island beach vacation of the best kinds of food (I absolutely defend the statement that very good butter on very good bread is some of the best food possible), back to what you nuke for three minutes on your strictly regimented 30m break, before you strap your headset back on and beg people below the poverty line to subscribe to hundreds of dollars’ worth of magazines.*

I’m probably being too hard on this sandwich.  But as I said, after the initial bite where I’d hoped to eat half of it “classically,” that is to say, just beans, and the other half ketchuped (that certainly is not a word), I realized that I couldn’t do it, and slathered the whole mess in ketchup.  Again – this ketchup is really, really good.

No, indeed, The Vicomtesse does not immediately want another.

E: Not as low as my lowest expectations but not as high as my highest hope, the baked bean sandwich is simply “fine.”  It was improved dramatically by ample amounts of ketchup and butter. I do not immediately want another of this sandwich, either.

Ah well.  For Science (TM), we will continue to eat and review ALL of the sandwiches, even the sub-par ones!

*note, please, that this was one of the vicomtesse’s many and splendorous positions, a very long time ago.  oh god.

The Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich

Once again, we have filled the hallowed halls of Her Eminence’s manor with the glimmering aroma of bacon grease in the pursuit of the perfect bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (hereinafter BEC).

Also, special treat(!), Her Eminence’s Mother is visiting (hereinafter HEM) and generously lent her tastebuds to this noble experiment.

(We could not wait to take a proper picture of the completed sandwich.)

Predictions: 

This was a hotly anticipated sandwich.  We were all very hungry.

Preparation:

There are many different ways to prepare a BEC, but we went basic with high-quality ingredients (no Kraft singles for us!).

Fry some bacon.

After frying the bacon (hooray!), prepare your cheese.  We used Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar.  We grated it for extra meltability and toasted it with a pub bun.

Finally, fry an egg in your leftover bacon grease.

Assemble and consume with your preferred hot sauce (we used Sriracha and Frank’s Red Hot respectively).

Impressions:

V: Well.  It was excellent cheese, barely-cooked bacon, and a goddamn egg.  It was everything I hoped, and expected.  The bun was the surprise delight – as HEM put it, it was both crispy and soft.  I have no doubt that there are all manner of terrible ingredients in the buns, but they were absolutely perfect for the sandwich.  It was delicious.

E: This completely made up for the lackluster Bacon Sandwich from last time.  I think cheese has once again proved itself to be essential.  Good job, cheese! Tilliamook Extra Sharp Cheddar is highly recommended.  I used Whole Foods Bacon which was not the best option, it was too thin and didn’t cook very evenly.  However, it was still bacon so I ate it.  This sandwich was everything I hoped for.

HEM:  I’ve tasted many BECs in my time, but this one exceeded my expectations.  But I may be a little bit biased, due to love of my daughter.

Final Question: Do you immediately want to eat another of this sandwich?

V: I do. I do. I do.

E: Yes, and I probably will.

HEM: Yes, absolutely [ed note: HEM eats like a bird and did not actually finish her BEC, so the Vicomtesse and I swiftly came to her aid.]