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Archive for Bread-Crackers-Sandwiches

TIP OF THE DAY: BLT Variations

Crab Salad BLT
[1] This BLT has a layer of spicy crab salad. Here’s the recipe from Olive Magazine.

Grilled Pineapple BLT
[2] Grill pineapple and add siracha mayo. Here’s the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

Lobster BLT
[3] A lobster club on a toasted roll. Here’s the recipe from Fish The Dish.

Fried Green Tomato BLT
[4] Fried green tomato BLT with arugula. Here’s the recipe from Food & Wine.

Fried Egg BLT

5] Add a fried egg: It’s trending! Here’s the recipe from Food & Wine.

 

The BLT is one of America’s favorite sandwiches. It has engendered many variations, from the BLAT with avocado, to the BLAST with avocado and smoked salmon.

The sandwich has its own month of celebration—April is National BLT Month—and a single-day celebration, July 22nd, National BLT day.

Here’s the history of the BLT. It was stripped down from the club sandwich, which includes chicken or turkey.

So the taxonomy gets tricky: a chicken BLT is a club sandwich; a lobster BLT is a lobster club sandwich, etc. Is a California BLT (with avocado) actually an avocado club sandwich?

Don’t muddle: just eat!

 
WAYS TO VARY YOUR BLT

While the classic BLT is simple perfection, think of different ways you might enjoy it. Vary the basic ingredients and you can enjoy a different BLT every day of the yar!
 
Vary The Bacon

  • Bacon jam (buy or make)
  • Black pepper bacon (buy or make from plain bacon)
  • Maple bacon (brush with maple syrup while cooking)
  • Pancetta, guanciale or other type of bacon
  • Pork belly
  •  
    Vary The Lettuce

    We love crunchy romaine, but also:

  • Arugula
  • Bibb or butter lettuce
  • Iceberg (slice it from the head)
  • Red cabbage* (slice it from the head)
  • Watercress
  •  
    …and garnish with some alfalfa sprouts or microgreens.
    ________________

    *Cabbage is not a lettuce, but it provides the crunch of iceberg with more flavor and—if red cabbage—color.
    ________________

    Vary The Tomato

  • Diced tomatoes or chunky fresh salsa
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Marinated cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes
  • Multicolor heirloom tomatoes
  • Tomato tapenade
  •  
    Vary The Mayonnaise

  • Baconaise
  • Dijon mayo
  • Garlic mayo (aïoli)
  • Herb mayo with dried or fresh herbs
  • Honey mayo
  • Pesto mayo
  • Russian/Thousand Island dressing
  • Sriracha mayo
  • Other flavors: curry, harissa, etc.
  •  
    Vary The Bread

    Beyond the white toast, consider:

  • Baguette
  • Brioche
  • Ciabatta
  • Brioche
  • Croissant
  • French toast
  • Multigrain
  • Pita
  • Sourdough
  • Walnut or olive bread
  • Wrap
  •  
    Vary The Format

  • BLT appetizer bites (recipe below)
  • BLT crostata (rustic tart)
  • BLT pasta or pizza
  • BLT salad
  • BLT spring rolls
  • BLT Tea sandwiches
  • BLT Skewers
  •  
    Did we leave anything out?

     
    Add Another Element

  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Caramelized onion, chives, grilled/roasted onion or scallion
  • Cheese (our favorites: crumbled blue, horseradish cheddar, pepperjack, sliced brie or gruyère)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fried or sliced egg
  • Grilled pineapple, salmon, shishito peppers, other grilled vegetables
  • Shellfish (crab, lobster, sautéed or fried softshell crab, shrimp)
  • Sliced radish
  •  
    Make A Fusion

  • BLT burger
  • BLT steak sandwich
  • BLT wedge salad
  • Buffalo chicken BLT
  • Chicken salad BLT
  • Grilled cheese BLT
  •  

    RECIPE: MINI BLT BITES

    We adapted this recipe from one by Kristen Stevens of The Endless Meal. She made her own chipotle mayo from scratch. Here’s her original sandwich recipe, including the chipotle mayonnaise.

    We happened to have a jar of wasabi mayonnaise from Ojai Cook, which you can also find private labeled at Trader Joe’s.

    Or, you can stir any seasoning you like into plain mayonnaise, from lemon zest to maple syrup. For heat, stir in cayenne, chile powder, chipotle or any hot sauce:

    Start with 1/2 cup mayo and 1 teaspoon dried spice. Blend, let sit so the flavors meld, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. On to the recipe:

    These BLT bites are fun for cocktails or snacks. Prep time is 20 minutes, and you can do part of it the day before.
     
    You can serve these as an hors d’oeuvre with Martinis and other savory drinks, with a beer, as an amuse-bouche†, or as part of a first course of different hors d’oeuvre.

    As with the sandwich, you can change the recipe every time you make it, with different lettuces, different flavors of mayo and croutons made from different types of breads.

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 24 grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • 24 small pieces of lettuce, such as arugula or baby spinach, microgreens, red leaf lettuce
  • ¼ cup crumbled crisp cooked bacon (about 3 pieces)
  • 24 small pieces of bacon for garnish (we cut grilled bacon into 2 or 3 pieces with a scissors)
  • 24 croutons (buy them or make them*)
  •  
    Preparation

    You can complete steps #1 and #2 a day in advance.

    1. CUT a small slice from the bottoms of the tomatoes so they can stand up.

    2. GENTLY squeeze and roll the tomatoes between your fingers to loosen the pulp. Remove with whatever implement works best for you. We found a strawberry corer to work for us.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Add some mayonnaise to each tomato (we put the mayo in a piping bag and piped it in). Then add the pieces of lettuce and bacon bacon. Top with a crouton.
    ________________
    †Amuse-bouche (pronounced ah-MEEZ boosh) is French for “amusing the mouth.” It is an hors d’oeuvre-size portion plated on a tiny dish, sent as a gift from the chef after the order has been placed, but before the food arrives. It is just one bite: a larger portion would constitute an appetizer. Sophisticated home cooks have taken to serving them at the beginning of dinner. Amuses-bouches tend to be complex in both flavors and garniture Here are the differences among amuse-bouche, appetizer, canapé and hors d’oeuvre.

    †You can use this recipe, but cut the bread into a size that will fit into the tomatoes.

    MORE NON-SANDWICH BLT RECIPES

    Cocktails

  • BLT Bloody Mary with bacon vodka
  • BLT Cocktail
  •  
    Not A Sandwich

  • BLT Gazpacho
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini
  • BLT Pancakes
  • BLT Pasta Salad
  • BLT Slaw
  •  

    BLT Bites
    [6] The original mini BLT cups. We added a crunchy crouton to the center (photo courtesy The Endless Meal.

    Wasabi Lemonaise The Ojai Cook
    [7] We used wasabi mayonnaise instead of chipotle mayo (photo courtesy Ojai Cook).

    Lemonaise Flavors The Ojai Cook
    [8] The different flavors of Lemonnaise (photos #2 and #3 courtesy The Ojai Cook)

    Baconaise

    [9] Baconnaise: It’s vegan and kosher, but it really tastes like bacon (photo courtesy J & D’s Foods).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini For Breakfast & Lunch

    Burrata Bruschetta
    [1] Tomato and burrata crostini (recipe below—photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Avocado & Egg Crostini
    [2] Avocado and sliced egg crostini (photo courtesy Safest Choice).

    Crostini Fondue
    [3] Instead of breakfast grilled cheese, make skillet fondue (photo courtesy La Brea Bakery).

    Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

    [4] Diced strawberries atop goat cheese (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).

     

    If you like to crunch on toast for breakfast, consider crostini: toast using Italian bread or a rustic loaf (peasant bread), topped with more interesting ingredients—or a combination of them—than American breakfast toast.

    For those who think of crostini only as an accompaniment to a glass of wine break or cocktails, nota bene that it can be the main dish for breakfast or brunch.

    It’s toast with toppings: cheeses, fruits, meats, seafood, spreads, vegetables.

  • Serve it with a side of fruit for breakfast.
  • Serve it with soup or salad for lunch.
  •  
    INGREDIENTS FOR BREAKFAST OR LUNCH CROSTINI

    You can choose sweet or savory…or one of each. Here are some ingredients that work for breakfast and lunch:

  • Cheese group: burrata or mozzarella, feta (crumbled, whipped), sliced cheese, spreadable cheese (Alouette, Boursin, cheddar, goat, ricotta); or mini grilled cheese tartines,
  • Fruit group: avocado (sliced or mashed), berries, citrus, fig, grapes, sliced drupes (stone fruits), watermelon (great with feta and basil),
  • Onion group: caramelized onions, onion relish, scallions, sweet onion.
  • Protein group: bacon, ham or prosciutto; scrambled or sliced eggs; sliced sausage.
  • Spreads: butter, cream cheese, hummus, jam, nut butter.
  • Vegetable group: cucumbers, radishes, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes.
  • Garnishes: chile flakes, fresh herbs (basil is our favorite), granola, honey drizzle, lemon zest, maple syrup, nuts and seeds, olive oil drizzle, salsa.
  •  
    Here’s the difference between crostini and bruschetta.
     
    RECIPE: CROSTINI WITH BURRATA & SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES

    You can make the tomatoes a day in advance. Then, put the ingredients together in a few minutes.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (preferably mixed colors)
  • Garlic cloves*
  • Good olive oil
  • Sliced rustic bread (with a good crust)
  • 8-ounce burrata (substitute mozzarella)
  • Fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped
  • Flake salt/coarse† sea salt, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 225°F. Spread the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil.

    2. BAKE for 2½ to 3 hours, or until tomatoes just begin to shrivel.

    3. BRUSH the bread slices with oil, and toast or grill until golden brown. Rub with roasted garlic.

    4. DIVIDE the burrata over toasts and top with tomatoes, basil, flaky salt, and another drizzle of olive oil.
     
    __________________
    *Since you’ll be roasting the cloves, you can roast a whole bulb’s worth and use the extra roasted garlic with salads, potatoes, grains, or spreads.

    Coarse salt is a larger-grained sea salt crystal, with grains the size of kosher salt. The grains are crushed to make fine sea salt. Flake salt is naturally evaporated sea salt that forms snowflake- or pyramid-like grains. Examples include those from the Maldon River in England, Anglesey off the island of Wales, New Zealand, and Australia. When used as a garnish, coarse and flake salts provide a crunch. Check out the different types of salt.

    FOOD 101: FRUIT GROUPS

    Because we’re food geeks, we think of foods as part of their parent groups. We love to learn the relationships between plants, and how seemingly unrelated food plants can be close cousins.

    That’s why you’ll often see the Latin taxonomy after the English name; for example, basil (Ocimum, basilicum family Lamiaceae).

    The taxonomy of plants and animals was first developed by the great Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus and published in 1735 (the zoological component came later).

    The nomenclature comprises seven main “ranks”: kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, species. You studied it in 7th-grade biology.

    To simplify the fruit category, here’s a chart of the main fruit groups—in English, as opposed to the Latin names.

    Not only can it deepen your understanding of food; it’s a fun game to play as you wheel down the supermarket fruit aisle. Point at apples and say “pome,” point at peaches and say “drupe,” etc.

    Well, it’s our idea of fun.

    Fruit Categories Chart

    Chart courtesy College of William and Mary.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Toast

    Summer Fruit Toast
    [1] Your toast should dress for summer, too. Here, fruit, honey and mascarpone cheese in a recipe from Wry Toast Eats.

    Summer Avocado Toast

    [2] Switch to savory with this pretty avocado toast from Bluestone Lane. a café in Hoboken, New Jersey.

     

    We love toast. We could eat it three times a day, with different toppings.

    Today’s tip: Go seasonal with your toast, be it for breakfast, snack or other nourishment.

    We like this idea (photo #1) from Christine of Wry Toast Eats so much that we’re planning a summer iced tea party, just so we can serve it.

    Christine, who makes everyday foods look so delicious, tops a conventional slice of toast with a fruit and cheese fantasy:

  • Berries
  • Grilled peaches
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Honey
  • Chopped pistachio nuts
  • Mint
  •  
    Here’s the recipe.

    If you prefer the savory to the sweet, try this avocado toast (photo #2) from Bluestone Lane, an Australian-style café “influenced by the renowned coffee culture hub of Melbourne, Australia.”

    Most locations are in greater New York City, but if you live in San Francisco or King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania you’re close to one, too.

    You might look at the photo and opine that avocado toast is a year-round recipe, and you’d be correct.

    The difference here is in the details: the flavor of summer cherry tomatoes over year-round hothouse tomatoes, the trio of colors that evoke summer flowers, and the microgreens garnish that does the same.

    But for the true summer touch, buy some freshly-picked summer corn and sprinkle the toast with sweet, raw kernels of corn. That’s summer!

    We eyeballed the photo and recreated the recipe with:

  • Toasted rustic bread
  • Diced avocado
  • Multicolor cherry tomatoes
  • Crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • A scoop of sour cream
  • A garnish of microgreens
  •  
     
    What would you like on your summer toast?

    Make it so!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Skillet Flatbread

    Homemade Flatbread

    Homemade Flatbread

    Greek Salad Sandwich

    [1] Warm, fragrant and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes, This recipe is from Girl Versus Dough. [2] Here’s the recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. [3] Turn your Greek salad into a sandwich (photo courtesy Girl Versus Dough).

     

    Long before there were ovens, bread—the first was flatbread—was baked on flat stones in a fire. When the skillet finally evolved, in ancient Mesopotamia and Greece, people still cooked everything over a fire (here’s the history of the frying pan).

    Flatbreads are the simplest breads, requiring no leavening—although in modern times, some are leavened to produce a lighter, airier, more easily chewed bread.

    Flatbread can be extremely thin, like a tortilla, one millimeter or so in thickness, to a few centimeters thick, like focaccia.

    Each region of the world developed a flatbread; for example:

  • Arepa in South America.
  • Chapati, naan and roti in India.
  • Injera in Ethiopia.
  • Crispbread in Scandanavia.
  • Jonnycake in the U.S.
  • Lavash and sangak in Persia.
  • Matzoh in Israel.
  • Oatcake in Scotland.
  • Pita in the Middle East.
  • Pizza in Italy.
  • Tortilla in Mexico.
  •  
    Some other breads called flatbreads are not completely flat, but use yeast and are partially risen, such as Italy’s focaccia.
     
    Here’s the history of bread and the different types of bread.
     
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN FLATBREAD

    Using five pantry staples, you can have fresh, hot bread on the table in less than 30 minutes with no need to turn on the oven. Instead, use a skillet or stove-top griddle.

    The dough comes together very quickly, and you’ll have something special for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

    RECIPE: SKILLET FLATBREAD

    Consider this recipe from King Arthur Flour as your first foray into homemade flatbread. Here’s a step-by-step in photos.

    Ingredients For 10 to 12 Flatbreads

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 to 3 additional tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add the oil and ice water and mix to make a soft, cohesive dough. Adjust with more flour or water as needed. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

     

    2. PREHEAT a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stove top. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until the oil starts to shimmer in the pan.

    3. DIVIDE the dough into 10 to 12 equal pieces. Each piece should weigh about 1- 1/2 to 2 ounces, about the size of a large egg. Dredge each piece in flour, and roll to a rough circle or oval about 1/4″ thick. If you prefer, hand shape the pieces by flattening between your palms.

    4. FRY the flatbreads in the hot oil in batches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and fry on the second side for another 2 minutes. Add more oil as needed for frying successive batches.

    5. TRANSFER from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

    Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

    We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

    Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
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