sandwich

Fried Green Tomatoes

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I go out to my garden now and it's still warm, like summer. But the leaves on big maple trees in the back are starting to turn and I can see the vague copper tips. It's that transition season when you want to grab the last of summer but your head understands that autumn is coming.

I've picked dozens of luscious tomatoes in the last few weeks, but there are still some green ones hanging on the vines. Do I wait for them to ripen and have the last few precious bites?

What if there's a sudden frost! That happened to me last year and all my tomatoes were ruined.

Here's what to do: use some green tomatoes and leave just a few to ripen and hope for the best.

In the past I've baked green tomato pie, fried green tomato slices, baked green tomato slices, made green tomato pickles and cut green tomatoes into different kinds of chutney.

This year I decided to pack them into a sandwich.

Dee-lish.

Fried Green Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with one teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 12-16 slices green tomato (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 Portuguese rolls, sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill with the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and cut them into quarters. Brush the pepper pieces with the olive oil. Broil the pepper pieces, turning them occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until charred. Remove the pieces to a plate. When cool, peel off the skin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the flour with some salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in another dish. Place the breadcrumbs in a third dish. Coat the tomato slices with flour. Shake off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten eggs, covering the slices completely. Coat the slices with the breadcrumbs. Place the tomato slices on a cookie sheet or baking rack to air dry for at least 15 minutes. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Place the rolls in the oven to warm them up for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven. While the rolls are warming, mix the mayonnaise and basil together. Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise on the bottoms of each of the rolls. Top each with 3-4 tomato slices. Top each with two roasted pepper quarters. Top each with equal amounts of the cheese. Finally, cover with the top of the roll. Place back in the oven for a minute or so to slightly melt the cheese and serve.

 

Makes 4 sandwiches

Easy Peasy Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

Things are still blooming in my garden. And I'm not usually so lucky when it comes to my produce plantings, so I only planted tomatoes and herbs.

Next year: going to try berries. Strawberries and blueberries.

In the meantime it's store bought for me (including farmer's markets).

So the other day, when Fairway had a sale on blueberries (each dry pint for $1!!!!)I bought 5 (the limit). Even though I already had some fresh blueberries at home.

And then I had to use them.

I made blueberry cake, blueberry muffins and blueberry soup (so refreshing on a summer day!). And a blueberry crisp.

And also blueberry jam.

I like jam, but don't like fussing with sterilizing jars and putting the jars in one of those water-bath things. So I only make an amount that will be used within a couple of weeks and store it in my fridge. For example, for:

Here's the simple recipe:

Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar

Place the blueberries, orange juice, orange peel and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing down on the ingredients with a wooden spoon to crush the berries slightly. When the liquid has thickened to jam-like, remove the pan from the heat. Let cool and spoon into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

 

Philly Cheese Steak, the Kosher way

Philadelphia. City of Brotherly Love. So named (from the Greek words "philos" meaning love and "adelphos" meaning brother) because the city's founder, William Penn, wanted the place to be a refuge from religious persecution. 

I wonder what Penn might think of that today, what with this year's contentious election and the Democratic National Convention at hand in the city.

But, current times aside, Philadelphia has a lovely history.

Home of the Liberty Bell. And Independence Hall, where the founding fathers debated (and adopted) the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.

Once the temporary capital of the United States while the newly minted America waited for the District of Columbia to be built.

And, among the more mundane of matters, home of the Philly Cheese Steak.

Philly Cheese Steak.

I have to say, I've been to Philadelphia several times and never ate one.

But thoughts of the city and its famous hoagie (hero sandwich, sub, whatever others may call it) got me to think about trying one at home.

Kosher.

I looked at lots of recipes and saw that they called for different cuts of beef, cut into strips. I decided on skirt steak because it's so juicy and flavorful.

I also noticed that the cheese could be cheddar or American or provolone and even -- OY -- cheese whiz. 

I opted for provolone (non-dairy, soy-based from Daiya Foods) because it has such a magnificent tang to it.

Some recipes called for sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables in addition to the more usual onions and red bell pepper. I decided not to.

In the end -- magnifico!!

Does it taste the way a Philly Cheese Steak is supposed to? 

I have no clue.

All I know is that it tasted good. Very good.

And so, in honor of Philadelphia's few days in the sun again -- my recipe for Philly Cheese Steak.

 

Kosher Philly Cheese Steak

  • 8 ounces skirt steak, semi-frozen
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into narrow strips
  • 2 hoagie rolls
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices Daiya soy “provolone style cheese”

Cut the beef into thin slices against the grain. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Cut the rolls in half. Move the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan (or temporarily spoon into a plate) and place the 4 pieces of roll, cut side down in the pan. Cook for a minute or so, to lightly toast the rolls. Turn the rolls cut side up. Using equal quantities, place equal quantities of meat and vegetables on each of the two roll bottoms. Top with equal amounts of the soy cheese. Cover with the tops of the rolls. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for a minute or so or until the cheese has melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Avocado, California's Big Winner

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When I was a young Mom I met another young woman for a playdate for our daughters. She lived in the same town in Connecticut as I did, but had originally come from California. We became friends, and so did our kids, and we spent time together talking about things most mothers talk about. School. Babysitters. What our children should/don't/won't eat.

We also talked about food. One day she mentioned avocado. 

What?

Please don't think I'm a dinosaur, but back in the late 1970s avocados were not a thing. REALLY! I had heard of them. In fact once, when I was a little girl my mother took me for lunch at Lord & Taylor in the city and I insisted on trying tuna-salad-filled avocado (which my mother let me do although she insisted I would hate it -- and I did). 

I hadn't had an avocado since that time.

And I had not yet heard of guacamole, which this women raved about. She said everyone in California made guacamole. So, I started to also.

Now, these many years (and thousands of avocados later) I can say I am well acquainted with avocados, not just for guacamole but for dozens and dozens of recipes

Many thanks to the woman who name-dropped avocado. Many thanks to California, thriving avocado country (in fact, according to The California Difference, the Hass avocado is a California native).

Today that state will have its presidential primaries. And no matter who you are rooting for, I can say without question, the avocado is the state's big winner.

Avocado, Egg and Tomato Sandwich with Pesto Mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 slices Tuscan-Italian style bread
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use (may be made 2 days ahead). Toast the bread slices lightly. While the bread is toasting, heat the butter in a small pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, pour in the eggs and cook, moving the egg around slightly to allow wet portions to reach the bottom of the pan. When the egg is almost cooked, flip it over, cook briefly and remove from the pan. Spread some of the pesto mayonnaise on 2 slices of the toasted bread. Top each with half the cooked egg. Top with slices of avocado and tomato. Cover with remaining bread slice. Cut sandwiches in half.

Makes 2 servings

Salmon Melt with Tomatoes, Squash and Chives

Salmon Melt

Salmon Melt

Everyone I know who has a garden says that it's overflowing with tomatoes and zucchini. Eggplants and basil. Lettuce and bell peppers.

What should they do with all this produce?

A question for the ages, because this happens to everyone who has a garden, every year.

Except for me. I got exactly one tomato on one plant, one tomato on another and the third one has three teeny green ones and a few flowers. Most of my basil was devoured by local animals and the few that were left have just a few leaves. 

I didn't even bother to plant anything else because I have failed summer after summer.

EXCEPT for the chives! I have a lovely, flourishing pot of chives!

So I snipped some of those lovely, fragrant stalks and added them to a Salmon Melt Sandwich. Leftover salmon of course, plus tomatoes and summer squash from someone else's garden.

I am certain that the chives make all the difference in how wonderful this tastes.

 

Salmon Melts with TOMATOES, SQUASH and Chives

  • 2 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
  • 8-12 thin slices yellow squash or zucchini
  • 4-8 slices tomato
  • 5-6 ounces cooked salmon, broken into chunks
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the butter equally on one side of each of the toast slices. Place the slices on a cookie sheet. Place 2-3 slices of squash and 1-2 slices of tomato on top. Place equal amounts of the salmon on top of the tomato. Scatter with the chives. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake the sandwiches for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

 

Makes 4 pieces

Love Those Tuna Burgers

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Tuna is not one of my favorite fish. It's frequently dry and chewy, except when it's rare, and unless you buy a really thick hunk of really high quality fish, it's difficult to get it rare to perfection -- if the piece is thin it cooks to an unpleasant looking grayish color.

But tuna burgers? I love them. Because grinding or chopping the flesh makes it tender, even when the burger is well-done. And the color is just fine for burgers, especially because the outside surfaces crisp to a gorgeous golden brown whether you grill, broil or saute them.

I don't mix in too many seasonings when making tuna burgers. Instead, I add flavor with a tangy condiment to serve with the tuna burger on the roll. Recently I mixed the fish with chopped fresh chives -- the only herb I have been successful in growing in my garden this year -- and served the burgers with mayonnaise mixed with chopped kalamata olives and a hint of lemon peel.

This recipe is extremely easy, also quick to cook. Just perfect for casual, summertime eating, meatless/dairy meals and any old time.

 

Tuna Burgers with Olive Mayo

 

  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
  • 20 ounces fresh tuna
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 rolls
  • lettuce, spinach or arugula leaves
  • 4 slices tomato

 

Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler (or use a sauté pan). Mix the mayonnaise, olives and lemon peel together and set aside in the refrigerator.

Chop the tuna into very fine pieces (or pulse in a food processor). Place the fish in a mixing bowl. Add the chives and garlic and some salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Shape the mixture into 4 patties. Brush the remaining olive oil over the surface of each patty. Grill or broil the burgers for 2-4 minutes per side or until lightly browned and crispy on both sides and cooked to the degree of doneness preferred. OR, pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the burgers for 2-4 minutes per side over medium-high heat.

Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise mixture on the bottom side of each roll. Place a lettuce leaf on top, then top with a slice of tomato. Place the burger on top of the tomato. Cover with the top of the roll.

Makes 4