Monday, June 14, 2010

The Wonderful World of Grilled Sandwiches!..... Remember when?

Tiptoeing through memory lane and remembering the "old time" food we used to have and love.....made we want to recreate some of the old classics? Or make some new ones? While there are still some diners around where you can get some of these great favorites, there is no reason why not make them an "at home" treat as well. They're easy to make and everyone loves them, so why not?

Grilled sandwiches can be made in many ways, you can use your BBQ grill which gives them a added flavor from the grill or you can use a pan on the stove or stove top grill- you could even use one of those Foreman Grills that seem to have become so popular lately. I remember my Mother used to have this super heavy electric grill that had interchangeable plates to use for waffles or grilled sandwiches which I would give an eye for.... so retro and great! Panini Grills have also come on the market and will give you grill marks on the bread while toasting the sandwich. I sold my waffle grill in Puebla but any day now I will break down and get a Belgian Waffle Grill..... but for delish Grilled Sandwiches all you really need is a pan and a spatula and you're set! You can make them dry toasted or grilled with butter or oil, your choice....

I just remembered that if any of you have an old toaster oven hidden away in your basement or garage this would be the perfect time to get it out and put it to use. These make more than just toast you know? Open faced sandwiches are easy on these as are grilled cheese sandwiches.... so go dig out your old toaster oven and put it to work!

As far as the bread and fillings you can have the sky's the limit! Whatever you like or you can adhere to the classics each sandwich is known for. I should recommend that the better the bread, the better the toast (we love sourdough or 7 grain) and the addition of cheese always makes it better, especially when it gets "melty"...Ooh! I always add veggies at the end once they're off the heat to give them the added touch of crispy lettuce, onion or whatever.... Look under "labels" on this blog, in the "From France" section and scroll down (click the "older posts" on the bottom) and look at the Croque Monsieur (French version of grilled cheese) for another, more sophisticated way to make these that is just as good.... Yum!

I'll give you some ideas to begin with and you can take it from there, ok? Maybe we could do a revue of classic Diner food while we're in TV Land, that might make for a good post, right? But for now we'll focus on a selection of Grilled Sandwiches..... Went to the movies on Cheap Tuesday and we had great Grilled Reuben Sandwiches (I'd forgotten how much I liked these!) and then I made some great Grilled Tuna Melts so I got to thinking along those lines, so here we go!

Fabulous Grilled Tuna Bacon Melt Sandwiches.- A blast from the past that is very tasty and satisfying. Makes 4 sandwiches

Sliced bread - your favorite kind (I used sourdough)
2 cans of tuna, in water, drained
3 tbl flour
3 tbl butter, margarine or oil
1 cup of milk (or more)
black pepper to taste
1 tbl brown mustard or Dijon
3 slices of bacon, crispy and cut in small pieces
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded (or your choice of cheese and can use more too)
Lettuce, tomato, red onion slices (optional)
Oil or butter

In saucepan melt the 3 tbl of butter and add the flour. Mix and blend well while whisking for 2-3 min to cook the flour, then add the milk and continue whisking until it begins to thicken. (don't add too much milk, it has to be really thick to hold together) Add the mustard and some black pepper until it's thick, about 5 min or so. Add the tuna, bacon and cheese and mix well. Set aside.

Place the bread slices on your work table and spread one side with mustard and the other with Mayo then divide the tuna mix evenly between 4 slices over the mustard side and spread so it will be even. These will be the "bottoms". You can add more cheese on the "tops" if you like. Cover the sandwiches and set aside.

In a large pan either melt 2 tbl of butter over med-high heat or use oil. Make sure the pan is hot before you lay 2 sandwiches on the hot butter or oil. You are toasting the bread so check after about 2 min and insure it doesn't burn. You can add more oil if you need, the toasting should be even on all the bread surface. Once they're done, lift the sandwiches out of the pan with spatula, add more oil, let it heat up and turn the sandwiches and place in the pan to toast.

Once they're done you can serve them or if you're adding the veggies insert them now. Serve them with fries, cole slaw, mashed potatoes or fruit salad.
NOTE: You can use shredded chicken, beef, pork, fish, veggies too. These make great open-faced sandwiches (you only toast the bottoms) or make them into canapes on either toasted bread triangles or crackers, stick under the broiler and you're done! Mmmm.....

Old Style Montecristo Sandwiches.- One of the classic sandwiches from long ago, I love the contrasts on this one! Reminds me of Sunday mornings at the Plaza in New York!

bread, your choice
mustard to taste and your preferred type
sliced deli ham (or turkey)
gruyere cheese or similar
1 egg
1 tbl milk
touch cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar
jam, your choice too but strawberry is the classic

Spread mustard on bread add ham and cheese (or whatever you decided on); Mix the egg, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow pan or bowl. Dip the sandwich into the egg mixture and cover both sides with it. Melt the butter in a pan and fry both sides of the sandwich until golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Serve on a plate and sprinkle the powdered sugar on the sandwich by putting the sugar in a fine sieve, place it over the sandwich and hit the sieve with a spoon so the sugar drifts onto the bread.
Add a dollop of jam on the side, slice the sandwich in half and enjoy!

Here are other variations you can make:
  1. Grilled Spinach Pesto and Cheese
  2. Grilled Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper
  3. Grilled Cheese and Mango Chutney
  4. Grilled Chicken and Pineapple
  5. Grilled Spinach and Feta Cheese
  6. Grilled Chicken and Cilantro Pesto with Roasted Red Peppers
  7. Grilled Vegetables and Cheese
  8. Grilled Fig, Brie and Prosciutto
All of the above would make fabulous canapes, flatbread or regular pizzas, open faced sandwiches or quesadillas- perfect for game day or entertaining too. I think you get the idea, anything will work as long as you want it to. How much more flexibility could you ask for? You can decide if you want it dry or wet toasted (with butter or oil, my favorite) and depending on your set up can be elaborate or simple.

Here's another blast from my past and maybe from yours too, although I have to admit that it might sound weird to those with a conservative past.... but lots of fun too! Here are some creative ways to grill sandwiches or cook food:

a) The "get down and dirty way" of grilling stuff: wrap the sandwich in waxed paper and iron it with a clothes iron. This really works! And if you don't have nice cooking appliances and you want a no-mess grilled cheese sandwich, it is a great way to cook up some food fast with limited cooking facilities (in a dorm room, traveling or camping for example). You can iron it on your ironing board, or just on a folded towel sitting on your counter. Boy, does this bring back crazy memories!!!!

b) The "mobile cooking solution" from my Boy Scout days (more memories with this too): wrapping your sandwich in wax paper or parchment paper and then tinfoil, and strapping it to your car manifold. There's a whole secret world out there of car cuisine pioneered by hunters and fishermen and used by the Boy Scouts! If you think about it, this is a really green way to cook, since you're using heat that is already being produced anyway. We would mount our food before taking off for a road trip and the food would be done and hot when we arrived! Great or what?

I've really enjoyed this trip down memory lane but now I'm getting ready to make some Patty Melts for dinner along with some Cottage Fried Potatoes! Wow, I can already taste them and my guys are up for them while watching another World Cup game..... Have some Persian Lemon Lemonade all chilled to go along with the sandwiches and a Mango Cobbler for dessert....Oh my! I hope this will make you want to recreate these great options for your family's lunch or dinner and maybe they'll become part of your present instead of being relegated to the past. They're too good to forget, right? Talk soon....

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