For the past two months, we’ve been hosting weekly pizza parties. Well, truth be told, they have been competitive throw downs where our friends are invited to say goodbye to the week that was and bring their best recipes to battle it out for the pizza crown. We’ve had some pretty fantastic creations. After 8 weeks though, inspiration begins to wane. So we were quite excited to hear of the tastespotting.com Johnsonville Italian Sausage competition. Inspiration, the chance to get our pizza on our favorite food porn site AND the likelihood (albeit remote) of winning a food making competition. How could we not be excited?
Anders had this one on his mind for a whole week and came up with this creation: Johnsonville Italian Sausage Pizza with roasted garlic, Portobello mushrooms and topped with parmesan crisps and toasted pine nuts. Does it get any crazier than this? We hope you like it, and if you do please vote for us when the time comes.
For the past few weeks I have been berating Anders that he has abandoned his sandwich making craft. Berating is a bit strong – more like a strongly nudging. He has been focusing on taking photos while I make the sandwiches. This week, he heard me and made this tasty sandwich that proves even more than his passport and birth certificate, that he is indeed from the land where smorrebrod was born. It was one of those evenings when I just got home from work and crashed with no thought as to dinner. I was in the middle of one of those marathon phone conversations with one of my girlfriends when Anders came through the door, smiled and nodded in my direction and headed to the kitchen. He was a man on a mission. 15 minutes later, his mission became clear. He returned to the living room with this dinner sandwich that was so good to look at that I felt guilty eating it. Not too guilty though. Costco membership that made purchasing the crabcakes possible: $60/year and worth every penny and more. Having a husband with smorrebrod making in his DNA: priceless!
Ever heard of the four cheese sandwich? Typically this sandwich involves an abundance of cheese with little smidgen of veggies. A few weeks ago, we decided to turn that recipe upside down and make the four tomato caprese panini. Thanks to overshopping (yet again) at the annual Tomato Mania, our garden has quite a variety of this summer necessity. If only the variety was matched by abundance. Sigh! This year, we have been outdone by the garden pests who have made off with most of our yield. Poor Anders. In anticipation of this annual raiding, early in the season he stocked the pantry with peanut butter – the bait of choice for our Have a Heart trap. Months later, we are out of peanut butter and tomatoes. There are some very fat well fed squirrels and rabbits running around Poway right now and they owe it all to Anders. How they managed to get to the PB without springing the trap is beyond me. Ocassionally, (grudglying, we suspect), they left us a few, from which we were able to have a few tomato meals – like this sandwich.
You can use any combination of tomatoes you wish. We used: white oxheart, brandy boy, Mr. Stripey and XXX. It was delish, so much so that after eating his mammoth sandwich, Anders begged for another. After eating his second sandwich, he was nearly comatose on the sofa. Sweet reward for me… that and hearing him declare, “this is hands down the best panini I’ve ever tasted.”
A fantastic sandwich, using the highly undervalued leek. That’s right. When is the last time YOU cooked with leeks? That’s what we thought. We made the rolls specifically for this sandwich, they have a center (which you can’t see on the photos) of pesto-infused dough. It was a grand experiment, but in reality they didn’t rise quite as expected. This was our best specimen of the lot.
This is another of Jamie Oliver’s recipes we decided to make along with the “ Grilled Eggplant Crostini Appetizer” and the “Fava Bean Crostini Appetizer” both from his delicious book “Jamie’s Italy“. It’s basically tomatoes, basil olive oil and a slice of bread. The key is as always to use great ingredients for great results. We tweaked it a little like we always do since we believe in creative liberties.
I love a good crab cake, so naturally ever since we started this blog I’ve been dying to make a crab cake sandwich. Last week-end we had out-of-town visitors begging us to make some amazing sandwiches, so I thought that would be a good time to try it. One of our friends is Indian and an ex-vegetarian so naturally this had better be good or else he might snap back (he didn’t 🙂 ). When you make anything fishy, it’s almost impossible to add too much lemon, so we made sure to soak these sandwiches good in lots of lemon juice. The slice on top is just for show and is a classical Danish garnish back home.
The focaccia was baked by Wendie, and we highly recommend making more bread at home. It’s a lost art these days, but the smell of fresh bread in the house is priceless.
Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s book “Jamie’s Italy” this is one of our favorite appetizers so far this year. It also looks beautiful. The crunchy toasted pane siciliano bread and the smoothness of the eggplant (or Aubergine as we call it in Denmark), goes very well together and fills your mouth with flavor and adventure. Eggplant seems to be largely a forgotten vegetable in the US, at least in SoCal (Southern California), and really it’s a wonderful ingredient in many dishes. People, wake up and smell the eggplant!
We love caprese salads so much we had Phil’s BBQ change their menu and serve it at our wedding (They did a great job too). So, it should come as no surprise that we had to try and turn the art of the caprese into a sandwich. A panini sandwich to be exact. It has all the classic ingredients: Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For the bread we went with our own homemade pesto-sourdough bread, but any regular sourdough will do just fine.
I fell in love with Swiss chard at first sight. I first spied this vegetable at the local farmers market while I lived in Illinois. And there is a specificity to my infatuation – they must be of the rainbow variety. Large shiny radiant green leaves pillared by a red stalk and multiple veins throughout. What’s not to love? Two years ago, I took my infatuation to the next level and started a garden flirtation with this nutrient-dense veggie. I dedicated a 4 by 1 ft section of our tomato garden to their cultivation. Unfortunately, I waited too long to harvest and by then they had an earthy flavor that was most disappointing. Still, I just loved the way they looked in the garden and so allowed them to grow to near Jurassic proportions. Last year, in my second attempt, our nutrient depleted soil resulted in a single plant which I was loathe to cut. Enter this year and Anders’ threat that if we are giving up much-prized tomato real estate for this vegetable, then we had better have something to taste for it. Thus warned, I embarked on a mission of soil amendment research and implementation that an agronomist would approve of.
Pesto is a wonderful spread or topping for sandwiches and appetizer, in addition to its obvious uses in pasta. It’s very easy to make yourself, and when our sweet basil plant starts to grow out of hand we always have a use for the basil. If you live near a well stocked grocery store (We have Trader Joe’s here in California), look for a bag of basil and try this yourself if you don’t have the plants.
3 cups of rinsed fresh basil leaves.
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
Start by placing the garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the pieces are as small as they can get. Add the basil and pine nuts, and pulse again. Add the olive oil slowly while running the food processor, and finally add the cheese.
Tip: The Simply Recipies blog has excellent advice for freezing fresh pesto, plus a slightly different version. In general don’t sweat the exact measurements, but try and taste it and adjust. The quality of the basil can vary over the course of the year, or from region to region, so you may need to add more or less cheese and olive oil.
Recently we discovered the joy of smoked salmon on pizzas, and decided to try another one. This is our second pizza from Wendie’s surprise birthday party (of nine total), and also a very popular one amongst our friends. It’s simple in its ingredients, with very subtle tastes. The Sautéed mushroom worked great on the pizza (We used it a few times that night), and on this the avocado brings a coolness to the hot pizza that almost melts with the salmon.
OK, you have a point. This is perhaps not quite amazing enough to be on “amazing sandwiches”… But we liked it. This is a simple, plain garden variety burger, and sometimes that’s all you need to bring you back from a long day at work doing the man’s bidding. Yes, you know what we mean; cubicle work!
We do love smoked salmon in our house, and it makes for great appetizers or snacks. Salmon is also fairly easy to combine with other ingredients, as long as you keep the taste influences light so as not to overpower the subtle fish taste. It works particularly well on fresh bread, or lightly toasted older revived bread.
We recently discovered a great food store in Little Italy in San Diego. It should be noted that Little Italy is very aptly named, since it’s basically just one street. You blink, you miss it. If you are of Italian descent, please move to San Diego so we can add a couple more streets. In Little Italy, we found Assenti’s Pasta, a wonderful little delicatessen shop where you can get fresh pasta of all shapes and forms. Arriving there at 5:59pm we were simply happy traffic had not delayed us more, and positively exuberant that Assenti let us in. Yes, we had a rushed 5 minute shopping spree, but it was great. Here we found muffaletta and tuscan bean spread as well as fresh pasta (which weren’t really for sandwiches, although Anders tried and failed).
This sandwich is our first using the muffaletta, is was delicious. It fell a bit apart due to the iceberg lettuce, which became very slippery with the oil from the muffaletta and the melted cheese. We had to add toothpicks to hold it all together long enough to take pictures.
If you are a regular reader of this fledgling blog (Hey who am I kidding here? I don’t even think my dearly loved sister is herself a regular reader. But I can dream, can’t I?), you will note that the sandwiches here have a strong carnivore bent and as one kind reader was astute enough to note, had a bit of a “Dagwood” style. For that I blame Anders as he eats way more sandwiches than I do and so it stands to reason that this blog is populated with his preferred dinner choices. This next one is born of a weekend’s inspiration and my winning the battle in Kitchen Central! I love eggplants, even if they seem to hate the soil in my garden – which must be the reason why although I can get squash and tomatoes to grow in profusion, healthy growing eggplants continue to elude me.
Lucky for me we live close to a well-stocked Middle-Eastern supermarket which never seems to run out of eggplants. Thanks to them I was able to make this tomato eggplant marriage come to life. (P.S. The tomatoes are from our garden). An advanced warning; this recipe is not one you slap together in 10 minutes. It takes a little thought and might be best accomplished over a lazy weekend day. I have been known to do this in the middle of the week but it does take a wee bit of planning.