Carrot and Raisin Sandwich Spread

For some of you, as it was for me, this recipe will be a little trip down memory lane. I remember having this spread in a sandwich as a child, and how exotic it seemed! Carrots and raisins. Together! Tasty then, even tastier now, for our culinary horizons have expanded and this humble recipe, too, has grown up. Try any number of dried fruit–I love goji berries with this, the orange and red are so vibrant. Add spices or spice mixes, curry powder is super here, and chili powder is no slouch either. Make this as simple, or as simply sophisticated as you wish. Try other roots, too, alone or in combination. I did carrot, daikon, and gojis. Terrific!

2 c grated carrots and/or other roots
1 c raisins or other fruit, chopped or not, depending on their size
1/2 c mayonnaise, or to taste
spices, to taste, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
slices of bread or wraps; or try using lettuce leaves as a wrap

1. Combine carrots and raisins. Add mayo. Stir well. Add spices, if using, along with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well. Use in sandwiches or as a side salad.

Cucumber and Apricot Sandwiches

A fruity twist on English cucumber tea sandwiches. Besides apricots, nectarines and peaches are good here, though you might need to peel the peach if you don’t like the fuzzy skin. You can make this a closed sandwich or an open face sandwich. You can also make this with crackers instead of bread. To make this authentically English, you may want to trim the crusts off the bread. The ingredients will make several sandwiches, though I give instructions for making one sandwich.

1 medium cucumber
4 oz cream cheese, or tofu cream cheese, or boursin, creamy goat cheese…
2 T chopped fresh basil or other herb
salt, to taste
bread or crackers, as needed
2 apricots, pitted and thinly sliced
lettuce leaves or sprouts, optional

1. Peel cucumber. Halve and scoop out seeds if they’re large. Thinly slice and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, basil and a small amount of salt.

3. Schmear the cream cheese on one side of the bread. Top one slice with cucumber, then some apricot, and a lettuce leaf, if using. Top with the other slice of cream cheesed bread. Cut as desired.

Strawberry, Brie, and Chocolate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled cheese grew up and moved to France. This is the result. The strawberries are first roasted, which intensifies their flavor but also makes them easier to maneuver between the bread slices. In a pinch, you could use some good quality jam. You could also just thinly slice the berries for a fresher approach, and one that allows you to eat sooner. Use good bread, preferably whole grain, preferably artisanal, but go with what you have. You could also make this into a quesadilla–put the ingredients on half of a tortilla or wrap, fold over and proceed.

12 or so strawberries, hulled and quartered or sliced
1 T vegetable oil
dash of salt
butter, for bread and for ‘grilling’
8 slices bread
8 slices of Brie or Camembert cheese
thin chunks, slices, or gratings of chocolate, dark or milk

1. If roasting strawberries, preheat oven to 350°F. Toss strawberries with oil and a bit of salt. Put on a small baking sheet that you have lined with foil or parchment. Roast until strawberries have softened and released some juices, anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes, though start checking after 10. If not roasting, simply slice of lightly mash berries.

2. Butter the bread slices on one side only. Lay half the buttered slices on a plate or on a piece of foil, wax paper or parchment. Layer a slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of each of the four slices, then some strawberries, some chocolate, and finally with another slice of cheese. Top with the remaining bread, the buttered side up.

3. Melt butter in a skillet until foamy. Put as many sandwiches as you can comfortably fit in the skillet, buttered side down. Cook for a few minutes, until the cheese has started to melt. Flip over and cook for another few minutes, this time pressing gently on the grilled sandwich. Serve at once.

Greens ‘n Cheese Melts

A melt is, basically, a sandwich with melted cheese. It can be grilled or broiled, the former the famous grilled cheese sandwich, the latter is often called a grinder. A grilled cheese sandwich works best with toaster-style bread, while grinders are usually made with rolls, or baguette-type bread. Tasty whatever you call it and however you make it. This recipe is for a grinder, but adapt it to a grilled, or pan-fried, cheese sandwich, if you like. Most greens will work here, their cooking time will vary is all. Some prosciutto, sliced ham or other thinly sliced meat is a nice addition; put it on the bread half before adding the greens and cheese.

oil or butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 large bunch greens, washed and coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 baguette, or other long loaf, cut into two or four pieces and halved lengthwise
8 oz mozzarella, provolone, gruyère or other good melting cheese, thinly sliced or grated
mustard, ketchup or other condiment, for eating alongside, optional

1. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté for a minute or so. Add greens and cook for a few minutes, until wilted and becoming tender. If there is a lot of liquid, allow this to evaporate or remove greens and drain. Season with salt and black pepper.

2. Heat broiler. Place bread halves on a baking sheet and brown lightly. Remove from oven, then set aside top halves of bread.

3. On bottom halves of the toasted bread, spread the cooked greens. Layer cheese over greens. Place bottoms under the broiler again until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven and replace tops.

4. Serve with mustard or ketchup or other condiment on the side.

Potatoes, Greens, and Eggs Wraps

A carb-lover’s delight! Potatoes and wheat. At first I thought it would be too much, but it’s actually quite good. It’s like having bread with pasta, or mixing bread crumbs with pasta, a combination I’m not all that crazy about. This dish seems to me to be a riff on Spanish tortas, with the addition of greens.You can also eat it as is, without the wrap, or bread, as a main-course salad, for dinner, or really, any meal. That’s what I did, at first, then the next day I ate leftovers in a wrap, and was more than pleasantly surprised at how it all came together. For the greens, use any that you would eat raw.

2 – 3 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 c (peeled), cubed potatoes
broth, stock, or water, as or if needed
1 c thinly sliced onion
1/2 c sweet red pepper, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
4 eggs
1 bunch greens, such as arugula, tat soi, mizuna, mustard greens
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T vinegar or lemon juice
wraps, tortillas, pitas, or sliced bread

1. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add potato cubes and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 4 – 5 minutes, until beginning to brown. If the potatoes are really sticking, add more oil, or a splash of liquid. Add the onion, sweet red pepper, if using, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, and adding splashes of liquid if necessary to keep the potatoes from sticking, until the potatoes are cooked through and the onion and pepper are tender.

2. Meanwhile, wash, dry, and chop the greens. Put into a serving bowl. Toss with olive oil and vinegar. Set aside.

3. Whisk eggs along with some salt and pepper in a bowl. When the potatoes are tender and the liquid, if used, has mostly evaporated, pour in the eggs. Cook, stirring, until the eggs are set to your preference, a few minutes.

4. Remove skillet from heat and scrape into the bowl containing the prepared greens. Toss to combine.

5. Eat as a salad or in a wrap or on (toasted) bread.

Braised Chard Tacos/Wraps

Yup, take those braised greens, top ’em with cheese and other fixin’s and you’ve got a fine meal. Endless variations, starting with the greens. Queso fresco, or queso blanco, is a Mexican white, fresh cheese, available in the cheese section of supermarkets.

Just a note–you don’t even have to braise the greens. You can simply sauté them in the oil. Braising softens the flavor of greens, while a sauté intensifies their flavor.

2 T vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 c broth or water
1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped; or other greens
salt, to taste
tortillas or wraps, or good sliced bread
1 c crumbled queso fresco, feta, goat, Monterey Jack, farmer’s cheese…
salsa or tomato sauce
hot sauce, optional

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion for a few minutes, until slightly softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the broth or water and bring to a simmer. Add the greens and some salt to taste and stir to combine. Braise for 5 minutes or so until the greens are almost tender. Increase the heat and cook off the excess liquid, pressing the greens to release more moisture. Once the pan is nearly dry, remove from heat.

2. Assemby: Fill tacos (a taco is 2 tortillas together) or wraps with greens, sprinkle with cheese of choice, a good dollop of salsa or tomato sauce, and a drizzle of hot sauce, if using.