Friday, August 31, 2012

Monte Cristo with Strawberry Habanero Jam

We're now entering year two of home ownership. It's great. When we first moved in, we didn't do much. The previous owners did a lot of work on the place, and we didn't see ourselves wanting to change much.

How naive we were. We (and by "we" I mostly mean my husband) have since learned that home ownership is a continuous string of projects that are assured to take at least twice as long as you think they're going to take. And I have since learned the wonders of stations like HGTV and DIY network and am convinced that the shower/tub area of our master bath needs to be re-done with mosaic tiles. I think my husband would appreciate it if I stopped watching these stations.

Most recently, we installed a ceiling fan in our kitchen. The fixture the previous owners chose for the kitchen used LED lights that burned so hot that it was almost unbearable to be in the kitchen while the light was on for any length of time.

At least it looked cool?

Next up - replacing the two-prong sockets with grounded three-prong sockets. It's bound to be riveting.

We both really liked these Monte Cristo sandwiches. They were a great alternative to the traditional kind that is battered and deep fried (please do not interpret that to mean I'm trying to convey that these sandwiches are healthy - they're not). We weren't the hugest fans of the strawberry habanero jam. Honestly, I think I would've really loved it on a waffle or on ice cream, but for me, it didn't go well with the meat.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches with Strawberry Habanero Jam
Recipe from Jeff Mauro, adapted
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 min
Cook Time - 20 min


Strawberry Habanero Jam
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 lbs frozen strawberries
1 habanero pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely minced

1 cup 2% milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
pinch nutmeg
2 eggs

Sandwich Build
8 slices Sourdough
4 slices Swiss Cheese
4 slices American Cheese
6 oz shaved honey ham
6 oz shaved turkey breast
4 TBSP salted butter
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Strawberry Habanero Jam
In a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar and orange juice, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat to high and add the strawberries and habanero. Bring to a boil, stirring often. After boiling for about a minute, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Once cooled, you can serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

In a baking dish, whisk together the milk, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and eggs. Set aside.

Sandwich Build
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Top a slice of sourdough with a slice of Swiss, one-quarter of the ham, one-quarter of the turkey, a slice of American cheese, and the second slice of sourdough.

Dip the sandwiches into the custard, letting the excess drip off. Add some butter to the pan and gently fry each sandwich until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan, dust with some powdered sugar, and serve some of the strawberry habanero jam on the side.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ham & Cheese Sliders

I'm currently planning a vacation. If all goes to plan, dinners at Bottega and Fleur de Lys are in my future.Have you ever gone somewhere, not really enjoyed it, and then later got home, and someone else you know went there and it seems the two of you took completely different trips? Did it leave you wondering why you didn't learn about these wonderful places they went?

For me, this place is Barcelona.

When I was studying abroad in London, I decided it would be fun to take a trip to Barcelona. I'd heard great things, I spoke Spanish (yes, I knew they speak Catalan but for some unknown reason, I assumed people would regularly speak both), and flights were cheap. So, I bought my RyanAir ticket, raced down to W.H. Smith and bought a  Rick Steve's guide, and booked a hostel. Even today, I don't like going somewhere without knowing where I'm going to sleep that night.

However, what I failed to do, was actually research the city. Or read much of the Rick Steve's book. In the name of spontaneity, I decided I would figure out what to do when I got there.

Big mistake. Aside from going to the beach and the Sagrada Familia, I had absolutely no idea what I should be doing (God forbid I consult the book while I'm there). And, on top of that, Barcelona was having some unprecedented heat wave that made it uncomfortable to do anything but lay on the beach, in the shade.

I did end up doing some great shopping, but overall, was thoroughly unimpressed with Barcelona. And the worst part is that while I know it's my own fault, I'm hesitant to want to go back there because of how unimpressed I was.

Needless to say, that story has nothing to do with these sandwiches. Which are delicious, by the way.

Ham and Cheese Sliders
From: The Girl Who Ate Everything, who adapted it slightly from the Recipe Club

24 good white dinner rolls
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup miracle whip
Poppy seed sauce 
1 Tablespoon poppyseeds*
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. 

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Note: Sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge ready to bake.

*As you can see from the picture, I omitted these because my grocery store was out.