Monday, March 7, 2011

Inventive Sandwich Compositions from Across the Pond

Cooking for one person without being wasteful and creating variety in your diet is a tall order for any college student. Thankfully, there’s a George Foreman grill in my communal kitchen and a sizable sandwich culture in England for inspiration.

With a sandwich, it’s fairly easy to mix up the ingredients from day to day to vary your lunch and dinner options.

The following are instructions, guidelines and tips (the word ‘recipe’ seems too formal here) for three sandwiches that I have taste-tested and enjoyed. They all have the same five categories of ingredients: bread, meat, cheese, vegetable and spread that can be easily substituted to your own tastes and what’s available.

Cajun Chicken and Peach Panini
This sandwich is inspired by my Vietnamese ethnic and culinary background—we always try to have sweet, salty, spicy and sour, or some combination of the four, in our dishes. The peach conserve complements the Cajun spices well, with the brie mellowing out both. The addition of pickles rounds out the flavors while accenting the spice.

Bread: pain flute or narrow Italian bread loaf cut length-wise
Or any soft bread for easy panini-pressing
Meat: Cajun chicken or tikka masala chicken
Or any already-cooked, heavily-spiced chicken breast that you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store
Cheese: Thin slices of brie or any soft, mild melting cheese
Vegetable: slices of pickle or microgreens are optional
Spread: peach conserve or mango chutney

Spread the peach conserve onto one slice. Then, in the following order, add the pickles, greens, slices of brie, chicken and the other slice of bread on top. (The order is important so that all the parts will be held together by the melted brie when the Panini is pressed.) Press with Panini-press or any other sandwich-pressing or grilling device on medium until the cheese has completely melted.

Ham and Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich
A slightly more sophisticated variation on the cucumber sandwich and the classic ham and cheese.

Bread: cinnamon-raisin bagel, split and toasted
Meat: ham, most varieties will do with the exception of honey-baked as it may be too sweet with the cinnamon and raisin bagel
Cheese/Spread: full-fat/regular cream cheese
Vegetable: thinly sliced rounds of cucumber

Spread generous amounts of cream cheese on each bagel slice. Arrange cucumber slices neatly on each. Place ham between the slices and you’re good to go.

Chicken and Wensleydale w/ Cranberry
This sandwich is the most complex flavor-wise of the three. While the chicken serves as a hearty base, the caramelized onion hummus adds moisture and complements the Wensleydale well with its own deeper, savory sweetness. The spinach cuts the richness of both with a pleasant bitterness.

Bread: sliced plain ciabatta
Meat: chicken breast
Cheese: crumbled Wensleydale with cranberry, or any sweet cheese
Vegetable: raw baby spinach
Spread: caramelized onion hummus

Spread the hummus on both slices. Add the crumbled Wensleydale, spinach and chicken breast to one of the slices, and then top it off with the other. (I’ve often made the rookie sandwich construction mistake of putting loose ingredients on both slices of bread only to then clumsily attempt to put them together.)

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