Grilled Havarti Cucumber on Rye

Grilled Cucumber and Havarti Sandwich

This is an easy recipe but must be made in two steps. First, you want to marinate a cucumber in some vinegar with dill weed, salt, and pepper.

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • salt and pepper

Slice the cucumbers and put in a sealable container. Add vinegar, dill weed, salt, and pepper. Put the lid on and shake. Stick in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Since you are only using the cucumber slices, you can reuse the vinegar to pickle another cucumber. I like this on sandwiches and have used it on a fried chicken sandwich and on a sandwich with slices of London broil.

Now on to the sandwich. Heat a cast iron skillet on low (3 out of 10 on my stove). Butter one side of a slice of rye bread and lay butter side down in the skillet. Layer thin slices of Havarti Dill cheese to cover all the bread. Then layer the cucumber slices. I layered two layers of cucumber because I think Havarti is a relatively sweet cheese and wanted more vegetable than cheese. Please the second slice of rye on top. Let cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is grilled. Flip and cook the other side. Remove, cut in half and serve.

It’s very important the cucumber marinate so it’s more pickle than cucumber. The unctuous cheese needs that vinegary bite. The dill in the cucumbers reinforces the dill in the cheese. The cucumber retains just enough of its crunch to give you a bit of toothiness. It’s delicious and easy.

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Pork, Pears, Nectarines and Ginger Sauté

Pork, Pear, Nectarine Stir Fry

  • 2 TBSP chopped onions
  • 1 TBSP fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 oz boneless pork loin cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2  Bosc pear cut in wedges
  • 1 small nectarine, cut in wedges

Heat skillet to medium-high. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add onions, ginger, and garlic and sauté until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add pork pieces, salt, and pepper and cook until it browned, about 4 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, add pear and nectarines. Let cook for about 3 minutes, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tsp of soy sauce

Serve over rice.

This actually made two servings. There was sweetness from the fruit, tartness from the lemon and the heat of ginger and blending together for a tasty and easy dinner. About 20 minutes from start to finish.

 

Grilled Pear Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Jam & Tomato Jerk Jam

Grilled Pear Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a grilled sandwich? I discovered that pears are delicious on a grilled rye sandwich. I don’t have a grill nor a yard for grilling, but if you turn your stove fan on high and pay attention you can grill thinly sliced pears on the electric burner. Just don’t try to do more than three slices at a time.

To make this sandwich, I heated my griddle to medium heat and buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread some caramelized onion jam on one side and some tomato jerk jam on the other. I layered 1/2 of a pear thinly sliced and grilled on top of both slices of bread and let them cook on the griddle until toasted, putting the sandwich together after it’s done.

Grilled Pear Sandwich

The char on the pear gives it such a delicious flavor, sort of sweet and smoky. The onion jam is deep and herbaceous with the flavor of bay and thyme lifted by balsamic vinegar. The tomato jerk jam is bright, sweet and earthy. Together they all come together into a burst of flavor that is bright, fresh, and satisfying. If you spread the rye bread with olive oil instead of butter, you could make a vegan version.

 

Jerk Pork, Rhubarb Nectarine Chutney, and Cabbage Salad Sandwich

There’s nothing like a delicious sandwich for lunch. The trick is to get a good blend of flavor and texture and this sandwich brings everything. There are three ingredients in this sandwich, roast pork, cabbage, and chutney.

Roast Pork

I like to buy the cheapest pork roast, the shoulder or picnic roasts which run about $1.50 per pound. I spread Jamaica Jerk seasoning over the outside of the roast, top, bottom and sides. I roasted for about 40 minutes at 450° F. Roasting time depends on the size of the roast, so I always use a meat thermometer, removing the roast from the oven to rest when the thermometer reaches 140°.

Nectarine-Rhubarb Chutney

Chutneys are the easiest thing to make. All you do is toss some fruit in with sugar, spices, lots of ginger, and some vinegar or citrus juice, in this case, lime juice. Chop everything up, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about one to two hours so all the substance is cooked down to a thick liquid. These are ingredients in this chutney.  This makes about a cup of chutney.

  • 3 stalks of rhubarb
  • 4 small or 2 large nectarines
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small lime, use zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cabbage Sandwich Slaw

Just about any slaw will work, a mix of crunchy cabbage with a dressing of vinegar is all you need.

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 2 TBSP diced yellow onion
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar (more or less)
  • Lime zest from one lime

For this, I finely chopped one cup of cabbage, added cilantro and yellow onion. I added some salt and pepper to taste. I then added rice vinegar, just enough to dress the salad (about 1 TBSP). Mix it up and let it rest for an hour or more so the cabbage absorbs the vinegar. (This makes enough slaw for two sandwiches)

Rye Bread

I suppose you can use any bread, but I am partial to rye. I spread chutney on one slice and mayonnaise on the other. On the side with mayo, I put the cabbage slaw and I put the pork on the chutney side. I spread a bit more chutney over the pork. This helped hold it all together when I put the pieces together and cut it in half.

This is a delicious sandwich with the crunchy freshness of the cabbage with the bit of tang of vinegar and lime. The chutney adds the unctuous sweet and sour. The rye lays down this hearty foundation for the meat and slaw. It’s perfection.

 

Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam

Ever since I read the words tomato jam in some book about the South, I have been thinking I need to try it. When there were two freah tomatoes in my Imperfect box this week, I knew its time had come.

  • 2 tomatoes, remove the core and chop
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small lime, use zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Put all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring steadily. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 90 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes or so until reduced to a thick jam texture. Store in a covered container in the fridge. It will keep for a couple weeks, but it won’t last that long as it’s so good. This makes about 1 cup of jam.

So wow! This is so good. It’s got this amazing sweet and sour flavor that would be good on just about anything. There’s some great heat from the ginger and red pepper flakes, there’s this aromatic oomph from the cloves and cinnamon and truly, my house smelled like tomato heaven.

Tomato Jam Sandwiches

Here are a few sandwich options. I toasted and yes! those are heels because I like how crispy they get when toasted. It makes me think this may be really delicious on knäckebröd and makes me want to go to Ikea. On the left, toast, tomato jam, sliced cucumber, and grapefruit. On the right, tomato jam, feta cheese, and a sprig of fennel.

Tomato Jam

Here I used knackebröd with tomato jam. On the left, I added feta and on the right, I used sauteed kale, fennel, and onions from the grilled cheese.

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

My Imperfect box came yesterday and I got a fennel bulb. I love fennel and want people to cook with it a lot more so it becomes more common and less expensive. This time I made a grilled cheese sandwich using some of the 5 pounds of kale I got from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share.

So what did I do?

Fennel, Onions, and Kale
I put a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat and added 1 tbsp of olive oil. While it heated, I used a mandoline to thin slice a medium-sized yellow onion and the small fennel bulb. I tossed the thin slices in the skillet, added a bit of salt, and sauteed until tender. Meanwhile, I chopped up about 2 cups of raw kale. I pulled the leaves off the stems, rolled to chiffonade. When the onions and fennel began to caramelize, tossed in the kale and covered to let it cook for about 5 minutes.

I removed the veggies from the skillet and dropped some butter, putting down one slice of whole wheat bread, I added thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese and then forked some of the veggies on top of the cheese. When it was toasted and ready to flip, I added some more cheese on top of the veggies and added the second slice of bread and flipped the sandwich. In a few minutes, it was beautifully toasted.

So, this has an unctuous kind of savory deliciousness. People think of fennel as sweet, but it’s not and when it’s cooked it mellows even more. Kale is best with strong contrasts and fennel is ideal.

 

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

So I got my very first box of produce from Imperfect Produce and decided to make something with the cucumber, grapefruit, green onions, and cilantro I ordered. I had this idea…

I took a half of a cucumber and peeled it, cutting it into quarters so I could easily remove the seeds. Then i chopped into 1/2 inch bites.

I supremed one small grapefruit, cutting off the pith and peels and cutting the segments free.

I chopped two green onions and about 8 pieces of cilantro. I mixed this all in a bowl with some salt and pepper, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (just a few flakes!) and 1 tsp of maple syrup (good maple syrup!). Shake it up a bit and serve. Makes one serving.

I kind of thought the maple syrup would make magic and it did. There’s just the tiniest bit of heat and a hint of sweetness, perfectly tempered by the freshness of the cucumber and the bright zesty grapefruit. This was so good I wish I had made double.

Now about Imperfect Produce. A friend forwarded the site to me on Facebook, knowing that I have to be careful about spending and how I rely heavily on the Oregon Food Bank’sHarvest Share to have enough vegetables since the regular food banks are heavy on carbs. I decided to give it a try because saving money and saving the environment sound like a good plan to me. Below are the results. As you can see, my imperfect produce is not that imperfect, I see a little dent in the cucumber, but nope, not that imperfect. They are incredibly fresh. I ate the first grapefruit just as a fruit and ended up with grapefruit juice everywhere. It was delightfully messy. And look how much I saved!

Imperfect Produce

I saved a lot

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Dill Lemon Sour Cream

The best way to cook vegetables is roasting. They retain their flavor and get a bit of flavor emphasis with caramelization. It’s popular to melt a little cheese on top but that seems a bit heavy for lunch. I like the contrast between hot veggies and cool, fresh, and light sour cream.

Preheat oven to 450°

Toss six cauliflower florets, 2 very small onions cut in half, and 3 slices of asparagus cut in half. Toss a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub the oil all over the veggies so they are coated.

Roast 20 minutes, turn oven to broil for 5 minutes so the veggies are all browned beautifully.

While roasting, make a sauce with 1/4 cup of sour cream, the juice of half a lemon and some dill weed (to taste), add a bit of salt and pepper.

Roasted vegetables are the best, a light, cool sauce is a delightful contrast. It’s also super easy to make.

Turnip, Apple & Celery Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

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This makes more than a single serving, but then a good salad is nice to have for snacks and side dishes. The main ingredients all came from Harvest Share. Because marinating is important to its flavor, it’s better the second day.

  • 1 large turnip, peeled and diced into small pieces.
  • 5-6 stalks of celery chopped.

You want equal parts of turnip and celery, so cut enough celery to make as much bulk as the turnip.

  • 2 apples, chopped (You want about half as much apple as turnip by bulk.)

Meanwhile, toast some pumpkin seeds with a bit of oil and salt. Toast until they start popping like popcorn. Put on a towel and pat dry so they don’t have oil on them.

Mix the apples, turnips, and celery together. Add dressing made from

  • 1 fresh lemon, squeezed juice
  • 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Stir together and then add toasted pumpkin seeds. Let sit overnight.

This is a delicious salad with lots of crunch and chew. The turnip adds a bit of tang, the apples add sweetness to balance the turnips and the celery gives us crunch and earthiness. The pumpkin seeds add a bit of meaty, nutty, and salty snappy crunch. I love how the flavors marry together.

Brussels Sprouts, Black Beans, and Carrots

This was a quick and easy supper.

  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut off the end and then halve or quarter depending on the size so they are all the same size.
  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed with water
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add anise seed until the aroma fills the room. Add carrots and salt and pepper. Sauté for about two minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until warmed through. Be sure you don’t overcook to the point they are softened. Add black beans, rinse thoroughly so the juice from the can does not color the veggies. Add salt and pepper. When they are warmed through, squeeze fresh lemong juice and cover for 1 minute.

I love the flavor of anise and vegetables. It really does not taste like licorice. It marries vegetables perfectly. The black beans adds a bit of protein to balance the dish and give it the carbs that really make it satisfying.