Category Archives: Sandwiches

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma

chicken, onions and pitaI live in Ottawa, while my mom, brother and four sisters all live in Toronto. I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like to. Admittedly, we have become a little lazy about communicating with each other. These days, it’s mostly emails and texts and very few phone calls.

Last week I got an email from my brother. The subject line read, “Mom passed!!” My heart stopped. Logically I knew that my brother would never tell me that mom died in an email. But in the heat of the moment, I got nervous, and for good reason. My family and I have a bit of a sketchy history when it comes to communicating about death.

When I was in University, I came home one weekend for a visit. I asked my sister where Heidi, our dog, was. Apparently, my parents had put her down a month ago, and no one remembered to tell me. I was also the very last one of my siblings to know that my dad died, although to be fair, the signs were there.

You will be relieved to know that mom did not die. The body of the text read: “Mom passed her drivers test today. 2 more yrs of driving at least. Wish her Mazel Tov!” My mom is 82 years old. In  Ontario, after the age of 80, you must take a test every 2 years to ensure that you are still fit to drive. I fired off an email to my brother with the subject line, Don’t send an email with the heading “Mom passed”. It could be misinterpreted.” Then I promptly called my mom to say congrats and I love you. For the record, all my sisters had momentary heart failure and my brother properly apologized. 

The recipe for this chicken shawarma came to my attention via a text from my baby sister. She is always sending me links to different recipes she thinks I would like. She said she’d never read a recipe with so many positive reviews.

Recipes are like rumours. You must always consider the source. This recipe is from an impeccable source, Sam Sifton, food editor of The New York Times. If you don’t already subscribe to cooking.nytimes.comget on it right away! It is one of the best food websites. Their Mobile App is fantastic. Not only can you save and categorize their database of over 18,000 recipes, you can also save non-NYT recipes to your recipe box. I finally have a way to save all the online recipes I am inspired by, in one place. Genius! Subscribing to their daily newsletter is free, but they charge $5 US per month for the App.

Boneless skinless chicken thighs are bathed in a highly flavourful marinade.spice rubLet the thighs marinate for up to 12 hours in the fridge. If you’re short on time, even an hour will still produce spectacular results. ready to marinateAdd a quartered red onion to the sheet pan and bake the whole thing off for 30-40 minutes. ready for roastingIf you have time, mix up some great sides to go with the shawarma. I made an Israeli salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro and dressed it simply with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I doctored up some store-bought hummus with a sprinkle of smoked paprika,  toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of good olive oil. I thinned some tahini with lemon juice and hot water for a drizzling sauce. I also added some charred corn slaw that I had leftover from last night’s dinner. Sour dills and hot sauce are more than welcome to join this party.all the fixins Stuff everything into a pita pocket or lay it flat and roll it up. Whichever way you choose to go, make sure you have plenty of napkins to catch all the drips. This is messy eating at its finest. stuffedflat to roll

Click here to print Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma.

make your own 1

E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches

breakfast is ready 1This started out as a post about biscuits. Specifically, the amazing biscuits from Biscuit Love, the beloved Nashville brunch hot spot. I had breakfast there last year. Their lofty flaky biscuits, slathered with butter and sorghum syrup were one of the highlights of my visit. Biscuits were added to my must blog about list.

I found their recipe online and read through it very carefully. It’s an unconventional recipe as it uses yeast as a leavening agent. Most traditional Southern biscuits rely on baking soda and/or baking powder. The other unusual ingredient was melted butter. Every other biscuit recipe I have read uses very cold, sometimes frozen butter. The theory behind cold butter is that, when the biscuits hit the oven, the butter begins to melt, causing steam, which contributes to flakiness. This recipe ran contrary to everything I knew about biscuit baking.

I took a leap of faith, mixed up the dough and baked a batch. I split a warm one open, buttered it and took a bite. It was good, but nowhere near as flaky and delicious as I remembered. These were not the biscuits of my dreams. Clearly some more research is needed here before I pass the knowledge onto you.

I decided to turn these passable biscuits into something really special. I created the E.A.T. breakfast sandwich featuring  Egg, Avocado and Tomato. I had some halloumi cheese in the fridge and fried some of that up as well, for a salty, cheesy layer.

I sliced up some pretty heirloom tomatoes, salted them well and drizzled them with olive oil. tomatoes and avocadoesI decided to mash up the avocados to give the sandwich a creamy base. A bit of lime juice, olive oil, salt and some red pepper flakes were added to the mash. Fried halloumi cheese and some fried eggs added the final two layers.ready to assemble

I took an adequate biscuit and turned it into a spectacular breakfast.

I did a bit of research and discovered that Biscuit Love makes 3 kinds of biscuits. The yeast raised ones that I made (also known as Angel biscuits) are what they use for their biscuit sandwiches. They also make a beaten biscuit, which are tiny and firmer, more like soda crackers. And finally, they make a traditional drop biscuit, which is what I must have been  served with butter and sorghum syrup. Those were the lofty flaky biscuits of my dreams. The quest is on to reproduce these biscuits. I’ll be back with something soon, I promise.

In the meantime, feel free to use store bought biscuits, english muffins or even some great bagels for this sandwich.

Click here to print recipe for E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches.

 

Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets

pitas on wooden cutting boardOne of my favourite sources of inspiration for what to blog about next is my friend Marla. She is always trying new recipes and has a real knack for finding delicious ones. She was the one that turned me on to these spiced lamb meatballs from the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit. I decided to adapt the recipe to create pita pockets.

I started with making a romesco (nut and red pepper) sauce to spread on the pita, alongside some store-bought hummus. It takes some time to make, but I loved the tangy, spicy bright flavour it added to the sandwich. I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds for the nuts portion of the sauce. For the peppers, I used both jarred roasted red sweet peppers and a dried whole chile pepper.Romesco sauce ingredientsThe nuts and bread get toasted. They are used to thicken the sauce.toasting nuts and breadA quick blitz in the blender or food processor finishes the romesco sauce. It can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. It is also delicious on a chicken sandwich or mixed in with some hot pasta.finished romesco sauceThe meatballs come together quickly. Paprika and cumin and coriander seeds add a warm earthy note, while fresh cilantro and parsley add a vibrant freshness. meatball ingredientsfrying meatballs

Click here to print recipe for Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets.

one pita ready for dinner

 

Sabich

Sabbich ready to eat 2Falafel? Forget about it. Shawarma? So over it. This year I’m all about Sabich, a pita sandwich bursting with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, shredded cabbage, hummus, Israeli salad and pickles. Drizzled with tahini sauce and pickled mango chutney (amba), this sandwich is a thing of beauty.

The origin of this sandwich is credited to Iraqi Jews who arrived in Israel in the 1950’s. Most of them settled in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. Since cooking is not allowed on the Sabbath a cold lunch of yesterday’s fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs was often served for lunch. Natural born entrepreneurs, the Iraqi Jews rolled these ingredients into a pita and started selling them as street food. Cheap and filling, these sandwiches quickly became the country’s version of fast food.

I had my first sabich at Sarona Market, the stunning modern new food market in Tel Aviv. If you have not visited Sarona Market but are familiar with the Shuk (Machane Yehuda Market) in Jerusalem, suffice it to say that they are polar opposites! Not to say that the shuk does not have its charms, such as being elbowed by sabras in a hurry to get their marketing done before Shabbat. Each market is special and unique and both merit a spot as a must visit destination on trip to Israel. Even if food is not your passion, the people watching at both markets are a fascinating window into daily Israeli life.Sarona Market

olives juice bar ice cream breadI didn’t really know what I was ordering. My daughter and I just pointed to this beautiful stuffed pita sandwich in the display case. It looked fresh and promising. We were hooked from the first drippy, messy bite. Crispy, crunchy, soft, creamy, tangy, and spicy, this sandwich is an amazing fusion of textures and flavours. The addition of hard-boiled egg surprised me. My daughter explained that this is typical in some Israeli sandwiches.sabich at saronaI knew I had to try recreating this at home. I have made it twice now since coming home. The first time I tried not to stray too far from the original. I was unable to find amba, the pickled mango chutney where I live. I could have ordered it online, but I was too impatient. I substituted in some pickled jalapeños for heat. I added some creamy avocado, which seemed like a perfect compliment.ready to assembleYou may be tempted to bake or grill the eggplant slices, in order to keep the calorie count lower. I beg you not to do that. Yes, eggplant soaks up a ton of oil when you fry it. But it is precisely that oil rich flavour and squishy texture you want in this sandwich and only frying can achieve it. Since you’re just tucking just a few slices into the sandwich, so don’t stress about it.

Green cabbage is thinly sliced and simply dressed with salt and white wine vinegar. Sour dill pickles add additional crunch. Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil are combined in a classic Israeli salad. I jacked up my store bought Tahini sauce with some garlic, and lemon juice and added some hot water to thin it out so that it had the perfect texture for drizzling.

The second time I made it, I mixed up a batch of spiced ground lamb (cumin, coriander, sautéed onions and cinnamon) and formed mini lamb burgers that we grilled along side the fresh pita bread. The addition of the lamb sliders was a big hit at our table.Sabbich ready to eat 1

Click here to print recipe for Sabich.

Click here to print recipe for Spiced Lamb Burger Patties, if you want to add lamb to your sabich.

open faced

 

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower Tuna Melts

cauliflower tuna melt 1 625 sqApple orchards, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, whatever your version of autumn joy is, I hope you’re out there, savoring the season. Have you heard about leaf peeping?  My niece Rachel, who is up on all the latest trends, informed me about it. She lives in Seattle now, but grew up in Florida. I told her that those of us who live in the Northeast have been peeping for years!

As for me, my fall bliss involves cauliflower. I’m having as bit of a love affair with it this autumn. But who can blame me when stunning beauties like these keep popping up at the market. Three colours 2A tuna melt is my default go-to when I return home from holidays and the cupboard is bare. I always have some kind of bread in the freezer, a can of tuna in the pantry and a small wedge of cheddar in the fridge. Bonus points if the cheese is mold-free and the tuna is packed in olive oil.

Truthfully, even the humblest of ingredients are more special when served on toast, and this fact is celebrated in Jill Donenfeld’s new book, Better on Toast. I took her Cauliflower Melts recipe and tarted them up with the addition of Italian tuna in olive oil. brushing with olive oilSlice the cauliflower into slabs, brush with garlic kissed olive oil and roast until golden brown.
time to assemblePistachios add crunch and golden raisins add a welcome hit of sweetness. Tuna in olive oil just tastes better than water packed tuna. Look for a Spanish or Italian brand if you can find it. Unlike water packed tuna, which can be dry, olive oil packed tuna is exceptionally moist, so no mayo is needed. If you have access to some really good artisan bread, go for it. Slice thickly please and give it a light toasting before assembling.start with good breadstart with lightly toasted breadLay on roasted cauliflowergolden raisins and pistachiosI love the addition of nutty Gruyere cheese, but feel free to use cheddar or any great melting cheese. adding gruyere cheesemeltedHot and bubbly, these are hearty knife and fork sandwiches, that help soften that abrupt hard landing that inevitably occurs when coming home after a holiday.

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tuna Melts.

cauliflower tuna melt 2 sq