dimanche 31 janvier 2010

Grilled Sandwiches

To inaugurate the purchase of a “plancha,” as it’s called in France, which is a teppanyaki grill (smooth non-stick grilling surface), I prepared some grilled sandwiches, an old favorite from my college days. At The Bread Co., a small restaurant of Swiss ownership, I used to work behind the counter during the lunch shifts, assembling sandwiches and bagging sourdough bread.

It’s only now that I’m in France that I appreciate all the unique touches on the menu and in the decor, as they originate from this region of Europe (France and Switzerland). Cheese fondue, roasted potatoes, raclette, linzertorte, sable cookies, chocolate mousse, baguettes (well, that was obvious), tartines, balsamic dressing, San Pelligrino, Orangina, Nutella hot chocolates, red candles on the tables wood slat chairs and tables, their daily specials, the wine and beer menu being longer than the food menu.

Grilled sandwiches were the lunch specialty. You must start with good quality bread, preferably sourdough, and cut relatively thick slices. Butter one side of two slices, and place them butter-side-down on the grill. Sprinkle gruyere cheese on top of both slices. Next throw a handful of sliced vegetables (I used tomatoes, a yellow bell pepper, and eggplant; a red onion would make it better) next to the bread and spoon balsamic dressing on top (a mixture of mustard, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar). Mix to coat the vegetables and let them cook, maybe 5 minutes. When the vegetables are softened and the bread browned, pile the vegetables on top of the bread and fold into a sandwich. You might never eat a flimsy grilled cheese again.

Of course this vegetable cheese sandwich was not the only one on the menu (in fact I’m pretty sure I invented this version). Another good choice was the Portobello-brie sandwich, where the Portobello mushrooms were chopped and cooked in the dressing, while a slice of brie cheese melted on the bread. The second slice of bread was covered in a raspberry aioli, a mayonnaise mixed with raspberry preserves. Unusual, and very good.

I grilled everything very easily at the same time on the teppanyaki plate, but you could also use 2 different skillets or pans.

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