Chill Out with Sandwiches

When you’re starving but can’t stand the thought of heating up the kitchen, sandwiches are the perfect solution.

Eugenia Uhl Photograph

It’s too hot to move, much less cook. I can’t even think about putting something on the grill. My lush patio is beginning to show the signs of just too much heat. And yet my friends are getting their paraphernalia ready for football season.

Perhaps you too are experiencing the change-of-season doldrums. My husband, who is a good source of inspiration, suggested that we do a sandwich night and invite our neighbors for a late repast in the cool of the evening.

Sipping on a cold gin and tonic with a healthy squeeze of lime juice, I thought about sandwiches I’ve enjoyed in the past. I do like club sandwiches – toasted bread spread with lemony mayonnaise, a thick layer of thinly sliced chicken, another slice of bread slathered with creamy Dijon mustard, now a layer of crunchy strips of bacon, cool shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and maybe a slice or two of Swiss cheese, topped with yet another slice of toasted bread.

Several years ago in Austin, Texas, my stepson introduced me to a sandwich with a Southwestern flair – a large flour tortilla was spread with a thin layer of black bean purée and then layered with slices of smoked turkey. Down the center were chunks of tomato, onion and avocado lightly tossed with fresh lime juice, cilantro and bits of jalapeños all rolled in the tortilla.

At Lagniappe Two, a quaint café in New Iberia, I’ve always enjoyed a shrimp club that is composed of the traditional three slices of toast, lettuce, tomato and bacon with the addition of a layer of spicy boiled shrimp and thinly sliced avocado all dressed with delicious mayonnaise. At home, I sometimes make a spicy shrimp or crab salad to substitute for the boiled shrimp and use olive bread rather than white or whole wheat bread. Yum!

Yes, a sandwich spread party sounds just fine.

These days there’s such a variety of breads available at not only bakeries but also supermarket delis and specialty shops, so one can get exceedingly creative in making stupendous sandwiches.

Offer assorted sliced breads, a variety of mayonnaises and mustards, lettuce and lots of sliced tomatoes. You might also include sliced avocado, black bean purée and perhaps an olive tapenade. Fillers can include grilled chicken or turkey or thinly sliced ham (check out the different kinds offered in the deli section of your favorite supermarket). And what about some prosciutto or pancetta or even tasso, smoked sausage, boiled shrimp, steamed chunks of lobster, thinly sliced roast beef and cheeses?

If you prefer to pre-make some of the sandwiches, here’s an idea.

MY CLUB SANDWICH
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons honey mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 pound thinly sliced ham
12 slices whole wheat bread
4 slices Swiss cheese
8 lettuce leaves
1 pound thinly sliced smoked turkey
8 slices tomatoes
4 strips bacon
16 pitted black olives
16 pimiento-stuffed olives

Combine the sour cream, horseradish, honey mustard, salt, black pepper and hot sauce in a bowl, and mix well.

Divide the ham into four equal portions, and place on each of four slices of bread. Spread with some of the sauce, and then top with one slice of cheese, a lettuce leaf and another slice of bread.

Divide the turkey into four equal portions, and place it on top of the slices of bread. Spread with more of the sauce, and top with a lettuce leaf, two slices of tomato and one slice of bacon.

Skewer a black olive and a pimiento-stuffed olive on each of 16 wooden toothpicks. Cut each sandwich into four triangles, and secure each quarter with a pick. Serves 8.

If you like the idea of the shrimp salad club, here is a recipe for the filling.

SHRIMP SALAD FILLER
1 pound medium-size shrimp, boiled,
    peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
4 to 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, cover, and chill for one hour before using. Serves 6.

Tapenade is a thick paste made from capers, anchovies, ripe olives, olive oil and seasonings. It’s wonderful to spread on sandwiches of all kinds. Make a batch or two, and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

TAPENADE
1 tablespoon capers, drained
20 kalamata olives (about 3/4 cup), pitted
1 anchovy fillet
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth, about 15 seconds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

I happen to like tuna salad, and this makes a great sandwich.

TUNA CLUB SANDWICHES
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce (more or less to taste)
1 7-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise (more or less to taste)
12 thin slices whole wheat bread
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Combine the cucumber, vinegar, oil and hot sauce in a shallow dish, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Combine tuna, celery, parsley and mayonnaise, and mix well. Set aside. Toast the bread on both sides, and spread butter on one side of eight toast slices. Spread the tuna mixture on the buttered side of four toast slices. Top each with an unbuttered toast slice.Layer one-fourth of the egg slices and one-fourth of the cucumber slices on top of each unbuttered toast slice.

Top with the remaining toast slices, buttered side down. Cut each sandwich in half diagonally, and secure with toothpicks. Serves 4.

If you want to go healthy, try this.

CHICKEN-ALMOND POCKETS
3 cups cooked and cubed chicken
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 6-inch pocket bread rounds
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Combine the chicken, yogurt, almonds, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well, and set aside or chill for at least 30 minutes. Cut the bread rounds in half, and fill each about half full with lettuce and alfalfa sprouts. Spoon in the chicken mixture. They can be eaten immediately or chilled for an hour or so. Makes 8 sandwiches.

And speaking of sandwiches, why not ice cream sandwiches for dessert? You can certainly use store-bought cookies and ice cream, but if the mood strikes, you can make your own. Make the sandwiches ahead of time, and store them, wrapped in wax paper and inserted in storage freezer bags, until ready to serve.

My husband found these in an old Southern Living magazine and tried his hand at making ice cream sandwiches, which are pretty darn good.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 gallon vanilla or chocolate ice cream

Beat the butter and the peanut butter at medium-speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating well. Add the egg and vanilla and almond extracts, and mix well.

Combine the flour, soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually add to the butter mixture, mixing well. Cover, and chill for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Shape the dough into 22 balls, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Dip a flat-bottomed glass in flour, and flatten each ball to a 2 1/2-inch circle. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute on the cookie sheets, and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Remove the ice cream from the carton, and quickly cut the ice cream into six 1/2-inch slices. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut two rounds out of each slice. Reserve the remaining ice cream for another use. Place the rounds of the ice cream on half of the cookies, and top with the remaining cookies. Wrap each in plastic wrap or wax paper, and freeze. Makes 11 sandwiches.

OATMEAL ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
1 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 gallon chocolate or rocky road
    ice cream

Beat the shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the brown sugar and regular sugar, beating well. Add the eggs and the vanilla, and mix well.

Combine the flour, soda and oats, and gradually add to the shortening mixture. Stir in the pecans. Cover, and chill for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shape the dough into 38 balls, 1 1/2 inches each, and place 3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Dip a flat-bottomed glass in flour, and flatten each ball to a 2 1/2-inch circle. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Remove the ice cream from the carton, and cut into 10 1/4-inch slices. Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut two rounds out of each slice. Place the ice cream on half of the cookies, and top with the remaining ,cookies. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, and freeze. Makes 19 sandwiches.


 

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