Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Caprese Sandwiches

I recently had a two week stint gorging myself on fresh, sweet, summer heirloom tomatoes. I just couldn’t help it–DELICIOUS and so colorful!

I had to take advantage of the few short weeks left of summer when these beauties are best here in San Diego and enjoyed them in salads, over pizzas, as a condiment (pico de gallo), as a light side dish and of course– in sandwiches.

Caprese Sandwiches

One of my fav go-to “salads” is Insalata Caprese which usually consists of tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and olive oil. I also like to serve them as appetizers by making little caprese skewers and use sweet grape tomatoes instead of tomato slices.

Caprese Sandwiches

For a light lunch, I grabbed a few heirlooms I had picked up earlier that morning to make Caprese Sandwiches. These sammies have all of the traditional fixins’ of Insalata Caprese with the addition of a rich and thick reduction of balsamic vinegar. The reduction adds a light sweetness and acidity to the sandwich which pairs so well with the cool tomatoes, velvety mozzarella and floral basil.

Total winner and can be whipped up Lickety- Split…..

In a jiffy……

In a blink of the eye……

In the speed of light…..

In no time flat……

……… Really fast. You get the point.

Did I mention these would be FAB for picnics?

______________________________________________________________

Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 pinches sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 ciabatta rolls, toasted (or bread of your choice)
8-10 fresh whole basil leaves, washed and dried
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
sea salt or kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, add the vinegar, sugar and chili flakes. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Continue stirring and cooking until the liquids have reduced by half and take on the a thick, syrup consistency. Be sure to watch the reduction closely as it can burn quickly. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Slice each of the toasted rolls in half. Place half of the basil leaves on the bottom piece of bread and top with a few slices of cheese. Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar reduction over the mozzarella and top with slices of tomato. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes and place the other 1/2 of the roll on top. Enjoy!

Grilled Cheese with Avocado & Tomatoes + Cuisinart GIVEAWAY!

Grilled Cheese with Avocado & Tomatoes

I love experimenting with new recipes. It’s challenging, fun and when the dish is successfully completed, it’s totally gratifying.

But after a long day, week, or heck–even an afternoon, all I want to eat is something quick and comforting. Fried SPAM with rice, instant spicy ramen or a trusted ol’ sandwich. And for me, the latter usually means a BLT or a grilled cheese of some type.

Grilled Cheese with Avocado & Tomatoes

One of my fav grilled cheeses is so simple but deliciously satisfying. It’s made with Kings Hawaiian sliced bread that has been lightly buttered and then grilled with pepper jack cheese, thin slices of Roma tomatoes, sliced avocados, and a thin spread of grainy mustard. So.Freaking.Good.

In honor of the humble sandwich, one of our rad readers will have the chance to win a Cuisinart Griddler® Grill & Panini Press!

Cuisinart-GR-11-1

Isn’t she a beauty?! Not only will you be able to whip up the most delectable sammies but you can also remove the plates to grill burgers, steaks, and anything else that your heart may desire. Now that is multi-functional!

How to enter: This GIVEAWAY is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Leave a comment and tell us what is your favorite sandwich.

For extra chances to win, leave a separate comment for each indicating which of the below you did:

  1. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already Subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
  2. Like our Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like” us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  3. Follow @CulinaryChron on Twitter (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so); or
  4. Follow our boards on Pinterest (If you already Follow us, leave a comment indicating so).

The deadline to enter is Friday, March 8th at 5pm (PST) and the winner will be notified the next day.

Best of luck, Friends!!!!

Lobstah, Lobstah…..Lobster Rolls!

Lobster Rolls

With every trip to NYC, I must stop by Luke’s to pick up a Lobstah Roll. So flippin’ good, I can hardly stand it!!

Their lobstah is lightly seasoned and has just a tad of mayo to hold things together. Wonderfully straightforward and showcases the sweet flavor of the meat. And of course, the decadent lobstah is enveloped in a buttery, toasted, New England-style bun. Lightly crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Ermahgerd…..

Lobster Rolls

In the spirit of Luke’s, I was inspired to throw down a few Lobstah Rolls myself. I kept things simple but you can add in minced celery, avocados, lettuce, or heck–even MORE lobster! I jammed my rolls with so much lobstah meat that you could barely pick it up. Trust me, it’s a good problem to have.

I also cooked my own lobstahs but if it makes you a bit squeamish, feel free to pick up some pre-cooked meat from a trusted fish monger. Either way, you’re going to want to make these beauties because……

Wait–do you really need a reason? HECK NO—They’re Lobstah Rolls! Drools.

And with that Friends, Happy Friday!!!

_______________________________

Lobster Rolls
Makes 2 rolls

Ingredients:

½ pound lobster meat, mix of both tail and claw
1½ tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives (more for garnish)
2 -3 pinches cayenne pepper
2 top-split hot dog buns
2 tablespoons melted butter
lemon wedges

Chop the lobster meat into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently mix in the mayonnaise, celery salt, black pepper, chives and cayenne. Set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet or pan and brush the exterior of the buns with the melted butter. Toast the buns on both sides. Fill the buns with the lobster mixture and sprinkle additional chives on top (optional). Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

The other week I did a quick poll via Twitter and Facebook asking folks what Vietnamese dishes they’d like to see on the blog—well, other than Phở :)

I got a range of requests from Bún (Vermicelli Noodles) to Gỏi Cuốn (Spring/Summer Rolls) and even Bánh Mì (sandwiches).

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But truth be told, outside of the occasional Bánh Mì Chả Lụa (Vietnamese “Ham”/”Sausage” Sandwich), I rarely ever make Bánh Mì.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

By no means is Bánh Mì difficult to assemble but I’ve always been lucky enough to have local Bánh Mì shops nearby and at under 3 bucks a pop (and that’s on the high end), I have been just darn lazy. Yup, I admit it.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

At it’s base, Bánh Mì is made up of a toasted french baguette, pickled veggies, tons of cilantro, mayonnaise, and some type of protein. But don’t let it fool you. Just because it sounds simple, doesn’t mean the flavors aren’t genius!

Bánh Mì is all about balance. The great crunch from the baguette, savory flavors from the protein, bright notes from the herbs and the sweet/tangy aspects of the pickled veggies. Just Perfect.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But I realize not everyone has access to yummy Bánh Mì shops so I thought it would be fun to share a delish and easy method. For this particular Bánh Mì Gà Nướng, I used chicken thighs marinated with Chinese Five-Spice and Maggi Seasoning Sauce. In fact, this is how our mom would often marinade our poultry—including our Thanksgiving turkeys every year! The Five-Spice gives a deep, earthy flavor from the combination of star anise, cloves, and other goodness. Trust me, it’s amazing.

And with that friends—Ăn ngon! Stay tuned next week for another Vietnamese dish!

_________________________________________________________

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 6-inch Baguette Rolls, lightly toasted and sliced lengthwise
Five Spiced Chicken*
Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables)*
Mayonaisse*
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, washed and dried
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Small Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise


Five-Spice Chicken
:
6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 Tablespoon Five-Spice Powder
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables):
1 Cup Carrots, julienned
1 Cup Daikon Radish, julienned
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Boiling Water

Mayonnaise:
2 Large Egg Yolks, at room temperature
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped (optional)
2-3 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Prepare the marinade for the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the Five-Spice, sugar, and pepper. Stir in garlic, Maggi and oil until the dry ingredients have dissolved. Submerge the chicken into the marinade, being sure to coat both sides. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the vegetables and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the mayonnaise. In a blender, add all the ingredients except the oil. Pulse several times and then slowly drizzle in the oil until the mayonnaise has properly emulsified. Refrigerate until ready for use. *You can also use jarred mayonnaise to substitute*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and place the marinated chicken thighs on the sheet, skin side up. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into pieces.

Assemble the Bánh Mì. Spread a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise inside one side of each toasted baguette roll. Fill each roll with the chicken and drizzle a bit of the pan drippings over the meat. If desired, sprinkle with more black pepper. Fill the sandwiches with pickled vegetables, jalapeno and cucumber slices, and the cilantro. Enjoy!