Archive for the 'sandwiches' Category

Bacon & Tomato Jam

bacon tomato jam 3

Just when I think I’ve tried everything (not really, but some days are more uninspiring than others) something comes along that is so much better than the sum of its familiar parts. Had I flipped past a recipe for bacon and tomato jam I would have certainly done a double take, but I’m not sure this would have jumped off the page and grabbed me – but when Shauna came to visit in Tofino and brought a copy of their latest book, she looked me straight in the eye as she handed it to me and said, “try the bacon and tomato jam.”

roasted plum tomatoes

It seemed at first as if she was speaking in code, like I was meant to read more into her message. I wasn’t. She just meant to make it clear that I should make the damn jam. And so I did.

bacon tomato jam 4

This is not jam in the typical sense of the word – it’s sweet on account of the roasted tomatoes and bits of apple, but it’s not sugary, like strawberry jam or most almost candied bacon jams. It doesn’t gel, like breakfasty sorts of jams – it’s more a mash-up of delicious things. It’s not as tangy as chutney, but really its own thing – and I’m not exaggerating when I say I ate almost the whole batch straight from the pan with a fork, and barely saved enough to make a couple sandwiches.

bacon tomato jam 6

You start by roasting tomatoes, which is not really a big deal – halve them, spread them out on a sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until they sort of slump in on themselves, and start getting dark and caramelized on their edges. Then you get some bacon going in a pan, and some onion and garlic – and then the tomatoes and apple and balsamic. Somehow it comes together into something that’s completely divine – and almost a sandwich filling of its own accord.

bacon tomato jam 2

I would eat this striaght-up on toast. But why wouldn’t you add a fried egg?

bacon tomato jam 1

I took Shauna’s advice and spread it on bread, and added an egg – this on a crusty baguette, but you could of course use any kind of sandwich bread. Crusty seems like a good idea. Mike commented between bites that it tasted like something you’d get at a restaurant – at Market, or something – and I imagine it would elevate a grilled cheese quite nicely. I’ve had sandwiches on the brain since being asked to be a judge – along with Bob Blumer – of Canada’s Best Sandwich contest, hosted by ACE Bakery to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. There will be winners in each region, and each receive $1000 plus $1000 for their favourite charity. BUT. We then choose 4 finalists who get to fly to Toronto in October – with me! – and we spend a day cooking and then choosing a winner, who will receive $20,000 – $10,000 for our winner plus $10,000 for their favourite charity. How awesome is that? I love the charitable aspect – I would love to present one of my favourite charities with a cheque for ten grand. Wouldn’t that be grand? (And I would love to take my own ten and spend it on a new fridge/stove/dishwasher. Or a trip to Paris. Or take my niece to a soccer game in Spain. Or…)

But seriously. Try the jam.

Bacon & Tomato Jam

about 10 ripe plum tomatoes
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium shallots or 1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2-1 small apple, peeled and finely diced
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a rimmed sheet with foil or parchment.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and lay them cut-side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for an hour, until they start to shrivel and darken on the edges.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon in a drizzle of oil until it’s nicely browned. Set it aside on a plate, leaving the drippings.

Cook the shallots or onion and garlic for a few minutes, until it softens. Add the basil and cook for another minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute (it will reduce immediately) and then stir in the apples, browning them a bit. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking everything apart with a spoon (mostly the tomatoes) until it thickens. It won’t take long.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in the bacon. Keep cooking it, if you like, until it’s thicker and softer, and try not to eat it all out of the pan as you go.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups – enough for 4-6 sandwiches.

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September 20 2013 | preserves and sandwiches | 18 Comments »

Babybel Cheeseburgers & Garlic Cheese Fries

Babybel Burgers

At the beginning of the year, my friend Jan and I started a series we called Gatherings, a monthly post based on a time we had extra people around our table, or in our backyard – there have been birthday parties (OK, a few birthday parties) and a big pot of meatballs, pecan waffles with wine smoothies and music-inspired cocktails. I was in Toronto on Monday-Tuesday and we got together to work on a project and as we sat on the hotel room beds, laptops and books and room service calamari and wings spread across both, Jan, who is far more on the ball than I, pointed out that we were due for a post in a couple days. Apparently it’s the last week of August.


(People in Tofino gathering for their annual Lantern Festival at the botanical gardens 2 weeks ago.)

So yesterday, Jan wrote about cousin camp – an annual summer thing where she has her nieces and nephews over for an epic three-day sleepover – brilliant idea, don’t you think? And because I’m not in a position to host my own cousin camp this weekend, I thought I’d share some burgers we fed friends back in early June – an idea my own cousin (Steve!) shared with me. Or shared on Facebook and I saw it. Whatevs. They made us all very happy.

Babybel burgers 2

I thought these might come in handy if feeding people – or even just yourself – is a part of your long weekend plans. (If not, these might provide a reason to get a few pals together.) You take ground beef and shape a patty around a little wheel of Babybel cheese, then grill it. Brilliant, non? Babybel is such a smooth, creamy, melty cheese – it gets all gooey in the middle and lies in wait for you to release its ooze with your first bite. It’s an inside-out cheeseburger.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 10.58.15 PM

You could, of course, use whatever secret blend of ground meat, breadcrumbs and spices you love to make your burgers out of; my preferred method is to handle ground beef or bison as little as possible, sprinkling it with salt and pepper and that’s about it. Until those Babybels came along and made everything better. Shape the meat around the cheese, sealing it in. That’s about it.

Babybel Burger Collage

Once the cheese is gooey in the middle, you know your burger is cooked through.

A delicious doneness test.

Garlic cheese fries 2

Want fries with that? How about fries doused in garlic and Parmesan? Done.

Happy long weekend everyone! See you in September.

Garlicky Parmesan Fries

2 lb. russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into even sticks
¼ cup canola or olive oil (not extra-virgin)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with half the oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet. Roast the potatoes, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until pale golden and soft.

Whisk the garlic into the remaining oil. Remove the fries from the oven, drizzle with the garlicky oil, sprinkle with Parmesan and gently toss on the sheet to coat.

Turn the heat up to 450°F and bake for another 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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August 29 2013 | beef & bison and sandwiches and vegetables | 11 Comments »

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