Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Archive for the category “sandwich”

Three Year Tapenade


Happy Blogiversary to me!!! Rarely do I pursue things for long periods of time…consecutively. I do something, then I stop, then I do it again, then I begin something new…you get the idea. It is not that I leave things incomplete, but I will find a stopping point and then go in another direction. My longest recorded continuous successes are people related – being a daughter, a brother a friend, being hitched to Big D over ten years and being mommy to Little B for over five years. Other stuff, like jobs and hobbies are more in the realm of come-and-go. I think I can definitely say that this blog is getting some longevity – a few days ago I started my fourth year, so I have passed my third blogiversary! When I started three years ago it was intended to be a place to put recipes so I could get to them easily. My cookbooks did not always make the cut when we moved and consolidated, so my creations would sometimes be lost. Tracking it on a blog let me combine the availability I wanted, my desire to do some writing and my continued joy in taking pictures. It has become more than just a place to record my food journey, but that of my little family as well. It is a place where others can come and experience it with us. The blog has given me the opportunity to share stories of my childhood, my family, friends and our geographic journeys. The name of it came from the fact that I cook in whatever kitchen I come across.  If the kitchen is not mine the owners so far have generously shared their space with me. Thanks goes out to them and to you for checking in on occasion!

I celebrated the end of the first year with cheese stuffed jalapeno halves. Yum! The second year I did it with low carb cinnamon rolls. Double yum! This year I am taking a different slant, with a New Orleans theme.  I am taking a more savory slant this year with some tapenade. It is very easy and very flavorful. If you ever have a bunch of partially full jars of olives, like we often do, it is a great way to use them.

muffalettaThis is not the first time I have mentioned my family’s love for New Orleans. The New Orleans connection is the lovely sandwiches that first introduced me to tapenade when I was a kid. Muffuletta sandwiches are about as common in New Orleans as po’boy sandwiches and gumbo. They originated in the Central Grocery right there on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. When I first had one I could not get enough of the olive ‘salad’ in the sandwich. Between the olives and the meats and cheeses it was a very satisfying meal. To do a version of the sandwich that fits our eating habits I made up some one minute buns in the microwave, whipped up a batch of tapenade in the food processor and opened up a few packages of deli meats and cheeses. The picture to the left does not do it justice, but there is a thick layer of tapenade on the bread that is practically the same color. A blob of the tapenade sits next to it as proof! The tapenade leftovers will not go to waste – I have used it as a dip, a stuffing for chicken, pork and mushrooms. It has an addictive saltiness that, believe it or not, sates my salty snacking craving I used to appease by eating chips. Just a straight spoonful can do the trick! Please make a batch and toast me with a cracker or sandwich full!

Three Year Tapenade

2 cups mixed black and green olives, pitted
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup small capers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
1 anchovy fillet (optional)

Place all ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream while the mixture is blending on low speed, until mixture is an evenly sized paste. Serve as condiment for sandwiches, or with crackers as a dip. Store refrigerated in an air tight container.

To make a Muffuletta Sandwich: the traditional sandwich layers Italian meats (mortadella, salami, ham) and cheeses (mozzarella, provolone) in an alternating pattern, so there is a thick pile of it in the sandwich. The traditional bread is a large round focaccia-type loaf about 10″ in diameter, which can actually make about four sandwiches. On one side of your bread (or low carb individual muffins in our case) spread a thick layer of the tapenade. Layer your meats and cheeses until there is a healthy pile. Add the other half of the bread. Cut into portions and eat!

Don’t Have To Choose Salad


My food hankering today was conflicting. Do I want egg salad, tuna salad or guacamole? To take full advantage of my indecisiveness I decided to combine them all. I have never combined the three dishes before, so why not now? I wanted the flavor of all three to be present and also work together. I think I did a pretty good job, and it was a great way to use up the last avocado sitting on the counter – not enough for guacamole, or for topping a batch of chicken, but such a delicious thing shouldn’t go to waste. Tuna is a great way to add protein to a dish, even if there is already protein eking out of the avocado and egg. This salad was delicious sitting atop toasted Julian’s paleo bread. Reminded me of egg salad sandwiches on Lenten Fridays when I was a kid. We would have macaroni and cheese, salmon patties, tuna or egg salad. I understand the symbolism of no meat on Fridays, but feeling less lust or anger in the absence of meat on my part was not actually achieved. Feeling an excess of either was not an issue when I was a child, but one day a week is not what I consider an actual test. To get away from the nostalgic and dogmatic reasons for making the salad, it met my hankering and indecisive needs.

Don’t Have To Choose Salad

1 large ripe avocado
8 – 10 hard boiled eggs
1 5-ounce can tuna packed in water, drained
½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp stone ground mustard
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
Sprinkle of ground black pepper

In a large bowl mix yogurt, juice, mustard, salt, cumin, chili powder and pepper. Roughly chop eggs and avocado into pieces about the same size. Gently mix the tuna, avocado and eggs with the dressing, trying not to smash much of it. Chill for about an hour before serving.


Hero Sandwich

Hero, hoagie, sub…whatever you call it, it is a sandwich with sub-stance of hero-ic size. Heh. I love hero sandwiches, which come and all shapes and sizes, depending on where you are in the country. Personally like my bread/filling ratio about 1:1, but often I find bready versions with a sad amount of filling, so I would feel inclined to pass on such a sad sandwich. For this one I wanted to make sure it was hearty. My friend hurt herself and was laid up for a while. With three hungry sons I felt the need to take over a pile of food. One thing I thought her men (and she) might like was a sandwich piled with meat and cheese. Here is what I came up with, inspired a bit by the muffaletta sandwiches I adore in New Orleans. Yes. They make more than Po’ boys down there. These are quick to make and great for parties and picnics. Have fun at the end of summer and make one for your clan!

Hero Sandwich

1 loaf French bread (white or whole wheat)
1 ½ cups black olives
1 ½ cups green olives with pimentos
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces thin sliced salami
8 ounces thin sliced ham, honey or smoked
8 ounces thin sliced roast beef
8 ounces thin sliced turkey, smoked or roasted
6 ounces thin sliced Provolone cheese
6 ounces thin sliced cheddar cheese
6 ounces thin sliced Swiss cheese
6 – 8 long toothpicks

In food processor or blender add olives, garlic and olive oil. Pulse until it is a rough paste, adding a bit more oil if needed. Cut loaf in half lengthwise, leaving one long edge uncut, like a hinge. On the bottom and top halves of the loaf spread half the olive paste, making sure it gets spread all the way to the edges. Begin layering meats and cheeses, starting with meat – beef, cheddar, ham, Swiss, turkey, provolone, salami. Don’t be afraid to pile it on – you can smoosh it down later. If you are ready to serve, add any optional ingredients you like*. Close the sandwich and press down. Add toothpicks so they will be in the middle of each slice (about eight pieces). With a sharp knife or bread knife cut slices 1 – 2 inches thick. If you are not going to serve immediately, wrap the sandwich tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate, then when ready to serve, unwrap, add the toothpicks and slice.

*Optional ingredients (added right before cutting and serving) can include tomato slices, onion slices pickle slices and lettuce. Do not add these ingredients until right before serving, or offer them separately. They can make the sandwich soggy of they sit around in the sandwich for too long, and nobody likes a soggy hero.

Greek Burgers

I must confess. I am a Fed. I work in a tall building in a big complex with uber security at the door and a locked work area with a bunch of cubicles around me. I am a little cog in a huge rolling maze of cogs, but I enjoy the work. Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer cooking all day, but for now I am content with my work, which is challenging and never boring. This time of year is pretty busy for me, reflected by the fact it is longer than usual between posts. I have not cooked for days, but no suffering occurred during the drought. Big D made some wonderful stuff in the evenings and there was enough for me to very much look forward to leftovers at lunch. It will be another couple of months before things slow down, so I make no promises, but I have some yummy ideas – don’t give up on me. I will persevere and post post post! Cooking relaxes me and I cannot stay away from it for long, no matter what. Take these burgers, for example. I had a burger like this at a hole in the wall restaurant somewhere in Alaska. I can’t remember where, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – I had expected a hockey puck with sour cream on top, but it was fresh and wonderful. With no lamb in sight my version is a tangy, filling meal that reminds me of my beloved gyros (pronounced ‘yee-rohs’ in my opinion). I had to negotiate with Little B to use the last of our Greek yogurt for tzatziki. She loves it with a little stevia, cinnamon and vanilla for dessert, but I finagled enough from her for the recipe.

Greek Burgers

½ cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp oregano, roughly chopped
½ cup mint, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp lime juice (or 2 packets True Lime)
2 pounds ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup feta, crumbled
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
1 English cucumber, sliced in ¼” coins
1 tomato, sliced
½ red onion, thin julienne

1 cup cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp mint, finely chopped
2-3 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, finely ground

First make the tzatziki – doing it right before the meal works, but doing it the day before is better. Combine all ingredients together. Chill until time to serve. For patties whisk together the first eight ingredients. Pour mixture over ground beef in large bowl. Remove your rings, bracelets and watches, then get your hands dirty making sure the egg mixture is well combined with the beef. Squish it and squeeze it until all the herby bits are distributed. Form meat into patties about 4” wide and 1” deep. In large frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add patties and cook until seared, about five minutes. Flip patties and sear the other side. Cover and cook to desired doneness. On a bed of spinach and a layer of cucumber coins (either on a bun or directly on a plate) place a patty. Layer toppings – tomato slices, a glop of tzatziki, feta crumbles and onion. Dig in!


I prepared food for a party this weekend. It was far from the many Super Bowl parties going on – this one was a bunch of ladies getting together to have fun at a private home. Television off. Music and conversation on. They wanted some filling food without loading up on the calories, and nix the seafood. I have reliable recipes I’ve made for years, but also like the thrill (geez I need to get a life!) of trying a new recipe for the first time and serving it at a party. The centerpiece I made was a cake…sort of. It was a spin off of a smorgastarta. If you have never heard of such a thing, it is basically a layered sandwich frosted like a cake. The original version is popular in Sweden and served at parties – bread, herring mousse, cucumber, bread, smoked salmon, sauce, lettuce, bread, then frosted with a cream cheese/sour cream ‘frosting’. A beautiful version is described and presented at Panini Happy. Since the party would include people who are not partial to seafood, I came up with a version that is about as friendly to the masses as possible. How can I go wrong with chicken, ham and turkey? It was really fun to make, much prettier than an old fashioned sandwich tray and deeeelicious! The leftover bits and pieces from the garnish made a great salad. Heh. My garnish ended up looking a little different than I originally planned (and described below in the directions), but I just went with the flow and I like my results. Let them eat cake…


24 slices large whole wheat bread
1/2 cup Butter (room temperature)
4 ounces thin sliced ham (about 15 slices)
4 ounces thin sliced turkey (about 15 slices)
8 ounces thin sliced cheese
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
7 cups diced chicken (about seven chicken breasts)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup diced dill pickle
1/4 cup shredded onion
1 tsp curry
24 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
16 ounces sour cream (room temperature)
1 large round tomato
10-14 leaves of green/purple lettuce or flat leaf parsley sprigs
3 boiled eggs (10 minute boil)
1 tall red or yellow bell pepper
1 bunch green onions
1 large carrot

Make sandwich decorations and chill them while constructing cake:
-use peeler to make long thin ribbons from the carrot
-trim green onions until there is only 2″ of green above the white portion, then slice the green parts in quarters lengthwise, not cutting into the white
-make vertical cuts in radishes almost to the bottom four time around the radish
-place carrots, onions and radishes in ice water and set in fridge for at least an hour. The carrots will curl, the onion greens will curl and the radishes should open up and become ‘roses’.
-remove chilled vegetables from water and set on towel to dry (radishes and onions should be done in an hour, but carrots may take two hours to curl if thick)
-core bell pepper and slice horizontally, making rings

Peel tomato skin in one long ribbon to make a tomato rose. Lay it flat for about 30 minutes so it can relax and flatten out. It needs to be flat so you can roll it, otherwise it will try to keep the shape of the tomato and not roll tightly enough. When ready to decorate the cake, roll the skin like a roll of tape. One side of it will naturally form a rose. Garnish with some mint or basil leaves.

To make chicken salad combine chicken, mayonnaise, pickle, shredded onion and curry. Set aside.

Remove crust from all slices of bread. Butter one side of eight pieces of bread and place them butter side up in a rectangular shape on a serving tray. Spread chicken salad on bread, bringing as close to the edges as possible. Place a layer of cucumber on top of salad.

Butter both sides of eight pieces of bread and place on top of the cucumber. Arrange ham and turkey in loose rolls on bread, making sure slices are not pressed flat. Drizzle mustard over meat. Add a layer of cheese. Butter one side of eight pieces of bread and place butter side down on top of cheese.

Thoroughly blend together the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Use the mixture like frosting and cover the sandwich on top and all sides.

Press parsley sprigs or lettuce fans on side of frosted sandwich. Arrange egg slices, radishes, carrots, green onions, tomato roses and bell pepper rings on top to decorate. Chill sandwich for at least three hours before serving.

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