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Entree/ Pork/ Sandwiches

Pork Burger with Blue Cheese and Grilled Peaches

Who doesn’t love a good burger?

Back in my high school “burger days”  (the 60’s)the only place we would go for a good burger was Knox’s Drive-In. Whether it was with my now husband or my twin sister, Terry and a group of friends that was our go to place for a burger and hanging out. That might have been about the only place back then to get a burger. The Drive-In is now closed but to this day I can still remember the phone number and that is mainly because whenever we would go back home for a visit our three kids always wanted a “Knox’s Burger”. What a burger it was, a thin patty that you could actually get your mouth around topped with my favorite mustard, pickle, onion and slaw. Not any ordinary slaw either; simple finely chopped cabbage with maybe a little pickle juice and tiny bit of mustard.

Fast forward to current times and you’ll find burgers that could feed four people and have to be dissected to get it in your mouth. I’ve never had an egg on a burger and that’s one trend I hope is over. Those poor chickens have been working overtime to provide eggs for “put an egg on it” menu items.

This pork burger is a recipe I found in Erin French’s new cookbook The Lost Kitchen. The Lost Kitchen is one of my favorite Magnolia networks new shows. Erin has her Lost Kitchen restaurant in Freedom, Maine and the only way to get a reservation for the 6 months a year she is open is to send a postcard in sometime in April and hope they see it and you make it on their reservation list. I’m still looking for a Round Top post card that might catch her attention. Maybe I need one that says “90 population” and she’ll think “that girls needs a night out”.

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Entree/ Pork/ Sandwiches

Cassoulet Toast

Not the time consuming two day project of a traditional cassoulet.

What is a cassoulet you say? Well if you like white beans then let me tell you about this cassoulet. No it isn’t a casserole it’s a slow cooked dish (maybe casserole would be a stretch) that contains meats like bacon, pork sausage, ham, pork skin, duck and can have goose or mutton.

Making a traditional (French) cassoulet would take you a couple of days at least. By the time you make your duck confit and prep everything and then cook for hours the next day, you have invested a lot of time into what you might think is just beans and ham. The first time I we made this (or Paul/Scott made it) we did the confit one day and we used dried beans and not canned beans. It gets stirred during the day while cooking so the crusty top layer gets pushed to the bottom. If you want to see their results look here.

I won’t go into more details in making the tradition version because this Cassoulet Toast is easy. I first saw the recipe at David Lebovitz’s site and was one he had made from Susan Spungen’s book The Open Kitchen. Susan is a cook, food stylist, recipe developer and author. I started following her on Instagram because of her food pictures and now I own her book and can’t wait to try some of her recipes.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Sandwiches

Deviled Egg Salad and Asparagus Tartines

A favorite food into a sandwich.

Don’t you just love finger foods? And, especially those little finger sandwiches. Whether it’s the softness of the bread that holds your toppings or the crunch of toasted, crustless bread slices topped with some savory concoction, you want to try them on first sight and you will probably go back for another one.

Little sandwiches/savories/sweets makes me want to make a pot of tea. I’ve been buying tea from The Tea Embassy in Austin for about 10 years and it’s the only place I’m going to place an online order. I will pick up specialty teas when I travel because I like to try different teas but I always go back to my Almond Cookie Green Tea from the Tea Embassy as one of my favorites or the Green Walnut tea is also a favorite of mine. And a pot of tea is just what I wanted when I made these little sandwiches. Or, if not in the mood for a cup of tea how about a bottle of champagne.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Sandwiches

Goldenrod Finger Sandwiches

Apricot and Pimento Cheese, Yum!

My craft circle auctioned off another tea this past November and it was so much fun putting together the menu for 20 ladies to enjoy.

I love tea foods; savories, sweets, the scones, the jam and clotted cream and of course the different kinds of teas I like to try. For this tea we served Georgian Village and Versailles Blend. One of my favorites is a Green Walnut tea and an Almond Cookie tea both of which I buy from the Tea Embassy in Austin (online). We gave those teas as part of their favors they picked up on their way home. I like to add in a little Amuse Bouche for an opener. In case you didn’t know an Amuse Bouche is a little bite that is meant to show the chef’s style. A little mouth amuser. I first had one in NYC and before that I had never heard the term. This made the perfect little bite to go with the Blackberry Thyme Champagne Cocktail we served.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Sandwiches

Roast Beef Rose Tea Sandwich

Sweet little rose sandwiches for Christmas!

I love having tea at different places and after visiting tea at the Fairmont Hotel in Victoria, Canada and then again at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and many other places I still prefer my tea sandwiches and savories. I usually want things a little less traditional than a pimento or chicken salad sandwich or smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread and it is so much fun coming up with beautiful food for a tea party.

If you need a little appetizer over the holidays, here’s one that was a tea favorite at a friends tea we did this fall.

I love little bites of food and I think it is more fun to graze on a lot of little finger foods than to sit down with a big plate full of food. And this was the perfect little tea sandwich — a lightly toasted baguette topped with some horseradish sauce, arugula leaves and a roast beef rose. How much easier can it get.

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Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ Sandwiches

Shrimp Salad on Puffed Pastry Bread

Don’t you love, crisp, thin, crunchy things?

Ya know how you get an idea stuck in your head and can’t stop thinking about it? Well, I do that all the time. Five or six years ago I was watching one of Giada’s cooking show and she made this turkey sandwich with crisp pieces of puffed pastry. The puffed pastry wasn’t baked the normal way where it gets about two inches high (I am not a fan) but was sandwiched between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper and baked until crisp and brown.

I started thinking about doing this sandwich for a “back to school” post but then what kid is going to take a puff pastry sandwich to school. Maybe same kid that would have a pig roast for his first birthday (grandson Donovan). He might not like puff pastry either but I’m sure you will like this “bread” with either a spread or just put some freshly sliced lunchmeat with some avocado and mayo and have the crunchiest flakiest sandwich ever.

When my kids were in school seems like all they wanted for lunch was either pbj or turkey on white bread of course, plain, no mayo or mustard. When I was growing up my favorite sandwich was probably a thick slice of bologna on white bread with mustard or an egg sandwich made like a toad in a hole but with two slices of bread.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Sandwiches

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese, the most beloved sandwich spread.

What was your sandwich of choice when you were a kid? I could never turn down a bologna sandwich on WHITE bread with mayonnaise or mustard and a handful of potato chips added before putting on the top slice of bread and then it gets a good press down to crunch the chips up. Or, one of my top picks would have to be a pimento cheese sandwich on toast with a side of Fritos and dill pickle slices. I was never a peanut butter and jelly kid. I don’t think I ever ate peanut butter and jelly when I think back on it. A peanut butter sandwich for me is just PB no jelly and that’s it.

Everyone has their cherished recipe for pimento cheese; that is if you like the creamy cheesy spread. How many recipes for pimento cheese have you tried to come up with the best ever spread. And how many more recipes are there out there anyway? Are you always making PC the way your mother did? I guess I have for years and I’ve always started with Velveta cheese, adding some pimento and mayonnaise and that’s about it. I’m sure you are shuttering with the Velveeta cheese ingredient and the fact that it’s not a real cheese but that is what we grew up on. Over the last few years I’ve tried using some grated cheese and didn’t care for it then I started paying attention to chef’s saying not to use the pre-grated cheeses because it has a coating on it and does not work well in recipes.

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Egg Dishes/ Morning Foods/ Sandwiches

Avocado Toast

Get up, it’s time for breakfast!

Did your mother ever tell you breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Maybe she was right but seems like there are a lot of studies out trying to prove it is not so. Well you can decide for yourself if you want to eat breakfast or not. In my opinion if you don’t eat breakfast you’re going to be even hungrier at lunch time.

We don’t always eat breakfast when we travel; sometimes we just take an early lunch. The day I had Avocado Toast at Willa Jean’s in New Orleans it was for a “late” lunch after visiting the WWII museum. Believe me, by the time I walked to Willa Jeans, I had no trouble eating the whole piece of toast. There are so many creative breakfast ideas I have picked up from restaurants and they have all seem to have changed my opinion on breakfast not being my favorite meal of the day; it still isn’t my favorite but I do have an arsenal of things I like making for breakfast/brunch when we have company.

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Appetizers/ Salads/ Sandwiches

Smoked Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Roasted Pecans

Not for a sandwich kind of chicken salad.

Back when we were first married my husband always wanted me to put apples in our tuna fish salad sandwiches. Yuck, I would say, fruit doesn’t belong on a sandwich and if he wanted apples in his then he would chop some up and put on his sandwich. When it comes to any creamy type salad that goes on a sandwich my opinion is NO fruit.

But, I have changed my mind over the years (not about fruit on sandwich) about adding fruit to things like chicken salad. There are so many chicken salads that have fruit like grapes, oranges, pineapple and this one has dried cranberries. To me this type salad has to be eaten with a fork or in this case I’m using some endive leaves and radicchio as little containers and also some crackers on the side. And funny thing, the day after my bunco group ate this my husband wanted some for lunch and he said do you have any bread, and I said Noooo, you can’t have bread with that kind of chicken salad. I know that’s crazy but I gave him a fist full of crackers instead.

There are two things I always feel like make a salad recipe better, that is, if it calls for chicken or nuts you use smoked meat and roasted nuts. I do my nuts in the microwave on a Pampered Chef small baking stone and we always have something on the Kamado Joe Smoker I can use in a salad.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Sandwiches

Egg Salad with Avocado on Baguette

A quick and easy little appetizer.

I saw a post at for a breakfast baguette with scrambled eggs and avocado on a baguette and decided I would try a different spin on her recipe, since scrambled eggs are my least favorite method of preparing eggs, and make an easy appetizer using egg salad, avocado and some finely diced tomato. It turned out to be one of the easiest appetizers I’ve made and pretty tasty too.

Egg salad is one of those things that I’m sure everyone makes. It can be put on top of cucumber slices, made into finger sandwiches, rolled in a tortilla for a wrap or just top a cracker with it. I want mine on a crispy garlic baguette mixed with a little avocado, tomato and garnished with some minced fried bacon pieces. Stuff it in celery or in a tomato or put some in endive boats; stuff it in a hollowed out baguette and then slice it up or roll some of it up in small pieces of smoked salmon or put it on a good ole Ritz cracker. You decide what you want to do with it and if you come up with an idea other than what I have mentioned, please leave a note in the comment section below.

Egg salad can fit any occasion — I think egg salad is probably the most versatile spread one can make. And, the mixture can be jazzed up with some dill weed, tarragon or any other herb of your choosing. Capers, celery, and relish can also be added. This is one of those recipes that “you can make your own”. Just try it on a buttered, crusty, toasted baguette slice.

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Entree/ Sandwiches

The Ultimate Patty Melt

A Diner special…..

I feel like I have led a very sheltered life when it comes to sandwiches; bologna – yes, ham and cheese – yes, some great pulled pork – yes, reuben – yes, pimento cheese, tuna and the usual sandwich spreads; but I have never had a patty melt. So, it’s just a hamburger you say, well this so called burger wanna be was great. Every bite crunchy from the toasted rye bread and the cheese gooey because it was browned very slowly.

The Patty Melt is a sandwich that is probably on every diner’s menu and I read it originated in the 40’s-50’s from California restaurateur Tiny Naylor. He had, I think, one of the first drive-in diners. The sandwich isn’t a grilled cheese, it isn’t a burger or a reuben; it’s a mixture of all of those. American, cheddar or Swiss can be used or in this case, I’m using white cheddar and Swiss so I get a little more goo. You want an oval shaped patty also so it will fill all corners of your rye bread.

From everything I have read on the subject of Patty Melts a good light colored rye bread is a must and you want to have a big heaping pile of caramelized onions ready to top the patty. Some other tips I read about are make sure your patty is thin and “oval” in shape (mine wasn’t because I had this big pile of meat and wanted to use it), use mayonnaise instead of butter to spread on the “outside” of the bread before toasting because it has a higher smoke point (I’m using both), and the sandwich bread is grilled (not toasted).

I’m breaking with tradition and adding two strips of bacon. What more can I say about a hamburger crossing over to become this delicious sandwich. Serve this with some french fries (I did a salad) and sit back and enjoy this fantastic sandwich.

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Appetizers/ HotApp/ Sandwiches

Hawaiian Pork Sliders

Let these little gems slide off your plate and into your mouth.

I have never seen the beautiful waters of Hawaii or taken a bike ride down the side of a volcano, or seen the pineapple fields or been there to bring back cans of macadamia nuts to friends or even sat on the beach enjoying the hula dancers as we chowed down on an elaborate luau.

It’s been a year since my daughter and her husband got married (how time flies). They had such a beautiful wedding and then honeymooned in Hawaii so I thought I would make these little Hawaiian Pork Sliders on their anniversary.

These little sliders are great for any kind of party whether it’s at home, a tail gating party or even your bunco group which is where I’m taking mine. You can serve these open face or closed on the toasted Hawaiian roll.

I don’t normally use Hawaiian rolls because they are sweet, but I think for this little slider with grilled pork, a crunchy slaw with a little pineapple and a kick of Texas heat they make the perfect bun. If you don’t want to serve this on the buns, just do the pork tenderloin with the sauce and serve with whatever sides you want. I think lining a dish with the slaw and putting the pork tenderloin in the middle and a then drizzle with a little of the sauce would be a beautiful presentation.

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