Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Week 45 - Sandwiches

For the 52 week cooking challenge, they usually announce the themes a few weeks in advance to give you some time to prepare. The theme for Week 45 was sandwiches, which I noted in my prep list, but I had no idea what to make. I had made sandwiches for other challenges before, so I figured this would probably be one of those weeks where we just ate something familiar or ordinary since there was no particular sandwich I was really inspired by. That all changed when we got back from London during sandwich week.

Ever since we've been back, I've been obsessed with the flavors of the cheese toastie that we got at Kappacasein in London's Borough Market. It was one of my absolute must try foods when we went out to London, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I'm going to save most of my thoughts on the actual sandwich for a proper Kappacasein recap post, but I'll just say that it was so good that it inspired me to try to make a toastie just like it. (As an aside, while we were in London, we were watching some food show on TV where a guy was talking about how traveling gives him lots of ideas for foods to cook at home. That kept popping into my head as I was prepping the toastie. Seems like maybe I got the message there.)

Lucky for me, Borough Market has the recipe for Kappacasein's three cheese toastie online. I knew mine wouldn't be as good as the original, as they use more cheeses, which are also all high quality and locally produced, and not only are they way more experienced at making them, but they make them on presses that have been making cheese toasties for hours, soaking up all of that flavor. I just hoped it would be good enough for dinner. A cheese toastie is basically a grilled cheese sandwich, which I've made and posted about before, but the way they make it in their recipe was different, so I decided it was a good "challenge."

To make sandwiches for 2 people, I used:

- 4 slices of sourdough bread ($1)
- 1 tbsp of butter ($0.20)
- 1.5-2 cups of grated cheese * ($2.99)
- about 1/4 cup of finely chopped leeks ($0.15)
- about 1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion ($0.20)

* Kappacasein uses a combo of 3 cheeses. I found a cheddar and gruyere melange at Trader Joe's so I picked that since it sort of covered similar cheeses as their cheddar and comte cheeses.

The total for the sandwiches was approximately $4.54. For 2 toasties that were pretty filling, that's not too bad. Most of the cost is of course the cheese, but tasty cheese doesn't come cheap. I forgot that the original recipe mentioned garlic, so I didn't use any, but that wouldn't have added much more to the cost. I'm not sure it needed it.

The process for making the toasties was:

1. Prep - chop leeks, chop red onion, grate cheese, melt butter, butter bread.

2. Assemble sandwich. On the non-buttered side, add a thick layer of grated cheese. Then spread a layer of leeks and red onions. Top with additional cheese and lightly pat down. Add other slice of bread with the buttered side on the outside.

3. Place sandwich (carefully) in a non-stick pan, and place another frying pan on top to weigh it down. Allow it to cook for a few minutes without moving. Flip and allow to continue cooking. Keep flipping and cooking until sandwich is as browned as you like.

I learned a lot of things from Kappacasein's cheese toastie recipe. The first was to use sourdough bread, because the cheese will go through the holes of the bread when grated, and the sandwich tastes even better that way. The second was to actually use grated cheese instead of slices, as it made the cheese ever stringier and allowed it to fill in the open holes of the bread. I never considered the grated cheese thing before, but it came out great. I also never put a pan on top of grilled cheese before when making it to flatten the sandwich, but I think it cooked better that way. The cheddar-gruyere mix was a perfect cheese to use, and the leeks and onions added delicious flavors as they cooked into the cheese.

I still think the Kappacasein original was better, but this was a really tasty sandwich. We both really liked it, and from an ocean away, were quite satisfied with this. Maybe the best grilled cheese to be made in our kitchen other than the kimchi grilled cheese that I never posted about (except in my favorites list). We would definitely make this again, and honestly, I'm not sure we would change a thing. This was a great way to celebrate National Sandwich Day yesterday.

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