Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

This month brings me to Alaska again. By the time readers view this month's column, I'll be busily preparing for our flight to Anchorage and a 4 hour drive to the Kenai Peninsula. Here we will spend 10 days touring, fishing and enjoying the 20 plus hours of light in the Great Land. After my return, I'll be certain to have a few new fish recipes for readers to try.

However, as much as I like fish, I also like to prepare simple foods that are easy to make and require minimal effort. So, this month I've decided to share three of my favorite sandwich recipes. The first of these is Grilled Cheese, an all American favorite. Grilled cheese sandwiches are great for lunch and even dinner if served with the proper accompaniments. Second on the list is Beef Dip, or as it is sometimes called, French Dip Sandwich. I generally serve this sandwich on French rolls, sweet or sourdough, with au jus on the side. Finally, I present an all time favorite, the BLT or bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I've added a few suggestions to make this sandwich a cut above the rest.

The main ingredient in any sandwich is the bread. You can easily change the character of any sandwich by changing the type of bread that you use. I provide below my recommendations on the types of bread to use for these recipes. You may use a different kind of bread, but the results won't be the same.

Now, on to the recipes! Be well, and good eating!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Quick and easy to make, grilled cheese is great to make for a quick snack or fast lunch. I prefer to use Orowheat Honey Wheatberry bread for grilled cheese. I like this bread because it is dense and wholesome and has a great flavor. Rye bread, however would work quite well with Swiss cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches are also great for picnics.

For cheese, I usually use Velveeta. However, American, Cheddar or Swiss are all good for grilled cheese. I have even used Havarti for grilled cheese sandwiches and they came out great. Use whatever cheese tastes good to you.

  • 4 slices bread
  • 2 slices cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. butter

Heat a skillet large enough for 2 sandwiches over medium heat and add half the butter. Place 2 slices of bread in the skillet to absorb the butter. Place the sliced cheese on top of each bread slice and top with a second slice of bread. Cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes and then carefully turn the sandwich, keeping the bread and cheese together. Cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and drip out the side of the sandwich. Add more butter if necessary. I always cook the sandwich long enough so that the bread becomes browned and a little crispy on the outside.

Once cooked, cut each sandwich in half diagonally and serve with a small bowl of cut mixed fruit.

Variations: Try adding a slice of ham, pastrami, Canadian bacon or smoked salmon on top of the cheese before covering with the second slice of bread. Or, try adding a tablespoon of your favorite salsa to give grilled cheese that Mexican flair.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Beef Dip Sandwich

One of my all time favorites, a beef dip sandwich makes for a very filling meal. I prefer to use sourdough sandwich rolls, however sweet rolls are also good. Do not use regular bread or the sandwich will just fall apart and you will have to eat it with a spoon.

You can purchase sliced roast beef at your deli. You can also purchase Au Jus mix in most markets. Lowrey's and McCormick's both make good Au Jus mixes.

  • 1 lb. sliced roast beef
  • 3 sliced sandwich rolls
  • Au Jus mix prepared according to package directions

Here is how I prepare my sandwiches: Combine water to the Au Jux mix in a pot and heat, mixing well. One the juice is heated, dip small portions of the sliced meat into the juice using tongs, leave the meat in the juice just long enough to heat, and then transfer to the sandwich roll. Divide the meat evenly between the 3 rolls. Once assembled, cut the sandwiches in half and pour the remaining Au Jus into small bowls for dipping and serve hot. Serve with fries or a salad.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

As American as apple pie, the BLT has to be one of the old sandwich standbys. This is a sandwich you can get very creative with. Again, I prefer the honey wheatberry bread for this sandwich, but any type of sliced bread will do.
  • 1 lb. thick sliced bacon, fried crisp
  • 8 slices bread
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 4 to 5 leaves of lettuce, washed and dried
  • Mayonnaise to taste

First, fry and drain bacon. Apply mayonnaise to bread and fill with bacon, lettuce and tomato. Slice sandwiches diagonally after assembly and serve with pickles and olives.

Variations: Add some sliced avocado to each sandwich. You may also add alfalfa sprouts for a nutritional boost. Consider using Canadian bacon for this sandwich rather than regular sliced bacon. To make a club sandwich, add an extra layer of bread (for a triple decker) and fill the extra layer with sliced turkey and ham.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes