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Dos Lunas Grilled Cheese & Plum Chutney Sandwich

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Red juicy plums got me in trouble this time. I saw them at the market and when I grabbed them I could feel the juicy flesh of the fruit. I bought some and ate 3 on the way home, and then I went back to the market and bought some more. I think too many… so what to do with an extra pound of plums? “Chutney!”, I open my fridge what else did I have available? Oh! Yes, jalapenos! No matter what, I always have fresh jalapenos in my fridge.. (ask Ian) A little spicy green chile will always save you and kick up the flavor of any meal. I had some ginger (not too shabby) some cinnamon (great spice and aromatic) I was not even thinking about it when I realized I was already making the chutney… My mouth waters.. Juicy and sweet red plums chunks, a hint of spice from the jalapeno, aromatic cinnamon and fresh ginger to brighten up the flavor! The kitchen smelled like a sinful geisha wardrobe. (oops rewind that!) It smelled great, so I had to try it… where? In what? With what?… On a melted ham and cheese sandwich! Oh yes my friends, a sinful combination. One more time, before my eyes something so simple can become so ridiculously good.

Although, to be honest the major protagonist of this sandwich act, is the Classico cheese from Dos Lunas.

I first sampled Dos Lunas cheese at our local farmer’s market and I loved it from the start. Its made by a local artisan cheese maker named Joaquin Avellan, a Venezuelan transplant who missed his families’ cheese so much he began to make his own here in Texas. He makes several varieties from local UNPASTUERIZED cow’s milk. This allows his cheese a greater complexity of flavor which is normally ruined by heat when the milk is pasteurized. Due to regulations, unpasteurized cheese can only be sold in the US after being aged two months, hence Dos Lunas (Two Moons).

I chose his ‘Classico” cheese for this recipe because of its melting qualities and particular flavor. This cheese  has some nutty notes and taste like the grass in Schulenburg, Tx where 60 happy cows produce the milks that this amazing cheese is made off. Its creaminess greatly complements the plum chutney and smokey salty ham. This cheese Its also great as a stand alone to eat all on its own. If you’re curious about picking up some of this ‘Classico cheese’, follow the link at the end of this entry.

This delicious spicy plum chutney over melted Dos Lunas Classico cheese piled on some thinly sliced smoked ham on sprouted wheat bread will send you over the moon…or two.

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Dos Lunas Grilled Cheese & Plum Chutney Sandwich.

Makes 2

4 tablespoons of Red Plum, jalapeno chutney Enough cheese to make you smile!…I used Dos Lunas Classico it melts beautifully!, if you are not in Austin, Texas, you can use: Emmental, Swiss or Baby Swiss.

4 thin slices of smoked ham or Bavarian ham.

4 bread slices ( I used 7 seeds-sprouted whole wheat bread)

2-4 tablespoons of butter.

Vegans & Vegetarians: You can use any firm tofu, it will be fantastic if you saute the tofu to give extra crust. And shredded carrots with a little bit of sea salt to substitute the ham.

Use any Vegan margarine spread or coconut oil to give the bread a crusty top, It will be a fantastic sandwich!

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Red Plum – Jalapeno & Ginger Chutney

Makes 2-3 cups

8-12 ripe Red plumps pitted and cut in quarters and eights.
¼ cup sugar (mascabado, or raw)
6 tablespoons of agave nectar
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1-2 small diced jalapenos
1-2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 stick of mexican cinnamon
A dash of ground clove.

Making the chutney:

Over medium high heat in a stainless steel pan place the plums, sugar, agave and cinnamon stick. Let the plums warm trough about 4-5 minutes. Once that the sugar and agave start looking bubbly, add the grated ginger, diced jalapenos, cider vinegar, olive oil and the dash of clove. Let simmer for about 5-6 minutes, until the juices look translucent and some of the plums have started to get soft and you can smash them easily with a spoon. Turn off the heat and set aside.

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Built your sandwich:

Spread butter one side of the two bread slices and place in hot griddle or pan. Build your sandwich on one slice starting with the ham, then 2 tablespoons of the chutney then cover with sliced Dos Lunas cheese. Toast the bread slices in the pan for 2-3 minutes until the buttered side gets color. Then place the pan under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes. Finally top the melted cheese and other ingredients with the plain toasted slice to create your sandwich. Eat while very warm!!! A nice glass of beer or milk will go great…enjoy.   To learn more about Dos Lunas and how to get some of their cheese:  www.doslunascheese.com Dos-Lunas-Grilled-Cheese-&-Plum-Chutney-Sandwich_triangles_Yes,-more-please!

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To learn more about Dos Lunas and how to get some of their cheese:  www.doslunascheese.com

The cheese used in this recipe was donated by Dos Lunas Cheese….Thank you Joaquin!

 

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Escabeche Pickled Vegetables

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 What makes a sandwich great? The bread, the mustard, meat, or cheese? There are all kind of protagonist components that contribute to such a production. But, how about the supporting cast? Potato chips, salads and “the pickle” that green creature on the side of the plate almost invisible and that after the 3 bite of your sandwich you start looking for it.. where is it? Under the waxy paper? Far away in the refrigerator, last shelf oops! We are out of pickles! Suddenly you are missing him badly… If the word sandwich had an accent or a semicolon it will definitely be the “pickle”.

That’s what this recipe is all about, the supporting cast. That accent of a meal, sandwich, sea food, any fried concoction, needs a balance of a crunchy salty acidic note to spice up your meal.
Escabeche is one of hundreds of pickled recipes the Spaniards introduced to Mexico after having borrowed them from the Arabs and Persians. It has many different variations. In Mexico it is more commonly served with seafood, fish, or pork. And yes, the well known street food “the torta”(which is the equivalent of the american sandwich) that is almost always accompanied by the well-known infamous pickled jalapeño that comes with carrots and onions.

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This Escabeche vegetable medley recipe is all the “supporting cast” I desire when I’m eating a sandwich: potatoes, pearl onions, mushrooms, carrots and jalapeños. Sweet, starchy, crunchy, spicy mix all marinated in a tangy spiced slightly sweet vinegar. And please don’t limit your self this cast; okra, cauliflower, green beans, can be included…what ever rocks your boat. You can serve this over a bed of spinach and Romaine lettuce combining the vinegar with some extra virgin olive oil for a vinaigrette as a first course salad. Or as a simple informal appetizer with a beer on the side. You can marinate some cooked shrimp, a side for fried fish… I can go on and on…
Now, this is a refrigerator pickling method and its best to let it marinate over night. It will last in the refrigerator for about 3-4 weeks (if you are a self controlled person); Because for me every time I open the refrigerator my saliva glands start to contract my mouth waters, my tong shrinks just by looking at them, and before I know I have a fork in my hand to snack on them… so let’s get started…

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Escabeche Pickled Vegetables

Makes about 6 -8oz  jars or  1 large 48oz jar.

1 lb. little red new potatoes cut in halves and cook al-dente.
4-6 carrots cut in ¼” thick round slices, blanched and drain.
1 lb. button white mushrooms or cremini cut in halves
1 lb. white pearl onions, peeled and halve the larger ones.
6-8 Fresh jalapeños cut into 1/4” round slices

Cauliflower florets, green beans, can also be added to this vegetable escabeche. The proportions between chiles and vegetables is up to you, just consider that the more chiles the more spicy the vegetables will be. 

For the pickling brine:

1/3 cup  Sun flower, or Grape seed oil or any mild flavor oil

1 cup of Apple Cider vinegar or Rice vinegar.
1 cup of distill Vinegar
1 -1/2 cups of water
4 garlic cloves
4 Bay leafs
4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
2 sprigs fresh Oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dry Oregano
1 teaspoon black peppercorns.
3  Tablespoons of pickling spices
1/4 cup of turbinado sugar or white sugar, taste it, some people likes the brine tangier or sweeter.
1 tablesspoon sea salt, adjust salt to your taste.

Method:

In a large pot sauté with oil the pearl onions and garlic for about 2-3 minutes. Add the chiles Jalapeños and sauté until bright green. Add water, vinegar, salt, sugar and spices bring it to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Turn off add the fresh herbs, cover and let it steep for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes mushrooms and cauliflower florets. Let it rest for 30-45 minutes, once is cool down place it into a jar or glass container. (it is always best to use glass) Keep in the refrigerator, give them a little shake-arooh very now and then. These Escabeche Pickled Vegetables get better with time, wait for at least 1-2 days before ready to eat. Enjoy!

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~ Escabeche Pickled Vegetables are a  great little nibbling with a beer ~

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Music Pairing: Cafe Tacuba- Maria

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Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

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So I’ve being counting the days to tomato season, since is one of my favorite times of the year I’m in heaven. I live in Austin Texas and my mainly source of vegetables is a small urban farm call Boggy Creek, they open Wednesdays and Saturdays 8am-1pm two of the happiest days of my week. This year they have harvested: Heirlooms Cherokee Purple, Prudent Purple, Azoyscka, Oaxacan Jewel, Green Zebra, Regular Tomatoes ; Big read super fantastic, lemon boy, cherry and cherry gold tomatoes!!!…. This Farm resembles me a bit of my Mexico. The camaraderie, the beautiful freshly cut vegetables, and also and most important “seasonal produce”. Waiting for the seasons creates a momentum between the ingredient and me I crave them. I imagine new dishes and the expectation grows momentum. Cooking with ingredients at their peak of the season is just about the best you can hope for when you are creating a dish. Little preparation is required to enjoy them. I compare them to a string quartet, where everybody is supporting the first violin.This recipe is one of the many examples of this string quartet ensemble, where the Tomatoe has the solo part and its accompaniments make it shine… lets start cooking!

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Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

Serves 4 – Prep time 10 min.

Use at least 3 different kinds of tomatoes, choose what ever look best to you at your farmer market.
For the salad I made I used:

1 Heirloom Oaxacan Jewels
1 Heirloom Cherokee purple
1 Big Red super fantastic
2 Green Zebra
10-12 Cherry tomatoes
Arugula
Fresh Goat cheese
Fresh sprig of Thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
about ½ teaspoon per plate of Rice Vinegar
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Directions:

Slice the  tomatoes a little less than ½ inch. Quarter the smaller tomatoes like the green zebras, half the cherry tomatoes. On a Large platter (or in 4 plates) place a light bed of arugula, and approximately one big slice of the heirloom, one slice of the Cherokee Purple, some quarters and halves of the little ones. Theres no rules, you can balance the plate as you like. Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil and ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar per plate, goat cheese crumbs, sea salt pepper and fresh thyme. Serve.

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Honey Jalapeno Corn Bread

Adapted from : “Boggy Creek Farm recipe”

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1 cup of Corn Meal (use the best kind you can find, organic and non-GMO is always preferable)
I used our local, Larry’s Fresh-ground Corn Meal
(Organic, non-GMO fresh Texas Dent Corn from Coyote Creek Organic Mill)
1 Tablespoon of Aluminum- free Baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 or 2 pinches of paprika
1 cup Milk (you can substitute almond, soy or rice milk)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of Honey (I used Local Texas Honey off course!)
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.( you also can use Butter, Canola, Coconut Oil)
½ -1/3 of a cup fresh corn kernels
Thin slices of fresh Jalapeno Pepper.
– 2 extra teaspoons of Oil for Pan-

Directions:

Preheat the oven at 400* F degrees.

Measure all your Ingredients and Place a small 8” Cast Iron skillet in the oven to heat. Add the 2 teaspoon of Oil.
Combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients mixture into Dry mix. Stir until combined small lumps are allowed. Add fresh corn Kernels to the Mix.
Carefully using an oven mitt at all times, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into the hot skillet, quickly top the batter with the thin jalapeno slices,drizzle a little more honey, bake for about 20-25 minutes until a light golden top. Take the skillet to the table to serve warm with the salad.

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*Note: For the summer if you are grilling you can bake this on top of the grill just cover the pan with a lid, it will be fantastic and smokey. This meal will go so well with any light or amber beer. Take into consideration that you can substitute any herbs, I’m just in love with Tomatoes and Thyme, I think the aromatic lemony taste of the thyme goes perfect with tomatoes…. is my new fav! Enjoy.

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