Category Archives: sandwich

Savory Potato Boxty Bread Recipe

This winter is the neverending story, and today we had yet another mini snow storm. However, it is St. Patrick’s Day, about the time we invite some spring into our lives and table travel to the Emerald Isle of soda bread and potatoes.

The apple tree branches I put in the water last week upon pruning our fruit trees have given tiny pastel green burgeons. They make some wonderful spring house decorations and an amazing background to feature the Irish savory potato soda bread called Boxty we baked for today’s particular occasion. Ready to follow? Buckle up to this fine old school gem of Sleepy Maggie’s Canadian rendition performed by an icon fiddler Ashley MacIsaac and scroll the images first to determine if this recipe will hook you up.
The word Boxty stems from the old Irish bacstaí, which means ‘poor house bread’ and pertains to the mix of flour and potato from which you can make a pancake or bread.  This Irish rural recipe is believed to have been created during the times of famine to feed big families and make potatoes, which were the only means of survival, stretch further.  The pancake or loaf was served with milk and salt and Irish kids used to call it ‘dippity’. Today Boxty is a huge come back food trend in Ireland and potato bread and pancakes are served in restaurants all over the country.
Obviously, the Boxty Bread is a tribute to the Irish terroir, which includes:
DILL or CARAWAY seeds, sea salt, pepper, BAKING SODA
Mixed together, they make quick and tasty savory bread. Note: you do need to prepare a piece of cheesecloth to drain the grated potatoes for the recipe.
Without yeast as a leavening agent, the Boxty soda bread is very easy and fast to knead and pull off.  

It tastes amazing with some extra butter or the rarebit cheese melt and pickles when freshly baked. Or in the form of Croque Monsieur or mini-pizza with all kind of garnish the day after.

I also love to add it to all kinds of pan-fried or baked breakfasts and brunches, from omelet to frittata.

This bread keeps up to one week in the fridge and slices better when cold. 

It is said to have inspired the following folk rhyme:
‘Boxty on the griddle,
boxty on the pan,
If you can’t bake boxty
sure you’ll never get a man…’

Check if it’s true and stay tuned for more Irish soda breads.

PS: A friend of mine has just sent me a nice St. Paddy’s greeting, here’s mine in return-
‘May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of you wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you.’
Happy St. Paddy to You All!
Former St. Paddy’s Recipes: Dublin Lawyer
Yields: 4 small loaves
7 (about 1 ¾ pounds) starchy potatoes
2 tbsp lightly salted butter, plus extra to serve*
2/3 cup of milk*
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 ½ tsp dill seeds OR caraway seeds
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
5 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 375F. Peel four of the potatoes, cut them into even chunks, cover with water, add the heaped teaspoon of salt and bring to boil in a medium-size saucepan. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash with butter until smooth pure.
Peel the remaining three potatoes and grate coarsely. Wrap in a clean piece of cheesecloth and squeeze tightly to remove the moisture. Put the grated potatoes in a large bowl with the milk, ¾ teaspoon of salt, pepper and dill seeds. Beat in the mashed potatoes.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and remaining salt onto the potato mixture. Mix to smooth dough, adding a little more flour if the mixture is too soft.
Knead lightly, then shape into four flat, round loaves, about 4 inches in diameter. Place on a non-stick baking sheet. Mark each loaf with a large cross. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until well-risen and golden brown.
Break each loaf into quarters. Serve warm, spread with butter.
Adapted from: The Irish Pub – Fabulous Food from the Emerald Isle, Parragon Books, 2012

Take Me to Pleasure Town Lobster Salad Rolls Recipe

Somewhere between creating his flamboyant romantic poetry, looking for his next love affair, and fighting for independent Greece or with his swings from gluttony to binge eating and back, the Lord Byron wrote: ‘A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unlessit be lobster salad and Champagne, the onlytrue feminine and becomingviands.’ Sounds to me like a perfect Valentine’s dinner app. Yes, it’s not yet a lobster season, but we are all SOOO tired of this cold never-ending winter! A bit of a summer fling in your plate might help, no? And what can be easier, faster and tastier than a quick hearty lobster roll in the midst of a snowstorm table traveling you to someplace hot?
This week Loblaws made it even easier for everyone with the real bargain: uncooked cold water frozen lobster tails are at $2.99 a pop (hey, I’m not sponsored for this ad, I swear) – what a wonderful and timely occasion for the Valentine! Naturally, it will never be a real hot summer deal from the grill, but it has some advantages: it’s faster and easier to prepare. No need to wrestle with the live lobster; sweat with breaking precision and artistry, spraying and flying shells; and only half-bib is required, WOW!
Few years ago I learned from Serious Eats a simple trick on how to prevent the lobster tails from curling while cooking: insert a wooden skewer down the length of each lobster tail I also learned that ‘The best lobster rolls are a careful balance of texture and temperature… Something magical happens when a warm, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, golden-griddled, fluffy bun contrasts with the cool sweetness of the lobster, with just a touch of lettuce for crunch. It’s the interplay between those elements that make an outstanding lobster roll, not just the amount of lobster meat served in the sandwich.’
Photo credit Serious Eats
I’ve also learned that the lobster rolls bun can’t be a piece of baguette or a sweet bun: it can only be specifically top-split white bread hot dog buns like these:

While I admit, it might offend the purists with some additions like smoked paprika infused mayonnaise and bits of celery, please don’t forget: this is a lobster salad winter version made of frozen lobster tails. I find it much more tasty with these additions.

Ready to pamper? Now, close your eyes and imagine it’s summer, you’re some place hot (like on a wonderful beach) and you absolutely need to take a break from the sun and refresh. 
You dive into the local seafood shack with conditioner and embark on a marathon lobster roll tasting session. You make an order and some miraculous server brings you a simple plate of warm lobster rolls in no time. It’s not just a picture: the sweet fresh lobster chunks kissed with mayo and paprika and sprinkled with chives and (optionally) dill popping out of warm butter grilled venerable roll. You take a bite and everything else drifts away. For a split moment nothing matters but this this roll, it tastes heavenly, completely carrying you away: this is how real best American sandwich should taste. You are in a pleasure town
Ultimately (and as Lord Byron prescribed) champagne will bring everything to the whole new level. A bottle of the ‘’king of wines and wine of kings’’ with few of these babies on a side shall turn any Valentine into a sublime intimate feast.  However, a glass of Kim Crawford or vino verde will help to bring that sunshine back into life as well. 
Happy Valentine’s Everyone!
Other easy and fast recipes you can do with lobster tails:  Dublin Lawyer; Lobster Club; Lobster Waldorf
Yields: 4 lobster salad rolls
4 uncooked frozen cold water medium+ lobster tails
2 tbsp unsalted clarified butter, melted
1 pinch of fresh parsley, minced
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
Pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
1 inner celery stalk, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
½ tsp lime zest (optional)
1 scallion or few chives, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced (optional)
Pinch of the best salt and pepper you have (I used pink salt and freshly ground pepper)
4 top-split white bread hot dog buns
Thaw the lobster tails in the fridge from few hours to overnight. Optional but useful: insert a wooden skewer down the length of each lobster tail, so it doesn’t curl during the cooking process.  Bring the large pot two third full of water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Add lobster tails and boil for:
3 minutes for 3 ounce tails
4 minutes for 4 ounce tails
5 minutes for 5 ounce tails, and so on.
Drain the pot and remove the lobster tails. Let cool and remove the skewers.
Split open the lobster tails with sharp knife or kitchen shears from underneath. Pick the meat and cut into ½ inch (or smaller if you wish) pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and parsley. Set aside.   Mix mayonnaise with smoked paprika. Add celery, lemon or lime juice, zest and half of scallion/chives and dill.  Add lobster meat and toss carefully.
Heat the pan over moderately high heat. Brush the hot dog buns on the outside with the rest of the melted butter and toast for a minute per side or until slightly golden and crisp (don’t burn it, please). Fill each bun with ¾ cup of the lobster salad mixture and sprinkle with the rest of chives and dill. Serve immediately.

A-Maize-N Corn Sandwiches (Arepas) with Guasacaca Sauce

First there was a cracker. Then nachos came from South of the Texan border some 50 years ago and the North American snack was re-defined forever. One of the perks of living in multicultural society is that today you can discover endless variety of comforting ethnic foods almost on a daily basis in any given big city. Take arepa, for example, the crispy corn flat bread originating from Venezuela and Colombia. Delicious and highly versatile in stuffing it makes a great gluten-free bread/sandwich alternative, a vegetarian trouvaille (catch) and nice and fresh step away from the usual boring food. You can make arepas in minutes during busy weeknights and kids just adore them. They are perfect to combine with any sandwich ingredients and most of the warm recipes of the fall and can be served as an appetizer, side, school lunch, main dish or a snack. Arepas also make wonderful party or potluck food on a budget with some pulled meats you can prepare ahead separately. Few years ago though I didn’t even know this food existed.

One sunny end-of-summer day, in a happy turn of events, we hopped sideways of the bustling St-Denis street of Montreal and discovered a tiny hole-in-the-wall Venezuelan eatery Arepera The place offered plethora of tasty corn flour cakes with all kinds of fillings at more than affordable prices. Ten minutes of waiting time (this place is actually quite popular in the neighbourhood) and we stepped into the little arepas heaven filled with the smell of the freshly pan-fried corn cakes and garlicky guasacaca (famous avocado & herb sauce to go with arepas). The Spanish-speaking buzz and background percussion of maracas instantly teleported us to some hot place in Venezuela. The hearty ambiance along with friendly and fast service made us fully enjoy the charred and crispy on top, fluffy and soft inside corn cakes stuffed with authentic vegetarian (black beans, avocado and fresh queso) and pulled chicken (pollo guisado) arepas with some fried plantain slices (tajadas), extra queso on a side.  We made a mental note to come back and try more things (not-surprisingly, this Arepera is consistently well-rated on the Tripadvisor). 

As you know already, I have a proclivity to test my kitchen skills every time I try some new exciting dish, so, naturally, upon few more visits to Arepera I was ready to make them a home. I googled the recipe of arepas and found the Areparinaspecial pre-cooked corn flour (P.A.N. corn flour in the US) used to make arepas in the nearest Walmart ($2.69 per 2 lbs). Fresh queso blanco cheese was harder to find, so I used the squeaky curd cheese in place of traditional queso (cottage and ricotta cheeses would be other close alternatives) and later even regular cheddar or mozzarella. Easy, fast and as delicious as any best street food can be. And they came out perfect from the first time! Even the ones I took a minimal effort to put a piece of cheese inside turned into super-savory patties with irresistible pan-fried crisp crust (the reason these little babies will always be a hit with diners).

Keep cooked arepas warm in a 300F oven as you prepare the next batch. Double or triple the amount of ingredients accordingly if you need to feed more people.  Serve with traditional avocado sauce or guacamole or just the dollop of sour cream.  For a more spicy adornment, feel free to use the lentil avocado spread, or salsa verde, or buttermilk sauce, or lime avocado mayo which I posted previously – all of them go very well with the neutral arepas taste.

Simply put, you can stuff arepas with almost any kind of sandwich layers or leftovers, from omelet to pulled meats, to bacon, to ham, to cheese, to shrimp, to fish and of course all their vegetarian equivalents.  Here is a nice and quirky graphic poster by Sorelis Liendo I found on Pinterest on the most popular kinds of arepas in Venezula with their names and ingredients in Spanish (funny, the one without stuffing is called a widow).  

Top Left: Infografía de “La Arepa” (vía @Sorelys Liendo)
Over time my experiments with arepas stuffing have stretched to umami fusion twists like the ones with roasted (pulled) duck, lobster or anchovies.

The party favorites are of course pulled meat arepas. Try the ones with the pulled pork recipeor the veal/beef pulled blade roast turned into Cuban Ropa Vieja, all of which I posted last year, and the famous Guasacaca avocado sauce (below).

Oh my, I think I’ve exaggerated my writing quota today (to compensate for my temporary absence). Are you still there or have I long lost you to the Facebook gossips? Anyways, if you are a nachos lover and like to have something different from time to time, I’m sure you will be positively surprised to discover how they can soothe you with the simple joy of street comfort food. 

Yields: 12 to 18 arepas (3 to 4 inch sizes)
For Arepas:
2 cups pre-cooked cornmeal mazarepa (such as Areparina, or P.A.N. varieties)
2 ½ cups very hot (but not boiling) water
3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing and cooking
¾ tsp sea salt
For Guasacaca Sauce
2 small or 1 big avocado, peeled and seeded
1 small onion or shallot, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, shelled
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
½ bunch fresh parsley leaves
½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix the pre-cooked corn meal with salt, add water and oil and stir for a minute until the mixture comes together. Cover with plastic or wet towel and set aside for 10-20 minutes. Note: you can make this mix up to two days ahead of cooking and keep it in the fridge till ready to cook.
Scoop around 1/3 cup of the mix and use your hands to form a ball and then flatten it into the round disc. If using cheese, insert a square (1×1 inch) slice of cheese inside the disc closing well on the sides. Pre-heat the cast iron (or equivalent non-stick frying pan) skillet to medium high. Brush each corn disc with oil on both sides and once skillet cook the arepas for 7 to 10 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Keep cooked arepas warm in 300F oven while you make another batch.
For the guasacaca sauce, place the avocado, onion, garlic, pepper, vinegar and lime juice in the blender and pulse few times until the mixture is smooth. Add cilantro, parsley, oil, salt and pepper and give it a few other pulses. Scoop the sauce into a non-reactive bowl and check the seasoning. Cover and keep in the fridge till ready to use.
Open the warm arepas with a paring knife on the side to make sliders and fill them with the stuffing of your choice (pulled meats, eggs, beans, cheese, grilled veggies, etc.). Top with generous drizzle of guasacaca sauce and a sprinkle of crumbled cotija cheese (or Parmesan or Greek feta).

Where Bagel Rules & Smoked Fish Lures

I would also add ‘when’ to the title, since yesterday was an International No Diet Day – a perfect occasion to follow my tummy travelogue guide and go wild. Ditching the spring diet for these wonderful 24 hours, I opted for something extremely haute and decadent… Montreal-New York inspired, I went out and bought a pack of the iconic bagels, a chunk of hot smoked salmon, a pack of Philadelphia cream cheese, few condiments and veggies to go with, and, finally, a nice piece of smoked sturgeon. Please don’t boo me on that, I know sturgeon is not a sustainable fish anymore (or ever?) unless it’s farmed, but it is my true weakness, so I guess I will continue this vicious experience as long as this fish is available and within the reach, at least once a year (or next week, may be?). To make the experience even more sinful, I bought a bottle of nice rose. When back home, I have turned some of the hot smoked salmon into a cream cheese spread to smear on a bagel before putting a slice of this unique, clean, earthy aristocratic treat with no equivalent to the taste or texture. A quick combo of an authentic bagel, homemade crazy delicious smoked salmon spread and a slice of smoked sturgeon, layered with red onion, tomato, lettuce and capers is a killer. And with everything smoked on an upsurge this year, let’s get some smoke in here, shall we? 
There are two places or origin of the classic Jewish (now all-American) bagel: Montreal and New York (NYC). There has never been a real ‘game of thrones’ between the two. Each is very good in its own way up to the fact that more and more Montreal-style bagel places are popping up in the U.S. and vice versa.  Both are authentic, hand-rolled, boiled in a vat and carefully baked by a bagel master craftsmen.  And both remind me of Once Upon a Time in America, considering New York and Montreal’s gastronomic past and historic connection. Curiously, most of the bagel shops in other North American cities manage to keep the authentic bagel barren intact failing to reproduce the exact taste of an authentic bagel unless they import New York or Montreal’s exact recipes (secretly passed from generation to generation) or bagel bakers. 
NYC bagels are bigger, thicker, saltier and easier to chew. Montreal’s bagels are thinner, slightly sweet, with (I find) better crust to crumb ratio and less or no salt. They store better staying soft and easy to cut even after a few days of travel. I am talking about Montreal’s Fairmount Bagelsbaked in the wood-fire oven, which I am a long-time admirer of. Sorry, can’t compare them with another famous St-Viateur Bagel since the shop is closed any time I’m trying to pass by, although both are selling like hotcakes and there is usually a line of 10-20 people to get in Fairmount Bagel (see below image). I do hope to get the secret Fairmount bagel recipe one day so we can make this French Canadian classic at home. If you happen to know it, please share it with me.

As a huge culinary adventurer, I like to go on the local food treasure hunt wherever I travel. When visiting NYC, you would most likely find me in one of those hole in the walls sampling local specialties or in one of the Jewish deli specialized in smoked fish and bagels. It feel like I have an unfinished business with New York unless I can have one or two sturgeon, lox or nova bagels each time I’m there. Like anything else about NYC, the selection of quality specialty food from all over the world would always be unmatched and would roar and scream appealing to your five senses. Check the ballyhoo video of Louis C.K. and Parker Posey’s chowhound session at Russ & Daughters, for example.

Images © Russ & Daughters, Travel & Leisure

Anthony Bourdain once mentioned about the place: Russ & Daughters occupies that rear and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last – but also the best.  So true, but there are so many other places where you can get wasted on a great smoked fish bagels in NYC: Murray’s BagelsZuckers Bagels, Ess-a-Bagel, Bagel Oasis, Bagel Holejust to name a few.

Photo © Phburka via Wikimedi

Some great bagel shops go (like H&H Bagels on Broadway), other come, and a legendary bagel and smoked fish continue to be NYC landmarks. Naturally, a real smoked fish bagel sampling orgy comes at a price, so most of the time I just buy a few bagel sandwiches to-go and head some place nice where I can enjoy the breathtaking NYC skyline while eating my smoked fish bagel in silence and peace, thinking: ‘this is how we do it…’ and savoring every bit of it.

Photos © Natalie Schweiger
Here is the deal. If you are a populace like me, and you are not in NYC; or you are there but you are not one of those poorgeois people flooding the Manhattan or Brooklyn these days casually paying whooping $70.00 plus per kilo; and/OR you have already shortened your daily budget by paying $20.00 for one smoked sturgeon bagel at Russ & Daughters (tips included), I suggest you take it easy. When back home (Montreal in this case), check the nearest Metro (call first) or Russian/Jewish deli store for a smoked sturgeon. A famous Montreal’s sea food store La Mer (image below) would be another bet sometimes. I still manage to come across one for around $36.00/kg, which means for $6-8.00 you get half a pound. And that amount, my friends, is enough to make 2-3 giant top notch quality smoked sturgeon bagels you can feast on with your best friend (or by yourself) for a price of the McDonald’s meal. Not so bad during the time of massive economic woe, hah? Oddly enough (and further to sustainability issues) there is currently no deli in Montreal serving smoked sturgeon bagel as opposed to NYC. I do acknowledge that by disclosing the spots where I buy it I am risking to not ever find a smoked sturgeon again in Montreal, but perhaps it’s my inner voice whispering:It’s time to let go and switch to the grass and dandelions my dear… I am actually eating them right now while writing this post.

OK, if finding smoked sturgeon sounds like an unnecessary or elusive quest to you, hot smoked salmon, mackerel, white fish, trout (all of them perfect to make a spread) and smoked carp (swap for the sturgeon) make great choices to assemble a similar bagel. Montreal’s La Bouchanerie, ADAR and in-store smoking shops are supplying a great variety of maple wood smoked fish to each and every big grocery daily, so there will be no scarce.

One of the secrets to assemble an all-star smoked fish sandwich is to enhance the cream cheese spread base with an actual smoked fish, an extra smokiness (via smoked paprika), greens and turn it fluffy.  Use it as a dip to go with bagel chips, crackers and veggies. An economic and tasty appetizer with which you can stretch a piece of smoked fish to feed the party of 20 people. Equally, and if on a strict budget, you can use a regular cooked or canned salmon and a spoon of liquid smoke mix to replace the smoked salmon in this dip.  

The spread is also excellent in Smoked Fish tortillas or in Flaked Smoked Fish Pasta with Greens, which I might post next.
What was the day about again? No Diet – which is all about self-awareness and acceptance? I won’t lie, I wholeheartedly embraced it steeping myself in a traditional local lore of bagels and smoked fish and skipping the gym. Despite feeling a few pounds heavier, I nailed that selfie to remind me that we live only once so there is no shame in indulging in what you like. I went to sleep happy imagining all the people ditching their diets, accepting themselves and becoming happy for a day, a week, a year… forever… making the world a better place. I’m afraid though if this wish would manifest my face would not fit in selfie anymore, so I guess I’m good for now. Cheers!



Basic Smoked Fish Spread or Dip
1/3 cup (4 oz) hot smoked salmon (or whitefish, or mackerel), deboned if necessary, flaked
1 cup (8 oz) Philadelphia cream cheese
½ cup sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp chives, minced
1 tsp horseradish, white or red
1/3 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients with fork or in a food processor until smooth. Chill and spread on bagels, or serve with bagel chips or with crackers and crudités. The spread can also be used as in fried smoked salmon tortillas and in smoked salmon pasta.

Assembling All-Star Bagel
1 bagel, halved horizontally
1 tbsp smoked fish spread (see above recipe)
1 tsp capers
2-3 slices hot smoked sturgeon or cold smoked salmon
1 tomato slice
1 onion slice
1 lettuce leaf
Crudités on a side
Spread toasted bagel halves with cream cheese. Sprinkle one half with capers. Top with a few slices of smoked sturgeon or smoked salmon. Garnish tops with tomato, onion and lettuce. Close with another half and serve with crudités.

Sloppy Joe Hoagies on a Groundhog Day

Whenever kids would come for a quick visit, my mother-in-law used to fix them this easy and filling fare she called in French ‘petits pains fourrés’(translated as little stuffed rolls) and they always rocked. She made them in minutes with simple ingredients like browned ground beef, onion, ketchup and spice mix squeezed into hallowed potato buns and baked. The little stuffed rolls were sometimes replaced with sloppy joes (pain à la viande), so popular in those days. She used to make them with leftovers of her famous meat sauce. Kids (and adults, for that matter) would always ask for more.  
Key West, Florida – the Birthplace of Sloppy Joes via Wikimedia

Today my boys asked me to make them something ‘they like’ for the Super Bowl and those memories kicked right in. These hoagies are both, my treat to them and a tribute to my mother-in-law’s recipes. 

The groundhog day weirdly coincided with the Super Bowl today. According to the mysterious Punxsutawney Phil (whose name I can never read properly), who they call the prognosticator of the groundhog weather, we shall have at least six more weeks of winter. Brrrr! That leaves some space for a few extra calories. Although, the predictions are apparently only 39% right…. Personally, I’ve never seen a groundhog emerging from its burrow in winter, but I know they visit our backyard frequently in summer to our lab’s greatest disappointment.
I have modernized the recipe with ciabatta rolls, lots of veggies, mushrooms, spice and lotsa cheese. I also made a vegetarian version for a successful double take. 
In fact, I much prefer a completely vegetarian version these days: the ratatouille-like mix with mushrooms and topped with cheese fits into the recipe perfectly. For the non-vegetarian take, if you have any home-made pasta meat sauce frozen, please feel free to use it and skip the meat browning and tomatoes.
The boys always prefer the meaty one and who can blame them on the day when the big part of 169 million people is devouring junk in front of TVs – there will be other days for salads and soups.  Speaking of salad, these hoagies go wonderfully with a big green salad on a side, and/or the spicy olive salad and/or kimchi, or pickles. I am giving the recipes for both versions below. Please feel free to use your imagination as you can select or swap the veggie/mushroom ingredients as you please. Since the bread envelopes are used in similar to pizza or flatbread way, you might even wish to stuff them with other kinds of leftovers, like braised lentils or even mashed potatoes.
Flush the hoagies down with a glass of good Cabernet Sauvignon while the Seattle Seahawks pour it on in the MetLife Stadium. Cheers!

One year ago: Ice Fishing in Quebec

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lbs ground meat, of your choice (beef, turkey, chicken, pork)*
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, diced
1 ½ cups tomato sauce, OR, 2 cups diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated
4-6 ciabatta rolls, hallowed out
* for vegetarian version, replace with 1 lbs extra-firm tofu, well-drained and diced or crumbled, + 1 tbsp soya sauce during cooking, OR, 15 oz can black beans, drained
Meat Version:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the large skillet. Add the ground meat. Cook until browned, breaking it into crumbs in the process. Add salt, black pepper, chili powder, ground cumin and mix well. Drain any excess grease. Add garlic, bell pepper, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and mushrooms stirring often until softened, for about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce and keep mixing for another 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool sprinkle with Parmesan and mix.
Cup the upper side of the ciabatta rolls and hallow them out with a teaspoon (keep the crumbs for further use and/or stir some into the stuffing mixture during cooking). Spoon the meat or vegetarian mix into the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on the outsides and the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
Vegetarian Version:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the large skillet. Add garlic, bell pepper, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and mushrooms, stirring often until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add tofu and soya sauce (or beans), salt, pepper, chili powder, ground cumin and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce and keep mixing for another 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Once cool sprinkle with Parmesan and mix.
Cup the upper side of the ciabatta rolls and hallow them out with a teaspoon (keep the crumbs for further use and/or stir some into the stuffing mixture during cooking). Spoon the meat or vegetarian mix into the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on the outsides and the cheese has melted. Serve warm.