The California Sandwich

the california sandwich (1)

Besides the perfect weather, striking landscapes, and culture of positivity and innovation, one of the best things about being a Californian is the food. Whenever I travel to another state I am reminded of how spoiled I am to live in this land of  plenty, and how much I depend on it. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week road trip in a few days to travel the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are going to drive up the coast of California, through Oregon to Portland, maybe even up into Washington, then through Idaho to Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park, then Utah and down to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and back through Nevada and home again. Then we will catch a flight to Kauai for another week. One whole month on the road with as many national parks and waterfalls as we can find! We will camp and back pack through the mainland, then do Airbnb rentals in Hawaii. It is going to be an amazing month! I can’t wait to see the beauty our country has to offer.
Having said that, I know that life on the road means lots of camping food like trail mix and canned beans. We are trying to do the whole trip on the cheap. So with a few days left before we depart, I wanted to treat myself to the bounty that Los Angeles and California has to offer, which is when I came up with the California Sandwich.

 

California cuisine is diverse and covers everything from barbecue to fine french fusion, but there are some common themes that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. Being one of the main sources of produce for the whole country, California cuisine is foremost fresh and vegetable-centric. The emphasis on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables harmonizes perfectly with our liberal-leaning, health-conscious demand for organic and sustainable food. We love to take casual foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches and turn them into gourmet delicacies that surprise and excite the senses. We love to ‘fancify’ the little details of a dish to make them cool and new. We also love to nail the presentation, we’re vain like that. And, our on-the-go culture is the perfect place for hand-held food to be eaten on the road, on a hike, and generally outside under the sun. This sandwich is my personal interpretation of all those things.
Starting with locally baked La Brea Bakery ciabatta and topped with seasonal California grown veggies, I notched it up with unusually gourmet details like the garlic-basil mayo, added local touches like a splash of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and of course the star of the show is the California Hass avocado. I just so happened to have some California State Golden Poppy toothpicks to top it off and I highly recommend eating this creation poolside and under the sun! I hope you’ll try it and get a taste of the golden state for yourself! Peace out dudes.

 

The California Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 loafs, each with a top and bottom

2 tbs vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek’s ‘Just Mayo’, a San Francisco based innovator!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

2 big basil leaves, minced (I used some from my own garden)

1 tbs olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

a splash of white wine

a dash of salt

2 big leaves of romaine, finely shredded

1 hass avocado, very thinly sliced

1 big tomato, very thinly sliced

a drizzle of balsamic reduction (I got this already made in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store but you can easily make it yourself by heating up some balsamic vinegar over low heat on the stove until it becomes thick and sticky.)

More salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Start by toasting the bread or even better, throw it on a hot outdoor grill for a few minutes until it’s toasty. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, garlic and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and add the salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring to prevent burning. You want to cook them until nice and golden.

I split all the ingredients in half to make two sandwiches. (I ate both, that’s right!) When ready to assemble, start with the bottom half of the bread and slather with the mayo mixture. Sprinkle on the caramelized onions. Then, add the romaine lettuce. Top the lettuce with the avocado slices, then the tomato slices. Finally, finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and some final salt and pepper before topping with the other half of bread. You’ll notice we are alternating ‘sticky’ and ‘wet’ layers, so it all holds together better. To see a cool timelapse video of the sandwich assembly, check out my instagram post

And there it is! A taste of the golden state before your very eyes. I hope you like it as much as I do!

For similar recipes, check out my beloved bruschetta or BLT!

openface california sandwichcalifornia sandwich.JPG

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mushroom Tacos with Blackened Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Mushroom Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this day because I love all things Mexican food, but especially TACOS. They are the perfect food. Hand-held little bundles of joy. Versatile, flavorful, a happy food. Tacos can mean something different to every person. Tacos are life!

Okay I’ll calm down now. So to me, the perfect taco has multiple levels of flavors and textures: savory, sweet, crunchy, soft, fresh, salty, tart, spicy, creamy, dreamy, surprising, nostalgic… damn I’m getting carried away again.

These tacos in particular are going for a uniquely fresh California cuisine flavor. The savory and spicy mushrooms pair well with the sweet pickled cabbage. I hope these brighten up your Cinco de Mayo, or maybe just your next Sunday dinner. Want to create a whole taco fiesta? Check out my other ‘Cinco’ celebration recipes: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos, Jackfruit Tacos, Perfect GuacamoleMini Chimichangas, and Cowboy Caviar.

Mushroom Tacos with Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Serves 4 (8 tacos)

1/4 head purple cabbage, thinly shredded

a 5:1 mixture of vinegar to agave, enough to submerge shredded cabbage

2 ears of corn

3 tbs olive oil

6 oz or about 15 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 large shallots

1/4 tsp each of cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, and black pepper

10 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

salt to taste

1 avocado, thinly sliced

8 small corn tortillas (the 4″ kind) you can double up if they feel delicate.

cilantro and lime wedges to garnish

 

First, combine the shredded cabbage and vinegar/agave mixture in a jar or bowl and set aside in the fridge, you will have extra left over for salads and sandwiches (so good.)

Then, tear the husks off the corn cobs and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Once it is done and cooled, I like to hold it over my stovetop flame with tongs, to get some nice char on it. You can also do this with just raw corn instead of boiling it, it’ll be just a little less tender. You can also throw them on a hot barbecue grill until blackened. Lastly, slice it off the cob and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mushrooms and onion, cook stirring about 5 minutes. Next add the spices and cook another minute, then the balsamic, cooking another 2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping as you stir with a spatula, then the salt. Taste to adjust seasoning. Turn off the flame.

Lay each tortilla over a burner on your stove set to low, just about 10 seconds per side to heat them up.

Add a scoop of the mushroom mixture, a slice of avocado, a scoop of blackened corn, and a few strips of pickled cabbage to each tortilla. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.