Some years ago, I traveled to London, England with a friend. One of the most delightful encounters I had there involved the “Eat” food chain. You can find these little delis throughout the city, and they offer an unlimited variety of salads and sandwiches for working people who want to purchase a quick and tasty lunch. . Lots of sandwiches….so many different meat, poultry, fish, egg, and vegetarian fillings.
In this post, I have listed a variety of sandwich fillings and breads to try out the next time you plan your brown bag lunches. Consider packing these spreads separately from the bread until you’re ready to eat, so that you don’t end up with a soggy mess. To make lunch even fancier, trim the crusts as they do for tea time in merry old England.
By the way, if you have some favorite spreads, please share on my comment section!
Tomato-cheddar spread. Sandwich on white bread with sliced tomato, aged cheddar, and mayonnaise. Trim crusts and cut into pieces.
Ham, brie and apple. Spread softened butter and dijon mustard inside a split loaf of French bread. Fill with deli ham, sliced brie and sliced green apple. Cut into pieces.
Steak au Poivre. Mix 4 tablespooons each softened butter and chopped fresh herbs. Spread on baguette rounds. Top with thinly sliced steak and crushed peppercorns. (Great if you have some leftover steak from last night!)
Olive-focaccia. Mix 1 cup chopped olives and 3 tablespoons chopped parsley. Drizzle the inside of a split loaf of focaccia with olive oil. Fill with the olive mixture and sliced provoline. Cut into squares.
Salmon-cucumber. Spread softened cream cheese on white bread. Add smoked salmon and sliced cucumber. Trim the crusts and cut into pieces.
Shrimp salad. 1 cup chopped cooked shrimp with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tsp. curry powder, 1 teaspoon each grated lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp. each chopped chives, parsley and capers. Spread on white bread and add Bibb lettuce. Trim crusts and cut into pieces.
Crab Salad. Instead of shrimp (see shrimp salad recipe), used 1 cup crabmeat. Add sliced avocado.
Curried egg salad. Mix 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 3 tablespoons each chopped celery, red onion and cilantro, 2 teaspoons each dijon mustard and lime juice, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Cut white bread into pieces and spread with mango chutney. Add the egg mixture.
Pesto chicken. Mix 2 teaspoons pesto with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brush on thin baguette rounds. Top with sliced cooked chicken breast and halved grape tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Liverwurst-onion. Spread dijon mustard on pumpernickel bread. Add liverwurst and sliced red onion.
Roast beef-horseradish. Spread horseradish cream on rye bread. Add sliced cucumber, roast beef, and watercress. Season with salt and pepper.
Salmon salad. Combine 1 cup flaked cooked salmon, 3 tablespoons each mayonnaise, chopped chives and fresh dill, and 1 teaspoon each dijon mustard and lemon juice. Layer and salmon salad and sliced radishes on pumpernickel bread. Trim the crusts and cut into pieces.
Tuna salad. Combine 12 ounces drained canned tuna, 2 tablespoons each minced red onion and chopped nicoise olives, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Drizzle the inside of mini potato rolls with olive oil. Fill with the tuna salad and chopped hard-boiled egg. Cut in half.
Smoked trout. Mix 4 tablespoons softened butter with 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest. Spread on pumpernickel bread. Sandwich with flaked smoked trout and sliced cucumber and onion. Trim the crusts and cut into pieces.
A few years ago, I discovered an Asian-style rice that combines the nutrition of brown rice with the mouth-feel and flavor of white rice. I’m talking about haiga-mai, a product developed in Japan.
Haiga-mai (“rice germ” in Japanese) is processed so that the hull of each individual grain is completely removed, while the germ is left intact. This results in a product that is flavorful and as easy to cook as white rice, but with the B-vitamin content of brown rice. Nishiki makes a nice medium-grain haiga, while Tamari makes a sushi-grade haiga. The Nishiki product is easier to make, as it requires no rinsing or soaking prior to cooking. But I prefer the latter product because I enjoy making sushi with it. (We’ll talk more about home-made sushi when the weather gets a little warmer. It’s easier than you think!) You can purchase both brands of rice on amazon.com.
I should warn you ahead of time that Tamaki haiga is rather pricey. It lists on amazon.com at approximately $21 per 4.4 pounds. However, if you want an Asian rice with superior flavor and consistency, this stuff is great.
Here’s how I prepared my haiga rice this week. By the way, this is something you can do on the weekend, in preparation for your workweek.
HAIGA RICE (2-3 large servings)
First, I placed one cup of rice in a sieve and gently rinsed it under the tap for about one minute. This process removes excess starch and makes for a better consistency.
I placed the rice in a rice cooker and added one cup plus two tablespoons of distilled water. (I can’t emphasize enough that the water you cook your food in makes a big difference in flavor.)
I let the mixture sit for 30 minutes in the rice cooker.
I then turned on the rice cooker. (These devices are a must for habitual rice eaters. They ensure that your rice is cooked perfectly every time.) I should mention Tamaki provides directions for cooking haiga rice in a conventional saucepan
After cooking and cooling the rice, I prepared it for storage. Packaging rice in an airtight container ensures that it will be moist and tasty when reheated. I prefer to use a vacuum food bagger for this purpose. In order to prepare individual servings, I cut a quart-size vacuum bag in half, crosswise. This left one portion of bag with two open ends. I sealed one end of the portion with my bagging device. Then I placed the rice in the two “mini” bags, vacuumed, and sealed. Finally, I put the rice in the freezer until I needed it.
To use, open the bag and dump the rice into a microwave-safe container. Cover and cook on high for two minutes.
Personally, I like to use my Hot Logic mini oven/portable lunch bag to warm up rice. Turns out I had one leftover frozen portion of Chinese chicken and beef. Today, I heated this up with some frozen haiga in the Hot Logic for two hours. Here’s the result. The rice was delicious with a little soy sauce.
For those who are interested in finding out more about the Hot Logic device pictured above, please read about it in my “Gadgets” section. Otherwise, you can look up the device on https://myhotlogic.com. It’s convenient, easy to carry, and for me it has always delivered great results.
I’m a little late with my blog post this week, as I just got back from visiting my brother Jack in Memphis, TN. Memphis is a great town for some great eats: Spare ribs, fried chicken, catfish, collards….yum! But in order to keep balanced nutritionally, Jack makes himself a smoothie for breakfast every morning. Above, you see bananas, pears, berries, spinach, pineapple, an entire lime, and a little bit of fresh ginger. Jack blended this mish-mash for a minute or two into a lovely, thick veggie malt. By the way, no added sugar….just the fructose in the ingredients. It was delicious!
For my low-carb people, here is a nice side dish that pairs well with roasted chicken, turkey, meatloaf or cooked hamburger. It heats up well in the microwave or in the Hot Logic mini oven/lunchpail. (see https://myhotlogic.com for more info on this device.) And it is so colorful!
SQUASH-TOMATO SAUTE (2-3 servings)
Two tablespoons of pure olive oil
One large yellow crookneck squash, sliced crosswise
One medium sweet yellow onion, peeled and chopped
Two small on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped
Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
One small package of fresh dill, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and add squash and onion. Saute for four minutes, constantly stirring.
Add tomatoes and saute for one minute more.
Add enough water to cover. Mix in minced dill plus salt and pepper to taste.
Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add additional water if needed.
That’s right folks….I actually cooked egg custard in the microwave. The recipe can be found later on in this post.
I was brought up believing that microwave ovens are primarily useful to warm up frozen and precooked foods. And there are a couple of dishes that cook from a state of rawness very well; for example, salmon and trout.
However, I would never have imagined that nuked egg custard is possible until a friend gave me the following recipe a couple of weeks ago.
MICROWAVE EGG CUSTARD (4 Servings)
1 3/4 cups whole milk *, warmed to room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Warm milk to appropriate temperature (30 seconds in the microwave will do it.)
In a medium mixing bowl, add milk, sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla.
Using the lowest speed on rotary beater, mix until well combined. (You can use a whisk instead of an electric beater.)
Pour the mixture into four 6-oz. round custard cups, filling 3/4 full.
Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Cook, uncovered, on High for 4 1/4 to 5 minutes, or until the custard starts to bubble.
Cool, and then refrigerate.**
*Do not use low-fat or fat-free milk in this recipe. Otherwise, you will get watery custard. I have not yet tried vegan products like soy milk or nut milks.
**It is necessary to completely refrigerate the custard overnight prior to consumption, in order for it to set properly. Eaten cold, the custard will be firm with an creamy eggnog layer on the bottom of the cup. The recipe instructions indicate that you can warm the refrigerated custard by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds, then let stand 1 minute to distribute heat. I have not tried this recipe reheated, but it is very tasty cold.
For a brown bagger, this dish would be delicious as a breakfast item, perhaps with granola and/or blue berries. And egg custard is always good for dessert!
Every once in a while, I purchase one of those wonderful roasted chickens they feature in the deli section of my supermarket. It is, of course, a challenge to use up the entire bird when you’re preparing meals for just one person. But I just can’t resist the smell of those chickens! (By the way, I prefer the herb-roasted variety.)
Here’s one way to use the meat from a roasted chicken:
FAJITAS WITH PRE-COOKED CHICKEN (3-4 servings)
Three tablespoons pure olive oil
One sweet yellow onion, chopped
Two red bell peppers, cut into 1/2″x2″ slices
Three cups herb-roasted chicken, shredded
One packet (1.0 oz.) Lawry’s Chicken Fajitas mix
In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and bell peppers, and saute for three minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Stir in the Lawry’s Chicken Fajitas mix and cook for one more minute.
Stir in the chicken and cook for two more minutes.
I find that making this dish ahead of time, wrapping it tightly and placing in the frig overnight helps to incorporate the flavors into the chicken better. This dish re-heats well in the microwave, Crockpot Lunch Warmer, or Hot Logic convection oven (see the “Gadgets” section for more on these brown bag devices). It’s delicious with a side of re-fried beans and/or warmed up corn tortillas.