This month for Kitchen Bootcamp, Jen challenged us to try something different with sandwiches. It just so happens that I was challenging myself to make a recipe featuring the fabulous Fred’s Bread and trying to recreate a very special dish from way back when I was just discovering my foodie tendencies.
One of my earliest memories of moving to Canada 10 years ago was searching for decent baguette. I had been living in Paris for nearly 6 years and had become accustomed to good bread being readily available on every corner. My first few weeks in Toronto, I despaired. At some point, I discovered Fred’s Bread. I remember the first time I found it I was so excited to find “real bread” that I bought a baguette and another loaf, excitedly planning a wine and cheese dinner with the baguette I proudly toted home pretending I was back in Paris. Problem was, my eyes were bigger than my tummy and by the time I had polished off the baguette, I couldn’t tackle the other loaf. I find that’s always the problem buying good bread – one gets greedy and then one is faced with the age-old dilemma of what to do with the day-old bread. This particular recipe used Fred’s Yellow Flax Bâtard but you can use any day old loaf. I like the texture of the flax seeds in this one.
This is my version of a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich for adults. It’s based on a dish I first ate at the legendary Uraidla Aristologist restaurant (in the Adelaide Hills, where I was fortunate enough to dine a few times when I was way too young to really appreciate it). According to the State Library of South Australia website, The Aristologist was an innovative restaurant using fresh local produce ‘Tuscan style’ in the Adelaide hills in the 1980s and early 1990s, with chef Jennifer Hillier and Michael Symons, who wrote the interesting One continuous picnic: a history of eating in Australia (Adelaide: Duck Press, 1982).
Ingredients (makes 6-8)
For the bread cases:
1 loaf one to two day-old bread, large enough to but the crusts off and still be able to cut cubes from
melted butter (about ½ stick – 230g)
For the filling:
1 egg yolk, beaten
60g grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons tomato jam or chutney
2 cherry tomatoes, very finely sliced or diced
cherry tomatoes for garnish, thinly sliced
To make the bread cases:
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Slice crusts and ends off the bread to make the loaf rectangular. Slice in half and cut each slice into 3-4 even-sized cubes. Hollow out the centre of each cube to form a space for the filling and cheese sauce. Brush the sides with the melted butter and bake for 5-7 minutes until the cases are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain excess butter.
To make filling:
Melt the butter, add flour and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and pour in the boiling milk, whisking to remove lumps. Return to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon, adding the egg yolk, butter and cheese. Reserve a little of the cheese to cover the finished bread cases. The sauce will thicken over the heat.
Fill and cook the bread cases:
Preheat oven to 400F. Fill half the bread cases with ½ teaspoon tomato jam or chutney and the other half with the sliced or diced cherry tomatoes. Top with the cheese sauce (you will have extra cheese sauce – perfect for a Welsh Rarebit or a Croque Monsieur) and a sprinkle of the reserved cheese. Place the filled cases on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is hot and bubbling and golden on the top.
What I love about these is that they look way more complicated than they really are. Anything that looks like I have spent ages in the kitchen when I haven’t is a winner dish in my book!
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