Kelly the Culinarian: Cooking with Kelly: The super sandwich

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cooking with Kelly: The super sandwich

A few weeks ago, I grabbed a bite to eat at the The Planet Cafe on Fourth Avenue here in town. It's a hipster kind of place with cafe offerings and I got the cheapest thing on the menu because let's not forget, I'm a starving student. One of the cheapest sandwiches was the veggie dee-lux and it came with sliced tomato, romaine, avocado, red onion, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, carrot shreads, cream cheese and vinaigrette served on toasted wheat bread.

It was a phenomenal sandwich, but it was $4.75, so not exactly an everyday lunch. So I decided to make my own at home. I used neufatchel cheese instead of cream cheese. I added slices of avocado, a romaine lettuce leaf, two sliced roma tomatoes, shredded carrots, sliced green pepper and a little bit of paper-thin sliced red onion. I also put it on toasted wheat bread.

It wasn't quite like the cafes version, but it was darn good. Very filling with lots of flavors. You don't even miss the meat. The creaminess of the neufatchel along with the that of the avocado is really quite filling. Also, everything in the sandwich has a nice crunch, except the juicy tomatoes, which just happen to be in season. The whole thing could had used a dash of salt, but otherwise, I kind of impressed myself with my ability to mimic the cafe food.

Not only was this sandwich cheaper to create with plenty of stuff for leftovers, but it was bigger too and far more filling. Also, I know exactly how much of everything went on there and yes, I used half of a small avocao and perhaps a half of a tablespoon of cream cheese substitute. But I also got a ton more veggies than I would have at the cafe.



Dawg said...

I have a couple of comments. First off, is $4.75 is an expensive lunch? I don't spend that every day, wouldn't want to, but on the other hand, that is a relatively CHEAP lunch (at least in Chicago) - I don't think you can get half a sub at Subway for $4.75.

My second point is that Neufchâtel, the real stuff, is from France, matured for at least a couple of months and is not cheap - similar in price to camembert.

Neufchâtel is an AOC that is protected in France (like "champagne"), but the cheap Neufchâtel you usually find in a normal grocery store is really just a lower-fat cream cheese. I'm not sure why some AOC's are legally protected here and some aren't, but Neufchâtel is not protected here.

Your sandwich looks fabulous. Kudos to you for taking the initiative to recreate this at home. Keep up the good work!

KellytheCulinarian said...

It must not have been real. It was the stuff you get next to the cream cheese that says "1/3 less fat than cream cheese!" Perhaps I even got the name wrong.

I guess that isn't a pricey lunch, but I thought I could do it better for less.

Dawg said...

Well, you can, and did, do it better for less.

This is why I like your blog - you encourage people to do it themselves.

Even though I LOVE eating out, I rarely do because it's hard for me to see the point of spending 3x as much for something I can do myself. Now, of course, I can't cook as skillfully as you can find in most restaurants, but I can get close and if it's a mediocre restaurant, I might actually do better.

I either eat a PB&J or tofu dogs I buy at a grocery store and heat up in the microwave for lunch. It's not very exciting, but eating out every day adds up, even IF it's a Subway half-sub or Planet Cafe veggie dee-lux.

The real Neufchâtel usually comes in heart or log shapes and looks a lot like brie.

I buy the grocery store Neufchâtel, too - it's hard to find really good cream cheese. I found a recipe to make it myself, but have never done it. The recipe's author says it's one of the easiest cheeses to make from home. It involves hanging a wet mixture to drain through cheesecloth, etc., still seems messy and time consuming. I wish there was a good deli nearby where I could just buy the real stuff.

Also, I found that certain American wine regions are protected like the AOC wines in France - it's called the "American Viticultural Assocation" (AVA) and gives legal status to a variety of US wine-growing regions, but, as far as I know, nothing like the French AOC for cheeses. With the growing popularity of the American artisinal cheeses, though, I bet it's only a matter of time.

Sorry for such a long, rambling post, but on a related note, I heard a story on NPR that talked about how the label of "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" means absolutely nothing here - it could be soybean oil with green food coloring. There's a ton of counterfeit EVOO out there, I guess.

Anyhow, that's it - thanks for providing food for thought. Ahem.

tigerfish said...

It's always cheaper to do your own sandwich, plus you can use the ingredients you like to fill the sandwich. But I fall prey to a good sandwich outside too. $4.75 for a sandwich is considered reasonably cheap here.

Keren Brown said...

Kelly, how starving are you? I don't know about you but 4.75 is so cheap to me. I guess Seattle is expensive. Good for you that you
made it at home. It's nice to see that you do that. I should start too. Anyway why did you use substitute cream cheese. A tablespoon of the real thing goes
a hell of a long way.

Unknown said...

WOW! Those looks so good! Bet it's filling! Yummy!

stay-at-home mum said...

Love these super sandwiches! Love making them myself coz then can add more of all those things I like and healthier versions too! Great job.

People St.Clair said...

ok, here's another recipe I have to try. The sandwich looked delicious and I'm definitely inspired.

A Mature Student said...

The sandwich in the photo is the one you made, Kelly?

Oooh, I like, look at the chunky avodaco!

I don't buy sandwiches from outside if I can help it. My daughter loves her roast duck with hoisin sauce wrap from Boots that comes with a drink and a dessert for £2.99

FH said...

I love Avacado in sandwiches!! Looks delicious! I made Sloppy Joe and posted it today at Foodie's Hope!:)

Cynthia said...

I can imagine how filling this was Kelly. I'd also like to put everything (except the bread) into a bowl, sprinkle some salt and pepper and have it like a salad.

Saju said...

that sandwich looks like one to die for. Mmmmmmmmmmm.........
I make this kind of sandwich on Saturdays, to spoil myself. I am going to try this one this weekend. thanks for sharing

Zach said...

What's interesting about this sandwich? I mean, beyond it being a completely unremarkable veggie sandwich?

KellytheCulinarian said...

I suppose there isn't anything remarkable about a sandwich, other than it tastes great. That is why we eat, after all. Sorry you're so unimpressed. I write about foods that real people eat everyday. Thanks for stopping by!

ZoeyBella said...

That's an awesome looking sandwich and that avocado is mighty tempting!

Just for fun I've been putting carrot shreds on my sandwiches as of late... it really kicks it up a notch!

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dawg said...

Kelly - you should be proud! You're not a real blogger until you get some troll spewing bilge.

Now, I just broke the number one rule with dealing with trolls - ignore them (which you seem to have done nicely), but he deserves a smackdown:

Zach - fuck off. Being critical is fine, being an asshole isn't.

Deb in MA said...

Mmmm. What a delicious sandwhich. Do you think I could substitute alphalfa sprouts for the sunflower? I've never seen them in my stores. Maybe it's time to start sprouting at home! Anyway, thanks for a great dinner/lunch idea.