Grilled Apple, Bacon, & Cheddar Sandwich

It’s that time of year… the sun is rising a little later to crisp, cool temperatures, the kids are moaning to stay in bed a little longer, and your blissful sunny summer vacation is starting to feel just a little too far away already.  But with the warm days of summer slipping through or chilly fingers, beautiful gourds, greenhouse-treasures, and apples! are gracing our shelves.  There’s something really comforting about cozying up in a sweater with one of your favorite meals; ours is a grilled cheese.  Yes, you may say it’s just a sandwich…. but it doesn’t have to be.  With seasonal tart apples, smoky bacon, and oozy sharp cheddar, this isn’t just a sandwich… it’s a warm hug on a cold day, a nostalgic mainstay, a damn good quick dinner.  And if you don’t like apples or bacon (you might be a little crazy), but you can throw just about anything between two slices of fresh bread and make a hearty, kid-friendly, speedy dinner for those nights when you’re running out the door to soccer practice or piano lessons or just need a little piece of cheesy heaven.

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Market Sourced Ingredients

2 slices whole wheat bread from Yum Bakery

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp from Spragg’s Meat Shop

4 slices Farm House Cheddar (we chose 8 years for it’s deliciously strong flavor) from Sylvan Star Cheese

1/2 Honeycrisp apple, cored, sliced thin from Souto Farms

*Brassica Whole Grain mustard from Blu Seafood

Butter

*This can be substituted nicely with the Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Onion Jam from La Cucina

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Preheat a seasoned grill pan or griddle over low to medium heat.  Assemble this sandwich just as you would a traditional grilled cheese sandwich: spread 1 slice of bread with some whole grain mustard, then top with cheddar (you can go as little or a lot as you like; we covered most parts of the bread with thin slices of cheese), the bacon, the apple slices, finishing with another mustard-slathered slice of bread.  We chose to use the Honeycrisp apple instead of say, Granny Smith, because it’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet that compliments the rich, sharp aged cheddar.  Unlike Granny Smith that are really quite sour, these may just be the perfect apple.

Butter the outsides of the bread generously and transfer to the pan. Grill about 3 minutes per side until golden. Remove to a cutting board and cut the sandwich in half on the diagonal to serve.  And if it’s a particularly crisp evening and you’re yearning for a hot bowl of soup to dip your ooey-gooey salty, sweet sandwich in, check out The Stock & Sauce Co. for a wide array of hearty, healthy soups.

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Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing

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Have you ever met someone who just doesn’t like a cobb salad?  Sure, there are vegetarians or vegans and ingredient-restricted individuals who steer clear of this delicious, often-reinterpreted salad, but there’s something for everyone in the well-rounded salad that eats like a meal.  This version, with a southern sweet onion twist, is sure to please even the pickiest of palates.  While it has many individual elements, it all comes together quickly and taking the time to make your own dressing is entirely worth it.  So let’s get started.

Ingredients

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Dressing:

6 unpeeled garlic cloves from Souto Farms

1-2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered through the core from Souto Farms

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing from La Cucina

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon from Cherry Pit

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 clamshell of fresh Alberta romaine lettuce from Cherry Pit

1 clamshell of fresh spicy microgreens from Cherry Pit

1 avocado from Cherry Pit

1 bag of sweet tomatoes (your preference) from Gull Valley Greenhouses

2 cups shredded cooked Bowden Farms chicken from Spragg’s Meat Shop

1 package of bacon from Spragg’s Meat Shop

4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese, (1/2 cup) from Fresh DELIcious

1/2 cup toasted pecans, choppped from Going Nuts

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise from Sylvan Star Cheese (or Blush Lane Organics)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Cobb Salad Collage

MAKE THE DRESSING: As we are likely enjoying the last week of warm sun and beautiful blue skies, we opted to grill the chicken and onions.  We even wrapped the garlic in foil and threw it on the grill too.  If you choose to do this step of the process in the oven, roast at 425°. Wrap the bulb of garlic (or individual cloves) in foil and set on a baking sheet. Brush the onions with oil and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until the onions and garlic are lightly charred and soft. Let cool.

Peel the garlic and transfer the cloves to a processor. Add the onions, cider vinegar and lemon juice and puree until smooth. With the blender on, gradually add the 1/2 cup of olive oil until incorporated. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.  At this point, we’d like to be perfectly transparent and admit that while our recipe calls for absolute measurements, we prefer to free-pour the vinegar and oil and trust our instincts.  Food is all about what tastes good right?  So if you want to add a little more vinegar, knock yourself out!  This dressing should have a good kick to it as it will cut through the rich chicken, bacon, and avocado and balance the salad.  Remember: Taste. Taste. Taste.  Taste as you go.

Set Up

MAKE THE SALAD: In an effort to not overdress the salad (who wants wilty, wet salad?), we placed the romaine and micorgreens in the bowl and arranged the remaining ingredients on top.  Just before serving, add your fresh-made sweet onion dressing and allow your guests to toss it all together to really see the magic happen.

This salad is a full meal that is sure to leave your family satisfied, hitting every mark: crisp lettuce leaves, succulent chicken, salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, nut-crunch…. and that’s just a few!  If you don’t like blue cheese, a milder cheese will absolutely work in this salad.  Choose what you like…. because let’s face it, food is meant to be enjoyed so use what you love and leave with a full and happy tummy.

*The onion dressing can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

My summer culinary tour to @Innisfail Growers w @cgyfarmersmarkt – a great @TravelAlberta @AlbertaCulinary #stay-cation

Karen Anderson of Calgary Food Tours was an incredible guide, a wealth of knowledge, and always entertaining. We love having her as a partner of the Calgary Farmers’ Market. If you haven’t taken part in one of her exciting tours, you’re definitely missing out.

Savour It All

Sunday, August 11, 2013 was the kind of Alberta summer day one dreams about.

We have big sky in Alberta. When our big sky is nothing but blue as far as the eye can see and there is not a breath of wind and I have a farm tour booked for my company Calgary Food Tours Inc. – well, that is a sure sign that all is right in the cosmos and my guests are going to have a day they remember their whole lives. I care for that.

I take it as a sign that Alberta and I are working together to help my guests savour their lives. The big Alberta blue sky serves as the perfect backdrop for some deep emotional bonding between city folk and farm folk over the common thread of caring about our food and where it comes from.

The mission for this farm tour…

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