Tag Archives: sandwich

Grilled Brie and Apple Sandwiches with Onion Jam and Maple Dijon

I have developed a condition called City O’ City radar.  Whenever The Mister and I are even mildly close to Capitol Hill in Denver, he doesn’t even have to ask me where I want to eat.  Think upscale but casual vegetarian bar food, everything made from scratch with honest, good ingredients.  I have ordered most things on the menu, from the addictive greek salad with a vinaigrette I’d love to re-create at home, to the freshly baked whole wheat sourdough bread, and the Urban Cowgirl pizza, with its addictive chipotle marinara sauce.  Even though half of the menu is devoted to small-batch spirits, locally made beers, and carefully selected wines, make no mistake–City O’ City is not your typical bar scene.

There is almost always a wait to be seated, but plenty of entertainment to be had while waiting.  One could: gawk at the frosting-crowned cupcakes and latticed blueberry tarts, check out the concert posters taped to the wall, or, people watch.  The clientele wears the most fascinating assortment of hats.  You’ll see hair covering the full gammet of the color palette, with bangs trimmed in every which way.  Don’t worry, though.  You need not fit any specific image to be treated well here.  Earth mommas, artists, young, old, and in-between; cool people that think they’re nerdy, and nerdy people who think they’re cool, and people who just don’t care what other people think of them… All are welcome here.

The service is always friendly, and again, and while you’re waiting for your food, there is plenty more amusement to be had.  You could: read the daily quote on the framed chalkboard above the bar, or, check out the rotating local art displayed on the wall.  So far the most recent and memorable have been the quilted pictures of brightly colored lizards riding bicycles, and just last time, the interestingly-lit curio cabinets with strange objects inside–like something you might find in the movie Coraline.  Look back into the kitchen and you’ll see about ten people doing a sort of bohemian ballet, the guy with the dreadlocks and the bandana arcing a pizza peel into the oven, another sliding an Urban Cowgirl out of the oven.  The waitstaff weaves in and out, plates balanced on either hand.

While the atmosphere at City O’ City contributes to the magnetic force that pulls me into the restaurant, the food is really what keeps me coming back.  The other day, I had a serious craving for “La Petite Amie”; a grilled cheese sandwich like you’ve never experienced before.  I knew that City O’ City was not in the cards for the day, so I decided to re-create the sandwich to quell my hunger until next time.

My version turned out to be a close approximation of the original; bread slices with a sheet of golden crunch on the outside, giving way to melted brie swirled with caramelized onion jam and maple dijon, topped with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples and tempeh bacon.  After the whole mess was perfectly crispy and melty, I added baby arugula, as they do with the original, to add a fresh peppery note.  A couple girl friends and I devoured our fancy grilled cheese with a mixed greens salad tossed in Meyer Lemon vinaigrette, and a mindless dose of The Bachelor; the perfect way to quell my craving…until my radar beeps again.

Grilled Brie and Apple Sandwiches with Onion Jam and Maple Dijon

Inspired by “La Petite Amie” at City O’ City

Makes 4-6 sandwiches

  • 1 loaf of your favorite crusty bread, sliced
  • 1 wedge of brie, a little over a half pound, thinly sliced (the rind is edible and may be left on)
  • 2 granny smith apples, washed, cored, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 package tempeh bacon, or 8-10 slices real bacon
  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 batch caramelized onion jam (see recipe below)
  • Olive oil for spraying or brushing
  • kosher salt
  • 2 handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried

1. Make the onion jam and set aside.

2.  Whisk the dijon mustard and maple syrup together in a small bowl and set aside.

3.  Heat medium or large frying pan over medium high heat.  Cook the bacon until crisp.  (If using tempeh bacon, heat 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil in the pan first.).  Set aside to drain on a plate covered with paper towels.  Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch long pieces

4.  Wipe out the pan used to cook the bacon with a paper towel, then return to the stove and reduce heat to medium.

5. Assemble the Sandwiches: Spray or lightly brush one side of two pieces of bread with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.  On the sides of the bread not sprayed with olive oil, spread the maple dijon and onion jam, and layer the brie, apples, and tempeh bacon.

6. Close the sandwich, place in the heated pan, and cover.  Cook for about two minutes, or until one side is golden and crispy, and the cheese is beginning to melt.  Flip, and cook for approximately two more minutes, or until the other side is golden, and cheese is gooey and melted.  Remove from the pan, and pull the sandwich open, put a small amount of arugula inside, and close the sandwich up again.  Repeat this process for each sandwich, and serve while hot.

Caramelized Onion Jam

Adapted from The Improvisational Cook, by Sally Schneider

A helpful guide for caramelizing onions can be found here.

  • 2 pounds yellow onions, halved, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir.  Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the onions have released their liquid.

2. Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the onions turn a slight golden color.  Sprinkle with sugar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden brown, 10-25 minutes more.  Add the apple cider vinegar to the hot pan, stir, and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat.

3.  Transfer the onions to a cutting board or a food processor and finely chop (but don’t puree).  Add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

P.S:  Here is a goofy photo of me with a grapefruit margarita at City O’ City last summer.


Filed under Jams, Jellies and Spreads, Sandwiches and Burgers

Grilled Portobello Burgers with Piquillo Aioli

Here is a recipe that has been sitting, waiting patiently in my Epicurious recipe box for over a year, along with 419 friends.  Why, oh why have we only just met, in my 27th year of life?  I think you made me nervous.  I just knew I’d love you, but I wasn’t so sure about my live-in burger-connoisseur,  Mr. Medium-Rare.

All the portobello sandwiches and burgers I have ever had have been lifeless.  Limp.  Slightly cold.  Lacking savoriness.  Sometimes slathered in bland marinara, sometimes paired with other grilled but cold zucchini or red bell pepper and topped with a cold disc of mozzarella.  Just thinking about it makes me feel glum.

Such sandwiches are never rubbed with thyme and garlic and left to marinate…or grilled until seared on the outside, firm and juicy on the inside.  Not topped with a melted dome of smoked gouda that imparts the smokiness that normally only non-vegetarian burgers possess.  No watercress or other fresh greens to add a contrast in temperature, texture or color…oh, and you can just forget about aioli–especially one with piquillo peppers and garlic, dotted with fresh thyme.  One last note:  those lifeless portobellos never sit upon toasty sourdough rolls.

I’m sorry for stereo-typing you, grilled portobello burger.  I was wrong about you.  Let’s be friends.

Grilled Portobello Burgers with Piquillo Aioli

Adapted with just a few tweaks from Bon Appetit,  July 2008


  • 1/2 cup chopped drained piquillo peppers from a jar, (or roasted red peppers in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • ground cayenne to taste
  • salt to taste

If making the aioli from scratch (ie: homemade mayonnaise), you will need the following…

  • 1 egg yolk, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt, or to taste

Portobello Burgers:

  • 6 large portobello mushrooms; washed, stems removed, gills scraped out with a spoon
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into 1/3 inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 slices smoked gouda
  • 6 sourdough or ciabatta rolls
  • 1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed, or a handful of  mixed greens

For the aioli (from scratch):

Whisk the egg yolks and salt together in a small bowl, then pour into a food processor.  Add the minced garlic, piquillo peppers, thyme and vinegar.  Blend for about 30 seconds until pureed.  With the food processor continuously running, pour in the grapeseed oil (or canola oil) followed by the olive oil in a slow and steady stream.

Remove from the food processor and season to taste with salt, cayenne, and black pepper.  Chill until ready to serve. This aioli can be made up to 3 days in advance if refrigerated immediately.

For the aioli (if using prepared mayonnaise):

Combine the piquillo peppers, garlic, thyme, and red wine vinegar in a food processor and blend until pureed.  Add the mayonnaise and pulse for about 3 seconds to combine.  Remove the mixture to a small bowl and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne.  Chill until ready to serve.

For the mushrooms and onions:

Arrange the portobellos on a baking sheet.  Brush both sides with oil.  Rub each side with minced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Allow mushrooms to sit, gill side up for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.  Lightly brush the onions with oil and sprinkle with salt.


Lightly oil the grates of a grill or grill pan and pre-heat over medium-high heat.  Place the onions and mushrooms on the rack, and cook until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook another 6-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and striped with grill marks.  Place 1 slice of gouda on top of each mushroom, and cook until gouda is melted, about 1 minute.  Slice each sourdough roll in half and place on the grill until toasted.

Build your Burger:

Spread aioli on the cut side of each roll.  Top each roll with a mushroom, grilled onions and watercress.  Serve immediately while hot.





Filed under Main Dishes, Sandwiches and Burgers