Grilled Cheese with Hot Banana Peppers

Today was National Grilled Cheese Day, of course I had to make some. I had a craving for this mac & cheese I enjoyed at Beecher’s in NYC last summer. It was their kale and mama lil’s peppers mac and cheese. So freaking delicious. The tang from the pickled peppers worked so well with the creamy cheese.

The closest pepper I could think of was hot banana peppers which are also super tangy with a nice heat level. I love plain white bread for grilled cheese. A package of Scottish cheddar cheese caught my eye as well as fontina. I like fontina because it provides such a creamy melt. This Mull of Kintyre cheddar was also not too sharp with a nice nutty taste.

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I like spreading mayo on the bread instead of butter. A combination of mayo and butter is awesome too. To complement the hot peppers I spread some Sriracha-spiked mayo.

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Grilled cheese come out awesome using cast iron. For this I used my cast iron grill pan — I just wanted the pretty lines. I then sliced equal amounts of cheddar and fontina, then topped one bread slice with the hot banana peppers.

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Flipped one side on the other and kept toasting until the cheese was all melted.

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This was a super satisfying grilled cheese. Definitely reminded me of Beecher’s mac and cheese. The tang from the peppers really balanced the cheese. The fontina was oozing out of the bread. Just discovered you can buy Mama Lil’s Peppers online. I’m definitely picking up a bottle to make this grilled cheese again.

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This was a great way to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day.

Fried Chicken Steamed Bun Sammie

Steamed buns have yet to slow down moving from hipster status to mainstream finding its way to Central Maine. I love these pillowy soft steamed buns great stuffed with basically anything or just munched on its own.

In Thailand, we enjoy this type of bread in a stuffed bun form called “salapao” in Thai or “baozi” in Chinese. I’ve had a bag of Red Lotus Special flour which is used to make the steamed buns for way over a year. I’ve been trying and trying to make them on my own but alas no time as usual. So I was so happy to discover they were sold at the Veranda Asian Market in Portland. They’re in the frozen section and steam in no time. It’s great to have in your freezer when you need a quick snack. This Chimei brand is nice because it’s a good size (pretty wide) and has a good thickness so it can be overstuffed and not fall apart.

I’ve filled it with duck, pork loin and pork belly. Today I had a craving for Chik-fil-A so I just had to make fried chicken. Super simple sandwich that packed a lot of flavor. I made a maple-honey mustard sauce that paired deliciously with the fried chicken, and the bread and butter pickles balanced the whole sandwich out. I think steamed buns have become so popular because though they let the sandwich ingredients stand out, the bread itself still doesn’t get overshadowed. This is a great way to enjoy the buns, and I’ll definitely be making it more often than not.

Maple-Honey Mustard Sauce – Mix all ingredients

2 T.  Mayo (I used Kewpie)

3 T. Yellow Mustard (I used French’s)

2 T. Dijon Mustard (I used Grey Poupon)

1 T. Barbecue Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

1/2 T. honey

1/2 T. maple syrup

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Simple Fried Chicken

1 Chicken breast sliced thin, 2-3 inches in size (bun is small remember)

Dredge: Mix all ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina flour (This gives the chicken a nice crispy crust)

1 t. salt

1 t. white pepper

1 t. garlic powder

Batter: Mix all ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup water

1 T. soy sauce

1/2 T. Sriracha

Steamed Buns – steamed 5 minutes (I used a bamboo steamer)

Bread & Butter Pickles

Fry Oil (350 degrees)

1.) Make mustard sauce.

2.) Dip chicken pieces in flour dredge, then batter and then dredge again. Fry until golden.

3.) Steam buns while chicken is frying.

4.) Assemble – pickles, then chicken, and then drizzle with mustard sauce.

 

 

 

Prik Khing B.L.T.

I got the idea for a “prik khing B.L.T.” from the popular Thai dish “pad prik khing moo” which is a stir-fry using prik khing curry paste and sliced pork belly. Spiciness and sweetness are the dominant tastes in this dish. Pork belly is basically uncured bacon, and so it was just natural to think the prik khing flavors would work in B.L.T. form.

My go to brand for curry pastes is “Maesri.” This is a good quality Thai export. Maesri offers a myriad of curry pastes – red, yellow, green . . .. The prik khing one has a light green label and is found in almost all Asian specialty markets in the Portland area. (I’ll touch on my favorite markets in a future post.)

Thick cut bacon works best. I mixed one can of the curry paste with the bacon and then laid each piece of bacon on a sheet pan. I sprinkled brown sugar all over the bacon and thinly sliced kafir lime leaves as well. Lime leaves are an essential ingredient to the prik khing dish. I baked the bacon at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes.

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The bacon is super tender almost like super soft jerky. The color is a beautiful reddish brown. I could probably crisp up the bacon in a frying pan, but this soft texture worked well for this sandwich.

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You can’t have a great B.L.T. without mayo. To incorporate more of the prik khing dish flavors I added lime zest (the actual kafir lime is hard to find here, so lime works well) and thinly sliced kafir lime leaves. I used kewpie mayo which has a nice light texture. The mayo has very bright and tart citrusy flavor that cuts the sweetness of the bacon. It’s quite a delicious flavor combo.

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For the bread I used sourdough, again the tartness from the bread pairs well with the bacon. Standard iceberg lettuce and tomato slices, finished off this super awesome sandwich. It’s truly delicious.

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Ingredients List:

1.)Maesri prik khing curry paste

2.) Thick cut bacon

3.) brown sugar

4.) kafir lime leaves

5.)lime zest

6.) mayo

7.) lettuce

8.)tomato

9.)sourdough bread

Wow! Only 9 things needed to make a super unique B.L.T.