One of my favorite cooking shows out there is Chopped. The competitors are asked to make a dish in a short amount of time from a basket of random, miscellaneous ingredients. Their crazy, innovative creations always inspire me to cook and whip up some spectacular dish of my own. I had always thought it would be fun to enter a Chopped-like competition but never thought I’d get a chance to until recently.
To celebrate Earth Day, our school hosts a Celebration Fair, where many student groups set up booths and activities related to Earth Day. A student group called Real Food Hopkins hosted a “Veg Fest” competition, where 4 student chefs competed to see who could make the best vegetarian dish. They gave us the list of ingredients a few days beforehand so we could come up with a recipe (a bit more time than they give you in Chopped). The students then prepared the recipes the night before the competition to hand out as samples to students at the fair. On the actual day of the fair, we cooked our dishes in front of everyone and had the judges taste them.
The list of ingredients they gave were: beets, radishes, turnips, carrots, kale, fingerling sweet potatoes, white button mushrooms, and French shallots. After tossing a few ideas in my head I thought of creating a twist on the Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich by using a veggie patty filling. This was a completely original recipe and actually turned out pretty great the first time I made it. I used the same recipe for the competition and although I didn’t win, the sandwich got some rave reviews from friends and students for being “creative and delicious.”
- 1 cup carrots, peeled intro thin strips
- 1/2 cup radish, chopped into thin slivers
- 1/2 shallot, chopped into slivers
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups fingerling sweet potatoes
- 2 cups white button mushrooms, chopped into small bits
- 1 cup red kale, chopped into small pieces
- 1 red shallot
- olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 3 French baguettes (8-in long)
- salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce or Srirarcha
- In a medium bowl, mix together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Using a vegetable peeler, peel outer layer of carrots and discard. Then continue peeling into long, thin strips. Using a knife, thinly slice radish into small circles. Thinly slice shallots. Add the carrots, radish, and shallot into the vinegar bowl and stir. Let stand at room temperature.
- Boil water in a large pot. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small cubes. Steam sweet potato cubes for 15 min, until tender when poked with a fork.
- While sweet potatoes are steaming, peel and mince shallot. Roughly chop mushrooms and kale into small pieces. In a medium pan, sauté shallots. Then add mushrooms and kale. Stir for about 5 minutes, until cooked well.
- Transfer the steamed sweet potatoes into a bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the mushroom-kale mix and mash together. Add soy sauce, egg, and breadcrumbs and mix well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Using hands, form sweet potato mix into small ½ inch balls. Press gently to flatten.
- In the same pan as before, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add the sweet potato discs and fry on both sides until dark golden on the outside (about 30-60 sec each).
- Cut baguettes horizontally. Mix mayonnaise and hot chili sauce together. Spread on the bottom inner side of the baguette. Add sweet potato discs and top with the pickled carrots, radish, and shallots.
According to Urban dictionary, the first 3 definitions of the word “Bae” are: 1. Before anyone else, 2. a Danish word for poop, and 3. baby, boo, or sweetie. Definitions 1 and 3 come closest to how my friends and I use the term, although definition 2 may come in handy when I study abroad in Denmark for the next 4 months (!!!). I have just coined another abbreviation for “bae” with a similar endearing connotation….Bacon Avocado and Egg sandwich aka BAE sandwich.
I can never get enough of my favorite Avocado and Egg Toast but this time I brought it up a couple levels by adding some chipotle powder, BACON, and another slice of bread. Too good. As always, the best part is when the yolk runs and serves as a natural sauce. Warning: it can get messy as you can see from the pictures. The chipotle powder gives the sandwich an extra kick and is highly recommended.
The preparation for this simple sandwich is approximately 10 minutes. It would probably fit best in the big breakfast/brunch category although I had it for lunch and would happily eat it for dinner too. This BAE sandwich is a must-try and you will see that it truly does go “before anyone else.”
BACON AVOCADO AND EGG (BAE) SANDWICH
2 slices bread (I used whole wheat)
1/2 avocado, ripe
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper
2 strips bacon, crispy
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
Toast 2 slices of bread in a toaster (or on a pan with olive oil).
Scoop the meat of 1/2 avocado into a small bowl and mash. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
In a skillet or toaster oven, cook bacon until crispy. Use a paper towel to soak up excess grease.
In another skillet (or the same one), fry an egg.
Assembly: Spread the mashed avocado on one slice of bread. Sprinkle the chipotle powder over the avocado. Put fried egg on top. Then add bacon strips. Lastly, add other slice of bread on top.
Cut in half diagonally and devour.
Food trucks are awesome because they are usually fast, cheap, and convenient. Earlier this week, several food trucks came to our school to serve food at a carnival-like event we had for the freshmen. My friends and I all happened to order the same sandwich, an avocado and bacon grilled cheese. Although the wait was exceedingly long, the sandwich was absolutely delicious. Putting avocados in a grilled cheese sandwich…ingenious.
I made a much healthier variation of that amazing grilled cheese sandwich by replacing the bacon with tomatoes and using whole wheat bread. It tasted even better! It was less salty (because there was no bacon) and the tomatoes gave it a burst of freshness. The way the melted cheese and avocado blend together is an unparalleled combination.
I made the sandwich using a pan, which heated the sandwich perfectly so that the outer bread layers were well toasted and the cheese was just melted. The heat didn’t get to the avocado or tomato so they still tasted fresh and uncooked. This sandwich takes only 10-15 minutes to make in total so it is definitely a great option for making lunch in the dorms!
AVOCADO AND TOMATO GRILLED CHEESE
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tsp olive oil
2 slices American cheese
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
Brush olive oil on one side of each slice of bread.
Lay oiled side of a slice of bread face down. Layer cheese, tomato, avocado, cheese, and other slice of bread with oiled side up.
Heat pan to medium heat and place sandwich on it. After 2 minutes, flip it over and wait another 2 minutes. The bread should be toasted brown and the cheese should be melted when it is done.