Kitchen experiment: Tuna cakes

tuna cakes

What do you do when you’re not really feeling any of the leftovers in the fridge for lunch? If you’re like me, you experiment (so long as said recipe experiment wasn’t too complicated, of course! I don’t pretend to be a great cook).

So here was the situation: After a long morning wrestling with editorial plans, I was getting hungry. I could eat a banana or a tub of yogurt but that was not going to sustain me for long. A glance at the pantry showed that there were canned corned beef; I could make a quick corned beef hash (that’s always good, but we’ve had that recently). There were also packets of instant noodles (not an option, unless there wasn’t anything left to eat and we’re in a midst of a zombie apocalypse. Nothing against instant noodles, but I ate a lot of it growing up and during college. Also, I was trying to eat healthy)… Ooh, there’s canned tuna. Wonder what I can make with that. Quesadillas? An option, except that I have to open a packet of tortillas and only use one or two of them. I didn’t want to add to the leftovers in the fridge. Hmmm, tuna salad? Yes. But yikes, no bread.

Continue reading Kitchen experiment: Tuna cakes

Grilled cheese sandwich!

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I am not in the mood to prepare something elaborate for supper (not that I do, normally) so I thought I’d make this updated grilled cheese sandwich. It’s fairly easy and the caramelized onions add zing while the veggies add crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, 1 medium onion (use the white or yellow, not the red)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • greens (like kale or spinach. I used spinach)
  • unsalted butter
  • sliced cheese (I recommend cheddar, but any melty cheese will do)
  • sliced bread (this recipe calls for thick slices of robust bread, think sourdough. But I only had multigrain bread so I used that)

To make caramelized onions:

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook a bit. Add the salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft. About 10 minutes.

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2. Add sugar and continue cooking for about five minutes. The recipe calls for two tablespoons of sugar, but you might want to add a bit more if you like your onions sweeter. Stir constantly.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking the onions until very very soft and dry — consistency of relish. About 10 more minutes. If you want the onions to have a bit more crunch, you may want to stop the cooking sooner (like I did).

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4. You’re not going to be able to use all of the onions you cooked. Store in a plastic container for use in other sandwiches — or with meats.

To assemble the sandwiches:

1. Butter one side of four slices of bread and set aside.
2. On one slice of bread (unbuttered side), layer a slice of cheese, then caramelized onions, then the spinach, then another slice of cheese. Top with a slice of bread (buttered side up).
3. Repeat the process for the second sandwich.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the skillet until the bread is golden and the cheese melts. Flip the sandwich to cook on the other side.
5. Slice and enjoy!

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As someone who doesn’t cook much (indeed, growing up, my brothers tended to cook more, while I washed the dishes), I am somewhat amused that people who peruse this blog check out the one and only recipe I’ve ever posted — the one on corned beef pasta. Either there is a mad love for corned beef out there (entirely plausible) or people who know me can’t believe I actually bestirred myself to prepare something that involves a stove (again, entirely plausible).

Anyway, this sandwich is great for a light dinner or for weekend lunches — or as a snack. All in all, from making the caramelized onions to grilling the sandwiches, it takes one hour to prepare. But if you cook the onions ahead, this can be assembled in 20 minutes.

Lessons from doing this:
1. Should have sliced the onions even thinner so they cook more evenly.
2. To balance the flavorful caramelized onions, use a strong flavored cheese, otherwise the onions might overpower the whole sandwich.
3. It would be interesting to try this with kale — as in the original recipe.*
4. Because of the components, you need a thicker-sliced bread.
5. Make sure the skillet is really hot when you grill the sandwich so the cheese melts.

I based the recipe on the one featured in A Cup of Jo. Click on the link for the original version of the recipe and the more photogenic sandwich. πŸ˜‰