Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches

The Recipe: Dagwood-style sandwich fixins with a Greek twist: rotisserie chicken, a cucumber and feta spread akin to tzatziki, roasted peppers, more feta, pickled onions, fresh greens, all piled between soft rolls.

The Conversation: What to make when you've got more cucumbers than you know what to do with.

Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches ♥, sandwich fixins with a Greek twist.

Defense During the Annual Cucumber Glut

Our garden is shooting out cucumber bullets every day, some small and pickle-sized but mostly beastly behemoths.

Ever since the barrage began, I throw one (peeled and seeded) into our daily breakfast smoothies.

Three times we've made Nana's Cucumbers with Sour Cream, my German-Russian and Canadian grandmother's recipe. And twice Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber Salad. And hey! I can tell you now what I couldn't back in 2008 when readers first fell in love with this cucumber and tomato salad and I fell in love with this guy, "Old Liz" was Jerry's mother!

We also adore Smitten Kitchen's Avocado-Cucumber Salad and even added grapes and honeydew and blueberries and I-forget-what-all-else for an after-wedding brunch in Texas one year. Kalyn's Kitchen's Cucumber Avocado Salad adds tuna to the mix, it makes for a quick but substantial Saturday lunch on the regular around here.

We've made two jars wonderful jars of Sun Pickles. (Recipe coming soon!)

But mostly? We give cucumbers to anyone who'll take one or two or a dozen. The rest just taunt us.

Juicy Cucumbers for Sandwiches

It's easy to cut a few skinny-minny slices of cucumber for a sandwich but for this Greek-style dagwood sandwich, I used a long-time favorite Kitchen Parade recipe for Cucumber Dip with Feta, a quick mix of grated cucumber, cream cheese and feta. It's easy-easy to make and a lot like Greek tzatziki, so if you have a favorite tzatziki recipe, go for it. Or – glory – Trader Joe's carries tzatziki during the summer, another possibility.

Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches in the making ♥, sandwich fixins with a Greek twist.

The Right Bread

This is the trick, sourcing the right bread. Tastes vary of course but to my taste, by all rights, this special sandwich demands a special bread.

A roll not a slice, the better to keep all those interior layers intact.
A soft white roll not a sturdy wholegrain roll, the better shape itself around the fillings.
A broad and flattish roll not a towering bun.

The Bad News. There's no such bread in my usual supermarkets. The Good News. Good thing, because we'd have big dagwood-style sandwiches a lot more often!

So with any luck, you know of your own source for the right bread for a stacked-high dagwood sandwich. To make my own rolls, I'd start with my mom's Homemade Yeast Rolls but make separate rolls, pressed slightly flat and broad before the second rise.

UPDATE! This Savory Simple recipe for buffalo chicken sandwiches introduces a new Sara Lee bread which looks perfect, it's called Artesano Bakery Buns. It could well be easier to find!

Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches ♥, sandwich fixins with a Greek twist.

You'll Love My Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches If You ...

... love off-the-cuff hearty sandwiches full of summer freshness
... appreciate a well-balanced sandwich, a medley of tanginess and creaminess, a mix of protein and plant
... need a quick-quick supper

Easy Summer Recipes ♥, a collection of easy-to-remember and memorable recipes especially for summer. Less cookin'. More livin'. It's the summer's motto!
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that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
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Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10
Makes 1 (or many ...)

  • Soft sandwich rolls
  • Cucumber Dip with Feta or something similar like tzatziki
  • Freshly ground pepper (don't skip)
  • Roasted red pepper, drained well and cut in strips
  • Cooked chicken, sliced thin
  • Ripe tomato, sliced or diced
  • Spiced Pickled Red Onions or thinly sliced red onion
  • Feta crumbles
  • Arugula or another fresh green
  • Toothpicks, for holding together

TOAST THE ROLLS Cut the rolls in half, brush the cut sides with a little olive oil, then toast just until golden in a skillet or on an electric griddle.

CUCUMBER DIP Spread Cucumber Dip generously on both sides, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Set aside the sandwich "lid" aka the top half of the roll.

RED PEPPER Spread red pepper strips across the bottom.

CHICKEN Spread the sliced chicken across the bottom, as thick as you like. If using more than a couple of layers, spread a little more Cucumber Dip mid-way through and sprinkle with pepper again.

REMAINING INGREDIENTS Keep building! Sprinkle or layer on tomato, onion, feta and arugula.

CAP IT! Put the "lid" on and secure the sandwich with a toothpick or two.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Prep all the ingredients ahead of time but assemble the sandwiches just before serving.

ALANNA's TIPS Look for rolls that are wide and quite soft. I've never found anything quite right in either typical grocery stores or even traditional bakeries. In St. Louis, I now have two sources, an Afghan bakery in the City (sorry, not sure which one) which delivers fresh bread to Global Foods Market in Kirkwood every day and a wonderful Middle-Eastern / Mediterranean restaurant called "Troy" in Valley Park. In addition, I some times buy extra wood-baked pita breads at Olio in the City. All work great! Just be sure to use them on the same day. If the rolls are large, a skillet isn't big enough to handle more than one or two so I drag out the electric griddle, works like a charm! And the rolls I use are big! A half a sandwich is plenty, even a third for lunch, say. I love the wetness that comes from the Cucumber Dip, without it, the sandwich could end up on the dry side. Even my favorite Crazy-Smooth Crazy-Good Hummus turns out a too-dry sandwich, the more mayonnaise-textured Roasted Eggplant “Hummus" (Eggplant & Chickpea Dip & Spread) would be a better choice. Our garden tomatoes haven't come in yet so I've been using a Sam's Club product, Fresh Bruschetta, we keep this on hand all summer long and use it breakfast, lunch and supper! (This is NOT a sponsored message. We rely on this product and think you might like it as well.) What else could you add? Chopped artichokes. Chopped bacon. Avocado would be a little slippery but an Avocado Dip would work beautifully.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Sandwich (admittedly a total swag since the breads, especially, will vary so much, also remember that these sandwiches are big, a man might eat a whole one but the women half and even a third; assumes for each sandwich, 125g bread, 2 ounces chicken, 1 ounce roasted peppers and tomato, 1/2 ounce feta, 1/4 cup Cucumber Dip, 1/4 ounce arugula): 626 Calories; 18g Tot Fat; 10g Sat Fat; 74mg Cholesterol; 247mg Sodium; 78g Carb; 6g Fiber; 12g Sugar; 35g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 13 & PointsPlus 16 & SmartPoints 20 (half is plenty, remember, for smaller eaters!)

Go Greek ... at the Table, That Is!

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Greek Pasta Salad Tourlou Tourlou (Greek Baked Vegetables) Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki)
~ more Greek recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ roasted peppers ~
~ tomatoes ~
~ cooked chicken ~
~ onions ~
~ feta cheese ~
~ arugula ~
~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mini Blueberry Tarts

The Recipe: Miniature cheesecake-like tarts baked in a mini muffin pan with a "pop" of fresh blueberry right in the middle. The tart is an easy, press-in dough (and only slightly fiddly) and the filling is as easy as can be. These make a welcome colorful addition to a tray of one- and two-bite mini desserts. And besides, right? Blueberries!

Mini Blueberry Tarts ♥, a press-in crust, no mixer required. Super easy!

Can A Favorite Old Recipe Make the Switch from Large to Mini?

When I first adapted an old-old-old recipe from a big tart feeding eight (in generous slices, mind you) to mini tarts feeding thirty (in tiny two-bite mini tarts), I had high hopes that it would all work out. Time-wise, I'd left no wiggle room for a second batch if the first didn't work out. My notes even read, "A little fiddly so will need to be excellent."

And excellent they were!

And not even that fiddly! The semi-fiddly part is pressing the dough into the cups of a mini muffin pan. After that, easy-peasy. Just fill the tarts with a bit of sweetened sour cream that's akin to cheesecake, plop in a blueberry and bake away.

Mini Blueberry Tarts are truly special, especially on a tray of other bite-size sweets, one chocolate (a mini version of Old-Fashioned Black Walnut Chocolate Cake), one lemon (starring Brown Sugar Lemon Curd) and these, a lovely combination of creaminess and tart blueberry.

Scaling the Recipe

I intended to scale the recipe so that it would make exactly 24 tarts, that's how many cups are in a mini muffin tin. But honestly, it didn't scale easily.

So I've left it at 30 mini tarts, a good number for many occasions. If you have just one non-stick mini muffin pan like I do, then you'll need to bake the tarts in two trays, my recommendation would be 15 and 15 or something similar versus 24 and 6.

Good news? The recipe also easily halves for just 15 mini tarts.

You'll Love My Mini Blueberry Tarts For ...

... easy prep, no mixer required
... a cheesecake-like filling without the fuss of a waterbath
... their dramatic but slightly rustic look
... complementing other bite-size mini desserts
... a tiny mini dessert to finish a summer luncheon
... portion control!
... how the blueberries go "pop" when you bite in!


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 30

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons/4oz/112g) salted butter, room temperature or melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 94g
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour, fluffed or 94g
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 cup (200g) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or more vanilla)
  • Blueberries

PREP Heat oven to 350F/180C.

DOUGH Mix the egg and sugar with a fork in a medium bowl. Mix in the butter, flours and baking powder with a wooden spoon, even your hands, to form a soft, supple dough. Separate the dough into 15 equal pieces, each one weighing 12 – 15 grams. Gently press each piece into the cup of a mini muffin pan, shaping a tiny tart shell whose bottom and sides are roughly the same thickness. (For more detail, see How to Shape the Tart Dough, below.)

FILLING In the same bowl, whisk the egg, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Carefully spoon filling mixture into each tart, then top with a blueberry, it'll sink in just a bit, that's good.

BAKE until the tart shell's edges turn golden, about 20 minutes but start checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The fillings may puff up like little soufflés near the end but fall back once the tarts cool. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before gently removing the tarts from the pan to finish cooling.

STORAGE Store the tarts in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Mini Blueberry Tarts are best made and eaten on the same day.

VARIATIONS Different fruits would work beautifully here, sour cherries, raspberries, raisins soaked in rum, mango, etc. Get creative! Just be mindful about size (experience says that blackberries are too big) and wetness (a tiny whole strawberry would work better than chopped strawberry, say) and even tartness (blueberries are perfectly tart, pineapple tidbits are not).

ALANNA's TIPS I use a "standard" mini muffin pan with 24 cups to make Mini Blueberry Tarts. It looks like this non-stick mini muffin pan, each cup holds about 2 tablespoons. My pan is non-stick and I have no trouble removing the tarts from the pan, even without using baking spray or Baker's Joy, my go-to baking spray for baked goods. To release the tarts from the mini muffin pan, I use the thin wire of a cake tester to insert between the pan's side and the tart, it helps to just pop them right out, some times I need to insert it in two or three places but really, the tarts pop right out. To halve the recipe, whisk one large egg and use half in the crust and half in the filling. Low-fat sour cream works fine, non-fat sour cream is a hideous contrivance of modern industrial food just doesn't. That said, I have the idea that non-fat Greek yogurt might well work out beautifully. I've only made Mini Blueberry Tarts with those large, fresh blueberries you find in grocery stores for a few wonderful weeks during the summer. Just one fits into the mini tarts but it's enough, a pop of juicy berry. If your blueberries are wild or small, use what fits. In fact, I'd recommend filling one mini tart first, just to see how much filling to use with the particular blueberries, it might be useful to use a titch less filling if that makes room for another blueberry. I think that frozen blueberries would work fine. Don't thaw them first and allow for a slightly longer baking time.

HOW TO SHAPE THE TART DOUGH Mixing the dough and the filling takes just minutes, simple, simple, simple. But don't worry about forming the tarts either, it's very simple in its own way, no rolling, no tools except your own hands. Once you get the hang of it, the tart shells shape up quick-quick. You may well find your own knack but here's how I do it. No need to obsess with perfection, your kitchen isn't a factory, your hands aren't a machine.

The dough is the texture of soft cookie dough. If you think it would be easier to work with after a short stint in the fridge, go for it, but I have no trouble straight out of the mixing bowl. First, break off a piece of dough that weighs 12 – 15 grams. (You do have a kitchen scale, right? Life changing! But if you don't, no problem, just eyeball 15 roughly equivalent dough pieces. First, shape the dough into a big dough ball, then roll it into a "snake" with the palms of your hands on a clean work surface. Then use a knive or a benchknife to cut the snake into three equal parts, then cut each piece into five equal parts. See? Easy! Make enough of these, you actually get amazingly accurate with breaking off the same amount each time.)

Gently roll each piece into a ball and put it into one of the cups in the mini muffin pan. With your pointer finger, gently press down to the tart bottom. Then press out and upward to form the sides of the tart. Then press the very tip of your finger to form corners between the bottom and the sides. It helps to twirl the pan around as you circumnavigate the world, no such luck, just the tart while it's being shaped.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Mini Tart: 88 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 25mg Cholesterol; 46mg Sodium; 10g Carb; g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4 (points are the same with both regular sour cream and low-fat sour cream)
Adapted from Finnish Fruit Tart, an easy-easy tart with a press-in crust that I've been making since way back in 1976 when I was an exchange student in Finland.

Blueberries = My Summer Heaven

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Five-Minute Fruit Salad Summer Corn Bread with Fresh Blueberries Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Mini Mini Mini = Memorable Memorable Memorable

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream Two-Bite Brownies Mini Tiramisu Cups with Pralines

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!