Friday, April 19, 2013

A New Kind of BLT

BLT. Three little letters that represent one hugely popular and perfect sandwich combination: bacon, lettuce, and tomato. An arrangement of ingredients that when done right, strike an idyllic balance between savory, crunchy bacon, and juicy, crisp vegetables. With a thick schmear of mayo on nicely toasted bread, it is my diner go-to. Who is the genius that threw together such a masterpiece? I would like to shake their hand.

Could you, if presented with the challenge, create another equally delicious sandwich using that very same abbreviation, without using bacon, lettuce, or tomato? It’s not that easy! If you’re like me, you may come up with a few really kooky, sorta fancy, and/or kind of gross sandwich ideas. B, L, and T are some pretty big letters to live up to.

I ended up putting a twist on an all-American favorite. Ladies and Gentleman, a new kind of BLT: Barbecue Chicken Sliders with Lime Turnip Slaw. It's a stretch, I know. 

These little lovelies are based on classic pulled pork sandwiches, but are made with pulled chicken instead, tossed in a tangy sweet vinegar-based honey sauce inspired by North Carolina-style barbecue. If you do not like vinegary sauces, you can use any other homemade or bottled barbecue sauce that you’d like. There are no rules! The lime turnip slaw is made with carrots, cilantro, and Greek yogurt in place of mayo and is light, refreshing, and wonderfully crunchy. And while there may be no rules here, I definitely recommend trying the turnip slaw on these sliders/with any other barbecue dish instead of regular old cabbage coleslaw. Just sayin.

When placed between the buttery toasted goodness of mini buns, the familiar, yet different combination of barbecue pulled meat and slaw make for fun and delicious barbecue sliders. The classic BLT could never be beat, but using its simplicity and well-balanced bite of texture and flavor as my inspiration, I’d say these little sandwiches came out just about as close to perfection as the original.

Barbecue Chicken Sliders with Lime Turnip Slaw
Yield: 6-8 sliders
Lime Turnip Slaw
- 1 cup julienned or shredded carrots
- 1 cup julienned or shredded turnip
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
Barbecue Chicken
- 1 ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- Slider buns, brushed with melted butter
1) For the lime turnip slaw, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Refrigerate.
2) In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except for the chicken in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Toast the buttered slider buns. Top the slider buns with barbecue chicken and slaw. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grandma's Icebox Cake

My Grandma’s icebox cake is a classic. For as long as I can remember (and long before that), it’s made its much-anticipated appearance at many a birthday party, barbecue, and celebration over the years. Made up of layers of graham crackers and pudding, sometimes she makes it with chocolate and vanilla pudding, other times just chocolate, but always with a tub of Cool-Whip on the side. A Napoleon of store-bought ingredients, it’s easy, no-bake, delicious, and like all classics, it never gets old.

I recently made my Grandma’s famous icebox cake recipe for the first time. Can you believe that I never tried it before? I guess I always felt like it was best to leave it up to the pro, or that it just wouldn't be the same if I made it. Plus, it always seemed like there was some special scientific process that went into getting the layers of pudding and graham crackers to meld together just right. Nope, there’s no special science; just a theory for what is perhaps the easiest recipe ever. And that’s exactly why Grandma likes it.

The number one secret: the pudding has to be “real,” as in, the cooked kind—not instant, which, by the way, has got to be one of the most taxing foods to come in a box. Lots of constant stirring! But it’s important for the pudding to be warm so that it can become one with the graham crackers. Technically, you can use instant pudding, you just may end up with a runny icebox cake (and nobody likes that). The cake is built up with alternating layers of graham crackers and pudding, which after a little rest in refrigerator, kind of melt into one another, suddenly turning the crackers into “cake.”

If you've never had icebox cake before, I suggest you whip up this old-fashioned favorite and give it a try. One of the best things is that you can make it last minute because it only takes about two hours to set. It is simplicity at its best. In my family, we always devour it down to the very last crumb. Enjoy, and don’t forget the Cool-Whip!

Icebox Cake
Yield: 1, 7 x 11 baking dish (about 12-14 people)
- 1, 14.4 ounce box graham crackers
- 1, 2.75 ounce box chocolate pudding, such as My-T-Fine (not instant)
- 1, 2.75 ounce box vanilla pudding, such as My-T-Fine (not instant)
- Whipped topping
1) Cook the pudding according to the directions until it is a thick pudding consistency. If not thickened enough, allow it to rest for about 5 minutes, but do not refrigerate or cool. The pudding should still be warm for the cake assembly.
2) Cover the bottom of the 7 x 11 baking dish with a layer of whole graham crackers. Add a scoop of chocolate pudding and spread to cover the graham crackers. Top with another layer of graham crackers. Add the vanilla pudding and spread. Continue to alternate between layers of graham crackers, chocolate pudding, graham crackers, and vanilla pudding, finishing with a layer of pudding. Crush leftover graham crackers and sprinkle on top. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with whipped topping.