Barbeque Eggplant Sandwiches

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A while back I browsed through sandwiches on Epicurious.com, which is odd for me as they are not something I think about. Nothing against sandwiches, but I have only one sandwich post on this blog, out of 500 posts! So that says something…

However, I was planning food for a get-together where I needed a make-ahead, picnic-type, easy-to-eat food. I thought that a sandwich, perhaps in the barbecue category, wrapped in foil and kept warm, would be the easiest for me; the sides could be made the day ahead.

And there it was, while I was browsing – a barbecue eggplant sandwich. I had to click on it – the name was so intriguing.

Plus, I have Japanese Ichiban eggplants growing in my garden.

What a unique way to use eggplant, besides eggplant parmesan, ratatouille, and baba ganoush.

Barbecue Eggplant Sandwich
Adapted from Epicurious

Eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick planks
1/2 cup BBQ sauce*, divided
1 teaspoon garlic pepper, or favorite seasoning
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, halved and sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices provolone cheese
4 soft rolls
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Pepperoncini peppers

Position oven rack six inches from the heat source and preheat broiler.

Brush eggplant slices on both sides with 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce and season with 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper. Arrange slices on a sheet pan.

Broil eggplant until browned and soft, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss mushrooms and red onion with oil, remaining garlic pepper and reserve.

Remove broiler pan from oven, flip eggplant slices, and brush with 2 more tablespoons BBQ sauce.

Scatter mushroom mixture around the eggplant on the pan and broil until browned and soft, about 3 minutes more.

To assemble the sandwiches, first toast the rolls using a little butter and a hot skillet.

Then brush the top toasted half of each roll with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.

Lay the cheese on the rolls. Because provolone are circular, I cut them into narrow slices.

Layer an eggplant slice and some mushroom mixture on the bottom of each roll.


Close the sandwiches and serve immediately. You can drizzle a little more barbeque sauce in the sandwiches if desired.

The original recipe suggests using some thinly sliced pepperoncini inside the sandwiches, but I prefer them on the side.

Once I bit into this sandwich I knew I’d be making it again. Especially with a vegetarian in the family.

An added slice of bacon would please anyone insisting on a non-vegetarian sandwich.

But seriously, with the meaty eggplant and mushrooms, meat will most likely not be missed.

* Typically I make my own barbecue sauce, but there is one jarred product which I sincerely love, and that is Head Country, made right here in Oklahoma. The original is wonderful – not vinegary, not sweet – and now there are other varieties as well. The hot and spicy is incredible. Just use the barbecue sauce that’s your fave!

Also, if you ever need to keep sandwiches warm in an oven or warming drawer, try these foil wrappers. I used them when I was catering large, casual events, and they are a perfect size for a sandwich like this!

Claret Cup

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Recently I was talking to my husband and mentioned that I thought it was silly for food bloggers to post about smoothies. I mean, you really don’t need a recipe for a smoothie, and besides – it’s just a drink.

And then he reminded me that I post cocktails on my blog. Touché! But, in my defense – they’re cocktails. They’re important. We don’t drink smoothies when it’s five o’clock somewhere.

So this recipe is for a cocktail called a Claret Cup I’m using from this Gourmet compendium cookbook.
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I googled the name claret cup because I had a feeling it was a very old-fashioned drink, and indeed it is. It was fashionable in England in the 1800’s, in fact. Furthermore, according to this fabulous website, called The Art of Drink, there is a “striking resemblance” to Pimm’s Cup, which I made here on my blog.

The drink eventually made it to the U.S., then died down in popularity. Maybe I’ll start a new trend?

The recipe in the Best of Gourmet cookbook calls for 2 bottles of wine. Specifically, claret. Since I was only making the drink for two, I opted for 2 cups of wine, and adjusted the recipe accordingly. I hope. Unfortunately, unless I make the punch for a crowd, I’ll never quite know what it’s supposed to taste like.

I chose a Shiraz, but tasted it on its own and was not impressed. If you don’t like inferior wine, don’t buy this Layer Cake Shiraz.

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Claret Cup

2 cups red wine, preferably from the Bordeaux region of France
1 1/2 ounces orange liqueur
1 1/2 ounces crème de cassis
1 ounce ruby port (the original recipe listed tawny port)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweetened lime juice, purchased
Bubbly water

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In a small pitcher, pour in the red wine. Then add the orange liqueur and crème de cassis. Measure the port and add that to the wine mixture.
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Then stir in the lemon juice and sweetened lime juice. Stir and taste. You could always add some superfine sugar if you think it’s not sweet enough, or a little more port.

Pour some into and glass and top with bubbly water of your choice. San Pellegrino comes to mind, but I used bubbly water made from my Sodastream machine. I used about 2/3 wine mixture and 1/3 bubbly water.
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Serve with a slice of lemon.
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Alternatively, chill the wine mixture and the bubbly water first, and then serve cold, or forget the bubbly water and just serve this over ice. It would be very refreshing this way.

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verdict: This claret cup is very different in flavor from a Pimm’s cup, but there are some sweet and fruity similarities. Using this recipe exactly, I thought it came out really well – more like a sangria – because it’s essentially sweetened wine. You could really play with the liqueurs and make it more raspberry using Chambord, or make it more orange using Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur. But this drink is good. I seriously wouldn’t make it as a punch, just because of the spillage potential of this really red drink!

Cherry Sangria

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Before my older daughter lived in Spain for a summer, I’d never been crazy about sangria. I liked wine just fine without any tampering. But when she came back and made sangria for me the “real” way – I gained great respect for it.

I happen to be the worst bartender around. You’d think I’d be pretty good at it with my affinity for anything alcoholic, but I’m not. And my daughter is married now and doesn’t live with me, so I can’t rely on her to make sangria for me any more. So I’m just going to have to put my big girl bartender pants on.

Sangria is typically wine, brandy, a little sugar, and some fruits. There’s a little bit of muddling of the fruits and sugar, but that’s essentially it. Sometimes there’s some lemonade, or something sparkling added.

But the thing is, you can do so much with sangria. You can use white wine instead of the more common red. And you can get creative with the fruits. I’ve made summery white sangria with peaches and grapes, and a very girly rosé sangria with raspberries and mint for a bridal shower.

And, you can use different liqueurs instead of brandy. I really like using Grand Marnier for the orange flavor, but I’ve also used crème de cassis for currant flavor. I very often use Quady Essencia, which is an orange dessert wine. It doesn’t pack a punch like brandy, and it’s more flavorful to me. You also don’t need any added sugar is you use a sweet wine. Less alcohol isn’t a bad thing, either. Sangria can go down really fast and easy. Especially on ice, when it’s really hot outside… not that I would know anything about that…

So today I wanted to make a new kind of sangria with cherries. I needed to use griottines that I never used over the holidays. If you’re not familiar with them, check them out here. Griottines are the result of Oblachinska Morello cherries that are picked where they grow in the Balkans, then essentially “brandied” with kirsch for a period of 6 months. They are alcoholic cherries in a strong but sweet syrup.

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Griottines can be purchased at igourmet.com here.

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So today I’m making sangria, but using cherries for my fruit, and the cherry-kirsch syrup instead of brandy.

Cherry Sangria

1 bottle (750 ml) light and fruity red wine
1/3 cup syrup strained from the jar of griottines
Juice of 1 orange
Griottines
1 can of Fresca
Orange Slices

It’s best if you start your sangria a few hours ahead. Place the bottle of wine, the syrup and the cherries in a pitcher and chill everything in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

I used Castle Rock pinot noir from the central coast of California. It’s not fruity, but is a real smooth pinot noir, and sells for $8.99 a bottle.

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Right before serving, pour one 12 ounce can of chilled Fresca into the pitcher. Decorate the glasses with sliced oranges, add a few cherries, ice, and pour in the sangria. Enjoy.

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note: If you prefer a lighter sangria, or perhaps a Cherry Sangria Sprizter, add one more 12 ounce can of Fresca. It’s very light and refreshing, more more like a spritzer than true sangria.

Also, this cherry sangria would be good with a white wine as well, like a nice Riesling. That way, you could see the cherries more.

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verdict: Loved it. Will make again.

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