February 26, 2013

Toasty-good sandwiches from the Cowgirl Chef

Cheese lovers will love these French-inspired takes on pizza bites and an American classic.

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PARIS -- Other than the occasional baguette slathered with Normandy butter and stuffed with thin ribbons of sweet San Daniele ham, I've never been much of a sandwich person. Especially cold sandwiches, the stuff of grade-school lunchboxes or a weary traveler's misguided answer to hunger.

But throw a sandwich in the skillet or slide it under the grill, and that's a whole other story.

I love sandwiches when they're hot.

When it's cold outside, a hot sandwich is the perfect super-quick meal.

There. I said it. See how quickly I can turn myself around?

Throw your hands in the air, people. It's sandwich night.

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of "Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent" (Running Press, $25)., @cowgirlchef.

Roasted butternut squash and Roquefort tartines

A bit like mini-pizzas, these are for when I'm too lazy to make dough.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into slices about the size of a half of a domino

Extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1 baguette, split

2 cups of your favorite jarred tomato sauce

About 2 ounces Roquefort, crumbled

About 2 ounces chèvre, crumbled

A few leaves of fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to broil and line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.

2. Place squash on the cookie sheet. Drizzle squash with olive oil. Toss pieces to make sure they are evenly coated, then sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper. Slide into oven for about 15 minutes, but check and turn pan for more even roasting, if necessary. When the edges of the squash turn brown, it's ready.

3. Toast baguette pieces using toaster or toaster oven. Leave oven on broil for final step.

4. Warm tomato sauce in a small saucepan. When warm, spread a bit over the baguette pieces, layering butternut squash on top. Sprinkle with Roquefort, chèvre and fresh thyme, and slide into the oven to broil. When the cheese is bubbly, it's ready.

To save time: Roast the butternut squash a day or two before making this and store in the fridge.

Grilled Comté and Spanish chorizo sandwiches

For a spicy Frenchy-Spanish twist on a grilled cheese sandwich, try this recipe.

4 slices of your favorite bread

4 ounces shredded Comté cheese (the younger the better), or you may use Swiss

12 thin slices Spanish chorizo

2 tablespoons melted butter

1. To assemble, put one-fourth of the shredded Comté on one slice of bread for each sandwich. Layer chorizo layer on top, and add the rest of the cheese, placing the other slice of bread on top. Give each sandwich a firm smash.

2. Brush the top of each sandwich with melted butter and lay buttered side down in a hot skillet. Cook until it browns, brush the other side with butter, and then carefully flip. Cook until the second side browns, remove to plate and slice right away.

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