What? I just read that the first form of sandwich is credited to an ancient Jewish sage, Hillel the Elder, who is said to have put meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs between two pieces of matzo (or flat, unleavened bread) during Passover. What about the Earl of Sandwich? Well, after a bit of research, I found the facts. It is said that the sandwich was named after him, but not invented by him. The sandwich was named after John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, but most likely not invented by him.  But you know what? I don’t care who invented it… I love sandwiches no mater what they are called. Call it what you want, but you have to admit they are usually, fast, convenient and easy to pack for a picnic or lunch on the go. I have increased my palate to include a few veggie sammies as well as a variation on one of my favorite childhood sandwiches, grilled cheese. I love making sandwiches with pears, especially the great pears my cousin Phyllis Boorinakis sends me from her ranch in Auburn Calif. So, “Please Join My Table” or picnic table, or beach blanket and enjoy this handy food item. 

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese and Pear Panini Sandwiches
6 slices rustic Italian bread, sliced 
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, sliced 
6 slices of Prosciutto ham 
2 Bosc pears, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
A Panini press grill or a brick scrubbed clean, dried well and wrapped in heavy-duty foil 
DIRECTIONS: Preheat a stovetop smooth grill or large fry pan. Carefully butter the bread slices and place 3 slices on the grill. Top each with the cheese, tarragon, pears, prosciutto and more cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, butter side up. When toasted lightly golden, carefully flip the sandwiches – top with the brick wrapped in foil as a press – and toast the other side. Remove from pan. Cool for 1 minute; cut each in half; serve and enjoy.
Other great grilled cheese sandwiches options may be; Feta Cheese, black olive and grilled red pepper. Or try a smoked mozzarella, basil, and sun-dried tomato grilled cheese. Your options are endless. Experiment and have fun!

Here is my version of the a  "Dirty South Burger" a fresh ground beef patty with pimento cheese, candied jalapenos, pork belly confit and barbecue marmalade.
Dirty South Burger
2 pounds organic ground beef 80/20
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons steak seasoning
1/2 cup pimento cheese spread, store bought or homemade
1/4 cup cooked pork belly confit (get it at Whole Foods) 
1/4 cup candied jalapenos (I use Buckee’s brand)
Barbecue marmalade (I use store-bought marmalade and mix in a few drops of liquid smoke)
Sliced red onions
Heirloom tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
4 pretzel hamburger buns
DIRECTIONS: Prepare a medium-hot grill for cooking. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, garlic, and onion powder. Stir until incorporated and pat into four, 8-ounce patties. Season both sides with steak seasoning and place on a medium-hot grill. Cook to desired temperature, about 4-5 minutes per side for medium to medium-well. As the burgers are nearing temperature, place 2-3 ounces of pimento cheese on each burger and let cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the pimento cheese begins to melt. Place the burger patty on the bun with your favorite burger fixings, then top with the pork belly confit and enjoy.

Lentil Patty Portabella Mushroom Sammie
 3/4 cup diced portabella mushrooms
 1 tablespoon diced onion
 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 cup cooked, drained, organic French lentils
1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot 
2 portabella mushroom caps
2 slices onion
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
Sea salt and pepper
2 Brioche bread buns
1 slice cheese of your choice

DIRECTIONS: Saute diced portabella mushrooms, diced onion and chopped cilantro in a pan over medium heat until onions are translucent and the moisture has evaporated from the mushroom pieces. Cool slightly. In a blender, blend the following into a thick paste: lentils, arrowroot, mushroom caps, onion, steak seasoning and cilantro mixture. In a fry pan, heat oil on medium-high. Add patty mixture to hot pan by large spoonful; flatten into shape of a burger with spatula. Add sea salt and pepper to taste; cook approximately 5 minutes on each side. Toast the brioche bun and top it with your favorite cheese, condiments, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

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