In Food, Recipes by Ramona Denton


Check out this amazing meatball sandwich! Although most places that make meatball sandwiches will serve them without the bun, on a plate or in a bowl, I ate this one right out of the bun at a local sandwich shop. No bread needed!!

Ok I admit it.

I’m a sandwich lover.

Sandwiches have long been one of my food obsessions.

I’m a sandwich snob. A connisseur…

So when I went low carb, sandwiches were the thing that tripped me up the most. I gladly gave up most pasta, rice, potatoes, most of the time. I can resist the unattached carbs that are served with my favorite foods. I gave them up happily once I learned how much better I can feel without them.

Bye Bye, Carbs!!

But Sandwiches…

Oh no!! How could I give up sandwiches?

I just had to allow for some indulgences once in a while, and eat my sandwiches.

-grilled cheese
-cold ham – a classic!
-ham and swiss – cold or grilled
-roast beef and cheddar – horseradish if you like it
-roast beef and avocado – also great with swiss or jack!
-Italian hoagie/sub
-club (triple decker BLT + turkey)
-beef dip or French dip

Oh, for a turkey sandiwch with iceburg lettuce and lots of mayo. Sprinkle black pepper on the mayo for a special treat! Go for simplicity on this one! Skip the tomato (it doesn’t improve it), but you can add cheese if you like.

These days, we have big entree sandwiches we label “specialty” or “signature” sandwiches…

The Reuben
Corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing grilled on rye bread. Or on grilled rye bread. I’ve had them both ways. The sandwich is much less soggy if you heat up the corned beef and melt the cheese on it before you place it on the grilled bread. And don’t skimp on the sauerkraut or the Russian dressing. I’ve only had one or two Reubens with Russian dressing. They usually come with Thousand Island in Southern California eateries. Sometimes with sweet French or Catalina dressing.

I hated Reubens for years, mostly because I don’t like corned beef, sauerkraut, or rye bread. The rye bread itself is OK… but I hate caraway seeds, which are usually in rye bread.

The California Reuben
Mimi’s Cafe makes a sandwich they call the California Reuben, which I always liked: It is a grilled ham and swiss sandwich on Sourdough with with cole slaw and Thousand Island. Delish.

I don’t think it’s on the menu any more, but that’s OK. This one was really hard to eat without eating the bread.

Philly Cheesesteak
My first exposure to this signature sandwich was at Baker’s Square restaurant. The most popular item on their menu was their stir-fry chicken pita. It was a hot sandwich, served sort of taco style… folded in half, semi-open-face, on a flat, round Pita.

It was not served in a “pita pocket” like so many trendy sandwiches were in the 1980’s. (Today it would be on focaccia!) They served it more like a round flat bread. There were three Pita Sandwiches on their menu at any one time, but none of them sold like the stir-fry chicken. I liked the Philly Cheesesteak Pita. I think the third one was the Chicken Cesear Pita. Like a Chicken Cesear Salad in a Pita. Whatever…

The Philly Cheesesteak Pita was thinly sliced roast beef, like you would get in a Beef Dip sandwich, with swiss cheese melted on the beef, and topped with a small amount of carmelized onions, and tucked into the Pita flatbread taco. I didn’t like onions at all when I first ordered this as a teenager, but for some reason I failed to say so, and got it with the onions. And I loved them. This was instantly my favorite meal at Baker’s Square. And it was for many years after that.

Since my fling with the Pita thing, I have tried Cheesesteak-style sandwiches at many places, and generally find them to be wonderful. I finally made it to Philadelphia last summer, and had a chance to try some of the town’s original Cheesesteaks with Cheese Wiz, provolone and all the fixin’s. They were amazing. Even with Cheese Wiz.

Kentucky Hot Brown
My newest favorite signature sandwich is the Kentucky Hot Brown. This is a turkey breast sandwich, served open faced, with bacon, tomato and Mornay Sauce. Mornay Sauce is a bechamel-based cheese sauce, typically Swiss Gruyere and Parmesiano Reggiano.

I first saw the Hot Brown on Throwdown with Bobby Flay a few years ago.

I immediately decarbed it, and started having Hot Brown Melts!


This one is made with quickie microwave cheese sauce.

I used a few ounces of cheddar cheese, a couple tablespoons of chive/onion flavored cream cheese, and an ounce or so of heavy cream. I melted this all together in the microwave for about 15 seconds at a time, stirring between blasts, until it looked good enough to eat.

My sauce has A LOT of room for improvement. So maybe I’ll try looking up a recipe for that at some point.

Other than making cheese sauce, it is basically just assembling ingredients you like onto a plate, and melting cheese on top.

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Start with chicken or turkey. I like to to chop it up. I find it easier to eat that way. Add cheese sauce, or just melt some cheese directly on top of it. I’m cooking microwave at the moment, so I heated this there. You just as easily do it on a griddle or in a pan on your cooktop.

Add diced tomatoes, and bacon if desired, and you’ve got a LCHF-compliant hot brown!!

The original Hot Brown puts the whole thing in the oven, or maybe under the broiler… I prefer my tomatoes diced, cold, and on the top, but you should make it however you like.

If you’re not fond of tomatoes, you might consider trying them. The acid in the tomato plays nicely with the cheese and the bacon to offset the saltiness a little. I had a sandwich at The Cheesecake Factory that was quite a bit like a Hot Brown, during a big tomato salmonella scare in Southern California, and they were serving them without the tomato… It tasted really salty! I heartily recommend the tomato. Just not if you really hate them.

I add avocado because I love it. It also adds a California flair when I’m a little homesick!! If you don’t like it, or don’t have any, leave it out. No big…

Here is a “Fiesta” Cheesesteak Melt


No avocado this time… I used it all on the Hot Brown!

But this is basically the same procedure.

If you’re going to use carmelized onions, sauteed mushrooms or peppers, start with them. Get your veggies cooking in your pan or on your griddle…

Then get your steak or roast beef. I like to to chop mine up a little. If I had a good griddle, I’d chop it on the griddle like they do for a Philly Cheesesteak, together with the grilled veggies (onions, mushrooms, etc.), and the cheese. Get it nice and hot and melty… and cheesesteak-y.

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If you’re nuking like me, you’ll need to chop or slice your beef, and put it on your plate. Then add some cheese or sauce on top of the beef and nuke it to your desired hotness/meltedness.

Add whatever cold toppings you like. You can certainly add these earlier and nuke them under the melted cheese, if you like that better! I like it better this way. In this one, I used some fresh (though storebought) pico de gallo, and jalepenos.

These are fast, easy and really good!
Bon appetit