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Create Gourmet Sandwiches at Home


Do you lust after those thick sandwiches served in gourmet shops? Here are several easy variations to make at home.

With all the hype at fast food restaurants, gourmet shops, and health food establishments about artisanal breads, it's getting easier to recreate them at home - and without the price tag. Even the "downscale" retail chains are beginning to carry such fine crusts such as French baguettes, kaiser rolls, bagels, and the new-to-the-scene Italian ciabatta.

The nice part of purchasing these breads ahead of time is that they're already crusty and firm, so a little aging won't hurt them. Plus, they're easy to freeze - although not quite as good as fresh. Thawing time is quick, just a few minutes on the counter and then you can pop them in a toaster or in the oven for a quick reheat and broil.

Best of all, when you purchase the ingredients ahead of time, you'll always have a hearty sandwich at the ready. These can range from leftover meatloaf fillings to thinly sliced deli meats and cheeses. Plus, keep a jar or two of your favorite sauce on hand and you have a great drippy sandwich. The trick to keeping these sandwiches under control is to scoop out a bit of the insides so you'll have a pocket that holds the ingredients.

They're also great for any time of year. Heat them and serve with a bowl of soup in winter or a light side salad and fruit in summer. There's no end to the combinations you can create at home and they'll be just as delicious as those expensive artisan sandwiches.

Ingredients to keep on hand:

Sauces: marinara, pizza, alfredo, spaghetti
Olives
Relish

Boiled eggs
Capers
Anchovies and tuna
Sauerkraut
Cheese selections of Swiss, provolone, Bleu, brie
Meats and poultry: turkey and chicken, roast beef, ham, pork loin
Veggies: pre-sliced bell peppers, onions, lettuce, fresh basil and cilantro
Olive oil

Note: you can freeze roasted peppers and they'll always be ready for adding to an artisan sandwich. Fresh green bells also freeze well for sandwiches. Slice ahead of time, however, as they may become slightly mushy.

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