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Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese (aka The Frodo) inspired by Baker's Blues

Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese (aka The Frodo)
Nine years! That's how long I've hoped that, and waited for, this book to come out. Back in the summer of 2006, I devoured the first two books in this trilogy by Judith Ryan Hendricks while occupying a quilt in my backyard, sounds of my then 2,3, and 8 year old kids somewhat muted in the background. I couldn't put them down. They were the catalyst for my need to bake bread. If it weren't for those little ones who kept me so tired, I'm pretty sure I would have found work in a bakery, where I had to be in at 3am.

I'd actually logged a little early morning bakery time during my culinary apprenticeship a number of years before that—and enjoyed it—but these books just sucked me in and brought it to a whole 'nother level. Of course, I was also set to move to Seattle and just insert myself into Wyn's life. (I have been to Seattle since then, and wouldn't have regretted the move one little bit.) I purchased a copy of The Tassajara Bread Book, which was/is very important to Wyn, online immediately.

Although it took some time and practice...and 4 or so more years to actually completely conquer my fear of yeast (not to mention sourdough)...I've now shared 130+ yeast bread recipes right here on All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. Any time somebody asks me why I started baking bread, I tell them about the books Bread Alone and The Baker's Apprentice, and that summer 9 years ago.

I'd pretty much given up on Hendricks writing another book in this series, so you can imagine my elation (seriously) when I found out that Baker's Blues was being released this summer. I muscled my way onto the book tour and here we are today. The question is, did I hype it up way too much in my mind to actually enjoy it?
The Bread Alone Trilogy + The Tassajara Bread Book
Maybe. I mean, I did enjoy it...but it took me a lot longer for me to get through it than it did to get through the first two books combined. Nine years does a difference make. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that bread seemed more of a supporting character than a main character in this one. It was still there, combined with tons of other tempting food passages and references, but it wasn't as in-your-face. However, that also had a lot to do with the story and Wyn's station in life right now.

I also found this book a bit more heart-wrenching. I didn't want to be angry at Mac for so much of the story, but I was. There were also a few tears shed, as you can imagine from a story that involves the loss of love, relationships, and family members.

It's not all doom and gloom, though; there's sunshine behind those clouds. I'm happy that it's a trilogy, and definitely recommend it to those who enjoy general fiction, women's lit, and foodie reads—I recommend reading the trilogy from the start, though.

Speaking of trilogies, one of my other favorites was mentioned in Baker's Blues, and that small but delightful passage was the inspiration behind the sandwich you see here today. It comes from a scene featuring our main character Wyn, and her long-time friend and protegee, Tyler.

     "After we've reviewed the financials for the last two months and I've gone around and talked to everyone, she suggests lunch at The Shire in Topanga Canyon, an old unreconstructed hippie hangout where all the menu items have names from The Lord of the Rings.

     We sit on the deck in the shade of huge Eucalyptus trees and order fat sandwiches with sprouts on their nine-grain Middle Earth rolls. [...]

     The server sets down our orders with a flourish. "One Galadriel, one Frodo—my tuna salad, her grilled veggie sandwich with goat cheese."" (p. 190 in uncorrected proof)

You'd think I'd have made my own nine-grain Middle Earth rolls, and that was the plan, but time never seems to be on my side these days. Instead I supported a local artisan baker (which Wyn would totally approve of) by purchasing a nine-grain demi-baguette. I totally did all of the grilling, though. I couldn't have asked for better inspiration, my husband and I devoured these fat sandwiches with all the gusto of a famished Hobbit.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese (aka The Frodo)
This fat grilled veggie sandwich with tangy goat cheese and sprouts on nine-grain bread is meatless, but filling enough to satisfy even the hungriest Hobbit.
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Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Goat Cheese
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Keywords: grill entree sandwich vegetarian soy-free nut-free zucchini onion goat cheese corn eggplant

Ingredients (3 fat sandwiches)
  • 1 9-grain (or multi-grain) demi-baguette (about 9-10 ounces)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small yellow summer squash
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 ear of corn on the cob
  • olive oil
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • ~1 1/2 ounces sprouts (I used a mix of broccoli, clover, and cabbage)
Cut the demi-baguette in half lengthwise, so that there is a top half and a bottom half; set aside.

Preheat your grill (or grill pan) until it's screaming hot.

Cut the tips and tails off of both types of squash and the eggplant. Stem and seed the bell pepper. Peel the onion and cut off the ends. Husk the corn and remove the silk. Cut everything into slices that are between 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Place on a baking sheet or in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss until everything has a thin coat of olive oil and is seasoned.
Grilled Veggies and Bread
Grill all of the veggies until they have nice grill marks and are just tender (not soggy). Place the baguette on the grill, cut side down, until just toasted. Rub the toasted side with the cut garlic halves.

Spread the goat cheese across the bottom of the bread, then scatter the sprouts evenly over it. Layer as many of the veggies as you want on top of that (you'll probably have some veggies leftover; save and use in another sandwich or wrap, or toss with pasta, eggs, rice, etc).

Put the top to the bread on. Space three long skewers equally apart, through the top, veggies, and bottom, to keep everything from falling apart. Use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich into 3 equal parts.

Enjoy with the gusto of a hobbit!
Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese (aka The Frodo)
Baker's Blues by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Baker's Blues

author: Judith Ryan Hendricks
series: The Bread Alone Trilogy (book 3)
publisher: Chien Bleu Press (August 1, 2015)
source: TLC Book Tours
soft or hard cover: 412 pages

"foodie" read: Definitely.

random excerpt: "When I was a little girl, my oma told me that three A.M. is the magic hour. WHen witches ride across the moon and animals converse. Years later I learned that it's also the time when most first shift bakers are dragging themselves out of bed. This is no coincidence. It has to do with the alchemy that happens in a bakery. These days the magic is assisted by the thermostat on our proffing cabinet which has (hopefully) kicked on two hours earlier, raising the temperature, bringing the dough to life." (p.62 in uncorrected proof)

teaser: In Wyn Morrison’s world a 5 AM phone call usually means problems at her bakery—equipment trouble or a first shift employee calling in sick—annoying but mundane, fixable. But the news she receives on a warm July morning is anything but mundane. Or fixable.

Mac, her ex-husband, is dead.

Ineligible for widowhood, Wyn is nonetheless shaken to her core as she discovers that the fact of divorce offers no immunity from grief. Friends and family are bewildered by her spiral into sadness, Mac’s daughter Skye blames her for his death.

For the last several years Wyn has been more businesswoman than baker, leaving the actual bread making to others. Now, as she takes up her place in the bread rotation once more, she will sift through her memories, coming to terms with Mac and his demons, with Skye’s anger, and with Alex, who was once more than a friend. Soon she will re-learn the lessons of bread that she first discovered at the Queen Street Bakery in Seattle…bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals, and the future waits.

Judith Ryan Hendricks
about the author: Judith Ryan Hendricks was born in San Jose, California, when Silicon Valley was the Santa Clara Valley, better known for orchards than for computer chips.

Armed with a degree in journalism, she worked as a journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress and baker before turning to fiction writing. Her experiences at the McGraw Street Bakery in Seattle led to her first novel, Bread Alone and the sequel, The Baker’s Apprentice.

A life-long infatuation with the Southwest provided inspiration for Isabel’s Daughter and her fourth book, The Laws of Harmony. Hendricks’ fiction has been translated into 12 languages and distributed in more than 16 countries worldwide.

Her nonfiction has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle and Tiny Lights, A Journal of Personal Essay, Grand Gourmet in Italy and The London Sunday Express. Her short fiction has appeared in Woman’s Weekly in Britain and AMERICAN GIRLS ON THE TOWN, an anthology, in the U.S. and U.K.

She lives in New Mexico with husband Geoff and dog Blue.

further info: website | blogtwitter

recipe inspired by the book: Grilled Veggie Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese (aka The Frodo)


I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.