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FOOD : Sandwich Exotica : A Recipe for a Tortilla Club With Its Origin in Mazatlan

June 19, 1988

THE SANDWICH has become an integral part of American culture," says Judy Gethers in her new cookbook, succinctly and most appropriately titled, "The Sandwich Book" (Vintage Books, $8.95). Don't look for ordinary sandwiches in this book, however, as Gethers offers recipes for such exotic fare as breakfast burritos served to movie crews on early morning film shoots, and a chichi creation from the popular Hollywood hangout, Spago.

About one interesting recipe, this one for a Tortilla Club Sandwich, Gethers says in her book: "When I ordered a club sandwich in a small restaurant in Mazatlan, I wasn't sure what I was going to get. What I got was a delicious tortilla club sandwich. Mexican cheeses are not always available, but Cheddar and Monterey Jack work very well. I like to bake the sandwiches in individual oven-to-table dishes, but they can also be cooked together in one large baking dish, then transferred to individual plates, the sauce spooned over and the garnishes arranged."

TORTILLA CLUB SANDWICH 6 corn tortillas 3 ounces thinly sliced baked or smoked ham 3 ounces thinly sliced Monterey--Jack cheese Jalepeno-Tomato Relish Sauce 1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces 3 ounces thinly sliced Cheddar cheese 1/2 medium avocado, peeled and cut into 8 wedges 2 ounces red onion, sliced into thin rings Place a tortilla in each of two small oven-proof dishes (or side by side in one larger dish). Layer with the ham and Jack cheese. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons Jalepeno-Tomato Relish Sauce over ham and cheese. Top each stack with 1 more tortilla and layer with the chicken and Cheddar cheese. Spoon additional sauce over. Cover with remaining tortillas. Spoon sauce generously over tortillas. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until cheeses are melted and some of the sauce has been absorbed. Garnish with avocado wedges and onion rings and serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Jalepeno-Tomato Relish Sauce cup Jalapeno-Tomato Relish 1 cup whipping cream In a small pan, combine the relish and cream, bring to a boil, and reduce slightly.

Jalapeno-Tomato Relish 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced, or1 pound canned tomatoes, juice reserved 1 small onion, diced 2 tablespoons seeded and diced jalapeno chiles 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar Salt In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, chiles and vinegar. (If using canned tomatoes, pour in a little juice.) Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate, covered, until needed. Makes 2 cups.

Photographed by John Reed Forsman/ Food styled by Norman Stewart/ Table settings from The Prince's Table, Beverly Hills/ Flowers from Flourish & Garlande, Ltd.

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