It’s Sandwichtime!

Yesterday was a weird eating day. Curt took out some boneless chicken breasts to thaw for dinner. In the meantime we decided to go to a movie, Anomalisa. We had read some interesting things about it and it was one of those films that we knew would be gone in a week. Showings were at 11:45am and 4:50pm. We opted for the earlier showing since we also had tickets to a play in the evening. The play was at 7:30. Then my Mom called and asked if we could stop over to her apartment to do just a few simple projects.

All of this threw our eating schedule into the weirdness I spoke of. Since the movie was during our normal lunchtime, we ate some crackers and cheese to tide us over till after the movie. The movie got out around 1:30 so off we went to lunch before heading to my Mom’s place around 2:30. Left her place an hour later and did a couple of errands. By the time we got home it was 4:30. We usually eat dinner around 7:00 but we had the play at 7:30 so that meant eating earlier but no one was hungry. So more cheese and crackers and a glass of wine and out the door in time to get to the play. Once we were home no one wanted a big meal so we each found a few snacks.

Where is this all leading? Well remember those chicken breasts Curt was thawing out for dinner? They were still in the fridge this morning and they became lunch today. He first made paillards of the chicken by putting them between two pieces of wax paper and pounding them pretty flat. Then they were breaded with Panko bread crumbs and sauted. He baked two whole wheat “take and bake” rolls, and made a spicy sauce from mayonaisse and Korean chili sauce. tomat

Put those together with a slice of tomato, some shredded flat leaf parsley and curly endive, and we had a great lunch. Just like MacDonald’s spicy chicken sandwich or rather 100 times better.

Curt's spicy chicken sandwich

Curt’s spicy chicken sandwich

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Like finding money in the street

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When I was a child I often had dreams of finding money in the street. Usually it was small change, nickles, dimes and quarters that I would find lying in the gutter. First a single coin or two which I would pick up, then look around to see if anyone else had noticed these unwarranted riches. Seeing no one else interested, I would look along the gutter and invariably find more coins that I would gather up. Sometimes even silver dollars. Now this dream is no doubt rife with psychological meaning. In my dream I always felt both elated at finding this money but also slightly guilty because I knew it wasn’t really mine. And why find the money in the gutter? We lived in a semi-rural area and we didn’t have gutters on our street.

Vegetable havest

Vegetable harvest

This is the season of harvest. I don’t always plant potatoes but this spring I found a bag with three types of potatoes that I had bought last fall at our local farmer’s market, and promptly forgot. I don’t have a picture of them as I found them but I’m sure you can imagine what they looked like; shriveled, spongy and with ghostly spindly roots and sprouts entangled with each other.

Being of frugal German stock, I thought why not plant them rather than toss them. They were already well sprouted and if they failed to grow I wouldn’t lose anything but if they did grow so much the better. Well, they grew – at least most of them did after a late spring frost – and vigorously too!

Yesterday I dug them. When I dig potatoes I’m taken back to my childhood dream of finding money in the street. Digging potatoes, to me, is magical. You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots. And seemingly unwarranted for the little effort on my part.

Loosening the potato vine

Loosening the potato vine

You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots

Jewels hidden below

Jewels hidden below

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

I don’t know what variety these potatoes are. The small beige one is probably Russian Banana, a fingerling type. The dark blue, almost black is of the type sometimes called All Blue. And the red is a mystery.

Dusty jewels

Dusty jewels

Washed jewels

Washed jewels

Cut jewels

Cut jewels

 

 

 

 

When cut they are quite the surprise. Creamy yellow, shocking blue/violet and rich pink inside.

 

 

 

One of the benefits of the season is a quick harvest lunch.  I am quite pleased to say that all the fresh ingredients; potatoes, onion and garlic come from my garden.

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Fry.2The three potatoes were sliced, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and fried until barely tender. Then a sliced onion and a clove of minced garlic were added and the potatoes continued frying until they and the onion brown a little and maybe get a bit crispy around the edges.  Add salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning.  Sit down and have lunch and dream of finding riches lying in the street or hidden under a potato vine.

Lunch: A Simple Charcuterie/Antipasti

As I was about to open a can of soup for us, Curt said, “Did you forget I was going to prepare a charcuterie for lunch?” I had forgotten.

He and a friend had gone antiqueing and junking yesterday in Door County. However it is morel mushroom season in Wisconsin so there are other fine goodies to be had in Door County besides old postcards and interesting farm tools. Along with the cherry butter he bought me, he had picked up a basket of morels. Some of those mushrooms had been designated for today’s lunch.

Now technically, a charcuterie is a platter of cured and prepared meats, sausages and patés, along with some cheeses. Our only meat was a dry cured salami. Thus I am suggesting we also had antipasti even thought this was the meal and not the entrée or ‘appetizer’.

plattersThe plate on the left has toasted baguette slices topped with butter-fried morels.

The plate on the right has blanched green beans and Michele’s Polish Tomatoes. That is tomato slices with salt, pepper, sugar and dill. Our friend Michele in Indiana served us these some 30 odd years ago and they are a fine simple preparation.

Since this was lunch, an iced tea and a paper napkin was all that was needed before we started to eat. We will save that can of soup for another day.

lunch

Bánh mì, One Really Great Sandwich

slice of bmIn the previous post one of the things I said I loved was a great sandwich. Not just a good sandwich but a great one. I make ‘good’ sandwiches, my husband makes great sandwiches and his bánh mì is one of them.

It is not a difficult sandwich to make if you have the ingredients and that is the key. Curt can pull together a great sandwich just from what he finds available in the fridge but if we are having bánh mì, then you know it is a plan.

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread but mostly it refers to a baguette. But if you walk into a Vietnamese restaurant in America, bánh mì is a type of meat-filled sandwich on a short baguette or bánh mì bread. In Green Bay you can get a pretty good version at Pho #1 Noodle & Grill.  (their bánh mì is image #6 in their menu slide show).

Typical fillings for a bánh mì may include pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, spreadable pork liver pate, grilled chicken, roast duck, soft pork meatballs in tomato sauce, fried eggs, and even tofu – in other words, whatever is at hand and that strikes your fancy. That sort of flies in the face of a plan but you’ve got to have the roll and the pate’ or liver sausage is an important flavor.  Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro and pickled shredded carrots and daikon radish. Common condiments  might include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

Mise en place:  bolillo, ham, liver sausage, Shriracha laced mayo, frresh pickled carrots and cabbage, cilantro and mint

Mise en place: bolillo, ham, liver sausage, Shriracha laced mayo, fresh pickled carrots and cabbage, cilantro and mint

Curt’s version starts with a baguette, or a hoagy roll, or most likely a bolillo (a short baguette-like roll common in Latino markets).  Not shown in the mise en place photo, is a little commercial sandwich dressing (he used Beano’s Original Submarine Dressing) which he squirted on the greens – you could substitute any Italian dressing or just oil and vinegar.

Bánh mì (ala Curt)

Bánh mì, ala Curt.  This is a pared down version.  A more authentic bánh mì would also include lean roast pork and thinly sliced fresh green chiles.

Put it all together and voilà – a great sandwich. If it is a serious plan he usually gets roast pork slices and good ham from the deli which in my opinion is better than just ham.

Hey, look, it’s lunchtime by my clock and writing this post has made me hungry. I think I’ll go see what sandwich fixin’s I can find…maybe even get Curt to give me some pointers.

Closed and ready for the first bite!

Closed and ready for the first bite!

A Good Bun is Hard to Find

My hotdog lunch w/ yellow mustard, dill relish and tomato slivers.

My hotdog lunch w/ yellow mustard, dill relish and tomato slivers.

I know we promised you Chinese Food at the end of the previous post but Curt is still fussing with the pictures from our trip and hasn’t located the precise images he needs to express his food rant so I thought it was time for a great hot dog. You heard me, hot dog …a sausage, a frankfurter, encased meat. Hot dogs get a bad rap. All that talk about what is really inside the casing and what the casing is made of has frightened away people from a really enjoyable foodie experience. But more about the dog later, the really critical part is the bun.

My experience with hot dog buns is that soft, squishy Wonder Bread type of bun that comes in a package of eight while the hotdogs come in packages of ten. To make everything come out even you really have to buy 5 packs of buns and 4 packs of dogs. But you’ll get really tired of eating hotdogs long before you use them up. Sure you can freeze everything but by the time I am in the mood for a hotdog they have all experienced major freezer burn. And frankly those soft buns just don’t freeze well. The other problem with finding the perfect bun is size. They are either way too short or if you decide to go with a brat bun, way too thick and big. Both are just too much bread and not very good bread at that.

A couple of months ago while picking up our favorite ciabatta bread made by “New French Bakery Take N’ Bake”, Curt noticed that they also made nice sized breadsticks.  Breadsticks that just might work as  hot dog buns. New French Bakery bread is especially good for store-bought because once you get it home you pop it in a 375 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. It comes out with a nice crust and tastes like fresh-baked. The breadsticks are 6.5 – 7 inches long. Longer than a regular bun but also narrower.

New French Bakery products

New French Bakery products

New French Bakery breadstick,

New French Bakery breadstick, 7″ long

We had found the perfect bun. A nice crust, flavorful, and just the right size for a Nueske’s Big Dog, extra long hot dog. No not Oscar Meyer, then you might have to worry about what might be inside, but a Nueske’s, pork/beef wiener in natural casing, Applewood smoked . A really good hot dog, fried up with just a light char.

Nueske's hot dog

Nueske’s hot dog, at least 7″ long

Now for the condiments. Curt made a spicy relish by using a Mixed Pickle Relish. It was the closet he could find to a mango pickle. His relish had one part mixed pickle to one part minced fresh tomato. The other item was thin slices of tomato.

Spicy relish and thin tomato slivers

Spicy relish and thin tomato slivers

But I’m not a spicy relish person. My condiments of choice, Mustard Girl: Sweet n’ Fancy Yellow and a great home-canned dill relish, a gift from a friend. I added some of those tomato slivers. Perfect.

mustard

Mustard and Relish

But no matter what condiments you prefer if you add a natural weiner to one of these breadstick “buns”, you’ll have an ideal hot dog lunch.  A nice break from Chinese food. The only problem: 6 breadsticks…….10 hot dogs! Oh well.