Archive for the ‘Sandwiches’ Category

Why I Cook

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

 tinky-whips-web

 
Author and chef Michael Ruhlman recently wrote a post explaining why he cooks. He went on to challenge other food bloggers to do the same. Never one to be shy about expressing myself, I’m joining the fray.
 
Most of these points have been made individually as I’ve cooked and written here In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens. I thought I’d summarize them today.
 
First, I cook (and write about food) because it gives me an integrated life. It merges the private and the public. Nothing could be more personal than feeding ourselves and our families. Yet cooking is at its best a social enterprise. It also holistically touches simultaneously on the intellectual, the physical, and the emotional.
 
Second, I cook because I was brought up to do so. My family generally prepared meals instead of buying them precooked. And when my mother wanted to get to know someone new, or to maintain a friendship she cherished, she hosted a dinner party. In my childhood home food symbolized family, friendship, and love. It symbolizes them for me today.
 
That tradition leads me to my paramount reason for cooking. I cook because cooking helps me reach out to other people.
 
Cooking is a wonderful shared endeavor, one that spans the generations. My nephew Michael is an excellent mixer and egg breaker. At 91 my mother can no longer read very well and is a lot less mobile than she used to be, but she still loves to sift or stir or just set the table. Cooking with me makes her feel useful and alive in a way that few activities can at this point in her life. And it brings us closer together.
 
Cooking obviously touches those whom I feed as well as those with whom I cook. It also helps me to touch those whose recipes and cooking styles I use, in the past or in the present.
 
With a wooden spoon in one hand and a pot in the other, I can stand beside my grandmother, a neighbor, a school friend from India, or an author whose works I admire.
 
Finally, I cook because I am interested in many different fields of study. I know it sometimes seems like a stretch to my readers when I link a recipe to film or literature or television or American history. I thank you for your patience and warn you that I’m going to keep on stretching. I love the way in which cooking and writing about food can be tied to just about anything.
 
Cooking thus becomes a way for me to stay sane, to keep in touch with the people I love and want to know better, and to learn about  topics that stir my passions.
 
It nourishes me in many ways—and it helps me make friends and learn new things every day.
 
packageweb
 
From the Theoretical to the Mundane: Taylor Pork Roll
 
Mentioning learning new things leads me to today’s recipe.
 
I’m still figuring out Twitter; I haven’t completely bonded with it yet. Nevertheless, I try to look at people’s tweets once or twice a day. A couple of days ago Lynne Oliver of The Food Timeline posted a message that read as follows:
 
If you’re from New Jersey, you know all about Taylor Pork Roll! http://tinyurl.com/yjjucme.
 
Now I was born in New Jersey, and I spend a lot of time visiting my mother’s house there. And I had never heard of this stuff before I saw Olver’s tweet.
 
According to Olver’s post, Taylor Pork Roll is a processed pork product—a cross between spam and summer sausage—first made in the early 20th century by a company founded by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey.
 
(She notes that some sources trace Pork Roll to the mid-1850s and even in some form to the American Revolution but adds that she can find no evidence that it was made that early.)
 
I did a quick internet search, and it turns out that many folks from New Jersey are indeed completely gaga about this product. One company makes a living sending the Pork Roll and similar products to members of the Jersey diaspora in other states; grateful customers have written to its web site sharing their fond memories of Taylor Pork Roll.
 
This comment from a Texas resident sums up the sentiment: “Even know [sic] the thought of it makes my mouth water and makes me feel like a kid again.”
 
The Pork Roll is also known in some circles as Taylor Ham. The Taylor Ham fan page on Facebook, which has more than 15,000 members, maintains that it was founded for “fans of what may possibly be New Jersey’s greatest contribution to the world.”
 
As a major admirer of both Frank Sinatra and Jon Stewart I was eager to try a product that might nose them out in the New Jersey hierarchy. Some writers have called Taylor Pork Roll “the heroin of pork.”
 
I ventured to the ShopRite Supermarket near my mother’s home in Millburn and looked in the meat case. Sure enough, right near the bacon I found a packet of sliced Taylor Pork Roll. (It is apparently also marketed in rolls like salami, but I wanted only a little bit so the slices suited me just fine.)
 
I peered into the packet, and one of the store employees asked me what I was looking for. When I informed him that I had never seen Taylor Pork Roll before he widened his eyes. “Where are YOU from?” he asked. Obviously, I will have to ask another state to issue me a birth certificate.
 
The most popular use for Taylor Pork Roll is apparently the “Jersey Sandwich” a.k.a. the “Jersey Breakfast Sandwich” a.k.a. the “Triple Bypass.” This is a sandwich made of warmed Taylor Pork Roll, a fried egg, and melted cheese on a bun.
 
I’m pretty sure the roll should be a Kaiser, but I had only ciabatta rolls in the house. And the cheese should definitely be American, but I substituted cheddar.
 
Next time, I think I would use thinner bread and perhaps leave out one ingredient—combine the Pork Roll with eggs, or make a grilled cheese sandwich with pork roll.
 
Both my mother and I found the sandwich tasty (who could resist all that fat?), but it was too heavy to finish. Truffle was happy to help eat some of the leftovers, of course.
 
doneeb
 
The Jersey Sandwich
 
Ingredients:
 
1 hard roll
a small amount of butter as needed
2 pieces Taylor Pork Roll (I bought the 6 ounce package with 8 slices so 2 slices weighed 1.5 ounces; a higher proportion of Pork Roll might appeal to some)
1 egg
1 ounce cheese, thinly sliced (American or cheddar)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the broiler. Place aluminum foil on a flat, ovenproof pan.
 
Split the roll in two and butter both inside pieces lightly. Place the slices on the foil-covered pan.
 
Cut four notches in each piece of Pork Roll so that it will not curl up as it cooks; the notches should come in about three quarters of an inch from the edge. (See photo.)
 
cookingprweb
 
In a frying pan over medium heat cook the pork pieces until they are warm and lightly browned on both sides. Remove them and set them aside.
 
If there is not enough fat in the pan to fry your eggs melt a little more butter in the pan. Quickly fry your eggs. (They won’t need salt and pepper because the Pork Roll contains a ton of sodium and spices.)
 
Place the slices of Pork Roll on the bottom piece of the roll. Place the egg on top, and cover it with the cheese. Pop the roll under the broiler and cook until the cheese has just melted.
 
Cover the sandwich and serve immediately. Makes 1 very filling sandwich.
Truffle is still hoping for more Taylor Pork Roll!

Truffle is still hoping for more Taylor Pork Roll!

 

 

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For the Love of Film: Reflections on Iris Barry

Thursday, February 18th, 2010
(Courtesy of A Clock Without Hands)

Iris Barry (Courtesy of A Clock Without Hands)

 
Long ago and far away, I wrote a not very fascinating master’s thesis about a person who was very fascinating indeed.
 
Iris Barry (1895-1969) was one of film preservation’s heroines. This chic Britisher was an influential film critic in London in the 1920s, writing for three separate periodicals—the popular Daily Mail, the literary Spectator, and the fashionable Vogue.
 
A founder of the London Film Society, she was one of the first people in Britain—indeed, in the world—to call for films to be preserved.
 
Barry moved to New York in 1930 and cultivated friendships with a number of people in the city’s artistic and philanthropic circles. In 1932 her contacts paid off; she was asked to establish a library at the Museum of Modern Art.
 
In 1935 the museum started a film library—and Barry became its first curator. Her charge, according to Time magazine, was to “preserve for students and posterity important moving pictures of the past.”
 
For the next 15 years she helped invent and establish the whole idea of saving and curating films.
 
I recently asked Haidee Wasson of Concordia University, author of Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema (2005), about Barry’s accomplishments at the museum. Wasson replied in part:
 
Barry wrote in her autobiographical notes that the accomplishment of which she was most proud was that after her work at MoMA, she believed that “films would be dated like fine wine.” Before her, this was not a convention of film culture.
 
I hadn’t thought about Barry for years until a few days ago, when I read about a wonderful idea and cause. This week Ferdy on Films and the Self-Styled Siren are organizing a blogathon called For the Love of Film to highlight the ongoing task of film preservation and to raise funds for the National Film Preservation Foundation.
 
I decided at once to participate—and to resurrect my research on Iris Barry. My thesis dealt with her early work, particularly her writings for the Daily Mail between 1925 and 1930.
 
Unfortunately, my notes (if they still exist) are in another state, and I haven’t had a chance to get there to look for them since I heard about the blogathon.
 
So I’m sharing with you a few of my memories of Iris Barry—old, secondhand memories, but vivid ones nonetheless.
 
For the love
 
Barry was conscious from the very first of her role as a promoter and defender of film. Her 1926 book Let’s Go to the Pictures (titled Let’s Go to the Movies here in the States), like her criticism, embodied the different personae she adopted in relation to film.
 
Barry was conscious of her membership in London’s artistic and literary circles. A protégé of Ezra Pound, she had written poetry and fiction before finding an occupation in film criticism. She wanted to establish film as an art form and to define the sort of art form it might be.
 
She also saw herself as an unabashed film fan—a lover of the experience of going to the movies as well as of individual films and stars.
 
It was in part this schizophrenic nature of Barry’s film criticism that drew me to her. She could heap praise on Felix the Cat (whom she called “an institution, a totem”) as well as D.W. Griffith’s masterwork Intolerance.
 
I believe that most of us who have written about film and its history share this duality. We want to study and preserve films because they can be rich examples of cultural history or magnificent works of art.
 
We also want to study and preserve them because we grew up getting a thrill from westerns or thrillers or screwball comedies, from Clint Eastwood or Ginger Rogers or Anne Hathaway. Like Iris Barry, we are all fans of the flickers.
 
One of Barry’s other appealing characteristics as a critic was her insistence that “[t]he Cinema exists to please women.” She maintained that the majority of filmgoers in Britain were women and that filmmakers programmed for them.
 
She also urged her fellow female film watchers to be discriminating, to ask for more than sweet love stories in their film fare. “The cinema provides us with the safe dreams we want,” she wrote, “and if our dreams are often not worth having, it is because we demand no better.”
 
Marcine of the blog A Clock Without Hands wrote a post last summer citing Barry’s accomplishments and concluding, “Is it even necessary for me to say that [Barry] has lived my dream life?”
 
I also applaud Iris Barry’s accomplishments. Her life was not always a dream, however. In a recent email Jillian Slonim of New York, who is working on a biography of Barry, described her as “a person whose public activities were known and acknowledged but whose private life was both complicated and kept under wraps by her.”
  
I look forward to reading Jill’s work as I indeed know little about Barry’s life. Jill says, “[T]he more I delve into Barry the more interesting she becomes to me.”
 
I do know this: Iris Barry was often poor. She arrived in New York at the onset of the Depression with a great wardrobe but not much else. I admire her courage in striking out on her own this way, but the experience doesn’t sound pleasant.
 
Her close relationships were stormy. She seems to have been drawn to men who abused or neglected her. The most significant example of this phenomenon (and probably the most significant man in her life) was the poet and artist Wyndham Lewis, with whom Barry lived from 1918 to 1921.
 
 
Wyndham Lewis, "L'Ingenue" (1919, a portrait of Barry), Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Wyndham Lewis, "L'Ingenue" (1919, a portrait of Barry), Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

 
Lewis was a stereotypical Bohemian artist of his period—temperamental, unfaithful, and occasionally just plain mean. He and Barry had two children, both of whom were farmed off to others to raise.
 
Barry married twice—once in London to a poet named Alan Porter; the second time in New York to John Abbott, a financier who was an administrator at the Museum of Modern Art and technically supervised her, although it seems clear that she was the one in charge of the Film Library. Neither marriage lasted.
 
In the late 1940s at the Cannes Film Festival she met Pierre Kerroux, a Frenchman who was apparently working as a smuggler at the time. She lived with him in Fayence at the end of her life. At least one friend of hers I interviewed at the time of my master’s thesis was concerned that Kerroux abused her physically. 
 
The two had few resources on which to draw. Barry’s occasional work for the museum could not have supplied much income. And she clearly had a drinking problem by the end of her life if not before.
 
Barry may have been thinking of her own relationships with men when she wrote in her Portrait of Lady Mary Montagu (1928):

Love she really knew very little about. That is the misfortune of women, that they have an appetite but no natural genius for it…. It is simple enough for a man to be attracted by a woman; but so very hard for him to accept her as a human being.
  
In my correspondence with Haidee Wasson I asked what attracted her to Barry. Here is part of her reply:
 
I was drawn to Iris Barry partly because she was such a pivotal figure for the history of film, and its relationship to art institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The more I learned about her the more compelling I found her to be. She was dynamic and uncommonly intelligent.…
 
And, I long have had the sense that she didn’t suffer fools. Barry also managed to balance the compromises required of working within established institutions yet also mining a deeply personal passion. I don’t think she was always the most likable person in the room. But, she was bold, proud and uncompromising.
 
I don’t wish for Iris Barry’s life—the poverty, the difficult relationships, the willingness to strike out blindly on new courses without thinking them through. Nevertheless, I do envy her passion: for film, for art, for preserving beauty and culture.
 
I celebrate her achievements as a critic and a curator. And I admire her poetic soul.
 
In a 1931 Bookman article about London’s literary and artistic milieu during World War I Barry wrote:
 
The effect, all too little realized at the time, was as though something that mattered very much had somehow and rather miraculously been preserved round that table when so much else was being scattered, smashed up, killed, imprisoned or forgotten….
 
It was, for the hours the gathering lasted, less important that so many were being killed and more that something lived: possible to recall that for every Blenheim there is a Voltaire and that the things that endure are not stupidity or fear.
 
Iris Barry herself accomplished “something that mattered.” And she was someone who mattered.
 
Happily, Barry is beginning to achieve the recognition she deserves. Haidee Wasson and Leslie Hankins have both published journal articles examining her writings. Jillian Slonim is finding everyone she can (and every piece of paper she can) to shed light on Barry’s life and work.
 
Jill reports that MoMA is planning to launch a “Modern Women” exhibition in Spring 2010 that will include some of Barry’s original programming.
 
More intimately, perhaps, with Jill Slonim’s help the town of Fayence, France, held a “Jour Iris Barry” last fall. On this day Fayence celebrated its late resident and officially named the movie theater in the town’s new cultural center after her.
 
love2
 
If like Iris Barry YOU have a passion for film, please consider donating to the National Film Preservation Foundation. The NFPF is giving away four DVD sets to donors chosen in a random drawing this week.
 
And of course please do visit some of the other bloggers who are writing this week For the Love of Film.
 
Meanwhile, here is a (vaguely) Iris-inspired recipe.
 
I have to admit that none of my old research on Barry gave me a clue about what to cook. Unfortunately for me but not for her, Jillian Slonim is currently at the Berlin Film Festival. She wrote:
 
Iris did like to eat though she went through many periods in which she could not afford to eat well or what she might have wanted to eat. I seem to remember reading something she wrote in her later years–when she lived in Fayence–about liking asparagus but won’t be able to check that until I’m back home…too late for the blogathon.
 
I turned to Haidee Wasson, who told me of Barry’s “tea habit.” Apparently, she enjoyed afternoon tea, particularly in her London days. So I brewed a pot of tea and made some smoked-salmon tea sandwiches. I’m sure that when Barry was doing well financially she enjoyed them. I hope you enjoy them, too.
 
And I promise my next post will be MUCH, MUCH shorter than this one…….
 
salmsandeb
 
Film (and Fish) Lovers’ Tea Sandwiches
 
I started to write down exact proportions for these little treats, but I gave up on that idea rather quickly because like most tea sandwiches they are best assembled to taste. I just stirred lemon zest, dill, and pepper into the cheese until it tasted delicious but not too strong.
 
If you want to vary the recipe, you may certainly add capers to the cheese and/or garnish. And if you’re like my mother (who adores butter), you may add a layer of butter underneath the cheese.
 
Ingredients:
 
thinly sliced white bread (either a solid homemade bread such as the one I used in my BOLT sandwiches or a commercial brand such as Pepperidge Farm)
whipped cream cheese or soft goat cheese, at room temperature
a handful of fresh dill, chopped but not too finely
grated lemon zest
freshly ground pepper
sliced smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
 
Instructions:
 
If you want to, cut your bread into pretty shapes. Since Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, I used shamrocks. Cut off the crusts even if you don’t make shapes.
 
In a bowl thoroughly combine the cheese, most of the dill, most of the lemon zest, and the pepper.
 
Spread the cheese mixture generously onto the pieces of bread. Top with salmon and a bit more dill and lemon zest.
 
Brew up a pot of tea and watch an old film.
 
 
 
Iris Barry in France with artist Jean Raine (Courtesy of www.jeanraine.org)

Iris Barry in France with artist Jean Raine (Courtesy of www.jeanraine.org)

 

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The Best Finger Food Ever

Friday, August 14th, 2009
Functional yet beautiful, Florette Zuelke's round garden (shown here in 1980) won a prize from the PBS show "Crockett's Victory Garden." (Courtesy of Ena Haines)

Functional yet beautiful, Florette Zuelke's round garden (shown here in 1980) won a prize from the PBS show "Crockett's Victory Garden." (Courtesy of Ena Haines)

 
I promised in my last post that I would have more recipe tributes to the late Florette Zuelke. Here is the first. Ena and Michael Haines brought these lovely little open sandwiches to the memorial party for Florette last weekend.
 
Both decorative and delicious, they epitomized Florette’s elegant cookery.
 
Ena grew up spending every summer at Singing Brook Farm in Hawley, Massachusetts, with her mother Toni and sister Betsy. When Ena married Michael, the Farm community welcomed him with open arms. Florette was the undisputed queen of chic clothing and cuisine in that community.
  
A hint from me: the dense white sandwich bread in my recent recipe for BOLTs would probably work well for these squares. But I’m not pushing!
 
Florette hosts an informal "do" in 1981; she loved red bandanas. (Courtesy of Ena Haines)

Florette hosts an informal "do" in 1981; she loved red bandanas. (Courtesy of Ena Haines)

 
Checkerboard Cherry Tomatoes
 
From the Garden and Kitchen of Florette
Narrated by Michael Haines
 
 
Ingredients:
 
packaged white bread, firm and dense such as Pepperidge Farm
freshly made pesto sauce (I use Craig Claiborne’s recipe. Harvesting and chopping basil leaves was often a communal activity in Florette’s kitchen. The job goes quickly with good fellowship, conversation, and wine.)
freshly picked red and yellow cherry tomatoes
 

checkerboard squares web
 
Instructions: 
 
Cut off the bread crusts and make a single layer of bread on a cutting board or cookie sheet. 
 
Spread the bread with pesto sauce. 
 
Halve the cherry tomatoes, leaving semispheres. 
 
Place the cherry tomatoes in rows, alternating colors for the checkerboard look. 
 
Cut the bread in squares, each holding a half tomato. 
 
The eye appeal, hand appeal, and mouth appeal of this dish make it a perfect summer hors d’oeuvre. Florette was a skillful and passionate gardener. An exacting cook, and a warm and charming hostess. She was generous with her time and efforts, loving to her friends, and fun to be with. Thank you, Florette.
 
Michael and Ena

Michael and Ena

Let’s All BOLT….

Friday, August 7th, 2009
My nephew Michael eyes a BOLT.

Michael eyes a BOLT.

 
In general I’m not a big fan of sandwiches—mostly because I spend so much of my life avoiding carbohydrates. Carbs are pretty much de rigueur in a sandwich. In fact, I just learned that a Boston court ruled in 2006 that a sandwich involves two pieces of bread not only by definition but BY LAW.
 
Nevertheless, this has been a crazy summer, and sandwiches have prevailed in our household despite my normal carbophobia. This trend has been exacerbated by the proximity of my nine-year-old nephew Michael, who is staying with his parents down the street.
 
Michael can eat a sandwich at any meal (or even as a between-meal snack). Sometime soon I’ll go back to salads and soups, or I’ll end up as big as a house. In the meantime I’m joining Michael in his sandwich consumption and enjoying myself.
 
Sandwiches historically served as a convenience since they did away with the need for dishes and flatware and were quick to prepare. To some extent they still appeal because of their simplicity. When Michael comes in from swimming it’s easy to slice a little bread; find some meat, veggies, and/or cheese; and call the resulting combination lunch or supper. (I confess: once in a while it’s breakfast, too.)
 
Sandwiches are a terrific way to let seasonal produce star. Michael’s very favorite sandwich is one we make only at this time of year—the BLT.  There just isn’t any point in combining bacon, lettuce, and tomato unless farm-fresh tomatoes are in season; winter imports need not apply.
 
If you have a favorite summer sandwich, please let me know what it is by commenting below. Meanwhile, I’m sharing recipes and photos from a recent BLT night at our home. My mother, sister-in-law Leigh, and Michael helped me start sandwich bread. My friend (and former cooking student!) Chas Fox stopped by just in time to help knead.
 
When it was time to eat, Chas’s son Matt helped make mayonnaise for the sandwiches. The bacon was the thick-cut variety from Avery’s Store in Charlemont, Massachusetts. The lettuce came from Chas’s garden, and we bought the tomatoes at our newest local farm stand, Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne. (We don’t have fresh tomatoes in our gardens in the hills yet.)
 
At the last minute Chas observed that a little thinly sliced red onion might make a tasty addition to the sandwiches—and so the BOLT was born. I highly recommend it.
 
If you’re serving vegetarians, substitute extra-sharp cheddar cheese for the bacon in your sandwiches. You’ll have a COLT.
 
Our BOLT evening was delightful. Jack from across the street (minus his Betsy, who was toiling in the big city) brought a bottle of red wine. We sat on the porch with a few fairy lights and excellent company for illumination. New and old stories were told, and many sandwiches were consumed.
 
Family, friends, and simple food are an unbeatable combination–in summer or any other season.
 
Chas kneads.

Chas kneads.

 
BOLTs
 
Obviously, you may make your BLTs or BOLTs with store-bought bread and commercial mayonnaise. They are divine with homemade products, however, so that’s what I used.
 
Ingredients:
 
homemade bread as needed (see recipe below)
homemade mayonnaise, with or without basil (see recipe below)
lots of cooked, thickly sliced bacon
sliced ripe tomatoes (don’t even bother if they’re not fresh)
thinly sliced red onion (just a few slices per sandwich: less is definitely more in this case!)
 
Instructions:
 
Toast the bread if you want to. (Many BLT connoisseurs insist on this, although homemade bread is pretty fabulous untoasted.) Assemble sandwiches as generously as you like. Watch your guests smile.
 
White Bread for BOLTs
(or any other sandwich)
 
This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour’s basic sandwich loaf. That bread is excellent all by itself, and I highly recommend it. I wanted to make two loaves instead of the one it provides, however, since I tend to serve a lot of people at this time of year. And I cut back just a bit on the butter and sugar.
 
The amounts of those below still make a loaf that is rich, sweet, and easy to cut. In wet weather (and we’ve had no other kind lately) it takes quite a while to rise. It is worth the wait.
 
Ingredients:
 
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup hot tap water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 cups flour (all-purpose and/or bread; you may also add a bit of white whole wheat here for extra whole-grain goodness), plus a bit more for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
 
Instructions:
 
First, proof the yeast in the lukewarm water in a small bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of sugar. This will take about 5 minutes.
 
Combine the milk, hot water, and warm melted butter. In a large separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Briskly stir in the dissolved yeast and the liquids.
 
Place the dough on a lightly greased or floured surface, put a little oil on your hands, and knead the dough for 8 minutes, until it feels just right. You may add a little more flour as you knead, but try not to add too much.
 
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Let it rise until it puffs up and just about doubles in bulk. This may take as little as an hour—but in our recent extremely damp weather it has been taking a lot longer in my kitchen!
 
Butter two loaf pans. Gently deflate the dough with your hands, and cut it in two with a serrated knife. Place each half in turn on an oiled board, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the logs in your loaf pans, and cover them loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow them to rise to a nice height. (Mine didn’t soar too high because of the humidity, but eventually they did rise respectably.)
 
Bake the loaves in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. I like to remove them from the pans for the last 5 minutes or so and let the crust crisp up a tiny bit in the oven. Makes 2 loaves. 
Mayo in the Making

Mayo in the Making

 
Homemade Mayonnaise
 
Life is full of risks. I say this to remind readers that eating raw eggs ALWAYS carries a very small risk of salmonella. If you or your guests worry about this problem, there are a couple of things you can do.
 
First, you can buy pasteurized eggs. The disadvantage here is that you can’t use fresh local eggs, which I always prefer. (I like to buy them from my neighbors who have chickens!)
 
You can also try to pasteurize your own eggs. I have found several web sites that list ways in which you can semi-cook your eggs and/or yolks. I haven’t actually tried them but provide a link or two for your reading. Some involve the microwave; others, cooking the eggs with a little liquid for a few minutes or even by themselves. I think I may try one of the non-microwave techniques next time. On the evening of our party I used raw yolks, and luckily everyone is still alive.
 
ANYWAY, on to the recipe. If you’re worried, skip it and use commercial mayonnaise. The homemade stuff awfully good, however. It’s easiest to make with two people—one to add the oil and one to whisk.
 
Ingredients:
 
1 fresh egg yolk at room temperature (I keep it refrigerated until almost the last minute to minimize risk of illness and then plunge it into very warm water for a couple of minutes to bring it to the right temperature)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup canola oil
a tablespoon or two of boiling water if needed
finely chopped herbs (optional; basil is nice in the BOLTs)
 
Instructions:
 
Place the egg yolk, mustard, salt, cayenne, and lemon juice in a clean bowl, and combine them thoroughly with a whisk. Whisk in the oil a drop at a time. As the sauce begins to thicken, you may add slightly larger drops, but don’t get carried away; this is a slow process.
 
If the sauce becomes too thick or starts to curdle, whisk in a small amount of boiling water. When the mayonnaise is nice and thick, add the herbs if desired and serve. Leftover mayo may be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. Makes about 1 cup.
 
 
Matt and Truffle needed to relax after making mayonnaise--and eating BOLTs.

Matt and Truffle needed to relax after making mayonnaise--and eating BOLTs.

A Sweet Sandwich

Friday, July 31st, 2009

icecreamsandweb

 

July is National Ice Cream month—and my nephew Michael pointed out to me recently that I haven’t posted a single ice cream recipe in the past 31 days. With August on the horizon, I am rushing to rectify this shocking omission.

 

I recently put out a call for summer sandwich suggestions on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the responses involved tomatoes. After all, at this time of year none of us can get enough of those lush red fruits disguised as vegetables. I’ll post a couple of tomato sandwich recipes soon, I promise.

 

One warm day, my honorary cousin Deb Parker bucked the tomato trend by reminding me of one my (and Michael’s) favorite summertime treats, the ice cream sandwich!

 

So I set about creating one. I wanted a cookie base that would hold up fairly well without being hard. I settled on the infamous Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. As most people know, this recipe (which is also occasionally said to originate with Mrs. Fields) is passed around the internet with a supposedly true story about a friend of a friend. (I ALWAYS suspect those stories!)

 

The woman is said to have enjoyed eating the cookie at a Neiman Marcus café and to have asked for the recipe. According to the story, the waitress says that she will have to charge the customer “two fifty” for the recipe, and the woman happily agrees. When her NM bill comes she finds a charge for $250 rather than the $2.50 she has been expecting—and she vows to take revenge on the high-end department store by passing the recipe along to everyone she knows. Before the internet the story and recipe were spread via letters; now they make the rounds by email.

 

The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie story is a classic if fun urban legend, one that Neiman Marcus has finally acknowledged by inventing its own cookie recipe and placing it on the NM web site (for free, natch). That recipe looks good, but I wanted the chewiness that oatmeal lends to the “original” recipe. So that’s what I’ve used, cutting it down a bit since it makes a ton of cookies.

 

Here, then, is my ice-cream sandwich recipe, thanks to whoever made up the faux NM recipe years and years ago.

 

You may of course use homemade ice cream. I used Snow’s, a local brand that is creamy and old fashioned–just right for an ice cream sandwich. The sandwiches were wonderful, although next time I might try to make the cookies smaller and flatter. They were extremely filling this way.

 

Tinky Marcus Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

Ingredients:

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1-1/4 cups blended oatmeal (oatmeal pulverized to a powder in your blender)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, pulverized to a powder (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks (Hershey’s will do!)
6 scoops vanilla ice cream

 

Instructions:

 

First, make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, followed by the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour, oatmeal powder, and nuts (if desired). Stir in the chocolate chips and chunks.

 

Divide the dough into 12 good-sized balls. Place them on parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let them cool on the sheets for 2 minutes; then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

When you are ready to eat, place a scoop of ice cream between 2 cookies and press them together. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Serves 6 generously.