Posts Tagged ‘sandwich’

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Strictly speaking. (BAKED SALMON CROQUETTES)

January 29, 2013

salmoncroq

For a couple of weeks MG and I have rid our diets of sugar, caffeine (Coffee, I miss you), wheat (Bread! I didn’t mean it! Please take me back), dairy, booze, etc. As the 14 days of clean eating were coming to a close I was making up stuff to ease us back into our really fun and slightly decadent reality. The key word is ‘ease’ because I didn’t want all of that abstaining to wind up being in vain. So, for these cute little suckers, I allowed for a dredge of breadcrumbs. Without the dip in the crumbs, this version of the recipe would be all-of-those-things free and full of healthy protein, salmon. I used the canned stuff for the sake of speed cooking but using 1 3/4 cups of freshly cooked salmon flaked with a fork would be a million times better.

This recipe can be seasoned in different ways, scallions, soy, ginger, or with mayo or add an egg, some old bay seasoning, cayenne, chopped herbs, etc. Just make a delicious mixture and form into patties. I left it at easy, threw some cooked brown rice (for sticking power), garlic, shallot and rosemary in the mini chop and mixed it with the fish that I seasoned a little. Simple as bonjour.

salmoncroq_minichop

BAKED SALMON CROQUETTES

(makes 10-12 small croquettes)

1 can of salmon such as Icy Point, about 14 ounces

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

a splash of red wine vinegar

1/3 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or scant teaspoon dried

3 cloves garlic

1 small shallot

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon herbs or spices of choice*

Cooking oil, preferably in spray form.

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Cover a baking sheet in foil and spray (or drizzle) with your favorite cooking oil.
  • Flake the salmon thoroughly and mix in a medium-sized bowl with dijon, oil and vinegar.
  • Place rice, rosemary, garlic and shallots in a food processor until it forms a paste (or finely chop with a knife).
  • Combine the rice mixture with the fish in the bowl. Season well. Set aside.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the seasonings of your choice*.
  • Form the salmon mixture into 1/4 cup patties (not too big or they will be very break-y), dredge patties in the deluxe breadcrumbs and place on the prepared sheet pan.
  • After all of the patties are formed and crumbed, spray (or drizzle) the top of each one lightly with oil.
  • Place in the oven and cook as close to the heat source as possible until the desired color is achieved and croquettes are heated through. Flip once, about 8 minutes on each side.

* Here you can use dried herbs or any mix of spices to trick out the breadcrumbs. I used this blend from Penzey’s that I got from my rad sister.

Salmon croquettes are also excellent served on tiny bread to tiny people…

salmoncroq_burger1

And here is something I wrote about Icy Point Salmon back when I used to wear a thumb ring. I really do like this stuff.

icypoint

‘I think we can consider it a ‘whole food’, so much so that the salmon still has its bones! When you open a can of this stuff you are looking straight into a cross section of a beautiful Alaskan salmon. It is steamed in the can this way, bones and all, so that every part of the fish is edible and needs only to be broken up with a fork and used in your favorite recipe. It is a staple in my pantryXX’

The bones are soft and edible. What that looks like:

salmoncroq_icybones

That’s healthy but if it freaks you out, just cook up the fresh salmon. Ça va.
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Tough tomatoes. (TOMATO SANDWICH)

August 5, 2010

They’re back!! Glorious mountains and piles of ripe, juicy tomatoes are gracing markets (and CSA boxes) everywhere, returning with a seeming vengeance after last year’s tomato tragedy. Some of the season’s early birds came (clockwise from top left) Gilbertie (elongated and thin with green band), Flora Lee (elongated, plump), Sun Gold (small and golden), Sunkist (round, yellow), each in perfect form and all outstanding! With my refusal to purchase scandalous supermarket tomatoes rewarded, I reaffirm that it is well worth every month of tomato deprivation.

Yes, I am ecstatic about this heroic return and since have been happily indulging in tomato creations, the best of which are inevitably the most simple. Sliced and layered with homemade ricotta, cubed-up with the best olive oil and snipped dill, or just alone with a good sprinkle of fleur de sel, this season’s bounty is scoring high marks. But, the thing I have been dreaming about the most since that last damned season is a tomato and mayo sandwich. This is a thing of great simplicity and can only be made with the most excellent of ingredients. This year when I finally had the chance to make one, it had me smacking as I ate and texting people OMG in sheer delight. I was not alone in this seasonal craving, as I was perusing other blogs, I saw the exact same wish on this summer ‘to do/eat’ list, which I thought was kind of cool.

These beauties didn’t need much else between two pieces of toasted whole wheat sour dough, slathered with Hellman’s mayo on both sides and a touch of spicy brown mustard. The tomatoes of 2010 made their colorful and long-awaited debut… right in my kitchen. OMG.

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Food alone. (SAUSAGE + APPLE SANDWICH)

November 15, 2009

alone_sausage

This could be a new category on upchefcreek: ‘eating food alone’. As many/most of these entries are directly related to eating with and cooking for others, a constant ritual I am so lucky to partake in, I also take great pleasure in another side of eating, the solo mission. It is different when there is no one around to bend the taste toward, to impress, to please. I am not shy of eating alone. In fact, I hit restaurants by myself somewhat often as a form of relaxation and self indulgence. I cook for myself as needed, it seems I save elaborate meals for collaborative eating experiences, and let ‘quick and satisfying’ be my private mode. I do not skimp on myself, i.e. a box of cereal for dinner, but rather eat what I crave, which is usually (luckily) something pretty healthy. I guess whatever health-food-torture I went through as a kid was worth it because now I take great pleasure in eating nutritious things like green leaves, whole grains, and all that shmazz.

Tonight, dinner was one of those missions. It was just little ole me, there were few ingredients around and nothing prepared. I had two of these fancy organic chicken sausages in the fridge leftover from some sort of sausage, mushroom, dandelion, saute with quinoa. These things are dime(s) a dozen in the bodegas-turned fancymarts that are ubiquitous in Brooklyn. Good in a pinch, the sausages taste okay and, since I read labels as a hobby, I know its list of ingredients is not too scary. I am also usually stocked with this really nice, mysterious, wheat and oat bread labeled ‘Health Bread’ found all over my neighborhood and always very fresh looking. The combination turned out a hand-held meal, balanced with protein (sausage), fruit/veg (apple) and grain (good bread), three basic elements of a solid meal. Once the foil and the napkin were tossed, the only clean-up was the knife and cutting board for the apples. Impressed my damn self.

EASIEST SAUSAGE AND APPLE SANDWICH

1 link of your favorite sausage

1 apple, (gala, braeburn, fiji, jonagold, granny, mac) cored, sliced

1 swipe mustard

1 swipe mayo

a few dashes hot auce

1 piece of bread

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • On a piece of foil place sausage links with apple slices scattered over.
  • Bake until sausage is cooked (or heated through, depending if it is pre-cooked).
  • With the bread in your hand, put mayo, mustard and hot sauce on the bread and mix it together with a knife.
  • Pile sausages and apples on top and wrap in a napkin for proper eating.

There is a great book on the subject of what people eat when they are alone. I would have contributed one of my crazy breakfast porridges to it, had I the chance. I think there are forums on the web for people to share what they eat out of a public eye, very interesting, as well as some terrifyingly weird advice for people who don’t like to go out and eat alone. Here is my advice: enjoy yourself, be polite OR stay home and cook! Amaze yourself. Bon ap!

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Big pig. (PULLED PORK SHOULDER)

November 2, 2009

pork_pulled

Making pulled pork is an undertaking of time and faith but, really, not all that much work. It starts with the shoulder cut of pork, which may need a minute of explanation. The shoulder is the front leg of the pig and it consists of two halves; the butt or Boston butt, which is the upper section and the lower called picnic shoulder or, worse yet, the picnic ham, though it is not really a ham*, just as the top half is not really a butt. Shoulder (which is the important word to remember when the desire to pull pork arises) can be purchased whole, with these two cuts attached to each other, or separately. On average, the cuts weigh between 6 and 10 pounds each, but in the photos you see here, we are working with 19 pounds of butt and a 16 pound picnic shoulder. The butcher at Dickson’s Farmstand had these enormous and subsequently delicious Berkshire pigs and I did purchase a whole shoulder but asked that he divide it for me since my home oven is only a standard size. Nonetheless, the two pieces were crammed in, touching the top of the oven, almost the bottom and each other in the middle while stacked on the two shelves. This caused no harm/problems when cooking but it was certainly the first leap of faith.

The second leap was trusting my oven to maintain the temperature of 325 degrees for almost 10 hours. I checked in on it every few hours and in the beginning made sure that the meat had enough liquid in the roasting dish so it would not burn. I used two cups of water per pan and then covered each with foil for the duration. I took some advice to use a bit of cider vinegar which was admittedly delicious but made the house smell like hot vinegar for so many hours that I would not like to repeat that experience. Anyway, pretty soon after the cooking starts, the meat releases its own (fat) juices and keeps itself safe and basted and delicious and fantastic.

pork_shoulder

Once you have figured what kind of seasonings you want to put on your shoulder and how long you’ll need to cook it, it is as good as done. For ‘marinating’ I put 1/2 of my spice rub on the pork the day before, and another coat just before cooking. If there is any to spare I either dump it in the barbecue sauce that accompanies the finished pork, or save it to dump into some other dish. A spice rub is a flexible ingredient and hard to get wrong. For starters, try a tablespoon each of brown sugar, mustard powder, ancho powder, garlic powder, onion powder mixed with two tablespoons each of kosher salt, pepper and paprika. There is no exact formula really, I just add and taste and add and taste. (I would even triple or quadruple this formula so as not to run short.) We have accumulated a great collection of dried spice powders, many from Kalustyan’s, so it is a great opportunity to use them for extra flare. It could be anything from dried Greek oregano to chipotle powder, Creole seasoning or a badass dash of jalapeno powder.

pork_spices

Once dusted up, it really helps to take the meat from the fridge at least 1/2 hour before placing it in the oven for even and accurate cooking. This also gives you a good head start to preheat and make sure your oven will keep a steady temperature. I am a huge fan of an oven thermometer, I keep it in there all the time, just to be sure. An easy formula for timing the pork is approximately 40 minutes per pound at 300 F. I have had success with it, though I am not afraid to creep the oven up to 325 and shave a few hours off of the process, especially when undertaking those giant pieces. In this case I have no neat formula but it is pretty easy to eyeball when the bones pull easily away from meat, perfectly clean, it is ready. If I had to guess I would say something like 30 minutes per pound @ 325 F. The internal temperature (of the meat) will be somewhere between 185 and 195 F but to know that exact info necessitates another type of thermometer, one may or may not have stocked in the kitchen. After removing the entirely cooked meat from the oven, just let it sit there (covered) for an hour or so before pulling it.

pork_bigpig

The next step is to hand-shred the pork into a clean container (it will fall apart so easily, it practically pulls itself) and then strain a quart or two of the juices to pour over for keeping the meat moist. The liquid is pretty fatty so you may want to cool the strained portions and scoop the fat off of the top before mixing it with the pork. Barbecue sauce would be my next suggestion. It is a subject of controversy with barbecue people all over the country. Everyone has their preferred style whether jarred or home made, sweet or spicy, vinegary or ketchup-based. No need to get pushy here, save it for the ball game and just use your favorite. I go for a spicy, vinegary sauce with a little touch of sweet but either way, it is a good idea to put a light coat over the pork now and drown it later on your plate or sandwich or whatever.

pork_plate

*A ham as we know it is the back leg, by the way.

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Dear Bahn Mi Saigon Bakery,

September 9, 2009

bahnmi_bakery

138 Mott St., NYC

You have made me forget all about the tiny deli on Grand Street that had THE best Vietnamese sandwiches in the five boroughs. And this is a really good thing because I was just about to break a nervous sweat trolling up and down the street looking for that little place. Now that bahn mi joints are practically more common than pizzerias, it is imperative to not take an outstanding bahn mi for granted. And I almost did. Funny the cross streets never stuck in my head after five years, but I had never NOT found it until this day and alas, I think it is gone. We all know this town can be cruel like that.

As I was walking south in despair, fearing that the true and authentic bahn mi had been replaced by a flashy new generation of $13 and too much bread, I saw your sign. It looked and felt right. I bee-lined, barged in, swept past the jewelry counter, and without a second thought, ordered the number One. And well, after a bite or two, I was reminded; the difference between a good bahn mi and an exceptional one is both subtle and clear as day.

The bread. Not just any bread will fit the bill. The perfect bahn mi baguette has to have a certain degree of yielding softness, not like the straight up French kind that makes your teeth work hard and scrapes the roof of your mouth a little, while not a cheap roll that will fall apart either. Since it is usually a take-out item, you may be standing in front of a jewelry store/bakery eating on the street and this thing needs to be compact and sturdy but still of fresh baked quality. My sandwich was lovingly warm, which is best, but for full disclosure I only devoured one half straight away, elbowing through Chinatown, and ate the other refrigerator-cold later. Still super.

The carrot/daikon pickle mix. That punk smell of daikon is mandatory for an authentic bahn mi experience with plenty of crisp vinegar to play with the sweetness that tinges the filling which, on the Number One, is exceptional pork. The caramelized pork, in addition to great texture, adds the fat flavor needed to stand up to the other ingredients which pile on fresh, spicy, salty, pungent and bitter all at once.

There should be a good balance between all of these, not an over abundance of one or the other. It does not sound difficult, but after eating (and making) endless bahn mi I know that, like pizza, even mediocre is still good. All of the ingredients will most likely taste great together: bread, meat, pickle, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, mayo (and the sneaky slice of cold cut), but to hit on all of the points just right and to make that ultimately perfect combo is something very special and rare.

I see that I have stumbled upon a deservedly iconic place. The vegetarian summer rolls I took for later also sort of blew my mind. Not expecting much from the pale presence of cellophane noodles wrapped in rice paper with tofu, they showed off with the huge flavors of a great marinade, tons of fresh herbs and two killer dipping sauces, one salty, sweet and gingery, the other a red-hot chili sauce. Fantastic. And on the money. Your cross streets will never leave my heart.

Your fast friend,

Ori

bahnmi_bag

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Dear Walter Foods,

October 27, 2008

walterfoods

253 Grand Street • Williamsburg, Brooklyn

You are a new face in a hood that seems saturated with restaurants…until the clock strikes one. Then the choices boil down to pizza and maybe a taco or two. Sometimes people who’ve been known to keep strange hours want a proper meal, not necessarily fast food, so thank you for a surprising late-night feast on Friday. We were recommended by our birthday-girl friend because the latest dinner service we could think of in the area was over. It was almost 2am upon arrival and the waiter seated us for dinner without so much as a huff. Before too long, and a few subtle questions it was confirmed that you are a relative of Barrio Chino. Great place! The sopa Azteca is a showstopper. But hey! This is about Walter.

As diners, MG and I have a good time no matter, either praising a meal or tearing it to tiny pieces. Most everything was great, the quality was excellent and our beverage pairings, with the help of crisp shirt waiter, were definitely a success. First course was a mix-n-match oyster plate, a little sparkling wine and one frothy, honey laden El Diablo. The oysters were fantastic! Sitting patiently in their pools of liquor accompanied by a fine mignonette (which I seriously wanted to drown everything in) and a cocktail sauce with extra-generous horseradish so only a dab was needed or else it would overpower the oyster. A spicy butternut squash soup followed with a punch of unimpressive heat which lacked a note other than hot-ness. Crunchy almond garnish was nice. In honesty, I do not love cream in soups which made it velvety and smooth but heavy.

Excitement for the menu took over and though it was a big undertaking of food, we went on to order the short rib burger and the lobster club with fries and salad respectively. A surf and turf of sandwiches. We imagined the short rib to be the shreddy long cooked ribs that we know so well formed into some type of patty, but instead it was simply genius…the short rib meat ground up and prepared like a regular burger. Served mid rare with bacon and cheese on a roll so shiny I could see myself, it was an exemplary specimen. The fries were killer too. If I had only kept that damn ramekin of mignonette!

After feeble attempts to tuck into the lobster club, we only got through half due to extreme fullness. The chunks of lobster were well sized and perfectly cooked, though overwhelmed by copious but ever-delicious bacon. Even just three strips per side is a little too much when trying to feature exquisite (I love that word!) lobster, sturdy as it may be. The accompanying salad was quite salty. You’d wonder after all that great stuff who is really paying attention to the second-class side salad…well, I guess we were because we immediately agreed that it was salty and after all that rich fare something a little green was definitely needed to cleanse the old palates.

With the sandwiches we had a Hitachino Pale Ale which had an interesting clove not clover taste (we questioned their relation, don’t think there’s any) and a good dark German ale on the waiter’s recommendation, love the bowtie. The staff was pro and friendly which can be hard to come by in these parts and the bar was lively. It got a little loud in there but it is at least 50% drinkin’ bar after all, so we don’t think you should worry about it. Schmancy, tried and true comfort food late at night…Walter, you’ve got a combo that could fly. Hope to see you soon over a French Dip.

Best of luck,
Ori