Monday, September 28, 2015

Neon Tuna Melt with Roasted Red Pepper





     Neon Tuna Salad!
     The Tuna Melt is a classic American sandwich.  Tuna Melts were first offered on menus sometime back in the mid 1900's.  In the 1950's and 1960's, Tuna Melt Sandwiches could be found on nearly every menu at casual diner style restaurants from coast to coast.
     In the 1970's, the Tuna Melt was the top choice of health conscious people.  Back in those days, there were few healthy menu options.  The only health food choices were the Hearts Of Health Salad, The Diet Burger Platter and the good old Tuna Melt.
     Back in the '70's, Tuna Salad was promoted as being healthy weight loss diet food too.  Ladies that wanted to shed a few extra pounds chose the Tuna Melt menu item over anything else.  As one can imagine, a Tuna Melt actually has the opposite effect!  The fatty mayonnaise, butter and cheese negates whatever low calorie health benefits the tunafish offered.
     After weighing the differences between a Tuna Melt and a Patty Melt, the Tuna Melt is only a healthier choice by a slim margin.  As everybody knows, it is the flavor that counts and Tuna Melt Sandwiches are simply irresistible, especially when hungry after dieting all week.  For a customer on a diet, ordering a Tuna Melt is like giving into indulgence, with the only saving grace being the fact that the guilt free dietary food word "Tuna" appears in the name of this sandwich!  
     Irresistible indulgence!  When tuna salad is heated, it has a rich cheesy tuna casserole kind of aroma that is simply mouthwatering.  Just forget about willpower and give in!  Resistance is futile!

     The Neon Tuna Melt name of today's sandwich refers to Chicago Style Neon Relish.  Neon Relish has a bright bluish green color.  The Greek spices in Neon Relish create a unique flavor that tastes great with tuna.
     For making a gourmet Tuna Salad, roasted or poached fresh tuna can be chilled, then flaked.  This is a lot of extra work and this is why canned tuna is preferred by most cooks for making tuna salad.  Some brands of canned tuna are better than others.  As always, it is best to select a brand from a company that employees good seafood stock sustainability policies.
     When making tuna salad, it is important to drain off any excess water on the tuna meat.  Pressing the tuna meat against a fine mesh strainer is the best way to drain the water off of tuna.   
 
     Neon Tuna Salad: 
     This recipe yields enough tuna salad for 2 sandwiches.   
     Step 1:  Completely drain the water off of 5 ounces of canned tuna.
     Step 2:  Place the tuna in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Chicago Style Neon Relish.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely minced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 1 tiny pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons is plenty.  The tuna salad should look fairly dry and not wet.)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Refrigerate the tuna salad for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
 
     Neon Tuna Melt Sandwich with Roasted Red Peppers: 
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush 2 slices of marble rye bread with melted unsalted butter and place them on the pan.
     Immediately place a few thin slices of cheddar cheese on bread.
     When the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted, set the grilled cheese bread slices aside on a dish.  Keep the dish warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Keep the griddle on medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 roasted red bell pepper that is split in half.
     Heat the roasted pepper half for a few seconds and place it on one of the grilled cheese sandwich halves.
     Step 3:  Place about a 3 to 4 ounce scoop of the Neon Tuna Salad on the griddle.
     Use a spatula to flatten the Neon Tuna Salad, so it looks like a patty shape.
     Grill the Neon Tuna Salad Patty, till it warms up.
     Step 4:  Use a spatula place the grilled neon tuna salad on top of the roasted red pepper on the sandwich.
     Spread the warm tuna salad, so it covers the entire sandwich half.
     Step 5:  Set the other grilled cheese sandwich half on top of the tuna salad.
     Cut the sandwich in half and set it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with endive lettuce and pickles.
     *Persian pickled wild cucumbers, pickled pink turnips, Arabic scratched olives and black olives are the pickles selected for the plate in the photos. 
 
     The plate in the photos looks totally neon!

1890's New York Fairgrounds Style Hamburger






     One Of The First Burgers!
     There are many different tales depicting the history of the hamburger on the internet and in book form.  There actually is no proven information as to where the hamburger was invented.  Most of the hamburger stories are based upon second hand information or false claims.
     Lets put it this way, when hamburgers first became a popular item between the years 1895 and 1906, every cook and restaurant from coast to coast laid claim to being the inventor of the hamburger.  Back in those days, claiming to be the first to accomplish something in any area of expertise was a marketing ploy.
     Since news traveled slow back in the 1890's, folks naturally took advantage of the information game time delay.  For example, if a burger recipe was a local hit in New York, it might take months for the general public in some place like Minnesota or California to get the news about burgers.
     Those who had access to telegraph or courier communication lines found out about burgers long before the general public and this create opportunities to turn a profit.  When the local population finally tried burgers for the first time, they probably assumed that the burger is a local invention, especially if a local shop owner claimed to have created the first burger in an advertising campaign.
     This is probably why there are at least 8 places in this country that boast being the home of the very first burger ever made.  Oddly enough, every claim of originality is within a few months of each other.

     If you look at the origin of minced beef, then China, Egypt, Arabia and Persia get the nod for the original hamburger more than a thousand years ago.  When Europe is considered in the equation, sausage makers in Hamburg Germany get the honors, because they made complimentary grilled ground sausage meat snack sandwiches for customers in the late 1800's.  When browsing American periodical records, there are about 8 claims for the original burger title around the turn of the 19th century.

     The word "Hamburger" is affiliated with the city of Hamburg, Germany.  Butcher shops in Hamburg commonly sold uncased sausage that was flattened and grilled, then placed on a bun or bread.
     Originally, all sausage meat was minced or pulverized by hand.  Mechanical sausage grinders were not invented till sometime in the middle of the 1800's.  Meat grinders were not commercially available till the 1870's.  The meat grinder timeline is an important factor when discussing the origin of the word "Hamburger."   
     In the mid 1800's, German American immigrants introduced a food item that was called "Hamburg Steak."  By the year 1865, Hamburg Steak was a popular item at American casual restaurants and saloons.
     A Hamburg Steak is cheap tough beef steak that is beaten with a mallet or the back of a cleaver, till it is tenderized to the point of being pulverized.  Grilled onions are placed on the tenderized meat and then the steak is folded in half.  The edges are pounded together to seal the onions inside.  The meat is cooked on a griddle, then served on sliced bread with mustard.  The German American style Hamburg Steak was the predecessor of the modern ground beef Hamburger!
     When iron and steel was no longer in short supply after the American Civil War, mechanized sausage making machinery became more common.  New York City was a major manufacturing center, so sausage grinders were marketed in the northeastern cities first.  Cheap tough cuts of beef were fed through a grinder to produce ground beef.  Machine driven meat grinders made this an easy chore.
     In the 1890's, ground beef replaced the pulverized steak in Hamburg Steak recipes.  This is when the modern hamburger was borne!  Grilled onions and were mixed with ground beef and the mixture was seasoned with traditional German sausage spices.  Egg and bread crumbs were added too, so the burger meat retained its shape when pressed.
     Sandwiches made with the 1890's style ground beef mixture were originally called Hamburg Steaks.  Snack food vendors marketed the reinvented ground meat version of the Hamburg Steak Sandwich at big events like state fairs in New York.  By the year 1904, everybody called this unique sandwich a "Hamburger" and the name stuck.  A few years later the sandwich was served on a bun, instead of sliced bread.

     The original cooking method for making burgers is still considered to be the best.  Portions of the ground beef mixture are rolled into a round ball shape.  The ball of ground burger meat mixture is placed on a flat steel griddle, then a spatula is used to smash the burger into a flat patty shape.  The patty is grilled till it is fully cooked and browned on both sides.  The best burger stands, like Fatburger and Smashburger, still use the patty mashing method.
     The original Hamburgers were only topped with mustard.  Purists still claim that mustard is the only condiment sauce that should be offered with a hamburger.  In modern times, everything but the kitchen sink is used to top off a burger, so the old rule of only using mustard has kind of gone out the window.

     I am not the only American chef that is aware of today's original 1890's New York Fairgrounds Style Hamburger Patty recipe.  Oddly enough, while working at a Northern Italian restaurant, an American chef from New York City and I were in charge of cooking the employee meal one day.  We had an excess amount of ground beef, so hamburgers were the choice for the employee meal.  The NYC chef asked if I had ever seen the original hamburger recipe and I told him that I had just finished researching the topic.  The New York chef smiled and said "Mix it up and make sure that you add enough nutmeg!" 
  
     1890's New York Fairgrounds Style Hamburger Mixture:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large burger patty.  (About 9 ounces)
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onions are tender.
     Set the grilled onions aside to cool.
     Step 2:  Place 7 ounces of ground chuck in a mixing bowl.
     Add the grilled chopped onions.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced parsley.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of plain fine bread crumbs.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Step 3:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
     Refrigerate the ground chuck mixture for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
  
     1890's New York Fairgrounds Style Hamburger:
     This recipe yields 1 large burger.
     *For an 1890's style Hamburger, serve the burger on sliced bread.  For an early 1900's version, place the burger on a bun.  The bun can be split and grilled till it is toasted.     
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Season the griddle with melted butter.
     Step 2:  Press the Hamburger Patty mixture into a round ball shape.
     Step 3:  Place the burger meat ball in the hot griddle.
     Use a spatula to smash and press the patty flat.
     *Do not even the outside edges with the spatula!  The original New York fair Hamburgers were quickly made, with no time to form perfect patties.  This adds an authentic touch!
     Step 4:  Grill the patty on both sides till it is fully cooked.  Flip the patty a few times, so the Hamburger cooks evenly.
     Step 5:  Place the grilled patty on a hamburger bun or 2 slices of bread.
     Place a dollop of mustard directly on the hamburger patty.  (Ketchup is optional, but it is not traditional!)
     Garnish the plate with lettuce leaves, sliced onion, sliced tomato, pickles and a parsley sprig.  (optional)
  
    The original 1890's New York Fairgrounds Style Hamburger is an antique recipe that is worth trying!  

Buffalo Smelts with Grunion Parmesan Dip




     A Nice Alternative! 
     Lake Smelts are perfect alternative for Buffalo Chicken Wings.  Smelts have a light whitefish flavor and they cook quickly.  Smelts are usually coated with flour, breading or batter, then they are fried, so they are a finger food.  Smelts can also be prepared Buffalo Wing Style!  

     "Buffalo Style" refers to deep frying an item like chicken wings, then tossing the item with hot pepper sauce.  The hot sauce choice is usually a mild commercial product, like Frank's Red Hot Sauce (Durkee Red Hot), Crystal Louisiana Style Hot Sauce or Texas Pete Hot Sauce.  Frank's Red Hot Sauce was used to make the original Wing Sauce recipe at a restaurant in Buffalo, New York.
     Melted butter and seasoning are added to the mild hot pepper sauce to make the original Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Many chefs add a small amount of garlic, honey and/or BBQ Sauce to Buffalo Wing sauce, in order to make the sauce cling to the fried meat a little better and to make the sauce more appealing for customers that prefer mild chile pepper heat.  
  
     Some chefs look for ways to make Buffalo Wing Sauce hotter and spicier, without sacrificing the buttery characteristic of the original Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Matouk's Scotch Bonnet Sauce (Matouk's West Indian Flambeau Sauce) is a good choice for spicing up Buffalo Wing Sauce.  Other than cranking up the spicy heat a few notches, Matouk's does not change the buttery character of the original Buffalo Wing Sauce.  
     Matouk's Island Flambeau is very spicy Caribbean style hot sauce.  This Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce product is packaged in a standard ketchup bottle.  As one can imagine, because of the ketchup bottle shape it is all too easy to accidentally pour too much of this blazing hot sauce on food.  Then one must endure the long lasting intense Scotch Bonnet Chile Pepper heat!
    
     Blue Cheese Dressing usually accompanies the original Buffalo Wings.  The Grunion Parmesan Dip in today's recipe is a nice alternative to Blue Cheese Dressing.  
  
     Grunion Parmesan Dip:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Buffalo Smelts appetizer.
     Place 1/4 cup of sour cream in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely grated parmesan cheese.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add white pepper and sea salt to taste.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate the dip for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.
  
     Buffalo Sauce:  
     This recipe yields enough for 20 to 25 fried smelts.
     In restaurants, Buffalo Wing Sauce options are usually mild, medium or hot.  The word "Hot" usually describes a spicy Buffalo Sauce flavor that actually is fairly tame.  Restaurant style Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce should not be potent enough to bring tears to the eyes!  
     Extra spicy hot wing sauces are usually given their own special name, because the spicy heat is much higher than the Buffalo Wing Sauce range. 
     *For a standard Mild Buffalo Sauce flavor, skip adding the Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce.  For a Medium Buffalo Sauce, add less Scotch Bonnet Sauce.     
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of standard table condiment style hot sauce in a mixing bowl.
     *Products like Frank's Red Hot Sauce (Durkee Red Hot), Crystal Louisiana Style Hot Sauce or Texas Pete Hot Sauce are the best choice.  
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Matouk's West Indian Flambeau (Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce).
     Add 1 tablespoon of honey.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 small pinch of white pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter.
     Step 2:  Whisk the ingredients together.
     Set the mixing bowl aside, for 10 minutes, so the flavors meld.
   
     Buffalo Smelts:
     This recipe yields 1 large appetizer portion that can be shared by 2 guests. 
     Smelts fry much quicker than chicken wings!
     Step 1:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF. 
     Step 2:  Dredge 20 to 25 lake smelts in unseasoned flour.
     Step 3:  Place a few floured smelts in the hot oil at a time, till they are all added.  (Gradually adding moist items to hot oil reduces foaming.)
     Fry the smelts, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to gather the fried smelts from the hot oil.
     Place the fried smelts in the mixing bowl that contains the Buffalo Sauce.
     Gently toss the smelts with the sauce, till they are coated.
  
     Buffalo Smelts with Grunion Parmesan Dip:
     Place few lettuce leaves on a plate as a bed for the smelts.
     Mound the Buffalo Smelts on the lettuce.
     Place a large ramekin of the Grunion Parmesan Dip on the plate.

     Viola!  Buffalo Smelts!  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Anchovy & Roasted Red Bell Pepper Italian Bread Pizza







     Italian Bread Snack Pizza!
     It has been a long time since I have seen anyone doing any Italian Pizza Bread recipes.  French Bread Pizza and Italian Bread Pizza are almost the same thing.  The dough recipe for both Italian Loaves and French Baguettes are nearly identical.  The difference is this ... For Italian bread, ice is not thrown in the oven to create steam in the first two minutes of baking.  It is the steam that creates the hard crunchy crust characteristic that is associated with French Baguettes.  
     French Bread Pizza was a very popular snack food item back in the 1970's and 1980's.  Home cooks bought a pre-made canned tomato sauce, a bag of grated mozzarella, a few pizza toppings and a French baguette, then they were happy at home making great French Bread Snack Pizzas.
     Pizza Bread was also offered on a few bar snack menus back in the early 1980's.  I can attest to the fact that Pizza Bread was not a big seller at bars.  The reason why is easy to understand.  Bar patrons did not want to pay money for something they easily made at home.

     Home made pizza sauce is far better than anything that can be bought at a supermarket.  When you start a Bread Pizza with good basic ingredients, any gourmet pizza toppings that you choose will be a fitting choice!
     This Italian bread snack pizza will not be to everyone's liking, because I put anchovies on the pizza.  Some folks detest anchovies for a good reason.  They have only experienced cheap low quality anchovies that have a strong salty fishy flavor.  Further up the food chain are high quality anchovies that have a gentle umami flavor that is not salty.  Premium quality anchovies sell for a higher price, but the difference in flavor is well worth the money spent.  High quality anchovies are usually packaged in glass jars instead of cans.  Some of the best anchovies are imported from Italy.
  
     Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 to 3 small bread pizza snacks.
     This is one of many versions of Italian style cold pizza sauce.  The ingredients are mixed cold, because a true pizza sauce only cooks in the oven!
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of imported Italian canned crushed plum tomatoes in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 1 small pinch of crushed red pepper.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the pizza sauce aside.
   
     Anchovy & Roasted Red Bell Pepper Italian Bread Pizza
     This recipe 
     Step 1:  Split a 6" long piece of Italian bread in half lengthwise.
     Place the bread on a baking pan.
     Step 2:  Spread thin layer of the pizza sauce on the bread.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
     Place 3 thin sliced strips of roasted red bell pepper on the pizza bread, so they are evenly spaced.
     Place 2 imported Italian anchovy filets between the pepper strips.
     Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the pizza.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 450ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese melts and light brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Remove the pizza bread from the oven.
     Sprinkle a little bit of fine grated imported Italian Parmigiana Cheese on the pizza bread, while it is piping hot.
     Step 5:  Set the 2 pizza bread on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.
  
     Good imported Italian anchovies do make a difference! 

Smoked Bratwurst and Sauerkraut Zeppelin








     Subs, grinders, hoagies, blimps, torpedos and zeppelins are names of sandwiches that are made with baguette style bread loaves  A "Sub" usually refers to a cold sandwich.  "Grinder" usually refers to a hot oven baked sub sandwich.  "Zeppelin or Blimp" are alternative names for a hot or cold sub sandwiches.  When a sub sandwich contains German deli meats or German sausage, then it is fitting to call it a Zeppelin.
     Today's Zeppelin is a simple big hearty sandwich recipe.  A Pumpernickel or a whole wheat sub roll are good choices for this sandwich.  The smoked bratwurst does not need to be sliced before placing it on the sandwich, but it does make massive sandwich much easier handle.
  
     Smoked Bratwurst and Sauerkraut Zeppelin:
     This recipe yields 1 large sandwich.
     Step 1:  Rinse 1 cup of sauerkraut twice under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place the sauerkraut in a sauce pot.
     Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Place an 8 to 10 ounce smoked bratwurst sausage on top of the sauerkraut.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer till the sausage is fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Drain the excess liquid off of the sauerkraut.
     Step 4:  Split an 8" sub roll open lengthwise, but do not cut all the way through the bread.
     Place the sub roll crust side down on a baking pan.
     Place a few thin slices of swiss cheese on the sub roll.
     Place the sauerkraut on top of the cheese.
     Either place the whole bratwurst sausage on the sandwich or cut the hot bratwurst into slices and place them on the sauerkraut.
     Step 5:  Bake the sandwich in a 350ºF oven, till the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese melts.
     Step 6:  Fold the top half of the zeppelin that only has melted cheese on it over top of the bratwurst and sauerkraut.
     Set the sandwich on a plate.
     Serve with pickles and dill new potato salad.
     Serve with some German mustard on the side.
   
     Dill Bliss Potato Salad: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions!
     Step 1:  Boil 8 ounces of red bliss potatoes in water, till they are fully cooked.
     Chill the potatoes in a refrigerator.
     Cut the chilled boiled potatoes into bite size slices.
     Place the sliced new potatoes in a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped parsley.
     Add 4 pinches of chopped dill.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream.
     Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Chill the potato salad in a refrigerator.
  
     The aroma of smoked bratwurst, swiss cheese and sauerkraut is really nice on a chilly day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Braunschweiger Zepp ... with Bermuda Onion, Heirloom Tomato, Upland Cress and Dill Mustard Spread







     A Heavy Duty German Deli Style Zeppelin Sandwich!
     Sometimes I just publish a recipe article that is about a simple food item that has been overlooked or completely forgotten about in modern times.  A Braunschweiger Zepp is a good example of such an item.  
   
     Liverwürst and Braunschweiger are similar, yet different products.  Both contain liver and pork fat.  Braunschweiger differs from Liverwürst, because by USDA and European standards there is a specific percentage of liver, minced scalded hog jowl meat, minced meat scraps, smoked bacon, pork fat and seasonings that compose the sausage meat mixture.  Beef liver, pork liver or a combination of both can be used to make either of these sausages, but in some cultures, only pork liver can be used.  
     Braunschweiger was named after Braunschweig, Germany and the original recipe actually is similar to the braunschweiger that is sold in modern markets, but the looks of liver sausage that is made in Germany and the Netherlands looks completely different than what is sold in America.  
     Sausage makers at butcher shops and specialty markets in America do produce hand crafted Braunschweiger that is a little bit better quality than commercial Braunschweiger.  Commercial Braunschweiger actually is a good quality product because the USDA regulations are strict and serve the same purpose as European originality laws.  

     There are three major Braunschweiger varieties.  One is like a sliceable fairly firm smooth liver pâté that has an inedible plastic sausage casing.  The second is Braunschweiger in a natural edible sausage casing.  The third is Smoked Braunschweiger.  Smoked Braunschweiger is always smoked whole in its natural casing and minced smoked bacon is optional ingredient.  
     
     Today's sandwich recipe is simple.  The goal was to use modern popular sandwich garnishes to make the Braunschweiger Zepp sandwich more appealing.  Upland cress, non-GMO organic heirloom tomato and a nice sandwich spread achieve this goal.  
     A Zeppelin Sandwich is the same thing as Subamarine Sandwich, but a Zeppelin is usually made with German delicatessen ingredients.  German American sandwich shops and delicatessens in the northeast region of America often call their sub sandwiches a Zeppelin or a Zepp on the menu.  

     Dill Mustard Sandwich Spread:
     This recipe yields enough spread for 1 large zeppelin sandwich!      
     Place 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Smooth Zesty German Mustard.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped dill weed.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the spread for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.  

     Braunschweiger Zepp: 
     Braunschweiger Zeppelin Sandwich with Bermuda Onion, Heirloom Tomato, Upland Cress and Dill Mustard Spread.   
     Warm an 8" to 10" whole wheat sub roll in an oven, then split it in half.
     Spread the dill mustard on the bread.
     Layer these garnish ingredients on the bread:
     • A generous amount of upland cress
     • Thin sliced organic heirloom Brandywine Tomato or Beefsteak Tomato
     • Very thin sliced sweet bermuda onion
     Cut 6 to 8 ounces of Braunschweiger into 1/4" thick slices. 
     Overlap the Braunschweiger on the sandwich garnishes.  
     Attach the top slice of bread with bamboo skewers, cut the zeppelin in half and place it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with dill sprigs and petite sweet gherkin pickles.  

     A tasty modern Braunschweiger Zepp!  

Two Mile High Sandwich with Godzilla Spread ~ Genoa Salami, Bologna, Roast Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese









     Towering Awesomeness!  
     Mile high sandwiches at deli style sandwich shops are not uncommon.  A two mile high sandwich?  Two mile high sandwiches fall into the realm of Saturday afternoon sandwich fanatics in their own homes.  
     After a hard week on the job, lazing on the couch is better when fewer trips to the fridge are made.  The bigger the sandwich, the more time can be spent watching sports on TV.  A big sandwich is the cure for being tired after a laborious work week.  Slather a towering sandwich with some Godzilla Spread and hunger is completely destroyed!

     Back in the 1960's when industrial work was still going strong, workers who had the weekend off wasted no time stocking up on beer, ordering pizzas or making huge sandwiches.  Weekends were spent watching horror movies on UHF channels and playing full contact football with no helmets or pads in the neighborhood park.  Industrial employees were big tough people who worked hard, played hard and ate big.  
     When watching TV or hanging out on the front porch, snacks and sandwiches were top choice.  Stacking food up to the ceiling was the cool thing to do back then.  Peanut butter on saltine crackers were a favorite snack to stack.  I remember neighbors hanging out on our front porch.  These folks brought boxes of saltines and jars of peanut butter back from the corner store.  Table knives were passed around and everybody started stacking peanut butter crackers up to the ceiling.  
     The rest of the afternoon was spent munching on peanut butter cracker and drinking soda out of a glass bottle while listening to a baseball game on AM radio.  People made the best of a hot summer afternoon back in those days.  

     Sandwiches were made the same way back in the heavy industry days.  Everybody seemed to make sandwiches that were so huge that they could not possibly fit in a person's mouth.  Making a towering multi-decker sandwich for a lazy afternoon of goofing off was a typical part of the weekend lifestyle.  
    A towering super tall sandwich sent a clear message of having no intention of getting anything done till the huge sandwich was finished off hours later.  Towering sandwiches brought a whole different meaning to someone saying "I'll get around to doing the chores, after I finish eating my sandwich!"

     College students also like huge sandwiches .  I currently am a full time student and when it is time to do a full day of research paper writing, interrupting the schoolwork for any reason is nothing more than a distraction.  The whole thought process can go right down the drain when hunger strikes.  
     Making a big sub sandwich before getting busy on the schoolwork is what many students do.  Creative students and those majoring in architecture or engineering tend to actually construct a sandwich, rather than create a sandwich.  There is no better sandwich to construct for a long tedious day of schoolwork than a two mile high multi-decker sandwich tower.

     Sometimes I post a recipe that is nearly a forgotten thing of the past.  Since plenty of folks who used to eat big on weekends have since gone on diets or have turned into vegetarians, big towering stacked sandwiches have not exactly been in the limelight in recent years.  People actually now say things like "That sandwich will kill you!" instead of saying "I'm running to the corner store to get the stuff to make a sandwich like that!"  

     Today's two mile high sandwich is not just a recipe.  It is inspiration to live larger than life!  Making a tall multi-decker sandwich is not as easy as it looks.  Thought has to be given to how the sandwich must be constructed, so it does not topple over.  
     It takes a razor sharp knife to cleanly cut through all of the decks at one time.  Balancing the two towering sandwich halves against each other on a plate is an accomplishment in itself.  Carrying the sandwich from the kitchen to the coffee table by the couch is the world's longest treacherous mile that one will ever attempt.  One wrong move and the ravenous dog will have easy prey to pounce upon!
  
     Constructing a two mile high sandwich is a real challenge.  Eating an entire two mile high sandwich in one afternoon is an even bigger challenge!  Accomplishing these monumental feats is what bragging rights are all about.  When it comes to making a lazy Saturday afternoon sandwich, go big, or go home! 

     Godzilla Spread:
     Since the sandwich spread had a green tint and wasabi powder was an ingredient, choosing a legendary name like Godzilla was the best choice!  This recipe yields enough Godzilla Spread to coat one side of each slice of bread on a 7 deck Two Mile High Sandwich!
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of mayonnaise in a food processor.
     Add 1/2 cup of trimmed cilantro sprigs.
     Add 1/3 cup of trimmed curly leaf parsley sprigs.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill weed.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of wasabi powder.  
     Add 1 teaspoon of small capers.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped dill pickle.
     Add 1 pinch of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of green jalapeño hot sauce.
     Step 2:  Pulse the food processor, till the ingredients are pureed and blended.
     Step 3:  Place the Godzilla Spread in a ceramic cup and chill it for 20 minutes.

     Two Mile High Sandwich with Godzilla Spread ~ Genoa Salami, Bologna, Roast Beef and Pepper Jack:
     This recipe is written for a seven deck two mile high sandwich.  
     A two mile high sandwich can be made with any choice of deli style lunch meats and cheese that taste good together.  The combination that I chose tasted nice.  The same garnishes do not have to be placed on each layer. 
     Step 1:  Cut 8 slices of French white bread that is sandwich size and place then in a row across a countertop.
     Spread a thin layer of the Godzilla spread on one side of each slice of bread.
     Place a layer of green leaf lettuce on 7 of the bread slices.  
     Set the 8th bread slice aside.
     Step 2:  Place a a variety of combination of these ingredients on the 7 decks:
     - Sliced bermuda onion 
     - Sliced tomato 
     - Sliced dill pickle
     - Genoa Salami
     - Bologna
     - Roast Beef
     - Pepper Jack Cheese 
     *Assembling this sandwich is a little bit tricky to do.  If you have a helper in the kitchen, then make use of the extra hands.  The object of a two mile high sandwich is to create a tall vertical presentation that will be stable enough to make it all the way to the table! 
     Step 3:  Place the first deck of the sandwich on the plate.  
     Stack the seven decks up so the sandwich, while holding the sandwich steady.  
     Place the bare top slice of bread on the sandwich.
     Step 4:  Select 2 bamboo skewers that are long enough to pierce the entire Two Mile High Sandwich.
     Pierce the sandwich from top to bottom with the bamboo skewers, through the center of both halves of the sandwich.
     Step 5:  Use a razor sharp carving knife to slice the sandwich in half from top to bottom, while holding the extra length of the skewers.
     Step 6:  Carefully turn the sandwich halves on the plate, so the cut side of the sandwich faces outward and so the open cut face of the sandwich can be seen.  (optional)
     Move the sandwich halves apart just far enough, so they can be leaned against each other and so they are stable enough to not topple over.
     Step 7:  Place some potato chips and dill pickle spears on the plate.  
     Carefully carry the Two Mile High Sandwich to its destination and definitely show this towering accomplishment off!

     Now comes the question of the day.  "How in the heck does somebody eat a two mile high sandwich?"  The answer is ... "All day long!" 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dill and Chile Guero Pimiento Cheese Grilled Sandwich





     Gourmet Pimiento Cheese!
     Okay, I know today's recipe is nothing fancy, but Pimiento Cheese Spread has always been a popular item.  Besides, a simple recipe is a nice thing after a hectic day.
     Many people are into gourmet Pimiento Cheese.  Gourmet Pimiento Cheese simply amounts to adding one or two fancy ingredients to the recipe.  Pimiento Cheese still must be made with Cheddar or a cheese that is similar to cheddar, like Aged Gouda.
     Pimiento and Cheddar Cheese is a classic flavor combination.  Low quality pre made grocery store pimiento cheese products are taboo by any standard.  Most grocery stores dilute the Cheddar Cheese with Processed American Cheese Products or soy based additives.  It is best to make Pimiento Cheese from scratch.

     Looking for gourmet Pimiento Cheese ideas?  Try adding flavorful items like sweet pickle relish, chopped cornichon, horseradish, hot chile peppers, ham or olives to Pimiento Cheese.  Items like these can give new life to the old standard Pimiento Cheese recipe.
     A few chopped pickled guero chile peppers and dill weed were added to spice up today's recipe.  Chile Guero are yellow colored Caribe Chile Peppers.  In case you ever wondered, Crushed Dried Red Pepper Flakes in the spice section at grocery store or at pizzerias are Crushed Dried Red Chile Caribe.
     The secret to making a great Pimiento Cheese is to refrigerate it overnight.  It takes time for the flavors to meld.  The cheddar cheese becomes soft and it partially melts into the mayonnaise.
     I chose to grill today's Pimiento Cheese Sandwich, instead of serving it cold.  On a chilly day, a warm Pimiento Cheese Sandwich is rather nice!

     Pimiento Cheese with Dill and Chile Guero:
     This recipeyields enough pimiento cheese for 2 to 3 sandwiches!
     Step 1:  Grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese into a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped roasted pimiento.  (The canned product is fine for this recipe.)
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped pickled guero chile.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (Do not add too much mayonnaise or the pimiento cheese spread will become too loose of a texture.)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Place the Pimiento Cheese in a container and refrigerate it overnight.
    
     Dill and Chile Guero Pimiento Cheese Grilled Sandwich:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Brush two slices of soft crust French Boule Bread or pullman bread with olive oil.
     Spread a 3/8" thick layer of the Dill and Chile Guero Pimiento Cheese on one of the slices of bread.
     Place the other bread slice on top of the spread.
     Step 2:  Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Season the pan with olive oil.
     Place the sandwich in the pan.
     Grill both sides of the sandwich, till it is toasted golden brown.  (The object is to just warm the pimiento cheese and not to melt it like a grilled cheese sandwich!)
     Step 3:  Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut it in half.
     Place the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Serve with chips and pickles or a picnic style side like cole slaw.
  
     If you are on a low cholesterol diet, then just forget about today's recipe!  The only saving grace for the low cholesterol crowd is that I grilled this sandwich with olive oil instead of butter for a lighter flavor. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Armenian Matnakash with Red Cowpea Hummus Spread









     Healthy Vegetarian Football Party Snack Food!
     One thing that I have noticed at local gaming taverns and sports bars over the years is that few vegetarian options are offered on the menu.  More often than not, the vegetarian menu offerings are the same old worn out token items.  Veggie burgers, carrot & celery sticks or fried vegetables are just about all there is to choose from in most sports bars.  
     In recent years, hummus has started to hit the vegetarian option list on tavern and sports bar menus.  The only problem is that most bars purchase a pre-manufactured frozen hummus product that contains artificial ingredients.  Hummus is very easy to make and there really is no excuse for a sports bar or tavern to purchase pre-prepared hummus.  

     There is nothing impressive about a sports bar that serves pre-made food service items.  When every restaurant or tavern in a local area serves the same pre-made food items that are delivered by the same commercial food distributer, then the food at every two bit eatery in the area looks the same and tastes the same.  
     Most times, the quality of manufactured food products are mediocre at best, so only members of the middle of the road clientele base are pleased.  Those who demand better food either cook snack food at home or go to a sports tavern across town that hires skilled cooks that cook great food from scratch.     

     Red Cowpeas Preparation:
     This recipe yields about 6 to 8 portions of red cowpeas!  The extra cowpeas can be used to make other recipes.
     Dried red cowpeas can be purchased in Indian food markets and Mediterranean markets.  Dried Cowpeas take a long time to cook, but a pressure cooker can speed up the process.  
     Step 1:  Soak 3 cups of dried red cowpeas in water in a refrigerator overnight.
     Rinse the red cowpeas under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place the red cowpeas in a pot.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 4" of extra liquid. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.  (optional)
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium high heat and bring the liquid to a boil for 17 minutes.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.  
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Simmer the beans till they are tender.  Add water if necessary to keep the beans covered with liquid.       
     
     Red Cowpea Hummus:
     This recipe yields 5 or 6 small portions or enough for 1 medium size Matnakash Bread.
     Classic hummus is made with chickpeas, tahini paste, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper and sumac berry spice.  Traditional hummus is made with fava beans too.  Modern hummus can be made with just about any kind of bean.  
     Today's hummus recipe features Red Cowpeas.  Red Cowpeas have a rich bold field bean flavor.  They are a good source of fibrous carbohydrates, calcium and protein.    
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of rinsed pre-cooked Red Cowpeas in a food processor. 
     Add 1/4 cup of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/3 cup of tahini.  (Tahini is pure sesame paste.  It is available at Mediterranean food markets.  Tahini absorbs a lot of liquid, so be sure to follow the guidelines in the last step of this recipe!)
     Add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Hungarian Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.  
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of red sumac berry spice. 
     Add 1 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 1 tablespoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 2:  Pulse the food processor a few times, then leave the processor running at full speed to puree the ingredients.  
     *It will be necessary to add a a few spoonfuls of water at a time, while pureeing the hummus, but do not add too much water.  The tahini pastes will absorb a lot of water and become thicker, till it can absorb no more liquid at all.  The goal is to create a smooth thick hummus paste that is easy to spread.
     Step 3:  Place the hummus in a container and refrigerate for 2 hours, so the flavors meld.
     Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning if necessary.

     Armenian Matnakash:
     Matnakash is the national bread of Armenia.  The dough is exactly the same as Italian focaccia.  This bread is shaped with an oval edge.  The middle of the bread loaf has straight furrows that represent a freshly plowed field.  
     Matnakash can be served on its own or it can be topped with a variety of items.  The look of Matnakash also resembles a sports stadium, so it is a natural choice for making football game snack food!
     I support local bakeries and I do not attempt to make every single bread example for this website.  Bakers need to earn a living and featuring good hand crafted bread from a top notch bakery helps the cause!  I purchased the large Matnakash Loaf in the pictures above at the Jones Market-Eastern European Food in Las Vegas.  
     If making fresh Matnakash from scratch is preferred, follow this link to the Focaccia Dough recipe in the Southwestern Cuisine website:  Focaccia Dough Recipe
     • Shape a large flat oval focaccia loaf on a parchment paper lined baking pan.  
     • Let the dough rise a little bit.  
     • Use a dull pastry wheel to roll the Matnakash style oval crust outline and furrow design on the dough.
     • Follow the focaccia baking instructions in the dough recipe.  

     Armenian Matnakash with Red Cowpea Hummus Spread:  
     This recipe yields 1 medium pizza size "Armenian Matnakash with Red Cowpea Hummus Spread" that can be cut into 10 to 12 snack portions!
     The hummus can be garnished with any items that are preferred.  The garnish in the photo examples tasted nice.
     Step 1:  Spread a generous amount of the Red Cowpeas Hummus over the "infield" of the Matnakash Loaf.
     Step 2:  Garnish the hummus with: 
     - thin sliced yellow heirloom tomato 
     - thin sliced green jalapeño 
     - 2 to 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the hummus and vegetables.
     - cilantro leaves
     - roasted red bell pepper strips
     - streaks of Mexican Crema or Goat Milk Yogurt (optional)
     - a few pinches of Hungarian Paprika 
     Step 3:  Serve the Armenian Matnakash with Red Cowpea Hummus Spread on a cutting board with a knife on the side ... or cut into portions and serve on a party platter.

     Viola!  A healthy vegetarian football party appetizer that has no shortage of flavor!