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Wednesday, June 24

Sandwich Shop

when my daughter was a wee lass, we loved lunching at a local restaurant called The Velvet Creamery. We always had the same thing. Ham and salami on a French roll slathered with Thousand Island dressing, packed with shredded iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes. 

Besides the generous sandwich, the platter came with ridged potato chips and a crunchy, sliced gherkin. Our drink of choice was classic bottles of Coca-Cola poured into frosty, ice-packed glasses. For dessert, we shared a banana split made with three scoops of chocolate ice cream, sliced bananas, hot fudge sauce, crushed almonds, and cherries.

I occasionally recreate our Velvet Creamery lunches transporting myself back to California’s sweltering Central Valley, happily munching away in a vinyl booth with Antoinette.

While I have a devil of a time finding the ingredients I need for Mexican food in England (even in London) I don’t have to look far for all the components required to make many of my favorite sandwiches, the exception being really good beef pastrami.

Maybe because they are so transportable, sandwiches can take us anywhere we want to go. School lunchbox. Picnics. Long road trips. Even skiing.

One of my friends used to make the best sandwiches for our skiing adventures in Lake Tahoe’s National Forest. Even hopelessly lost, finding our way back to the car in darkness we felt invincible, well fortified by sandwiches.

I love sandwiches so much I have considered house hunting in the Medieval town of Sandwich, Kent, just to get the address. Legend has it that around 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, asked his cook, or wife, or mistress (we can be certain it was a woman) to serve him some meat, between two slices of bread, thus allowing him to continue gambling, without breaking for a traditional meal.

Uh-huh. More likely, he shouted, “Wench, get me something to eat --- and be quick about it.”

The Earl of Sandwich was so fond of this handy meal, he rarely bothered eating anything else. Local folk accustomed to seeing him eating his meat, between two slices of bread got to calling it a sandwich. And it stuck.

Decades before boorish Montagu came into the picture, women were making their children and husbands sandwiches. Of course we were. It’s the ideal portable food. We're practical multitasking Goddesses. We easily caught on to the idea of eating on the hoof, long before a man got it into his head.

Anonymous is always a woman --- and trust me --- so was the originator of the sandwich.

In Giovinazzo, Italy, there's an annual Festival of Grandmother's Sandwiches every summer. Given southern Italy's gorgeous selection of vegetables and fruits, it's not surprising that the most popular panini at the event is vegetarian. Italian rolls are slathered in homemade tomato sauce adorned with thinly sliced parmigiana, aubergine, mozzarella, and basil. Other popular sandwich fillings include spicy ricotta, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and hyacinth bulbs in oil.

If I had a sandwich shop in Sandwich, or anywhere else, the menu might look something like this . . .

Cold Sandwiches

All sandwiches come with gherkin and crisps (in American lingo, that’s pickle and chips)

Ham and salami with Thousand Island dressing, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, on a large, beautiful French roll.

Roast chicken, cream cheese and rocket, on granary bread

Roast turkey and homemade cranberry sauce, on sourdough bread

Smoked salmon, cream cheese, chives, on crustless wholemeal bread

Boiled eggs, butter and cress, on crustless white bread

Mature, organic cheddar, sun dried tomato mayonnaise, and Branston’s chunky pickle relish, on whole meal baguette

Albacore tuna, mayo, watercress, on brown farmhouse bread

Meatloaf (made with minced beef, red onions and Marmite) American mustard, tomato, lettuce, on malted brown bread

Roast Beef: Thinly sliced roast beef, with creamy horseradish sauce, and baby spinach, on sourdough roll

Roasted Vegetable: Italian peppers (mild) with portabella mushrooms and marinated artichokes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, on toasted ciabatta. Tasty enough to bring out the vegetarian in anyone.

Naturally, you also can get anything you fancy made on gluten free bread or bagel. 

Hot Sandwiches

Chicken Dip: Shredded roast chicken, on toasted garlic ciabatta, every bite beginning with a deep dipping in hot bowl of homemade chicken broth.

Bacon/Lettuce/Tomato: Dry cured back bacon, sun dried tomato mayonnaise, romaine lettuce, and tomato, on toasted sourdough bread

Cheddar Dip: Organic, mature cheddar, on grilled spelt bread, with a steaming bowl of homemade, chunky, tomato soup for dipping

Marmite Burger: Aberdeen Beef, minced and mixed with marmite and red onion, grilled and served on a large, white, toasted sesame seed bun, with Thousand Island dressing, shredded lettuce and tomatoes (see recipe in index)

Steak Sandwich: Sirloin minute steak, grilled to order, with a pile of fried onions, served on garlic bread, with sliced tomatoes, and steak fries

Hot Pastrami on Rye: Thinly sliced beef pastrami, piled high on grilled rye bread with Thousand Island Dressing and sauerkraut. Nothing else required. See recipe in index.

My all time favourite sandwiches are hot pastrami and rye; ham and salami; chicken dip; bacon, lettuce and tomato; cheddar dip, and a big, juicy Marmite burger, or steak sandwich.

There is only one rule to sandwich making: Always, always, always use fresh, quality bread, preferably from a proper old style baker, or a loaf you’ve baked yourself. Most supermarket bread is ghastly and will not benefit you or your sandwich. Grilled, or hot sandwiches, are a tad more forgiving --- but the bread is still important.

Velvet Creamery Ham and Salami Sandwich for Two

What makes this sandwich a winner is the thinly sliced layers of meat and produce. The Thousand Island dressing pulls it all together.

You can easily make Thousand Island dressing by combining mayo, ketchup and grated gherkins, in equal portions, in blender, or food processor.

What You Need

Freshly baked Artisan French Rolls - 2, 12 - inches
Thousand Island Dressing - 4 heaping tbs
Iceberg Lettuce - finely shredded, 2 big handfuls
Salami - Milano, 12 pieces, thinly sliced
Ham - Dry Cured Honey Ham, 8 pieces, thinly sliced
Tomato - 2 thinly sliced
Optional: Gherkin, Crisps and toothpick flags

What You Do

Slice rolls length wise. Slather all four pieces with Thousand Island dressing. Wash, pat dry and finely shred lettuce. (I use the Cuisinart for the lettuce and tomatoes) Place lettuce on the bottom half of each roll.

Next add salami. Six slices each. Roll ham and lay four slices on top of salami.

Wash and slice the tomatoes. Crown ham with tomatoes, top with bread. Slice each sandwich in half.

Garnish with a few crisps and gherkin. Eat at once. Good with lemonade.

If you’ve got the room, treat yourself and fellow feaster to a banana split for dessert.

Chicken Dip Sandwich for Two (or more)

This is my favourite way to use leftover roast chicken. You’ll probably want to prepare the broth the day before the sandwiches. It’s time consuming --- but oh-so-worth-it.

What You Need

Large stock pot, big enough to hold a large chicken, covered in water.

Roast chicken (actually about half a roasted chicken, with plenty of meat on the bone)

Thyme - several sprigs of fresh, tied together, or 1 tbs dried

Ciabatta Baguette 275g - a big one

Butter -100g

Olive Oil - 1 cup

Garlic - 1 head

Optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese

Chicken Broth (for sandwich dipping)

After you have had you fill of roast chicken, put the carcass, with any leftover meat, into a large stockpot. Include onions and limes (see roast chicken recipe for details)

Add very hot water to roasting pan. Stir with spatula, lifting the tasty brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour the watery drippings into stockpot. Do this a couple of times until the carcass is fully covered. From here, you can either refrigerate until the next day (this is what I do when it’s late) or continue on making your broth.

Place the stockpot on stove over low heat. Slowly simmer for four hours. If you have some fresh herbs, add them the last hour. I especially like thyme, but rosemary, sage and dill work well too. You probably won’t need any other seasoning. If you do, add it later.

Allow broth to to cool in pot. This can take a couple of hours. Then, using a big colander and a second stockpot, or very large bowl, gently pour broth, bones and all, into the colander, with the second pot catching the delectable stock.

Get out a couple more bowls to collect bones and meat. Pick through bones, removing all the meat. Save the meat in one bowl. Toss the bones in the other bowl.

Hand shred the meat for sandwiches. Store in fridge until ready to use.

Refrigerate broth for several hours. When cold, skim the fat off the top and discard, or set aside for making dumplings, or matzo balls for soup.

Heat broth in large sauce pan. Simmer gently while preparing garlic ciabatta and sandwiches.

Garlic Ciabatta (for chicken dip sandwich)

Preheat oven to 200 C

Get out a large roasting pan, or baking sheet, with 1/2 inch lip (garlic bread drips a bit while toasting)

Peel garlic and rough chop with sharp knife. If chopping garlic is not one of your skills, toss peeled cloves in blender, or food processor, with olive oil and melted butter. Blend on low setting for about 40 seconds.

If you're not using the blender method, place garlic in small sauce pan, with olive oil and butter. Slowly warm over low until butter is melted. Stir to blend well. Pour mixture onto roasting pan/baking sheet.

Slice baguette in half length wise, then cut into desired size pieces. Rub bread, sliced side down, into the garlic fusion. If you have garlic butter left, rub bread's opposite side too. Dust with grated Parmesan cheese, if you like (I do) Toast in hot oven for 10 - 12 minutes, or until hot and crispy.

Assembling Sandwich

Heat homemade chicken broth in large sauce pan. Simmer gently, while preparing garlic ciabatta and sandwiches.

Remove shredded chicken from fridge and set aside. I don't heat the chicken, as I enjoy the cool meat, wrapped in hot, crispy bread, dipped in hot broth.

When the ciabatta is toasted, remove from oven. Ladle chicken broth into individual bowls for dipping. Quickly dip ciabatta slices in hot broth, then lay shredded chicken on bottom half of bread. Close sandwich with top half of bread, place on serving platter large enough to accommodate sandwich and bowl of broth.

Dip sandwich into hot broth, before each glorious bite. Good with sparkling water and twist of lime.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

Classic diner fare. When thoughtfully prepared, there isn’t a tastier sandwich anywhere.

What You Need for Two Superb Sandwiches

Dry cured back bacon - 8 thick rashers
Sourdough bread - 4 large slices
Sun dried tomato mayonnaise - 2 heaping tbs
Romaine lettuce - 4 big leaves
Tomatoes - 2 large

What You Do

Fry bacon in large, heavy bottom skillet, over medium heat, 4 minutes each side, or until nice and crispy.

While bacon is frying, lightly toast sourdough bread. Wash lettuce, pat dry and set aside. Wash and slice tomatoes. Set aside.

When bread is toasted, “butter” with sun dried mayonnaise. Adorn two slices with lettuce and tomatoes.

When bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from skillet, cut off fat and place meat on top of tomatoes. Apply second slice of bread and slice in half, or fours, if you’re feeling dainty.

Homemade onion rings are a good accompaniment with this sandwich. And a cherry or lemon Coke.

Cheddar Dip Sandwich

I am, admittedly, a lover of dipping sandwiches. This combination of grilled cheese, dipped
into spicy, homemade tomato soup, makes the perfect anytime lunch. Occasionally, we even have it for dinner.

What You Need (for soup)

Tomatoes - 2 cans - Italian Plum
Bay Leaf - 2
Cumin - ground - 1 tbs
Chipotle sauce - 1 tbs
Sea Salt - 1 tsp
Pepper - coarse - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Yoghurt - plain - 2 tbs
Optional: Garnish with Basil or chopped spring onions

What You Do

Place tomatoes in large sauce pan. Mash with potato masher. Tomatoes will still be chunky, which is what you want. They will break down a bit more while heating.

Put pan on stove over medium heat. Add bay leaf, cumin, chipotle sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir well. Simmer over medium heat for six minutes, stirring often. Taste. Adjust seasoning as you like.

Keep soup warm, over low heat, while you make the grilled cheese sandwiches. Add a bit of water, if it becomes too thick, or concentrated.

Just before severing, stir in yoghurt and garnish with a coupe of fresh basil leaves, or chopped basil, or spring onions.

What You Need (for sandwich)

Spelt bread - 4 thick slices
Butter - soft - 4 tbs
Mature cheddar - about 150g

What You Do

Butter both sides of bread slices. Place in large, heavy bottom skillet, over medium/low heat. Toast both sides of the bread until crispy, golden brown.

While bread is grilling, slice cheese to whatever thickness you prefer. When bread is toasted on one side, place the cheese on top, while the other side is toasting. Turn the heat to low and allow the cheese to slowly melt, without spilling out onto the skillet.

Top the cheese bread with the second slice, gently press down with spatula. Turn grilled cheese once. Gently press again. Remove from heat. Slice each sandwich horizontally, into four strips. Sat on plate large enough to hold sandwich and bowl of soup.

Remove soup from heat. Add yoghurt. Garnish with basil, or spring onion. Pour soup into bowl. Serve with grilled cheese.

urite Places for a GrEAT Sandwich

I made the dainty sandwiches above for Richard in 2005. I used to make his lunch every morning and pack it in a picnic sized cooler that embarrassed him at work because it was so big. Often I would write him a love note, made from a photo of the day's culinary offering, and include it with crisps, baby gherkins and homemade cookies, to share at tea time. I made my lunch at the same time, though I worked at home - and still do. 

Sometimes, eating a sandwich made by someone else is more fun than making it yourself. This is especially true when you're travelling, or working long hours. Should you find yourself in the neighbourhood, consider these excellent places for some of the finest sandwiches you'll ever eat . . . 

Click on the name to visit the website.

Corti Brothers, Sacramento, California 
My daughter, Antoinette, who shares her mother's deli sandwich obsession, highly recommends Corti Brothers for some of the world's finest sandwiches. This family business has been a thriving hub for all things food and drink for over 70 years. I am a definite fan.

Rosines, Montery, California 
When I lived on the Monterey peninsula, this was my place. Sally and I would get platters of hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy. Then we'd finished it off with a huge piece of cake. They are a Monterey institution. 

Gayles Bakery, Capitola, California
I've never seen a place quite like Gayles. It's a baker, rosticceria, deli and restaurant. If I lived near Gayles, I might not cook half as much as I do. 

Zabar’s Cafe, Manhattan 

This is a Manhattan institution, famous for it's bagels and lox, as well as pastrami. They do a thriving trade delivering food to ex-New Yorkers scattered all over America. 

Katz Deli, Manhattan
Get your Pastrami on Rye here. While the pastrami is the best you'll find anywhere, the rye bread isn't actually very good. I prefer to but the pastrami and make the sandwiches at home. 

Alas, if you want a truly memorable sandwich in England, there's only one place to get it. Yup. Lovers Kitchen. If you know a better place, giver me a holler. 

When I was a child, my mother used to take me to Woolworth's lunch counter for a sandwich. I say lunch counter, but we always sat in a booth. The waitress wore a crisp white uniform and wrote our order in pencil on a little tablet. I would always get a Clubhouse Sandwich (turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, on white, toasted bread with mayo) Mum would get a Grilled Ham Sandwich, still her favourite today. We'd each have a Cherry Coke, chips and a pickle (crisps and gherkin in British speak) Everything was served in a red plastic basket. Though not as inexpensive as the menu below, I think lunch, including tip, was about $2.