only one. For some years we've had sandwiches on Tuesday night. It is
part of the routine. But for us there's only one Sandwich with a
capital S. We plant tomatoes, 28 plants for the two of us. It isn't
enough. We wait for those several months in the summer when they are
nothing hard about this, just get the right ingredients at their peak
and enjoy. We have it several times a week if we have the
tomatoes. For us it is that good.
And actually, it is just
a BLT, but a very special one. This demonstrates what a
chef (by all means it was not us who thought this up) can do with the
right stuff. It this case the genius is Nancy Silverton who
co-owned (with her then husband) one of the then best restaurants in
Los Angeles, Campanile. She also founded La Brea Bakery and has gone on
to ever more fine restaurant exploits (Where we've not yet been.). In Nancy Silverton's sandwich book
(small s, small b). which then goes on to proclaim 'the best sandwiches
ever' (well, at least from Thursday night's at Campanile), you'll find.
'Ino's Pancetta, Lettuce and Tomato.' And now that I'm staring at the
recipe for the first time in years, I find that Ms. Silverton provided
a recipe for a sandwich she'd had at 'Ino's in Greenwich Village. So
there you go. We all share.
This is our twist of her twist of
Ino's sandwich. We won't speculate if 'Ino's got it somewhere else as
well. Everybody gets the credit.
while we'll talk about wine pairings, what is basically a
sandwich goes awfully well with a Bloody Mary, so we've got a bonus
recipe of the best one we've ever had.
just no way to get around this, if you haven't ever eaten home grown
height of the season tomatoes, you really don't know what a tomato
tastes like. Supermarket tomatoes are big, red and uniform. And firm.
They are bred that way. They can be mechanically picked and trucked all
over the continent (or shipped all over the world). Turns out when
farmers cross-bred tomatoes to get these traits they bred out genes
which make the tomatoes sweet. If that isn't bad enough, generally
these tomatoes are picked green, gassed with ethylene which turns them
somewhat red and then shipped. This does not make for great tomato
Look very carefully at the signs you see around the
tomatoes you buy. They almost always say they are vine-ripe.
good, doesn't it? Guess again. If the materials we have looked at are
correct (and we've heard this for years), a "vine-ripe"
is one which is mostly green. It is picked,
probably gassed with ethylene, or at least placed in a warming room and
to you. What you want is a "vine-ripened"
tomato. One that turned red on the vine and was picked when perfectly
ripe and sweet and delicious. And also, a variety that hasn't had all
the flavor bred out of it.
know. The tomatoes in the picture above are in our back yard. As we
plant 28 plants for the two of us and it isn't enough. During the
we mostly eat tomato meals and we eat The Sandwich a lot. If you have a
chance, try growing tomatoes. It isn't that hard. (But remember you
can't keep planting them in the same place, that leads to problems. We
rotate our 'crop' on a 3 year cycle. We don't have a lot of space but
in the summer that's mostly what is out there.)
PLEASE, PLEASE do not refrigerate your wonderful fresh ripe tomatoes,
peppery tasting greens are so easy to grow, you'll wonder why
bought them in a bag. If you are into it, you'll only pay for seeds
once. We take a patch of ground and water it. We scatter a lot of
arugula seeds on to it and cover it with a very light cover of soil.
Then we step all over it. We have no idea if the stepping part does
anything, but we don't want to stop since we've been so successful.
keep the area relatively damp. Pretty much within 3 days you'll see
them coming up just as it shows in this picture earlier today in our
back yard. The
patch at the top was planted about 2 1/2 weeks, give or take, can't
remember, before the later patch below it.
If you let some good
number of the plants continue to grow, eventually they will 'go to
seed'. They'll get about 4 feet tall and eventually produce green seed
pods. When they dry out and turn brown you can
harvest the tiny seeds
in the pods and save they for next year. Just catch them before they
start to break open on their own. They are, after all, trying to
reproduce. We have actually used seeds that are 4 years old and they
have been fine.
A Tale of Two Lemons
lot of recipes
say use 'the juice of one lemon' (or "use the juice of a half of
lemon"). Okay. Here are two lemons.
Which one do you use?
internet is full of answers and we're not going to offer any of them
because, in our opinion, when cooking you should (to the extent safe
and possible) taste as you go. Or at least keep track for the next
time. One possible exception is the use of something in baking where
weighing amounts is a very good way to go and stick to the recipe. That
being said, next time you are working with a recipe, remember those two
lemons and think to yourself: "How
do I want it to taste?"
Okay, you can search the 'net and
decide if 2 to 3 TB is the amount of juice in a lemon. We're not going
to measure it right now.
outer layer of the lemon (don't include the white pith) that is so
fragrant and flavorful. But how do you get it off? The old fashioned
way is with a 'peeler' after which you can chop it thick or fine to
your liking (but sometimes does pick up the pith). The cool new way is
to use a Microplane. The quick story
is that a wife while making an Orange Cake
actually used a new rasp tool her husband brought home from the
hardware store. The entire story is actually pretty interesting which
you can see in the few paragraphs here
While we are big fans of the microplane, we sometimes want a
'mouth feel' from larger pieces. Use whatever suits you. Last night we
used both. (There's another type we own but forgot about it when making
The Sandwich the other day because we tend to use the Microplane in
place of it. It is called a zester and actually ours does a decent job
if you don't need a lot of zest. You'll see it in the second picture
THE Sandwich (makes 4, very large)
- Approx 3 lbs. red/ripe only height of the season preferably
home grown tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 8 large slices of bread (we use Trader Joe's Cracked Wheat
Sourdough, just the large ones in the middle of the bag)
good quality pancetta sliced about 1/8" thick (NOT as thin as delis
slice prosciutto, more like bacon. Of course if you like yours thick,
go for it. We used 6 oz last night.)
- garlic cloves, or even garlic powder.
- Several handfuls of arugula
- Olive oil
- Lemon Garlic Mayo (below)
or drizzle olive oil (preferably extra virgin, but don't kill yourself
if it isn't) over the tomatoes then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
over them. Do it at least 10 minutes before eating. We tend to do it an
Bake the pancetta in a 425 degree oven until it is
crisp but not burnt. Put the pancetta between paper towels to remove a
lot of the grease. We often do this earlier in the day then take the
cooled pancetta in the paper towels and just shove it in the fridge
till we need it (though we reheat it slightly in the microwave just
a stove top grill pan. While heating spray or brush both sides of the
bread with olive oil. Or, rub both sides of the bread with butter (we
find that works out really well if the bread is frozen which is usually
where ours is found). Again, if the bread is frozen, it is really easy
to rub clove(s) of garlic on both sides. The garlic just wears away
onto the bread (great for garlic bread as well). In a pinch we've found
that garlic powder isn't all that bad, though the flavor isn't the
same. Use sparingly.
Grill both sides of the bread on the grill pan. If you
don't have one, toast the bread in the oven (using broiler or not). Or
be creative and toast the bread in a toaster, then do the
oil/butter/garlic thing. Hey, this is a sandwich! It will taste good.
Our pan hold 4 pieces at a time which is good. We do the
and start assembly while toasting the rest of them.
equal amounts of the mayo spread on four slices of bread. Top with
equal amounts of pancetta, then equal amounts of tomato, then equal
amounts of arugla. Spray or drizzle some olive oil over the arugula,
then sprinkle salt over it (preferably kosher or sea salt).
how we always describe the tomato step: Cram as many slices of the ripe
tomatoes as you possibly can (knowing you have to pick it up) on top of
what you've done so far.
After you have oiled and salted the arugula, cover each sandwich with
the remaining slices
Typically we press down some and serve.
Sometimes we have hot peppers on the side.
Lemon Garlic Mayo
were going to call this aioli, but it just isn't because we make it in
a mini food processor. We also thought about showing you how easy
(usually) making homemade mayo is, but that's for another time. We came
up with this for The Sandwich because it is quick and easy. But
homemade mayo (or aioli) is wonderful and you should try it some time.
- 4 largish TB mayo (we often use Light Mayo and found we
stuff from Vons).
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed/diced/chopped
- pulp of a lemon (seeded) that weighs about 4oz (you don't
have to be exact!)
- rind of that lemon (see the stuff amount how to grate a
- dash of tabasco or other hot sauce of your choice, very
- small dash of nam pla (aka fish sauce), very optional
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- fresh lemon juice plus 1 tsp of optional white wine vinegar
all the ingredients except the lemon juice (and vinegar, if using) into
a mini food processor. Whir away. Add in the juice/vinegar. How much?
We want the flavor but we don't want to turn it into a really loose
sauce. Use however much you like to get the consistency you like. At
the very most, you don't want it to be so runny that it won't stay on
the bread when you pick it up.
If you don't have a mini food
processor and you have a mortar and pestle you could mix it all up
there. If you don't have that, just chop up the pulp and the rind as
well as you can and mix with the other ingredients. It will be fine.
WINE PAIRING (or make that alcohol pairing)
Zinfandel would work with this. And, of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention our friends, the Nalles,
who make wonderful zin.
Or, as we have pointed out, a Bloody Mary might be in order. Recipe
Bonus Recipe: Best Bloody Mary Ever
is our thing. But there is for many a time and place for something
else. Cocktails can also be a creative endeavor and a lot of
establishments are being very creative, using herbals and fruits and
all manner of additions to the harder liquors. An old classic is the
Bloody Mary and since our 'Sandwich' is all about tomatoes it
seems like this is the right way to go from time to time. We have had
pretty good ones in New Orleans, though it seems like it was always
also a salad in a glass, but the best Bloody Mary we've ever had came
from the pages of Playboy magazine. Of course we've adapted it a bit.
The classic main ingredient is tomato juice which is
ubiquitous. Except we don't exactly have it around the house
of the time. So if the need arises, we use something we have
whole lot of all time time, tomato paste. Fact is most bottles of
tomato juice are made from tomato paste reconstituted with
water (check out the labels, we
always do). For us, for a Bloody Mary, we find that an ounce of tomato
paste to which you add enough water to make 4 ounces is just about the
Tomato paste freezes well. We just put it in a dish,
freeze it then wrap it with plastic wrap. If it is well
it keeps a long time. If you don't wrap it well it kinda
leather after awhile and you have to toss it.
By the way, if you are adventurous, substitute V8 (or any of it's
clones). Very tasty.
out the picture below. Best we can tell it is a relic of another era.
no clue when we acquired that container. What is in it now is
homemade. It is never full. You really don't want to have your spices
on the shelf for years anyhow, they lose their strength. The first few
recipes we found on the web use equal parts salt and celery seed. Grind
the celery seed in a grinder (we use a coffee grinder reserved for
spices) and mix with salt. What salt? It probably should be salt that
is finely ground.
Depending on what's on our shelf we' probably just put kosher salt and
the celery seed in the grinder and grind till it is all fine. Use
whatever amounts you like, but it really doesn't pay to buy the stuff.
There are those that advocating using 'bottom shelf' (i.e.,
expensive stuff) vodka as all the other ingredients are pretty much
going to wipe out any nuance. That being said, you should
experiment. Your own taste may find there is a difference. We do recall
back when we were making pizza dough with beer as part of the liquid
and used some beer that cost about 3 bucks for 24 cans. Uh, bad idea.
That was bad enough to even make pizza dough taste lousy. Lesson
really cheap alcohol.
Don't substitute. You might have Tabasco on the shelf and
really good stuff (and the factory is an interesting place to visit;
not big, but a lot of the time it smells really good--if you like that
sort of thing--we do), But for this the flavor of Cholula is
you are looking for; it seems to match the smoked paprika really well.
Besides, if you live where we do, it's probably cheaper than Tabasco.
This recipe is for 2 drinks because that's what we do.
- 8 oz. Tomato Juice (but see above, 2 oz. tomato paste +
water to make 8 oz.)
- 3 (or 4 if you like) ounces of Vodka. Also see
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp prepared horseradish
- 1/2 tsp Cholula Hot Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika (or a little more if you don't taste
don't over do it)
- 1/2 tsp Celery Salt (more or less to taste)
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Garnishes: we like a single pepper which depends on what we have
around. Some people like celery and a bunch of other stuff.
a large container (we use a 4 cup measuring cup) mix all the
ingredients except the garnishes. Add ice cubes. We use about
6-8. Stir the mixture. Pour into chilled rocks glasses (if you have
such a thing, otherwise any glass or cup or container is going to do...
it's a drink!)
When trying to find out why you stir a Bloody Mary instead of shake it,
there were lots of different reasons, so
check it out for yourself. But while reading one
of the recipes on Serious Eats,
we found something so amusing
we want to repeat it. The author, Paul Clarke says about garnishes:
a slice of lemon or lime or—who am I kidding?—pretty much anything
short of the Hoover Dam.".
saw a lot of that in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Of course
that's a place where there are drive-throughs dedicated to just very
alocoholic daiquiri's. Around here, if
you drink liquor on the street you get arrested. In the French Quarter
(at least) the street signs say the alcohol you drink on the
street just can't be in glass
containers. We thought it was fascinating. Amazing how one person's sin
is another person's pleasure.
of the recipes in a .pdf you can print