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    Entries in flowers are food (11)

    Tuesday
    Sep062011

    epic sammich is epic

    There's nothing quite like muffaletta.

    This is my last post before school starts. And my last paycheque so I went nuts at the fancy Italian deli. That place is freaking dangerous. Imported salamis, locally made cheeses, a dessert cooler with my nose print on it...

    They even make fresh pasta in the store right in front of you. But I was not looking for hand hung linguini, oh no, I went straight to the back of the store (by some definition of straight that involves  stopping at the bakery, the jam aisle, the spice section, and the espresso counter) and started perusing the sausages.

    I do love a nice hard salami.

    Especially when it's stuffed into a muff... alletta.

    Oh, come on, I had to. As if you weren't thinking it.

    Muffaletta, the epic sammich of epicness

    What You Need:


    Olive Salad

    • 1 jar giardinera pickled veggies mix, hot if you like it that way
    • 1 jar manzanilla olives with pimentos
    • 12 kalamatas
    • 1 jar artichoke hearts
    • 1 jar pickled mushrooms
    • ½ jar capers
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • ¼ c parsley
    • 1 tbsp oregano
    • Vinegar
    • Olive oil

    The Sammich

    • 1 loaf of round sturdy bread
    • 100 g* dry salami
    • 100 g thinly sliced ham
    • 100 g pepperoni
    • 100 g sliced provolone
    • 100 g sliced emmenthal

    *100 g = 1/4 lb for those of you who live in the only country in the world not smart enough to switch to the metric system.

     

    What You Gotta Do:

    The first thing you need to do is make your "salad." I'm not sure exactly why it's called salad, it's not the kind of thing you'd eat out of a bowl as a first course, or even as a last one, but I can't think of some other way to refer to it. 

    Strain all the jarred stuff and dump it into the food processor.

    If the giardinera has large chunks in it, you might want to chop those up a bit first just for consistency’s sake.

    Coarsely chop the garlic and drop it in.

    Add the parsley and oregano, and black pepper if you remember to.

    Whiz this all for just a few seconds. You don’t want it too fine and homogenous or you lose the “salad” texture and end up with something more like a tapenade.

    You’ll probably want to scrape down the sides then whiz for just a few more seconds to get everything chopped.

    Spoon it back into the bigger jars, or if you have them laying around, 500 mL mason jars work great. You'll be able to fill about 2 of them. Don’t pack it down. You need space in there for the oil and vinegar dressing.

    Splash in a bit of vinegar, about 1 tbsp of vinegar for each cup of salad. White wine is best, but red will also work. Pour in olive oil until most of the space between the tiny chunks is filled.

    Put the lid on and give it a good shake.

    Let this marinate in the fridge for a bit. It’ll keep at least a month in the fridge, if it lasts that long. It does make great gift basket fodder, but since it needs to be refridgerated you’d probably have to do the whole “canning” thing if you wanted it to be shelf stable. I’m going to leave that part to Taneasha to tell you about some day.

    It's also great on a cheese and crackers plate, or as a pizza topping, and a few spoonfulls added to a bit of tomato sauce results in a tasty puttanesca perfect for spaghetti.

    Now, to assemble the sammich of epicness.

    Slice your round loaf in half horizontally.

    You want a good sturdy loaf with a crusty exterior and a dense crumb inside. French bread will not work, the insides are too squishy. A good sourdough will do the trick, and that's what I'd planned until I saw the loaf of olive bread at the Italian deli.

    Pull out the innards of the bread, leaving about a centimeter (half inch) of insides all around. You want the same buffer on the bottom and top of the bread.

    Freeze the innards for use later on as crumbs or as the bread in a bread pudding, sweet or savoury.

    The first layer is the olive salad. Top and bottom.

    I guess the rest is kind of up to you how you want to do it,

    but I suggest a single layer of each type of filling,

    with a bit more salad every three, four or five layers.

    Don't be shy about pressing it down and filling it with as much meat and cheese as possible. And make sure you get the layers all the way out to the edges of the bread.

    Once you've filled both halves, flip the top onto the bottom and press them together. I find it's easiest to do if the last layer on the top half is cheese. It seems to stick a bit better and there's less chance of things falling apart.

    Give it one last squish, then fold it up in a giant peice of parchment or wax paper.

    Giant. Lift the edges up and centre the sammich in the bottom. Roll down.

    When you get to the top of the sammich, tighten a bit, then press the sides down, fold them in like you would if you were wrapping a gift, then tuck them under.

    Leave it there as long as you can resist it.

    You can leave it in the fridge overnight even, just make sure you put it in something a little more air tight. This makes it a really handy make ahead lunch meal, like for a picnic or something.

    When you can no longer keep your hands off it, unwrap it and start slicing it into wedges. Belive it or not, it will hold together.

    I recommend slicing it into at least 6, but 8 is better, and do it all now.

    Even if you're not planning on eating it all, slice it. The individually wrapped slices keep quite well. It's also much easier to slice when you have the rest of it around to maintain the structural integrity of the layers.

    Layers!

    So pretty and so freaking tasty.

    What's your favourite layered thing?

     

    Tuesday
    Jun212011

    Pistachio Porn

    Around the same time I posted the request for recipe requests, I also asked the guys at work. Most of them defer and claim they’ll love anything I make. I think they’re just afraid I’ll stop bringing them cookies if they offer any critical feedback. Anyone who’s ever critiqued my writing knows that’s just not true. I’ve been absolutely shredded in the past and I’m still… um, if I wasn’t in school I’d still be… writing.

    Fortunately, we’ve got a new guy at work.

    When I told him I’d make anything, any recipe that would challenge me, but still fit in the magic cookie tin, he came back with this:

    Indian Spice Cookies

    Wow. Neat! I’ve used garam masala in curries, but I’d never seen garam masala used in a dessert.

    Garam masala isn’t a spice on it’s own, so this isn’t quite like making a snickerdoodle which has the cinnamon on the outside… and it’s not quite like a gingersnap. Ginger snaps use a mixture of spices, but they’re all “sweet” spices. Garam masala includes things like cumin (used in making chilli and curry) and black pepper!

    I was so making these things.

    But of course I can’t just make a plain old cookie even if it was crazy spiced. But I didn’t want to mess with the reportedly soft and chewy texture by adding nuts or something, so I decided they needed some kind of prettying up. A little bit of icing never hurt any cookie. So I made a rosewater glaze and then pressed the damp glaze into finely chopped pistachios.

    A bit of a gilded lily, yes, but I think the sweetness of the nuts and glaze worked well to balance the amazing bite of the cookies.

    These went over amazingly well with the guys in the construction trailer. And yes, I know, I’m shooting fish in a barrel, but I figure if the cookies weren’t great, 6 guys wouldn’t have cleaned out the entire tin in half a day.

    Unfortunately I didn’t actually have garam masala on hand. What I did have were many of the spices that often go into the mixtures that you find in the spice section. Those mixtures can vary in content, and in heat level so I made my own, and scaled down the more savoury spices. If you’ve got some in your cupboard already, give it a shot. If not, here’s what I did for mine:

    Garam Masala:

    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves (I think I may have used allspice though)
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

    Put them all together in a jar and shake.

    Now that you’ve got perfectly balanced garam masala, you can make the cookies.

    What you need:

    Cookies:

    • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. Vanilla
    • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

    Topping:

    • 1 cup icing sugar
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1 tsp rosewater
    • About 1/2 to 3/4 cup of very finely chopped pistachios

    What you gotta do:

    Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cream the butter and brown sugar.

    Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

    If you feel like dirtying another dish, sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. If not, pile the flour on one side, and put the other dry stuff on top.

    Mix the dry stuff together a bit before starting to incorporate it into the wet part.

    Spicey!

    Drop teaspoons of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment if you don’t want to have to wash it afterwards.

    Bake the cookies for a mere 10 minutes. Watch them. Don’t let them get too brown. They’re quite golden in colour already and a little extra will have them looking too dark.

    Cool them on a rack while you chop the nuts. 

    put all the glaze ingredients (not the nuts) in a bowl and mix them.

    Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze

    and then press them into the nuts.

    Once they’ve set, pack them up in the cookie tin, take them to work, and see if anyone can guess what they’re seasoned with.

    I’m going to give Lyra Marlow’s suggestion of creamsicle cookies a shot in a couple weeks. And I’m really wondering how I can pull of angel’s suggestion of strawberry shortcake!

    What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve ever put in a cookie or dessert??