Category Archives: Sammiches

Sweet Relish Ideas?


I just received a text message from my dear friend Allison that says, “So, if you happened to have 4-5 half pints of really good pickle relish (not dill, just slightly sweet), how would you use it? Hamburgers and hot dogs don’t count.

Whoa! Quite the challenge! So, off the top of my head, I would use it on sandwiches that I know could handle a little sweet kick – namely something like ham and swiss, or even turkey and provolone. I am big on layering condiments together, so I think the relish would pair nicely with a spicy mustard on a roast beef on rye.

Speaking of, if you mix mayonnaise and sweet relish together, you get tartar sauce! I’m not sure Allison, being a busy mom, will be up for a fish fry anytime soon, but I have a hunch there may be some fish sticks in the freezer at her place.

Though I am unsure how Allison acquired such an abundance of delicious relish, I have a sneaking suspicion she or a friend made it from scratch. The blessing/curse of making homemade batches of jam, jellies, relish, or chutney is that you never can make just a little; you always end up with more than you need. Canning and storing is always an option, but even then, you end up with a pantry filled with one particular thing. What about a canning swap? Contact all the home gardeners you know, see if they are into canning, and host a swap. That way, everyone ends up with a variety of items in their cupboard instead of stash of just one thing. Just thoughts on the page, my friends.

Anyway – if anyone else has suggestions on what one might use up a supply of sweet relish, post here.

Oh, and how do you like the new look?

Tagged

Fancy Burgers


Okay, so they are not really that fancy.  They aren’t stuffed with fancy bleu cheese or made from home-ground sirloin steaks, and they are not topped with foie gras.  No, they are just really good burgers I bought at the store and topped with what I consider to be some good, pretty straightforward Italian ingredients.  The result is actually much better than I ever expected.  Something about the combination of the salty Asiago cheese, the fresh punch of pesto, and the smokiness of the roasted red pepper hits your palate in a shockingly savory way.  When I came up with this idea, I was expecting some mediocre results that would need to be improved upon.  Not so.  This one rocks, just the way it is.

I probably started thinking about these burgers because I had the weirdest craving that took me straight back to my childhood.  My mom would buy these pre-made burgers from the local butcher that they called “pizza burgers.”  They were somehow seasoned to taste distinctly “Italian” (probably just a lot of garlic powder and some Italian seasoning mix) and then my mother would top them with red sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.  I loved them.  I begged for them.  They were probably more expensive than what my mother usually bought, so they were a special treat, only purchased when we had a little extra grocery money lying around.  Anyway, I thought about those the other day and, as I do, wanted to recreate the concept using fresher, less processed ingredients.  This is the result of that effort.

Since this is just an assemblage, I won’t write out a full recipe.  Cook burgers according to your preferred method and cooking time (I used the cast iron skillet and cooked to medium-well), then top with slices of Asiago cheese (I used Boar’s Head) and cover to melt.  For serving, coat the bottom of a toasted bun with a generous amount of basil pesto (store bought or homemade), then top with the cheeseburger.  Top the burger with roasted red peppers (either homemade or from a jar) and finish with the top bun (you can add pesto to this, too, but it may be too salty).  Smash together and enjoy.  =)

BL(FG)Ts


'Maters

'Maters

Sense memory is pretty interesting. I think we often take for granted our sense of sight and hearing so much that a familiar face or tune never has the same kind of profound effect as a smell or a taste from the past.  A few weeks ago, I was reminded, through scent, of a time in my life that seems so long ago as to never have happened.  As I breathed in the scent, I was uncontrollably thrown into a moment where I was standing on a sleet-covered sidewalk in the Back Bay of Boston, bathed in the light of a shop decorated for the holidays, holding onto someone who seemed like the love of my life at the time.  For a smell to transport me so quickly through time and space, without the struggle of trying to remember, was almost too much to take.  How does your brain do this to you?  Sure, it happens with an old photograph or a melody every once in a while, but never as much as taste or smell, I think.  

Bread and Butter (Lettuce)

Bread and Butter (Lettuce)

When I got back to my computer, I couldn’t help but reconnect with the love in that memory and tell him about what happened, and how I was taken back to a time so long ago.  His response sort of took me by surprise, but in a great way.  He said he understood sense memory like that, and spun it back to me with a taste memory.  He said that he always thinks of me, with the same kind of intensity, when he makes the fried green tomato BLTs I invented years ago.  When he said that, it dawned on me that I had not thought of those sandwiches in years, perhaps because of broken-hearted connotations.  With so much water under the bridge, I immediately found myself craving one.  

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Unfortunately, I had to wait to make the sandwiches, as it took a few weeks to get real green (unripe) tomatoes from the farmer’s market.  We shared the bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sandwiches [BL(FG)Ts] at Sunday supper with Meggie and David recently.  They were better this time, for some reason – maybe fresher tasting.  The sense memory took me back, though, and I was suddenly in my huge, old, greasy kitchen in Boston, sitting in the first chill of late summer and devouring my new sandwich invention.  If you’ve seen Ratatouille, there is a scene near the end where Anton Ego, the food critic, has a moment with the title dish.  He takes one bite of that meal and is transported to his childhood, to his family, and to his own fledgling tastebuds.  Perhaps my reaction to the taste of those layers of goodness was not as overwhelming as Ego’s, but I felt assured that, even in my adult life, I am building memories of moments with food.  

BL(FG)T

BL(FG)T

BL(FG)Ts

If you are new to fried green tomatoes, don’t be scared.  They are not easily messed up, provided that you have a non-stick skillet.  Perhaps a bit obnoxiously, I do make my own tomato chutney, mostly because I like it the way I make it.  You should feel free to swap out a not-too-spicy store-bought chutney of any kind (not only tomato).  If you need recommendations, just let me know.