For me, a perfect dessert is a careful contradiction, a balance of textures and tastes, of sweet and salty and an undertone of something tart or bitter.

And sometimes you can hit that balance by happy accident. That’s what happened here. As a finishing touch for our recent Sandwich Party, I tried another blogger’s recipe for chocolate sandwich cookies. The flavors sounded promising, but something in it rang alarm bells for me.

And rightly so. My dough didn’t come together as promised — or at all — so I had to improvise. A little melted butter here, a little extra flour there, and a rest in the fridge did wonders. Thanks to instinct and accident, I ended up with a winner of a recipe, one that I know I’ll make again and again. (And then laziness, inattention, and a power outage delayed my posting. But you have it now, my sweeties, and I have the accidental recipe archived here for many future occasions, so let’s count our blessings.)

I love this cookie. I call them “fauxreos,” but they deliver so much more than an Oreo: more chocolate punch, with a rich, almost bitter undertone, more crispy crunch and creamy lushness. The crispy chocolate wafers are deeply, darkly chocolatey and faintly sweet, with a slightly salty edge that makes them the perfect foil to the rich sweet filling. The assembly process is a bit of a chore, but when you bite into the first cookie, you’ll know it’s worth every moment. Continue reading

ac & je’s sandwich buffet

As the fifth Sandwich Party drew to a close on Monday night, AC & JE invited some friends over for a Big Sandwich Buffet, and we were lucky enough to be part of it.

Such deliciousness! Spicy chicken tenders, sauvely sauteed portabello mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, two kinds of cheese, pesto, butter, mustard, mayo, and lovely tender-chewy ciabatta to pile everything atop. AND! A bright, fresh salad with apples, almonds, and red onion, and a big casserole of luscious mac & cheese, tangy and tender and surprisingly light. (JE, I’m taking notes; I think of mac & cheese as heavy and creamy, but you may have opened my eyes to another way.)

the Ploobwich

The Bitwrathploob has sampled sandwiches around the world, but that doesn’t mean he turns up his battered red replacement nose at humble homemade fare.

During this weekend’s Sandwich Party, Ploobie and I enjoyed this easy, cozy meal: a hot sandwich of cheddar and tomato on beer bread, served with a brimming bowl of simple black bean soup. Continue reading

Sandwich Party #5

The Sandwich Party is underway! Friday night, The Fella and I kicked off the weekend with grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches stuffed with garlicky spinach, served with cream of tomato soup.

The sandwich looks a mite sloppy, but I assure you it was just sloppy enough: the gooey cheese held the glistening, gorgeous spinach inside the crispy bread, and the whole thing made a perfect foil for the mild, creamy soup.

Jagosaurus did some work ahead of schedule:

I made some (cucumber and honey goat cheese) sandwiches a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of this, but I might do more this weekend.

Redfox from The Hungry Tiger joined the Sandwich Party with a luscious-looking warm weather entry:

The version you see before you is a little duded up, with those sprigs of cilantro. Occasionally it might instead be topped with a very few slivers of thinly sliced red onion, or slices of tomato. But the basic scheme is:

* Slice of kalamata sourdough bread
* Butter
* Avocado
* A tiny sprinkle of salt
* A drizzle of this here chile oil

In the comments here, T.R. tells us about a sandwich with old friends!

Mmmm. Good! I had tuna steak sandwich w/ red onions, grated carrots and lemon sauce to top it off. I did not get to make it…Hobbit Cafe did where I was having lunch w/ old friends (-:

Erik went with:

a family favorite: The Beltch. My mother, the polite lady that she is, chooses to put the vowel after the L, making it a Bletch (as if that’s a polite sound!). As you might have guessed, it’s a variation on the famous BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato), but adding cheese (CH). For proper BELTCH construction, a fried egg should be added to achieve full letter representation, but circumstances did not allow for an egg in this production.

Carlarey has the breakfast of champions!

So here it is, nothing fancy. Just a plain old working class turkey, salami, pastrami sandwich with shredded habanero cheese and jalapenos. It was what my kid wanted for breakfast yesterday morning, and it sounded so good I made one for myself.

Macbebekin’s own Elli had a luscious-looking pita:

I had a chicken pita sandwich. I cheated* and bought it at a shop, but I did get to choose my ingredients which was easy: “All the veggies, please.”

*Elsa’s note: NOT CHEATING! Bought sandwiches welcome!

Just before the power went out, the Bitwrathploob and I enjoyed:

a hot sandwich of cheddar and tomato on beer bread, served with a brimming bowl of simple black bean soup.

J made a lamb ragu-wich capable of changing a mother’s mind:

I discovered one day that if I took some of the sourdough bread that we had, slathered it with butter and garlic powder, and fried it, it made a delicious garlic bread, which is the perfect place to put a bunch of warmed spaghetti sauce. It’s a lot like a sloppy Joe, actually, though I like the flavors of spaghetti sauce better. My mom thought this was a disgusting idea, until she finally gave it a try, and became an instant convert. She always said that sane people are willing to change their mind when they are given the proper evidence, which this sandwich clearly is.

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Join the fifth Sandwich Party — you still have time! Around these parts, we had a few hours without power and a looooooong stretch with no wifi, so I’m giving myself (and you!) a little extra leeway to get those last posts and links in. I can’t wait to see what sandwich you make!

no substitutions

With Sandwich Party #5 coming up this weekend, The Fella and I were brainstorming a list of sandwich-centric scenes in movies and TV. I’ve been thinking about the diner scene from Five Easy Pieces. You know the one I mean: the scene in which Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson) wrangles with a waitress over a side order of wheat toast.

The scene is famous — or infamous — for good reasons, and complex ones at that. At its simplest level, the diner scene editorializes on the changing times: the iconoclast tries to indulge his modest tastes, only to be blocked by the traditionalist, an unyielding stickler mired in arbitrary rules. This scene helped to establish Jack Nicholson as a counter-culture hero, and why not? He’s just a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules.

But there’s another level to this exchange, and I’d argue that it’s far more important than the inter-generational culture clash. Ultimately, the diner scene is about the confusion that comes with freedom, about the difficulty of discerning one’s own genuine desires.

Watch the scene carefully. Bobby seems to know exactly what he wants, and he seems to know how to get it, even from their ornery waitress. He keeps his voice calm and civil, he’s well in control of his temper, and he’s negotiated her to a point of decision: she’s about to choose whether to take his precisely phrased order or to deny it.

She’s peeved as she asks, “You want me to hold the chicken, huh?” But she hasn’t refused. Not yet. She’s noted down his many other requests: no potatoes, no mayo, no butter, no lettuce. She might, just might, jot down “no chicken” and curtly walk away to place the order. She’s balanced at the moment of decision.

Then he utters, still in his calm, civil voice, “I want you to hold it between your knees.”

Of course the waitress kicks them out. Of course Bobby explodes in a fit of anger. Because that is what he wanted all the time. He wanted a fight, and he carefully constructed one. No substitutions.

Because this is the center of Bobby’s character: he cannot be satisfied with what he has, and he will not be satisfied with anything he could receive. He doesn’t want what he has, he doesn’t want what you might offer freely, and he doesn’t want what he pursues.

Sandwich Party: number five

photo courtesy of Jagosaurus

Announcing the fifth (count ’em, fifth!) Sandwich Party, coming October 8th to October 10th!

Yikes. That’s soon!

Jagosaurus and I cordially invite you (yes, YOU, and on short notice, we admit) to the fifth Sandwich Party this weekend! If you want the details, take a gander at the entries in that link, but the idea is:

Make a sandwich. Or buy a sandwich. Or… well, you can’t really borrow a sandwich, can you? And theft is wrong. Don’t steal a sandwich.

… where was I? Right: Sandwich Party. So, you get your sandwich by legitimate means. This weekend, Friday Oct. 8th to Sunday Oct. 10th. you post it somewhere, as a blog entry, a photo on Flickr, a Tumbler page.

Then return here or here and leave us a link to your sandwich. Jagosaurus and I will round up all the participant’s posts and present them here!

Happy sandwiching!

Need some ideas? Of course, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in previous Sandwich Parties, but if you need fresh notions:

Thrift website Wisebread offers an article on what I can only think of as introductory sandwich-making. I can’t say I find the title appetizing; I don’t need to “sex up” my sandwiches, and I really don’t want you to sex up my sandwiches either.

But I applaud the idea of encouraging budget-conscious readers to make their brown-bag lunches a little more delicious and festive. And surely there are plenty of people who need this elementary instruction: after all, Jagosaurus and I started the Sandwich Party because it was one culinary challenge almost anyone could tackle!

If you are [un]lucky enough to track down a Candwich, please document your experience thoroughly.

If you describe your sandwich tastes as more “conventional,” or shall we say “traditional,” or shall we say “not repulsive,” then The Kitchn can help you out, with a round-up of 22 gorgeous sandwiches from tea sandwiches to bahn mi.

note: Aaaaaaand it’s on!

Sandwich Party the fourth

sandwich sign photo courtesy of Jagosaurus

It’s on! The fourth Sandwich Party has begun!

What a friend we have in cheeses! Jagasaurus eats take-out, and good-looking take-out indeed! It’s a grilled provolone and pepper sandwich on sourdough. In the Flickr comment thread, Jag gives an understated but thoroughly convincing endorsement:

I don’t know why I don’t go to Earl’s more often. They do good work and they have canisters of Old Bay everywhere.

Come Friendly Bombs experiences the wrath of the Leprechaun Burger.

It is a pub burger. It is accompanied by beer not much warmer than the pub fries, beer charged with nitrogen, whose creamy, foamy head forgives all. Almost all.

Cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger! It seems to be a trend. (Does two occurrences constitute a trend?) Erik does his expatriate’s duty and makes a fine-looking hamburger sandwich:

As an expat, one encounters a lot of strange stereotypes about what foreigners think your country is like. Probably the most common I’ve heard is that Americans eat nothing but hamburgers. Rather than dispel this myth, I’ve sort of adopted it as part of my “the American expat” role. For five or six years now I’ve thrown a hamburger party on the Fourth of July, and somehow it’s become a ritual on my daughter’s monthly birthday celebrations. So here we go.

Simon goes back to basics:

Having contributed Belgian and Italian recipes in previous years, I wanted to return to my homeland. Wikipedia claims that cheese sandwiches are quintessentially British (I can hear the howls of protest and derision from non-British readers even now), so who am I to contest the collective wisdom of the internet? A cheese sandwich it will be. Or rather, two cheese sandwiches. Two simple but honest, blokey, British cheese sandwiches.

These two simple but honest cheese sandwiches turn out to be the down-to-earth British staple of cheese and Branston pickle, and the cheese and — wait, what? See the delicious unorthodoxy for yourself.

Maven makes a modern holiday classic, the vegetarian post-Thanksgiving sandwich:

What you see here is Quorn roast, sliced, with vegannaise and sambal oelek (a kind of chili paste and a crucial condiment to keep on hand) and avocado on toasted wheat bread from New French. It was good.

Frédérique offers up perfect tiny ice cream sandwiches:

I made tart cherry ice cream. With all the leftover egg whites, I decided to try making macarons (French macaroons). I give you the Chocolate Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich: tiny, decadent, and absolutely delicious.

My own sandwichery (sandwichcraft?) will have to wait a bit: I’m hampered by a busted camera, a pinched nerve, and a bread shortage. But there will be sandwiches. Oh, baby. is afoot. Oh, baby.

After a good hour of fiddling, fussing, and cussing, I resigned myself to the reality of a properly busted camera, which means the photos of my sandwiches lie, trapped, inside the camera instead of posted here in all their glory. A pity, too, since they’re so colorful.

I started with a controversial sandwich (rather than a controversial doughnut). You will recall that a burrito is not a sandwich… but is a quesadilla a sandwich?

In past Sandwich Parties, we have featured a pancake-and-peanut-butter sandwich, an apple sandwich, pizza sandwich, at least two cracker sandwiches, and several ice cream sandwiches. Clearly, a sandwich does not live by bread alone.

But is a quesadilla a sandwich?

If you could see my example*, you might agree that a quesadilla can be a sandwich. I made a sandwich, a sandwich, I say!, of smashed sweet potatoes (leftover from Thanksgiving) with Parmesan on sandwiched between, I say! a halved whole wheat tortilla, generously seasoned inside and out with cumin and chili powder and grilled to a toasty brown. I served it with a dish of huevos con whatnot. It was a simple and superb dinner on a cold, wet evening.

Having seen Sparkdance’s luscious arepa sandwich, I revoke my admission of controversial sandwich status: foodstuffs stuffed into an arepa constitutes a sandwich! Therefore, my quesadilla constitutes a sandwich.

But back to the arepa! From the tags, I infer that it’s (oh, brace yourself for delicious envy!) roasted pork shoulder, tomato slices, avocado, guayanas cheese, and mango sauce on a gluten-free arepa. Oh. Oh oh oh. I’ll have what she’s having.

My second sandwich: I made M&M cookies for a friend’s birthday. I used Nestle’s Tollhouse cookie recipe, substituting M&Ms for chocolate chips. Plain M&Ms, not peanut… but that sparked a thought. I slapped together a sandwich of crunchy, nutty, all-natural hippie-dippie peanut butter between the two crispy cookies. The sweet, crispy cookie with a hint of salt, the shattering shell of sugar over chcolate, and the earthy, unctuous ground note of the peanut butter — it’s a taste sensation, I tells ya. And so colorful!*

*D’oh, I wish I could show you the photos. I’ll see if I can’t sort out the camera this week.

sandwich notes

Remember: the fourth Sandwich Party is coming up just a week from now! Get your appetites and your cameras ready! If you’re looking for inspiration, check out:
The Rubik’s Cubewich, a cube of toasted bread, meats, and cheeses, liberally slathered with awesome.
Esquire‘s feature on the best sandwiches in the U.S.. Weirdly enough, it includes the McRib and the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, which is enough to make me look at the list with hearty suspicion.
A month of sandwiches!
– If you’re imagining a sandwich made with Thanksgiving leftovers, Marcus LeShock’s round-up of Chicago’s best Thanksgiving sandwiches should give you some food for thought.

If you need a little practice, you can play the Lilo and Stitch Sandwich Stacker game without letting it get smashed!

Pro-tip: Frozen sandwiches do not seem like a good idea. Some highlights from these reviews:
“…a grilled microwaved chicken sweet and slimy onion sandwich.”

“The cheese doesn’t so much make you think ‘cheese’ as make you feel like the ghost of cheese is somehow wrapped across the top of the sandwich.”

“However, if you’re after a sandwich with a watery cheese filling with beef strips that seem like they’re not all wrapped up in a scarily dry, flaky crust, this sandwich is for you.”

To sum up: Sandwiches, good. Frozen sandwiches, bad. Leftovers as sandwich stuffing, good. Sandwich party? GOOD!