Monday, July 30, 2012

Tzatziki Potato Salad

I noted here last month a new recipe that Mrs. BA pulled out, for Potato Salad with Bacon.  It is quite tasty.  Then from my new go-to site for recipes, smitten kitchen, I spotted this recipe.

Tzatziki Potato Salad
Mostly adapted from Ina Garten
Please forgive me, if you can, for running a recipe so close to one from a few years ago.* I cannot help it. When you find the tzatziki you want to spend the rest of your life with, you don’t go auditioning new ones on the side just in case. You just make it as often as you can and sometimes cold, boiled potatoes find their way in and those days, you get to call it lunch.

Here’s what I love about this salad, aside from the fact that it’s a cinch to make: it’s cool and refreshing while so many potato salads are full of heft — the the cucumber-dill-yogurt-lemon-garlic thing is like an edible air-conditioner. Such things come in handy during especially sticky NYC days. 
  • 4 pounds potatoes (I like tiny Yukon golds, but you can use whatever boiling potatoes you like for salads) 
  • 1 3/4 cups Greek yogurt (I used full-fat but I think other fat levels would work)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from half a big lemon) 
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill 
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 hothouse or English cucumber (1 pound), unpeeled but quartered lengthwise, seeds removed 
More ideas for additions: Crumbled feta, chopped green olives, chopped fresh mint leaves or a minced hot chile

In a medium pot, cover your potatoes with cold water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-high and let potatoes simmer until tender enough that they can be pierced easily with a skewer or slim knife. I find that small potatoes tend to be done in roughly 30 minutes from the time I put them on the stove cold, but it’s best to start checking 5 to 10 minutes sooner. Drain potatoes and let them cool completely. (This is a great step to do ahead, as it seems to take potatoes forever to cool. If you’re really in a rush, spread them on a tray and pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes.)

Meanwhile, in the bottom of a large bowl, stir together yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Grate the cucumber on a box grater (or in your food processor’s shredding blade, if you like to get things done in one hundredth of the time) and try to remove some of the excess by squeezing out handfuls, pressing it in a mesh sieve with a spoon or wringing it in a square of cheesecloth or a lint-free dishtowel. Add to yogurt mixture.

Once potatoes are cool, cut tiny ones into quarters or larger ones into generous chunks. Add to cucumbers and yogurt and stir to coat. Add any extra ingredients desired. Adjust seasonings to taste. Either eat immediately or keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Iowa - #29, December 28, 1846

Iowa is often referred to as the "American Heartland" and the "Food Capital of the World" as a result of it's strong agricultural economy.  It is also known as one of the safest states in which to live.  Iowa is the only state in the Union of which its eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers (the Mississippi to the East and the Missouri to the West).

Prior to it becoming a territory of the US and then the 29th state, Iowa was part of New France and was within the confines of the Louisiana Purchase. During the US Civil War, Iowa supported the Union and proportionately, the state contributed more men to military service than any other state, north or south.  It sent more than 75,000 volunteers to the armed forces and over one-sixth were killed before the end of the war.

Politically, the state has national significance, as it holds the first electoral contest in the quadrennial presidential elections, the Iowa Caucuses.  The Hawkeye State has sent one of its own to the White House, the 31st President of the US, Herbert Hoover.  Hoover's Presidential Library is located in West Branch and is celebrating it's 50th year in 2012.

The current Governor of Iowa is Terry Branstad, a Republican. The Senators for Iowa are Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin. The Iowa Congressional delegation has five members, three Democrats and two Republicans.
Prominent Iowans- (it appears there are some really smart people from Iowa - here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pizza Cupcakes!

Mrs. BA has made pepperoni cake before for SoBA's birthday.  Perhaps these might make an appearance for his birthday in a few months.  From Kirbie's Cravings.

Pizza cupcakes
Yield: 12

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/3 cup milk (optional: additional 2 tbsp milk) 
  • 1 cup mini pepperonis 
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • Additional 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of mini pepperonis for topping 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 cupcake pan with liners. (Note: Some commenters have suggested it's better to grease and bake directly in pan because the muffins will stick to the liners. It's less messy with the liners but the exterior of the batter does stick to the liners, so if you don't want that I would suggest baking directly into the muffin pan.) 
  2. Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add in vegetable oil, egg and 1/3 cup milk into flour mixture and stir until batter is smooth. It will be sticky. (Add in another 2 tsbp milk if desired.) Fold/stir in cheese and pepperoni. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. 
  3. Bake for about 18 minutes until muffins turn out golden and knife inserted comes out clean. Right before eating, top muffins with more cheese and about five slices of mini pepperoni and bake for 4-5 minutes at 350F until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Texas - #28, December 29, 1845

You know that whole Six Flags thing?  Yep, it's all about Texas.  Texas is the only state to have had been controlled by six different authorities:  Spain (1519-1685; 1690-1821), France (1685-1690), Mexico (1821-1836), The Texas Republic (1836-1845), The Confederate States of America (1861-1865), and the United States (1845-1861; 1865-present).

While Texas is most closely associated with cowboys and cattle - a colleague of the Brave Astronaut brought to my attention that Texas has a lot of wildlife to contend with.  After the recent flooding and heavy rains earlier this month in Houston, a woman came home to find a 6-foot alligator in her garage.  Read more here.

Texas has a very checkered Presidential History. Dwight David Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, but was raised in Kansas, which is where his Presidential Library is located.  There are of course the tragic events of November 22, 1963, which took place in Dallas.  Texas however is mostly about Lyndon.  Almost as big as the state itself, Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in Johnson City, Texas.  His Presidential Library may be found in the state capital, Austin.  Both of the Bushes are from the Northeast, born in Connecticut, but spent their adult years in Texas and both have established their libraries in Texas.  George HW's library is in College Station (on the campus of Texas A&M) and George W's  is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University near Dallas.

The current Governor of Texas is . . . wait, don't tell me . . .  it'll come to me . . . Oh, yeah, Rick Perry.  Oops. Both of the Senators from Texas are Republican - Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who is retiring at the end of this Senate term and John Cornyn. There are 32 members of the Texas Congressional delegation, 9 Democrats and 23 Republicans.
  • State Capital - Austin
  • Largest city - Houston
  • Date of Admission - December 29, 1845
  • Area - 268,581sq mi (2nd)
  • Population (2011 est.) - 25,674,681 (also 2nd) 
  • State Motto - "Friendship" (really?  Evidently Texas means "friends")
  • State Nickname - The Lone Star State
  • State mammal - the Longhorn
  • State bird - mockingbird
  • State flower - bluebonnet
  • State tree - pecan
  • State University - The University of Texas
  • State Archives - Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • The State Historical Society of Texas - Texas State Historical Association
Prominent Texans - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two - the second list, from Wikipedia, is very extensive)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Vive La France

OK, it's not exactly soup weather - but it is two days past Bastille Day.  Vive La France!  Maybe I'll check in with my father - he's been known to break out into the French National Anthem when he's had a bit to drink.  It's either that or UFO noises.

Gourmet, July 2002
A 1980 charter signed by 11 restaurants (7 in Marseilles) dictates what kinds of fish form the basis of an authentic local bouillabaisse. These are generally unavailable here, so we suggest using the freshest non-oily fish you can get, preferably three to five different kinds. As long as we were taking liberties, we also added lobster and used fennel fronds in place of pastis. And though the broth and croutons are usually served separately from the fish itself in Marseilles, we enjoyed everything together.
Active time: 1 1/4 hr Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

For croutons
  • 12 to 16 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 garlic clove, halved 
For soup
  • 1 (1- to 1 1/4-lb) live lobster 
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds (sometimes called anise) 
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 9 cups white fish stock 
  • 3 lb mixed skinned white fish fillets (such as monkfish, turbot, red snapper, striped bass, porgy, grouper, and/or cod), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Rouille
Make croutons:
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Arrange bread slices in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan and brush both sides with oil. Bake in middle of oven until crisp, about 30 minutes. Rub 1 side of each toast with a cut side of garlic.

Make soup:
Plunge lobster headfirst into a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling water, then cook, covered, 2 minutes from time lobster enters water. Transfer lobster with tongs to a colander and let stand until cool enough to handle. Discard hot water in pot. Put lobster in a shallow baking pan. Twist off claws with knuckles from body, then crack claws with a mallet or rolling pin and separate claws from knuckles. Halve body and tail lengthwise through shell with kitchen shears, then cut crosswise through shell into 2-inch pieces. Reserve lobster juices that accumulate in baking pan.

Cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic in oil in cleaned 6- to 8-quart pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Stir potatoes into tomatoes with fennel fronds, bay leaf, saffron, sea salt, and pepper. Add stock and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add thicker pieces of fish to soup and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes. Stir in remaining fish and lobster, including juices, and simmer, uncovered, until they are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir 3 tablespoons broth from soup into rouille until blended. Arrange 2 croutons in each of 6 to 8 deep soup bowls. Carefully transfer fish and lobster from soup to croutons with a slotted spoon, then ladle some broth with vegetables over seafood.

Top each serving with 1 teaspoon rouille and serve remainder on the side.

Friday, July 13, 2012

11 Questions

Taken from C in DC, who took it from someone else.
  1. How long since you last played, sitting on the floor, with a child?  The only problem with getting down on the floor is getting back up.  I do play with the boys in the pool a fair bit, though.
  2. What was your favorite school trip? Full school trip - Quebec, 1982? "Club" (Model UN) trip, Washington, DC, 1983.
  3. When you go to sleep, do you wake up in the same position, or do you find blankets and pillows all over the place? I have just completed a home sleep study to see if it can be determined why I wake up more tired than when I went to bed.  We'll see what happens.
  4. Shades, hat or both?  Always shades, sometimes hat.
  5. Was there a time you thought “I wish I was born there!” If so when/where was it?  From someone born in Plainview (the next town over from Hicksville) - I could think of lots of better places to have been born - but am happy with where I am from.
  6. Do you know how to make candy corn? Could you tell me? I don't.  Somethings are just better bought than made.
  7. How many years have you been stitching? Did you learn by yourself or did someone help you along the way to the stitching madness it’s nowadays?  I don't stitch - but I was a big latch hooker in the late 70s and early 80s.
  8. The perfect sandwich: what is in it?  Boar's Head Bologna, sliced thick, on white bread, with mayo.
  9. Honestly, do you think ironing your clothes is really necessary? How do you deal with the dullest house work ever?  I used to iron all of my shirts after washing them.  Then I realized there were people who would do that for me.  I don't iron anymore.
  10. You reckon there’s even duller things than ironing? What is it?!  I am not a big fan of cleaning the bathroom - but it's not dull.
  11. Is there a TV commercial you like (makes you laugh, takes you back to old times, reminds you of someone you know . . .)?  For laughs, this one, no doubt.  For nostalgia, I think this one.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Florida - #27, March 3, 1845

Florida was "discovered" by Juan Ponce deLeon in his quest for the Fountain of Youth.  He claimed the land for Spain in 1513.  The city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565, making it the oldest permanent city in the United States.  About 300 years later the territory was sold to the United States by Spain.  As a peninsula, Florida has the longest coastline of all the contiguous states (approx. 1350 miles) - it is also the only state to border both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Until the National Football League granted the city of Miami the Dolphins in 1966, the state of Florida had no professional sports, with the exception of professional baseball's spring training.  The Philadelphia Phillies started the practice in 1899, when the team trained in Jacksonville.  The state now boasts three NFL Teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, and two NHL teams.  Florida is also the home for the headquarters of NASCAR.

Tourism drives the states economy - with millions of Americans and visitors from around the world coming to the central part of the state to try on mouse ears and to "have a magical day!"  There is also a new destination in the state which is on my list to visit.  Florida is also home to half of the nation's space program with the facilities at Cape Canaveral / Kennedy Space Center.

The current Governor of Florida is Rick Scott, a Republican. Florida's Senators are split, Republican Marco Rubio, who is on Mitt Romney's short list to run as Vice President and Democrat Bill Nelson, who is being targeted this year, but should survive.  There are 25 members in the Florida Congressional delegation, 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans.
  • State Capital - Tallahassee
  • Largest city - Jacksonville (though the Miami metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern US)
  • Date of Admission - March 3, 1845
  • Area - 65,755 sq mi (22nd)
  • Population (2011 est.) - 19,057,542 (6th) 
  • State Motto - "In God We Trust" 
  • State Nickname - The Sunshine State
  • State song - Swanee River (Old Folks at Home), Stephen C. Foster
  • State bird - mockingbird
  • State flower - orange blossom
  • State tree - cabbage palmetto
  • State University - The University of Florida
  • State Archives - State Archives of Florida
  • The State Historical Society of Florida (incorporated 1856)
  • The Florida Memory Project
Prominent Floridians- (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

There's nothing like a good ice cream sandwich.  With Independence Day having just passed and last week's post on "savory sandwiches," here's a recipe to make your own and enjoy, while you are lounging poolside or beachside.  From the Smitten Kitchen.

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapted from Sweet Designs by Amy Atlas

Yield: 10 to 12 2-by-4-by-1-inch ice cream sandwiches (24 cookies).
However, I made 10 large and 10 miniature (1-by-1.5-inch) sandwiches because while I was baking the large ones, my son toddled in from his nap and announced “Mommy making cookies! For Jacob!” and I realized he probably didn’t need a cookie nearly the size of his head. I am so very mean.

If you have a favorite cookie cutter shape you’d like to use for these sandwiches, definitely use it. You can cut the cookies and the ice cream with it. You could perhaps even make, say, star-shaped ice cream sandwiches for a 4th of July-themed cookout. You know, if you’re not me. 

Re, the cocoa weight below: Just about everyone on earth besides me finds that a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder weighs 80 to 85 grams. That’s what the number below is based on. However, I consistently find that my super-fancy Valrhona Dutch cocoa weighs in a bit higher, up to 5 to 10 grams more than you see below. So, you might nudge it up if you’re using the same. 

  • 2 2/3 cups (335 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup (75 grams) extra dark or Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks or 285 grams) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 gallon (8 cups or approximately 1050 grams, weight will vary by brand/variety) ice cream, your choice of flavor (I used cookies and cream), softened 
Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour and cocoa together (I am generally too lazy to sift things but cocoa is really lumpy so don’t skip this) and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy. Add the yolks and vanilla and mix until combined, then scrape down sides and mix briefly again. Add the flour mixture a little at a time then mix until combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. If the dough is too soft to handle, wrap and chill it until firm enough to roll out (I recommend 30 minutes only; any longer and it becomes crumbly to roll out). Roll each batch into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle, about 10 by 8 inches. Cut into a total of 24 20 2-by-4-inch rectangles. You may have enough extra to reroll the scraps and create 4 more 2-by-4-inch rectangles, in which case, you could make two additional sandwiches.

Use an offset spatula to transfer the rectangles to the prepared sheets; you’ll only need an inch space between them. Use the tip of a thermometer (totally brilliant tip from Amy, by the way; it made far better indentations than skewers that I usually use for docking) to poke the cookies with holes (Amy recommends 14 holes but I used this as my guide and made more).

Bake the cookies for 16 to 18 minutes, or until they stay firm when tapped in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, rerolling scraps as needed.

Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing it to overhang on two sides (it will act as a sling for the ice cream). Spread the softened ice cream into the pan, smooth the top and freeze until firm, about one hour (or longer if your freezer is as terrible as mine).

Run a knife along the exposed sides of the pan to loosen the ice cream. Holding onto the parchment paper, lift ice cream out of the pan and onto the work surface. Using one of the cookies as a template, cut ice cream into 10 to 12 2-by-4-inch bars (cut the number of cookie pairs your batch yielded). Strangely, I found using kitchen shears to go right through the ice cream and the paper underneath the easiest. I then flipped each piece of ice cream onto a cookie, peeled off the paper, and finished sandwiching the rectangle of ice cream with a second cookie.

(Look, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that this whole ice cream part caused a spectacular mess in my kitchen. Huge! It was an ice cream massacre! But, I was rushing and you should not. If your ice cream begins to soften, just slide it back into the freezer for a bit and it will become easy to work with again. Promise. Do as I say, not as I did, unless you like sticky floors.)

Wrap each ice cream sandwich in plastic and please, again, listen to Amy here. I was all “Oh, let me just get them cold again and I’ll wrap them later.” Which was wrong. They continue to lose their shape for a bit, runny and melting, before they freeze up and that is why my sandwiches were kind of a mess. “Sealing” them into their shape immediately with plastic is, well, the reason that Amy is a sweets stylist and my food looks, uh, “handmade.”

Freeze until just before serving.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Michigan - #26, January 26, 1837

Welcome to the Great State of Michigan.  Michigan is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes, only Lake Ontario does not border the Great Lakes State.  It is the only state to border more than two of the Great Lakes.  As a result, Michigan also has more lighthouses than any other state and the longest freshwater coastline in the world.  Michiganders are never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.  Michigan is the third leading grower of Christmas trees with 60,520 acres of land dedicated to Christmas tree farming. 

Michigan tends to produce a good number of US professional hockey players and this may be partly due to the city of Houghton.  Professional hockey started in the United States in Houghton, when the Portage Lakers were formed.

Michigan is the American leader in producing automobiles.  Native son Henry Ford along with automotive pioneers, including Ransom E. Olds, the Dodge Brothers, John and Horace, Henry Leland, David Buick, Henry Joy, and Charles King all contributed to the birth of the auto industry in Detroit and its environs.  In Battle Creek, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg inventor of the corn flake, promoted healthy living at his sanitarium there.  In the city of Manistee may be found the largest salt plant in North America, owned by the Morton Salt company.  The state also has two of the top four pizza chains that were founded in Michigan - Domino's and Little Caesars.

Though not the state he was born, Michigan is the home (and final resting place) of the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford.  The "accidental president," Ford served from the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 to his loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976, becoming the only President to never have been elected.  The Gerald R. Ford Museum is located in Grand Rapids and the Ford Presidential Library is in Ann Arbor.

The current Governor of Michigan is Rick Snyder, a Republican. The Senators for Michigan are both Democrats, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Michigan's Congressional delegation has 15 members, with Republicans holding an edge over Democrats, 9-6.
  • State Capital - Lansing
  • Largest city - Detroit
  • Date of Admission - January 26, 1837
  • Area - 96,716 sq mi (11th) (the largest state in area east of the Mississippi River)
  • Population (2011 est.) - 9,876,187 (8th) 
  • State Motto - "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice" "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."
  • State Nickname - The Wolverine State / The Great Lakes State
  • State animal - white-tailed deer
  • State bird - robin
  • State flower - apple blossom
  • State tree - Eastern white pine
  • State University - The University of Michigan (although Michigan State University has one of the largest enrollments of any U.S. school. Along with MSU and UMich, Wayne State University comprise the three major research institutions in the state.)
  • State Archives - The Archives of Michigan
  • The State Historical Society of Michigan
Prominent Michiganders - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two - it would appear that Michigan offered as much to the field of aviation as it did to the automotive industry)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever."
                                                                                - John Adams to Abigail, July 3, 1776
Today is the Fourth of July, the date on which we celebrate the American independence from Great Britain.  It is also my father's birthday (though born in France - he didn't realize what he had until he arrived here at the age of 7) - Happy Birthday Dad!

Over the past two weeks I have become intimately familiar and learned more about two new weather terms.  Microburst and Derecho.  The Brave Astronaut burg was hit my a microburst on Friday June 22, bringing down power lines and trees throughout the neighborhood.  The power went out all over town.  A 7,000 volt power line came down between the launchpad and our neighbor's house, electrifying their fence and nearly burning their house down.  You can watch this clip to see the launchpad in the background.  As a result of this storm, we were without power for 40 hours (and lost the contents of the refrigerator).

Last Friday, the National Weather Service warned the region that a strong line of storms was headed for the DC area.  The storms had formed near Chicago and were barreling toward the area at 70 miles an hour.  The storms were known as a derecho (Spanish for straight line).  The storms hit the area with fierce winds and rains, again bringing down trees and power lines.  This storm affected the entire area, knocking out power to nearly 1.5 million people.  Power restoration efforts were estimated to take a week.  While the Brave Astronaut clan lost their power for only 28 hours this time, the OSG clan did not get their power back until yesterday afternoon.

I want to say that while our local power company gets a very bad rap (they are also trying to secure a rate increase), they really performed an outstanding job at restoring power to our town after the microburst and then again after the derecho.  There are a number of people without power still and there have been calls to bury the power lines, hopefully avoiding outages in the future - but the money needed to do so is astronomical.  So we will soldier on and endure the occasional outage.

I wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.  Happy Birthday America!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Best Sandwiches

I have previously noted here that quite possibly my all-time favorite sandwich is Boar's Head Bologna (sliced thick) on White Bread with mayonnaise.  The other day I spotted this BuzzFeed post on "9 Sandwiches that Will Make Your Brown Bag Lunch Sing" (does anyone use brown bags anymore?).  Here's my favorite. 

Flank Steak on Texas Toast with Chimichurri

Serves 4

For the chimichurri and flank steak:
  • 1 1 1/2 to 2-pound flank steak
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley cleaned and large stems removed, finely chopped (by hand or use food processor)
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula, finely chopped (by hand or use food processor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (you can add to parsley and arugula in food processor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. For chimichurri, place all ingredients except flank steak into a bowl, stir to combine. For the steak, cover both sides of the steak with some of the chimichurri, put in ziplock bag and refrigerate for one or two hours. Cover and refrigerate the rest of the chimichurri. 
Searing the steak and making the sandwich:
  • 1 brioche pullman loaf or if you prefer a white pullman loaf
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 beefsteak or heirloom tomato, sliced
  • Soft butter for bread 
  • salt before you sear and pepper after
  • 2 tablespoons Chimichurri to mix with mayonnaise
  1. Remove steak from refrigerator approximately 45 minutes before you are going to cook it. Scrape off some of the chimichurri, salt the steak and let rest. While steak is resting prepare the other ingredients: slice tomato, slice bread in 1-inch thick slices, mix the mayonnaise and chimichurri.
  2. To sear the steak: First with a paper towel pat the steak to remove any excess moisture. In a very hot fry pan lay steak, let it sear without disturbing it. Cook approximately 3-4 minutes on each side for a medium rare steak. (You will have to judge exactly how long to sear based on the thickness of the steak.) Remove from pan, lay on cutting board, pepper the steak now, let rest 5-10 minutes.
  3. While steak is resting, heat a fry pan (if you have one with ridges it will make nice grill marks on the bread). Spread butter on each side of bread, place in hot pan and grill, about a minute per side.
  4. When steak has rested, slice thinly, cutting across the grain. To put your sandwich together, spread the chimichurri mayonnaise on each side of bread, lay meat on bread, then add the tomato, put the other slice of bread on top and enjoy.