Spice of the Week!
White pepper: This tart, slightly sour pepper is great on fish and in soups. It looks really cool in a clear grinder with black lava salt.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Open Faced Sandwiches
Open faced sandwiches are the veritable IKEA of food -- Scandanavian, clean-cut, versatile, stylish, and of highly questionable quality. However, with a little creative thought you can leave those particle-board cabinets behind and move onto that awesome $20,000 couch you saw online (at least in terms of sandwiches). If you follow a few simple rules, the open faced sandwich will soon become your go-to goodie for snacks, dates, and company alike.
Ok, so a few conventions for building good open faced sandwiches:
1st) Contrast. In flavor, color, temperature, and/or texture, contrast is the basic building block of a proper open faced sandwich. It gives you complexity and something entertaining in a surprisingly small package
2nd) Color. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR SANDWICHES HAVE COLOR! I really loathe colorless sandwiches because the flavor of an open-faced sandwich is typically commensurate with the amount of color in it. Mind you the addtion of color doesn’t need to be difficult. A leaf of spinach, a piece of cilantro, a crasin -- any of those will do.
3rd) Creativity. Mix it up! I mean seriously, it’s a piece of bread with some stuff on it. Repetition is your worst enemy. If you find something that works run with it, but don’t be afraid to mix up your repertoire and try new things.
So now that I’ve gotten the basic conventions out of the way, I’ll give you a recipe for one of my favorite open faced sandwiches. I figured it out when I was scrounging around for dinner at my grandmother’s house in D.C.
Apple Maple Sandwiches.
Bread or crackers (the quantity is very, very, fluid and just depends on what you like and how much of it you want.
2-3 apples (any kind works)
1/3rd cup maple syrup (or dark agave if you’re a hipster)
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Rosemary or sage (to your heart’s content)
Some sort of green (mesclun, baby spinach, cilantro, anything with a bit of flavor)
Core and slice the apples, throw them into a saucepan with the maple syrup. Add the rest of the seasonings and cook on low heat until the apples are basically transparent and candied. You might need to throw in a little water, more syrup, or something (frankly I’ve got no idea because I’ve never actually measured any of the portions for this recipe). The apples should be sweet, salty, spicy, and herbacious. When the apples are done take your bread (if it's store bought sliced bread toast it. If it is hard-crust bread then you don’t need to toast it unless you want to.) Place a leaf of your green on the slice of bread then put your apples on top of it. I like to top it off with a cube of unripened cheese (if you live in an area where it's available, I’d recommend queso fresco. If not, you can make your own out of milk and lemon juice, but that's another blog entry.) Serve within a few hours. Serves 8-10.
A few quick after thoughts, I like to cut my bread into pieces which are approximately 1x2 inches. It makes for a bite-size piece and better presentation. . . because small things are cute. Also the portions are deliberately vague because, truth be told, I’ve got no idea what they are. I think they’re close to what I wrote, so you can take that as a guide, but you should really experiment a bit. Pay attention to the apples while they’re cooking and improvise and you’ll probably do well. I’ll post the recipe for the cheese in a later entry, but it’s three A.M. and I need to get some shut-eye.