Midnight Snackbox: Thomas Keller’s Spanglish Sandwich

Strange things happen when I’m sick with the flu. It happens a bit too often (according to the Bouch) but when it does I can take advantage of my stress free and congested sick day to play around in my home kitchen. Plus I get the munchies something awful when I’m sick.

If you haven’t seen the movie Spanglish starring Adam Sandler, then you aren’t missing much in the way of cinematic excellence. What you are missing, is arguably the world’s greatest sandwich designed by arguably the greatest American chef Thomas Keller. He consulted on the movie – Adam Sandler plays a successful chef – and created a simple yet mind-blowing sandwich everyone with a full set of teeth needs to try.

The video of Mr Keller teaching Mr Sandler, with recipe, is here.

I’ve been making this sandwich myself quite often these past few days; mainly for 1 reason: I have in my possession a package of smoked streaky beef bacon from EgySwiss. The same beef bacon we use over at Top Dawgs. While it’s not as fatty as I would like (Oscar Meyer turkey bacon from La Fromagerie is still a superior albeit more expensive product) a few experiments allowed me to get around the lamentable lack of fats. What’s wrong with no fat? Well 2 things: First, fat is flavor, so there’s that. and #2, the beef bacon dries up too quickly. As it stands now, the packaged bacon is sliced too thinly – a thicker cut may yield a better cooked product. But the flavor is pretty damn good.

The solution is to shallow fry the bacon in some foaming butter over a medium heat. after flipping once, I lay them out on a rack and allow them to crisp up in a 140C oven till I get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Other notable departures from Chef Keller’s recipe were the omission of the cheese and the lettuce – I’m not usually a fan of cheese on my sandwiches (personal preference) and I had no lettuce. I did add caramelized onions and Dijon mustard to provide a bit more kick to the entire affair. It’s important to remember that the key is a runny egg yolk – overeasy eggs need not apply.

This is what I ended up eating in 30 seconds.

Now I realize that most of you won’t be getting your hands on EgySwiss’ Beef Bacon any tme soon since their not available for commercial retail. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope – EgySwiss also has a very good smoked duck breast, which when sliced thinly and fried up in butter will hit the same flavor notes, just not the same textural ones. You could even go native and use Al Marai Bastirma (or other low garlic bastirma) and make yourself a posh Egg and Bastirma sandwich.

You’re welcome.

Cooking Time 10 minutes.


Warning: Wall of Text. Spoiler: Recipe.

There *will* be a recipe at the end of this, but I encourage you to read every bit of what I’m about to say because, well, this blog would be pointless without my pearls of wisdom. It *is* my blog, and I’m allowed to think it’s the greatest thing since my own experiments with German-style soft pretzels. More on that in a later post; but by all means, read on! Read more of this post

NHCIA Test Kitchen: Mushroom Risotto

My mother hates risotto. “Gloopy, overcooked rice” is what she calls it and, if you’ve only ever had risotto in faux-Italian restaurants, that would be an apt description. Most people (and unfortunately, expert cooks) tend to think that a risotto should be thick and pasty, thick enough to be piled into a mold and hold its shape. Yet others believe that a risotto should be finished with heavy cream, turning their risotto into rice swimming in an Alfredo sauce. Both results are equally unappetizing and ruin the good name of risottos everywhere. Read more of this post

Beachy Snacks

Originally submitted to Campus July 2009 – not sure if it was published or not

We all get the beach munchies. Has something to do with the iodine in the sea water that makes us peckish while we tan (or, in my case, burn). So I’ve been tasked with providing you with recipes for foods to eat, as opposed to the regular Soda and Chips combination of your less imaginative friends.

The trick here is to choose seasonal ingredients, prepared very quickly and ones that will keep well in the sun for hours. In addition, the emphasis was on snacks, so it can’t be heavy or cloying; ideally it should replenish your nutrients lost while sweating your socks off, as well as being refreshing. The food also can’t be messy or fussy; so to that end, I’ve come up with 3 little plates that can be eaten only with a fork. Or chopsticks, if you’re Asian. Either way, I’m assuming you’re gonna be with three other friends. So scale up or down as you see fit.

Recipes follow after the jump:

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On Homecooking

My mother makes the best comfort food. I’ve got 4 brothers spread out over the planet, so it’s getting increasingly rare for us to all get together and have a “family meal”. But when it does happen; my Mom swings into action, drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mother to bring out a whole assortment of dishes to create our perfect family meal. The smorgasbord of meat, vegetable and starches she puts together takes a full day to make; but is devoured in less than an hour. Koshary, Chicken Pane, Lasagna, Stuffed Potatoes, Okra Stew (Bamia), Macaroni with Béchamel Casserole, Smoked Kofta in Red sauce with White Rice, Gratinated Potato Casserole, Goulash (minced beef and vegetables layered under filo pastry), Molokheyya with Red Sauce and a huge bowl of Garden Salad. Neither the table nor our stomachs have room for dessert.

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On Egyptian flavors, and Caramelised Onions

<Originally Published in G-Mag>

Everyone is aware of the four basic taste families – Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter. There also happens to be a fifth, called “Umami”. This is a Japanese term which describes the “meatiness” that you taste when eating a steak or grilled mushrooms. A great tasting dish typically has at least 3 of these different taste profiles.

Egyptian food hasn’t got the most glamorous reputation, but the flavor profiles can be astounding; let’s take a look at two of them:

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Tart Au Citron

I love me a good Lemon Tart – the tangier the better. The last time I had one was in Paris, and it was good – but I’ve been thinking about trying my own hand at making a Tart-Au-Citron. I was already prepping my test kitchen for a batch of Modified Nanaimo Bars, and halfway through I decided to ignore the canadian refrigerator treat for a French Classic.

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