Month: May 2015

Breakfast of Champions!

Bagel, Salami and Cheese

A breakfast sandwich composed of Soppraseta, Swiss Cheese and a well-toasted bagel

bagel_with_cheese_and_salami

When I first called this “The Breakfast of Champions” I was being facetious. Unlike its eponymous namesake, it has basically all the wrong things going for it. It’s high in fat (thanks to the salami). It’s high in sodium, thanks to the cheese and the salami, and it’s high in sugar due to the massive carb-load of the bagel. Also, it doesn’t even contain eggs (which Hazel Grace would object to). That being said, it tastes really, really good, and is perfect for those about to trek out into the cold, cruel word who need to be fortified for a long time.

I use three ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bagel
  • Jarlsberg (Swiss) Cheese
  • Salami

Though it’s a simple makeup,  it’s always about personal preference. If you want to add stuff  to change its texture or flavor, like mustard, banana peppers, cole slaw, or any typical sandwich topper, go ahead.  But bagel sandwiches do get messy, even when prepared correctly.   So, if you’re going to do it, you have to do it right.  (This assumes you don’t have one of those assembly line toasters that have frustrated legions of college students and hotel buffet visitors).  And doing it right means cooking it in three stages:

Directions:

1. Toast the bagel (lightly).

2. Melt the cheese on the bagels.  (I use foil to ensure no over-melting onto toaster parts)

3. Finish by covering the melted-cheese bagel with salami and toasting on high, or broil (if you promise not to walk away from the toaster).

4. When salami is crisp, and cheese bubbly, remove from toaster and let set, two-three minutes.  If you don’t allow it to cool, the cheese will slide off.   Let it set and cut into halves (or make a sandwich).

 

More on this sandwich

My father used to make this for breakfast, where I grew up outside of metro New York City.  There, you can’t fall down without hitting a great bagel.  Now, I live in Massachusetts and look though I might, it seems great bagels are hard to come by.  You can argue with me, but you can’t win.  It’s a matter of taste and birthright; if you were born in the tri-state area, you likely have a higher standard for bagels than the rest of the country.  I don’t why that is, but I know that people who move to Massachusetts from California simply stop eating Mexican food.  Is our Mexican food bad? No, it’s just that they are used to something very different, likely more authentic, and in all reality (with few exceptions), much much better.   And really, Mass is kind of weird that way.  Though I have eaten in Chinese restaurants around the country and on both coasts, only here in Massachusetts did I find Chinese restaurants that serve rolls with dinner.   Bread rolls.  Rolls made of bread. But I digress.

So there are two keys to making this sandwich perfect.  One, start with the best ingredients.  I find the Applegate Naturals soppressata is a reliably tasty item.   Sure, we could argue about the

Salami, Swiss Cheese and an Everything Bagel

Making a great meal, even for the low arts, starts with the best ingredients (when you’ve got ’em).

history of soppressata and cured meats and I don’t doubt there are better, more authentic versions out there.  But Applegate is good and easily available;  and it in comes in a package (horrors!) which makes it easier to keep inventory control.   Jarlsberg, is of course, the most famous brand of Swiss Cheese, and is frequently sold in triangles, guaranteeing it will be nearly impossible to slice.  However, you’ll need to slice it.
The second thing is patience.  You may want to simply toast everything together, but  I find skipping any of these steps results in things being soggy where you want them to be crispy or spongy where you want them to be melty.

 

Even Better than Perfection Oatmeal Cookies

Butterscotch, cranberries for perfect oatmeal cookies

Butterscotch Extract and Apple Juice-infused Cranberries, ridiculous but necessary

I wrote earlier of my quest to make the perfect Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie, pushed forward to insane measures by the nearly perfect cookie available from Petsi’s Pies in Cambridge, MA.  Though my first attempts resulted in an excellent cookies, I knew that I could do better, and in fact, had to do better.   So I kept trying out recipes.  Of course, when you’re experimenting with cookies you realize there’s almost no such thing as a bad oatmeal cookie.  You just eat your mistakes.  No one was complaining, but I wasn’t satisfied. I was trying for a particular taste and texture.  In other words, on a mission from God.    Remembering a chocolate chip recipe that used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, I started looking specifically for an oatmeal cookie recipe that used bread flour and found one at Averiecooks.com (that was itself modified from a Land O’Lakes recipe). I use Kate’s for all my butter baking, just FYI, but this was a great recipe. Of course it needed some tweaks.  A little more butter, salt, vanilla and natch, the secret ingredient of butterscotch.   I think 1/4 tsp is the right amount but if someone tasting it immediately says “these have butterscotch in them!” you’ve used too much.

Keep your butter and eggs and room temperature. If you can’t find infused cranberries, you can always just buy regular and soak ’em.  I used to soak them in a vanilla/water base for 30 minutes but ultimately I found that it didn’t hurt to use them dry.  But if you want people to ask for you the recipe (as I was asked for) than you go that extra few miles.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butterscotch extract
  • ~2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4  heaping teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole rolled old-fashioned oats (not quick cook)
  • 1 cup apple juice infused cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a stand mixer, cream your butter and sugar for about five minutes and add the egg.
  2. Add the rest of the wet ingredients slowly; vanilla and butterscotch extract and mix till incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix some but NOT ALL of your dry ingredients: the bread flower, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a third bowl you can mix your cranberries and walnuts.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients inside the stand mixer bowl, but ignore the paddle and mix with a spatula (I find this better than mixing it with the stand mixer).
  6. When sufficiently mixed, add your oats.
  7. Then add the cranberry-walnut mixture.  Mix with the paddle attachment but DO NOT OVERMIX.  Just enough to to ensure incorporated ingredients.
  8. Transfer mixture to cellophane wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, but ideally overnight.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Non-Stick Baking Mat set aside.
  10. Use a cookie/ice cream scoop to form mounds, but after you’ve set them up (I get about 12 to a tray) use a metal spatula sprayed with PAM to flatten the cookie.  I found this necessary because otherwise the mound of cookie doesn’t melt to the proper width (for my taste).  I am aiming for a crispy and chewy cookie; the mounds end up softer and chewier; flattening them allows more crispiness.
  11. Bake for 13-15 minutes (depending on your oven, your cookie tray and your altitude). For more on the difference between your pans and baking time, read this incredible article from King Arthur Flour.
  12. Let the cookies set up on the tray, at least five minutes, before transferring them to another location, like a cookie rack, or your mouth.

This recipe is dedicated to Mike B, Justin and F.Y. Ruts, and the guys from the Chinatown Collective.