Spring has arrived in San Diego. The weather is warm, our vegetable beds are loaded with freshly planted tomatoes, and we are just finishing a couple retainer walls that give us a few hundred more feet of planting space. Life is good. And to celebrate, we made this lovely (and simple) roast beef panini sandwich.
We’re not sure this is a classic Danish open faced sandwich in the sense that the toppings are a bit untraditional. Fried sage and Dukkah? That’s not what you would typically see in a Danish sandwich shop. But the concept is very typical: Meatball sandwiches are seen everywhere and classic toppings includes sweet pickles, lettuce and mushrooms. We just improvised on the theme, adding a bit of San Diego flair…
Unlike many of my American friends who were tormented by liver as children, I actually do like liver. Well, I do if either my mother or I made the dish. Oh… and I shouldn’t forget that liver breakfast served by the Pegasus hotel in Jamaica. At least, they used to when I frequented that place about 10 years ago. Liver just happens to be one of those dishes that can so easily cross the very thin line between sumptuous and sickening, light and leathery. This is especially true of cow’s liver, which I have been unfortunate enough to dive it only to find myself masticating like a cow! For that reason, I prefer to eat liver only from people whose cooking abilities I can entrust my liver eating palate only to – those who have consistently demonstrated the ability to respect that line of demarcation. Until I discovered liver pate, I thought that was a realm occupied only by myself and the chef at Pegasus. Liver pate is one of those dishes that are remarkably forgiving of overcooking. I’ve never made liver pate myself but have been happily eating it since Anders introduced me to it on my first trip to Denmark a few years back. It is the key part of one of his favorite smørrebrød items.
We’ve found lately that mascarpone cheese is excellent for making all sorts of delicious mixes. Mascarpone pesto for example we used on a turkey sandwich a few weeks ago. This time we are taking it a notch up, and are making a mascarpone melt with Spanish valdeon cheese and black sesame seeds plus roasted garlic. We use this as a spread for the bread and a topping for the pastrami after melting it in the microwave. Great food !
What do you do when life gives you fried chicken? Well, our answer is to make fried chicken sandwiches of course (What else would you expect from this blog). This is a great ‘leftover’ sandwich for the day after, and as you can see we added a little bit of everything (including pasta, which we can consider optional, but we had to try). If you wonder why the cheese is melting up, it’s because we toasted the bread opened, and then put the top on :-). This is also one of those sandwiches that require an extra hour on the treadmill afterwards, so proceed at your own risk.
When I was a kid, every other weekend I would spend with my dad and my step-mom. They lived in an old house in a residential neighborhood outside Copenhagen, with a great big yard with lots of plants and flowers and tables tucked away in corners. We always ate lunch outside when the weather was good, and I remember at the time I didn’t like it that much because of the bees, but it really was an amazing place to enjoy a good meal.
When I came visiting, often the first thing that greeted me was the smell of baked liver Pâté. My step-mom made the best liver Pâté I’ve ever had, and while it baked the whole house would take on the flavor and everyone would start gathering in the kitchen when we knew it was just about time to remove it from the oven. Ten minutes before, we would start toasting some dark rye bread and setup lunch outside. We would all gather the plates, cutlery and work together as a team, knowing that the reward was just around the corner.
The sound of the old timer’s bell chiming was the most wonderful thing you’ll ever hear. As we sat outside in the sun, making our warm liver pâté sandwiches, a silence fell as we enjoyed that first bite.
Perhaps I make it sound overly romantic, but that’s my own experience with this pate. My step-mom’s secret ingredient was curry, and she never gave it away. A few years ago cancer overcame her, and we thought her recipe was lost forever. However, a couple of months ago while I was visiting Denmark, I asked my sister again if she had found the recipe, and to my surprise she had. Tucked away in a pile of papers that had gone unnoticed for years, there it was.
So now, for the first time in maybe 15 years, this pâté which I have named Maria’s Liver Pâté after my step-mom, has finally seen the light of day again.
And once more, the house smells like childhood and summer and bees and flowers, and everything is as it should be.
I consider this a variation on the veterinarians midnight snack, a classic Danish sandwich (In Danish: ‘Dyrlægens natmad‘. Try saying that one!). The bones of Anders’ Viking ancestors will rattle in their graves to protest me saying this, but in this variant, the inclusion of the roasted garlic and the removal of the aspic is a HUGE improvement. Together, those simple actions make this sandwhich palatable for me, a non-Dane. Anders thinks this presentation is a bit more playful, looking a bit like a rib cage or something medieval. I suppose, it’s his attempt at appeasing the spirits 🙂 It consists of liver pate on home-baked rye bread with butter, with a rolled up slice of ham. This is topped with half-moon slices of onion rings, roasted garlic and a couple of dill pickles. Fennel seeds and ground black pepper spices it up a bit.
For some, if not most, the concept of having a mashed potato sandwich may seem disturbing. However, if you find yourself wondering whether you are loosing your mind, you probably have never tasted one. They are delicious! So overcome your inhibitions, and make a mashed potato sandwich next time you have a little leftover. For this one I felt like adding flax seeds and ham. Since I want the ‘crunch’, I toasted half a ciabatta roll, and added fried onions on top for good measure. For a little hint of sourness, sweet dill pickles always does the trick, and a sprinkled of my newfound love, Dukkah, seals the deal.
This is one of my favorite lunch items in downtown San Diego. It is served, surprisingly, at Ralphs, and is not only a great sandwich, but also very affordable at just $5.99. I particularly enjoy the mesquite wood smoked turkey sandwich on nine grain & seed bread (Toasted), with cajun and horseradish mayo. I usually get all the veggies, lettuce, green pepper, onion, tomato, sweet pickles, olives, etc, and in this case swiss cheese.
While I can’t claim to be the chef, this sandwich was designed by me, so I think I can claim the recipe at least 🙂
Another variation of the roast beef sandwich, this one has a lot more bite with the added mustard and horseradish sauce.