We recently went on a short weekend getaway to Santa Barbara, and on the way home we decided to stop by the Mario Batali pizzeria in Los Angeles called “Mozza.” We shared a Fried squash blossoms with ricotta pizza which was excellent, but did lack a little bit of oomph. It was bland I guess, but good. We were sitting at the bar, watching the chefs prepare the dough, and learned a new technique to keep the bubbles in the edge. So we thought we would give it a try, and make a similar pizza in style, but with much more taste in it.
NO matter how much we want to push the envelope for sandwiches, we can’t possible fit this posting into that category. However, after growing fava beans over the winter (they call it winter here in San Diego, but it’s really similar to spring in Denmark), we have a tremendous harvest. Wendie came up with an amazing recipe for fresh fava beans, and in a moment of optimism, we decided to make a youtube video of the entire process.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, for once we have a non-sandwich recipe, and a video to go with it. Please let us know if this is something you want to see more of in the future, and what you think of the video. Wendie didn’t want me to tape her head for some reason, but if we do more I’ll make it happen to avoid further ‘headless presentations’ 🙂
There is something oddly alien and organic about beech mushrooms that just makes them pop in photos. As an added benefit, they also taste really good, and you can usually pick up a bunch from your local Asian grocery store. Cut of the base where they are all connected and treat them like ordinary mushrooms after that. This sandwich brings out the best of the mushrooms, because they are so prominent compared to the other ingredients. We opted for a brief sautéing with olive oil and thyme.
After a visit to the local 99c Market (Asian grocery store), we got inspired by their roasted ducks and decided to make a panini sandwich. We have to admit though, the duck was of pretty poor quality which ruined the sandwich once we ate it, but if we had had a decently home-roasted duck we both feel confident this would have been a great sandwich. We also partly made this because of Ujin, who at the time had been interviewing us for an article in a Chinese youth-magazine. Respectfully we named the sandwich after her.
I love it when I can turn Anders on to new and/or previously unloved foods. Much of our experience of food comes from our earliest introduction as children and it seems that taste memory is the longest memory. He must have had a bad introduction to anchovy as a child and hated it because he just cannot abide the stuff. Well he couldn’t until he had this pizza. Still, I can see how a child would be unenthusiastic about anchovies – salty, oily, and fishy. Lucky for me I wasn’t introduced to this taste trilogy until I was in college. A Bulgarian friend gave me a slice of fresh bread with butter and anchovies sprinkled with lemon juice. It was a delight and I have loved it ever since.
This pizza made an equal convert out of Anders: anchovies, with lemon slices, mozzarella, goat cheese and caramelized onions. The look on his face when I mentioned it – consternation. The look after his first bite – rhapsody!
Since this was my first attempt at chicken salad, I used a recipe from Food Network as my guide. But I changed it up tremendously to make it nearly unrecognizable. The chicken was grilled instead of poached; celery was replaced by fennel (celery is one of the few vegetables that I just don’t like); the herbs were doubled (many recipes are just too timid with the use of herbs); and some of the mayonnaise was replaced by sour cream (my attempt at a healthier and more tangy salad).
As one of our guests said when I won the weekly pizz-off pizza dinner with this pizza: “It’s not fair, no one can loose with seared tuna!” To be fair I have to concede the point I suppose, as even breakfast cereal with seared tuna would probably be awesome (someone try and let us know). The dough was new for us as our friends at Rossi Pasta sent us a few samples to cook with (Thanks guys). Probably one of our best tasting pizza’s ever.
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.
The quintessential American sandwich is the hamburger. That despite the fact that in nearly a decade of living here, I have yet to see a burger made with ham. Anders and I have very little experience with making burgers but as the owners of this blog, and having adopted America as our home, we have to powerful reasons to address this deficiency. And what better day to do that than on the grilling day of the year – Fourth of July. I know, I know – I am six months late in posting this entry.
This past week one of this blogs co-founders celebrated his birthday and was given a party that in true Amazing Sandwich style. Anders was not only born in Denmark but spent most of his life there and it is his and that country’s commitment to the sandwich that served as the inspiration for our blog. Denmark is the world that has transformed this humble meal to gourmet standards. So it was only appropriate that Anders’ birthday be celebrated with an ode to the smørrebrød. So last week saw me scurrying about to purchase the necessary ingredients that would make Ida Davidsen proud. Ida Davidsen is the Grande Dame of Danish smørrebrød and operates a Michelin-starred restaurant devoted solely to this national dish. We planned on three of Anders’ favorite Danish smørrebrød: leverpostej (liver pate), Fiskefilet med remoulade (fillet of fish with remoulade) and frikadeller (meatballs). Today’s entry will be devoted to the fiskefilet. I know you are thinking – what could be so special about a fish fillet? Let me tell you my friend, this is no mere fish on bread. The preparation, construction and… alone took me hours. We had 14 at our party and so in making for your own, you’ll need to adjust the ingredients accordingly.
For the past two months, we’ve been hosting weekly pizza parties. Well, truth be told, they have been competitive throw downs where our friends are invited to say goodbye to the week that was and bring their best recipes to battle it out for the pizza crown. We’ve had some pretty fantastic creations. After 8 weeks though, inspiration begins to wane. So we were quite excited to hear of the tastespotting.com Johnsonville Italian Sausage competition. Inspiration, the chance to get our pizza on our favorite food porn site AND the likelihood (albeit remote) of winning a food making competition. How could we not be excited?
Anders had this one on his mind for a whole week and came up with this creation: Johnsonville Italian Sausage Pizza with roasted garlic, Portobello mushrooms and topped with parmesan crisps and toasted pine nuts. Does it get any crazier than this? We hope you like it, and if you do please vote for us when the time comes.
If you’ve been in San Diego for the past few weeks, you would be wondering where is that glorious San Diego sunshine that we are known for. It’s been nothing but rain and overcast skies and nary a day above 70 degrees. Of course, for our mid-West and East coast friends, you are now reading this with great disdain for our inability to tolerate any temperature below 70. We can’t help it – we are spoiled. In my case though I don’t mind the colder weather as much as I mind what it means for the backyard garden. It is in the decline of production that I see the first signs of the end of summer, and am reminded that I need to get the jackets cleaned before the winter really hits us. The tomatoes have yielded the last of their crop; the cucumbers have given up their valiant fight; the basil plants are beginning to go to seed and the zucchini – that prodigious producer – has finally kicked the bucket. Time to pull up the old plants and start with the winter garden. In the meantime, here’s a sandwich that serves as an ode to summers past: grilled zucchini with parsley-jalapeno paste and roasted tomatoes. We made this in the good old days of summer.
Reason number 1099 why I love living in Southern California: fig season! We don’t have our own fig tree – a gardening oversight that we plan on remedying soon. We have the perfect spot picked out and Wendie has done her research to determine which variety to grow. More on that later. Between the local farmers markets and generous friends we’ve eaten more figs this season than in our entire lives. We love eating them fresh from the tree and have also experimented with making preserves, jams, sandwiches and this latest use – on pizzas. This little configuration was served as dessert in a recent pizza party: fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized figs and onions.
As we promised, we will be posting pizza recipes from all of our Pizza Cookoff Fridays. Actually, I should confess that that title is the more sanitized and hence publishable version of the actual title. Here’s another of our creations – this was week 2. This is a sauce less pizza (distinct from the saucy pizza with all her insolence and impertinent attitudes :-)) that we find works best early in the evening of pizza debauchery. Light and pleasing, it was a nice introduction and palate opener to the heavier pizzas that were to follow that night.
This summer we have introduced a new tradition in the Amazing Sandwich home – Pizza Cook-off Fridays. What started as dinner with a friend who came over to show us how to make pizza on the grill, has morphed into my new favorite evening of the week. The basic concept is this: get some friends together, Anders and I provide the dough and competitors bring their favorite wines and toppings for 3-4 hours of trash talking, ardent pizza making, even more ardent eating, and just a wonderfully good time. So far, we’ve had some awesome creations: classic margarita with fresh tomatoes from our respective gardens; pesto with grilled mushrooms; feta with hummus, grilled pork and finished with tahini drizzle; smoked salmon with thin lemon slivers; apricots with prosciutto and arugula. But my favorite so far was one entry from last weekend: sautéed leeks with garlic, grilled oyster and shimeji mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella and then topped with dollops of a whipped goat cheese/lemon zest blend and sprinkled with fresh thyme. It was divine. I mean really…it was soo good it bears repeating – it was divine! We whipped the goat cheese with a fork, added some lemon zest and bit of olive oil. After baking in the oven, it was so light and creamy and the lemon just gave it the perfect amount of tang. I can’t wait till Friday – we might just make this one again.