Sometimes we do crazy stuff to our sandwiches which doesn’t work out so well, like our infamous pasta-sandwich. If you don’t try it how would you know, right? This time we did crazy stuff, and it worked out wonderfully, although by any stretch of the imagination this sandwich should not have worked. Perhaps one really can’t do any evil with seared tuna….
On a recent Pizz-Off!, we had three amazing pizzas. Two were made by our friends, and this one was our entry into our competition. If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the abundance of butternut squash now making its appearance in fall farmers markets, this is it! I love butternut squash. I have got to find a new way of expressing my pleasure about foods, since I seem to ‘love’ everything. But it really is true. There are very few foods that I don’t absolutely delight it and can’t find a way to work into a tasty meal. That has served me well since I’ve managed to quiet some of Anders initial protests and converted him to many foods that he had previously sworn off: Swiss chard, oxtail, sweet potatoes. Anyway, back to the butternut squash. I think it was about our 7th or 8th pizza night and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a new recipe to serve. When you have a pizza competition with friends every Friday, with each friend making a different pizza, you begin to stretch creativity. Then I remembered my birthday gift to Anders last year – a cooking class at Sur la Table. For that class, we prepared butternut squash ravioli with fried sage. It was wonderful-so much so that the following weekend we made our own homemade version. We haven’t made it since then (an oversight I will have to remedy soon!) So this pizza for me is reminiscent of that meal and combines all the flavors of that meal on a pizza : Butternut squash with fried sage and caramelized onions.
Note: This pizza is a little involved but it’s so worth it. You can prepare some of the ingredients (the squash and the onions) in advance to save time on the day of. I unfortunately thought up this recipe while at work. With two hours to prepare the ingredients before the guests arrived, I had to shop, roast squash, caramelize onions and the most critical thing – clean the kitchen! I needed every second of those 2 hours.
Inspired by the very thought of China, we decided to attempt to make a couple of ‘Chinese’ sandwiches – at least in inspiration. The first is a roasted duck sandwich on a steamed sweet bun. You will notice the green onions sticking out of the bun… That was Anders trying to make it look like a dragon, then giving up. Instead it looks a bit like a large bald caterpillar head.
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.
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.
This was a pizza Anders put together during one of our weekly pizz-off’s, where we wave goodbye to the old week… with a friendly pizza competition amongst friends. The goal is not to win, but to have a great time (and win). Our newfound love for smoked paprika once again manifested itself in a generous sprinkle on top, which has the odd side effect of producing some rather red-tinted photos (for which we apologize). As we were all sitting around the table, sipping red wine like the pro’s, we reminisced about our childhood cardboard-pizzas from the nearby Domino’s or local pizza pusher, and wondered why we didn’t make our own pizzas while in college when it’s really not that hard and so much better.
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.
The Belen Artisan Bakery is owned by José. It is located in Escondido a bit of the beaten path. They specialize in European artisan breads, and so naturally we went there only to find they made sandwiches. We had a roast beef sandwich on ciabatta bread, with avocado, tomato and olives. The bread was perfect; just a bit crunchy on the outside, thick, and fresh and spongy on the inside, and you could clearly taste the freshness that so many sandwiches lack. Service was speedy, and sitting outside on their little patio a delight, despite the odd location and nearby road.
This sandwich is literally a result of a quick raid of our refrigerator. We found some shrimp and olives, the last of our sun dried tomato hummus, and a bit of blue cheese. So, we made a sandwich (of course). You may recognize the cilantro-lime shrimp from earlier sandwiches, as they constitute a quarterly craving. Moving from Denmark to San Diego, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy are the large shrimp. Every shrimp I ate growing up (not many) were tiny, no more than an inch long, and thin to. We did shrimp in numbers, and adding those to a sandwich like this would have taken maybe 25 to 30. It’s such a joy to bite into the larger more succulent shrimp and really taste the meat, although the danish ones are by no means bad at all.
This is a one-bite sandwich with two thing slices of baguette bread. A bit of pesto, some farmers market salami, tomato from the garden and a touch of green onions. It is great as an appetizer or a very small mid-day snack (Which is how we enjoyed this sandwich).
There are some thinks that don’t translate so well across cultures. Bagels might be one of them. It was a dreary afternoon in Copenhagen, Denmark, when I walked into the Bagels Corner. A bit hungry I could not get myself to settle for a plain cream cheese bagel, so instead I opted for the luxury bagel (Choice of smoked salmon, shrimp, pesto chicken, Mexican chicken, etc). I decided on pesto chicken, and selected a whole-wheat bagel with rolled oats on top. Looked great. Then the lady asked me for what type of cream cheese I wanted. Cream cheese? Whaaaat? I decided to see where this would go, so I picked the herb-cream cheese. She added a generous layer. Then the pesto chicken (lots of it), then lettuce, cucumber, corn, and finally she asked me to pick a dressing. I selected the curry dressing. Again she added a generous layer on top, and closed up the bagel. Oh dear!
The last of the nine pizzas we made for Wendie’s birthday. That was quite an evening. This pizza was another one with an odd shape, but we have learned to ignore the shape, and just enjoy the taste. The smoked paprika is fantastic on pizza where it really shines through after the baking.
So many things have happened the last month, it’s hard to recap it all in one sandwich post… Let’s see… We got married and had a wonderful ceremony and party in our own back yard (fixed up for the occasion) with Anders’ sister Birgit as the Deputy Marriage Commissioner (for a day). What a fantastic day it was, lots of friends, family and food, but alas, no sandwiches. It turns out after much thinking that teaching everyone to make sandwiches would be too much work, as would assembling any great sandwich for 70 people. Instead we opted for Phil’s BBQ and some of our own appetizers. The sandwich below is pre-wedding, from back in March when we still had time to do daily sandwiches, and had a kitchen to do them in. It’s a wonderful turkey sandwich with a great old Rembrandt Gouda Cheese on top, and a chili-sauce kick to it.
One of the pizzas from Wendie’s surprise birthday party, this one has some grilled chicken (with a very nice spice blend including smoked paprika), two cheeses, olives, tomatoes, green peppers and onions. The dough is a pizza dough with honey I sort-of invented (based loosely on our Lavash crackers recipe), and the tomato sauce has a wide range of spices, most noticeably a hint of fennel. We had 13 guests and I made a total of 9 pizzas and I was stunned that there were almost no leftovers. I really had expects to fill the freezer too, but at least everyone had a great time. Next time I’ll make more!