Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Tesh

Homemade Instant Oatmeal (not a sandwich, but who cares)

Every morning before gently coaxing uplifting melodies from his piano, John Tesh has a bowl of oatmeal. He also has a beautiful wife to tenderly caress and a nationally syndicated radio program, so I bet some mornings he doesn’t have a ton of time to slow cook those steal cut oats.  But maybe John Tesh doesn’t know that you can make your own instant oatmeal. Quick-cooking oats, the kind you can buy from the bulk bins, are the same as instant oatmeal.  And when you buy all of your own ingredients and mix it up yourself, you end up with a far tastier product and can save yourself a little money too.

What you will need:

Plastic baggies (you can reuse them too!), a giant bag of quick cooking oats (depending on your preference you can buy organic, certified gluten free, etc.), salt, maple sugar* (or brown sugar), any number of toppings**.

1. Get out as many baggies as days you want to eat oatmeal.  I usually make about two work-weeks’ worth at a time, so for this example I’m going with 10 baggies.

2. Put one ¼ cup of quick cooking oats in each baggie.

3. Put one pinch of salt in each baggie

4. Put something sweet in each baggie
*I have been using maple sugar which you can usually find next to maple syrup at a fancy pants grocery store.  I like it because it is a whole food, and one serving (1 tablespoon) has only 8g of sugar in it, so it’s not too sweet.  This part of the process is pretty subjective depending on how sweet you like your oatmeal and how much sugar you want to consume.

5. Add in your toppings
**This is where shit gets as creative as the Tesh.  You can basically put whatever dried fruit or nuts you want in there.  Here are a few suggestions:

Flax seeds
Roasted hazelnuts (chopped)
Dried apples
Raisins (duh)
Banana chips (or you can add fresh banana at the point of consumption)
Toasted walnuts (chopped)
Dried strawberries
Coconut flakes
Dates (chopped)
Okay, basically any dried fruit or nut you want.  You can also try those freeze dried fruits. I add about 1 tablespoon of each topping (except if its something like cinnamon) to each baggie. The hazelnuts are my favorite, btw.

6. Add in some more oats that you have ground up.  This step is optional, but highly recommended.  Take one tablespoon of oats for every baggie (so for this example, 10 tablespoons) and grind them up in a blender or coffee grinder.  Then put 1 tablespoon of this oat powder into each baggie.  This makes the oatmeal extra thick and creamy and amazing.

When it comes time to eat it, you can mix up this oatmeal just like you would any other instant oatmeal! You can add some water and microwave it, or you can boil some water and pour it in, just stir it up and wait a few minutes (maybe 4?)  I like the boil some water method, because at the same time you can make a cup of tea to go with it. Tesh would do it like that.

I put all my little baggies in a giant bag and keep them in my drawer at work, since I eat my oatmeal at my desk in the morning.  I also add one serving of pumpkin seed protein powder to my oatmeal when I mix it up, because I’m usually eating it after I work out at the gym.

Oatmeal can help you achieve anything! Check out the video below, with a full-length version of the NBA theme that Tesh wrote! (totally dig that Russian violinist)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Cecil Day-Lewis

National Portrait Gallery, London
Onion Butter and Aged Cheddar

If you're a ruggedly handsome academic or artist laboring over your latest opus, you don't have time for hanging out in the kitchen making three meals a day. And more than likely you've locked yourself into your study while you ruminate on works of great artistic and social import.  If you have a mistress or a mistror (what's the male equivalent of mistress?), hand them this recipe and tell them to leave you alone for the day.  If you're between passionate affairs, this is easy to get going in the morning and you can just check in on it when you're passing through smoking your pipe.  Also it will last you for quite a while in the fridge, so you won't have to worry about meals until after you're done defending your thesis. I'm not even going to mince words here, this is so good I could basically live off of this...

Makes a bunch of sandwiches

4-5 pounds of sweet yellow onions (like walla wallas or mayans, essentially you want the squatty kind)
1/3-1/2 cups of olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt

AGED sharp, super sharp, cheddar (sure you could use regular cheddar, but if you have an extra couple of dollars it's worth splurging on something that's been aged for at least a year for this sandwich, trust me.)

Sliced Como, or if you're economizing cheap ol' sourdough or even shepherder's bread, maybe whole wheat would work, but I wouldn't do one that was on the sweet side, like honey whole wheat.

For the Onion Butter:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Dice up the onions and put them in a glass casserole dish, add the olive oil and salt and mix well until the olive oil is evenly distributed. 

Roast the onions for about 2 hours, stirring every 30 or 40 minutes, until they are a golden yellow color. 

Transfer the onions to a crock pot set on low and cook for 6+ hours, stirring very occasionally, until they become a super dark, sweet paste.  At first I left the lid off so the water could evaporate, but put the lid on for the last couple of hours.  Taste the mixture every so often and adjust salt to taste.  If you want you can puree it in a food processor to get a smoother spread, but that's optional. Put into jars and store in the fridge.

For the Sandwich:

Toast the bread a little, spread on a generous amount of the onion butter. Add some slices of cheddar and you're ready to retire to your study for another 6 hours of composing/writing/painting.

The Grilled Cecil:

You MUST try this at some point in you life. It is the best sandwich I've ever eaten.

Heat up a frying pan or griddle. Butter two slices of bread, assemble like before and grill it up like a grilled cheese.


If buttering this up is too much for you, toast it in the oven.  My best friend Shannon would call this a "Toasted Cecil". Preheat the oven to a high temperature, maybe something like 425 degrees. Toast the bread lightly, assemble the sandwich and put in the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts, flip, and toast in the oven another minute or two.

Vegan Cecil:

Daiya makes an awesome cheddar. I'd use that and make it grilled or toasted.

Cabbage Soup

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
(1 onion, if no onion butter is to be used)
Assorted fresh or dried herbs such as sage, thyme, parsley or rosemary
4 cups of water
2 bullion cubes
1 tablespoon of onion butter
1/2 cabbage chopped

You may have noticed there is no vegetable associated with this sandwich.  So I decided to tote this to work with a thermos of cabbage soup.  I know, kinda "theme-y".  Anyway, this soup has cabbage, onions, garlic, a turnip, carrots... You could add a couple of potatoes, or substitute it for the turnip, basically throw whatever you think a DND character would have in his knapsack into this soup. Like some venison drippings or a level 1 monster carcass.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute some garlic (and diced onions if you don't have any onion butter), then throw in the 2 carrots and one turnip. I also added some fresh herbs I got from the Urban Farm Collective, a sprig of sage, a sprig of lemon thyme, and a handful of fresh parsley (all chopped finely). Cook this for about 10 minutes then add 4 cups of water, 2 bullion cubes (modify according to package directions) and 1 tablespoon of onion butter.  Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until cabbage is tender (maybe 15-20 minutes).

The following is my favorite poem by Cecil Day-Lewis. It perfectly captures the struggle between the comforts of domesticity and languishing in boredom.

On Not Saying Everything

This tree outside my window here,
Naked, umbrageous, fresh or sere,
Has neither chance nor will to be
Anything but a linden tree,
Even if its branches grew to span
The continent; for nature’s plan
Insists that infinite extension
Shall create no new dimension.
From the first snuggling of the seed
In earth, a branchy form’s decreed.

Unwritten poems loom as if
They’d cover the whole of earthly life.
But each one, growing, learns to trim its
Impulse and meaning to the limits
Roughed out by me, then modified
In its own truth’s expanding light.
A poem, settling to its form,
Finds there’s no jailer, but a norm
Of conduct, and a fitting sphere
Which stops it wandering everywhere.

As for you, my love, it’s harder,
Though neither prisoner nor warder,
Not to desire you both: for love
Illudes us we can lightly move
Into a new dimension, where
The bounds of being disappear
And we make one impassioned cell.
So wanting to be all in all
Each for each, a man and a woman
Defy the limits of what’s human.

Your glancing eyes, your animal tongue,
Your hands that flew to mine and clung
Like birds on bough, with innocence
Masking those young experiments
Of flesh, persuaded me that nature
Formed us each other’s god and creature.
Play out then, as it should be played,
The sweet illusion that has made
An eldorado of your hair
And our love an everywhere.

But when we cease to play explorers
And become settlers, clear before us
Lies the next need – to re-define
The boundary between yours and mine;
Else, one stays prisoner, one goes free.
Each to his own identity
Grown back, shall prove our love’s expression
Purer for this limitation.
Love’s essence, like a poem’s, shall spring
From the not saying everything.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Hey Girl

Image from Feminist Ryan Gosling
Roasted Winter Squash, Chevre, Arugala, Roasted Onions

I'm usually not one for celebrity crushes.  I always figure that the actual person is probably nothing like what Hollywood PR machines want us to believe anyway.  But the tumblr "Feminist Ryan Gosling" has totally won me over.  I know I know, Ryan Gosling didn't actually say any of those things, but it's nice remembering that there actually are dudes out there who are down with the feminist cause.  Feminist men, while rare, are not mythological.  I think I know almost 10 of them! So this sandwich is dedicated to all of the awesome feminist dudes out there who know that gender stereotypes hurt everyone!

I had two small winter squash from the Urban Farm Collective, and roasted them with garlic, fresh rosemary and some cayenne pepper.  This sandwich is sweet and spicy just like The Baby Goose!  You might be thinking, "Squash AND bread? Think of the Carbs!!!" And I say there are way more important things to worry about, like meth and karma.

Makes 4 sandwiches

1 medium onion
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 small or 1 medium/large winter squash like butternut, etc...
2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
pinch of salt
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
dash of cayenne pepper

1 loaf of whole wheat French bread
Dijon mustard

On Sunday Night:

Preheat your oven at 375 degrees

For the onions, peel your onion and cut in half, then slice thinly.  Put into a casserole dish and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

For the squash, peel and slice your squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and cut it into cubes.  Put into a separate casserole dish and toss with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, two cloves of crushed garlic, and two sprigs of chopped fresh rosemary. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on top, just to add a little heat. (I also put some beets in yet another casserole dish and roasted those to go with some sauerkraut as a side for dinner.  And while it was all in the oven, I cooked up some holuski [a Czech staple of noodles and cabbage] for dinner.)
Put the squash and the onion into the oven and roast the onions for 30 minutes (tossing once or twice in the middle), and the squash for about 40 minutes or more, depending on the type of squash, until tender maybe even kind of soft, but not full on mushy. I ended up with something that was almost like squash homefries; they were a little crispy around the edges. They were so tasty, it was a real effort not to just eat them all up right out of the oven.
Once everything was done roasting, I let them cool slightly and packed them up to go in the fridge for the next day.

On Monday Morning:
This week I'm using whole wheat French bread.  I cut off a large chunk and sliced that in half and toasted it under the broiler for a few minutes.  Then I spread some Dijon mustard on one side, veganaise on the other, and spooned some of the squash onto one side, then layered onions, chevre, and arugala on top.
This went pretty well with a tart granny smith apple, but would've gone better with some Baby Goose.
Image from Feminist Ryan Gosling

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Beachey

Broiled baby portabellas with a smoked paprika marinade, horseradish sauce, chevre, red onion, frisee

Lincoln Beachey was a pioneer of early aviation, and one cool customer.  Many dudes died trying to imitate Beachey's aerobatic tricks, and he had a girlfriend in every major town.  In 1914, everyone basically had a boner for Beachey. A man of firsts, first to fly inverted, first to fly inside a building, the first to achieve terminal velocity, etc, etc... I bet he could work up a serious appetite .  If I had to guess what the first inflight meal was, I'd bet it was a sandwich.  Leaving one had free to steer your flying machine over Niagara Falls or to propose to one of your several girlfriends, the sandwich gets the job done while you fearlessly stun America with the marvels of flight.

Makes 4 sandwiches

8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms
2 lemons
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
4 teaspoons of good quality smoked paprika
lots and lots of fresh ground pepper

1 baguette cut into 4 equal pieces
horseradish sauce
red onion
2 small tomatoes (or one large one) 
1 package chevre
frisee (or plain ol'lettuce)

On Sunday/Tuesday Night (I made half the mushrooms, enough for 2 sandwiches at a time, so they were fresh ones for Wednesday and Thursday's sandwiches):

For the mushrooms, (proportions are for each time) brush/clean half of the baby portabellas and pop off the stems.  Juice 1 lemon  into a small casserole dish, or even better a gratin/tian dish. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of good quality smoked paprika, and lots and lots of fresh ground pepper.  Add the mushrooms, roll them around in the marinade, then put them gill side up and spoon some marinade into each of the caps.  Let them sit for like 10 minutes.  Turn on your broiler, and pop in the mushrooms for 10 minutes.  Take them out, let them cool, and then slice them up and put them in a container and into the fridge.

Before Work:

Slice your baguette in half and toast under the broiler for a few minutes.

Spread the horseradish sauce on both sides.

(Note: Horseradish sauce is different from prepared horseradish, it's actually a sauce, sort of like horseradish mixed with mayonnaise, they sell them next to each other, so be sure you grab the right one.  It isn't vegan, it has eggs in it.  So if you want to take this to vegan-town, I'd add some horseradish to veganaise and use that.  Also, if you are wary of buying and being stuck with a whole bottle of horseradish sauce, I will tell you it is excellent on corn on the cob instead of butter, and crazy good with french fries)

Layer on half of your mushrooms, then some thinly sliced red onion, some tomato, chevre and frisee.  You could also use regular ol' lettuce.

Vegan Version:

Omit the chevre, and use a little Tofutti Cream Cheese.  Make your own horseradish sauce as noted above.
I first learned about Lincoln Beachey last week from the Radio Lab podcast.  My Dad is a pilot and top-notch airplane mechanic, and I am pretty sure I've been to every airplane museum in the West, but I had never heard of Lincoln Beachey.  And what's crazy is that my Dad had never heard of him either.  Consider also, he was the most famous dude in his day, it is estimated that 30 million people saw him fly at an air-show during the course of his career, 17 million in 1914 alone, and at a time when the population of the United States was only 99 million. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Gigi

Mushrooms marinated in champagne vinegar, caramelized onions, chevre, Dijon mustard, garlic veganaise, and fresh basil

Would Gigi’s glamorous great-aunt approve of this sandwich? Probably not; I doubt those perfumed hands ever abandoned their silverware to slum it with anything involving a wrapper. However, this is a sandwich you could drink a glass of champagne with while on a picnic with your questionably older, wealthy boyfriend (who loves you, but also kind of wants to turn you into a classy prostitute).

I made my own marinated mushrooms. They’re so easy to make, I couldn’t imagine buying them, but sometimes antipasti or olive bars will have marinated mushrooms that would do pretty well in any sandwich.

The onions aren’t as time-consuming as it sounds. These onions pretty much take care of themselves. I just throw them in the pan and take care of other business while they cook, like make dinner or take out the recycling, and then I stir them whenever I walk by the stove.

I'm gonna try to format these recipes for someone who wants to pack these in the morning for work...

Makes 4 sandwiches

1 ½ tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 large yellow onion

9-10 oz button mushrooms
¾ cup of champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or even apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon of dried parsley
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of dried basil

3 tablespoons of veganaise
1 large clove of garlic
4 mini baguettes or one large baguette cut into 4 equal sections
Dijon mustard
1 package of chevre
Fresh Basil (optional)

On Sunday Night:

For the onions, heat up 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Take one large yellow onion, cut it in half then slice it into half-moons. Add the onions to the pan with a pinch of salt, and sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring whenever you think about it. Then turn down the heat just a bit and continue to sauté for another 20 minutes or more until they are a dark golden color. Like, just when you think they’re done, give them 5 more minutes. You want them super soft and sweet. While they’re on their way, you can get the mushrooms going…

For the mushrooms,  Brush/clean 9-10 oz. of mushrooms and cut them into quarters if they are large, halves if they are small and put them into a bowl. In a small sauce pan I put about ¾ cup of champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar (lemon juice would be pretty good if you have that many lemons or even apple cider vinegar), add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 3 cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon of dried parsley, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, and ½ teaspoon of dried basil. Whisk it all together. Put it on the stove over medium-high heat, and right after it starts to boil, pour it over your mushrooms. Let them cool a bit and and then sit overnight in the fridge et voila! This is also a great side dish and great for taking to a pot luck, just serve them at room temperature.

For the veganaise, take 3 tablespoons of veganaise and crush 1 large clove of garlic into it, mix well.

When everything’s done and cooled off, I cover the containers and put it all into the fridge for the morning.

Before Work:

Slice the baguette down the middle and toast under the broiler for a few minutes while you brush your teeth.

Spread the garlic veganaise on one side and some Dijon mustard on the other side.

Using a slotted spoon, drain some of the mushrooms and put them on the veganaise side of the baguette.

Add ¼ of the caramelized onions and ¼ of the chevre (toward the end of the week, I actually decided that ¼ a package of chevre, what is deemed a single serving, might be too much. Use your own judgment, maybe you’ll have some left over for your dinner salad).

Top it off with some fresh basil. I always love rolling the basil leaves up and slicing them into a chiffonade. (However, the first couple of times I made this, I didn’t put any basil on it and it was still pretty good.)

Right now I’m wrapping my baguette sandwiches up in foil and recycling it when I’m done. I’m on the hunt for a more reusable option, but it needs to keep the sandwich together until lunchtime!

Vegan Variation:

Leave the chevre out and make the basil mandatory and this will still be a pretty killer sandwich. Or I think you could easily substitute some tofutti cream cheese mixed with a squeeze of lemon.

I toted this to work with a pear from the Urban Farm Collective and a chocolate truffle I squirreled away at some point last week. At lunchtime I could hear Maurice Chevalier crooning at me from the belle epoch beyond.

(and if Gigi wants be Gaston’s kept woman, who am I to judge?)