I’ve been moody since last night thanks to the season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead.” So it’s somewhat fitting that I made preserved lemons today. I love making Moroccan food, but whenever a recipe calls for “preserved lemons,” I usually substitute it with fresh lemons instead. However, I’ve been doing some reading about how there really isn’t a substitute for preserved lemons, and you’re doing a great disservice to a recipe by either using fresh lemons or skipping it altogether.
Since I was curious about how much of a difference preserved lemons make in flavoring and thought pickling jars filled with lemons might look attractive on our kitchen shelves, I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve never made preserved lemons, but the recipes I’ve found online made it seem simple enough, and they seem versatile when it comes to adding herbs and spices.I decided to use a bay leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and a small stick of cinnamon. And of course, preserved lemons, essentially being pickled or brined lemons, require A LOT of salt. Note: Initially, I started out wanting to use pink Himalayan, but I was worried that the pink might make for bizarre aesthetics so I switched it out for regular sea salt for my first attempt.You might want to make sure you’re papercut-free; cleaning up the lemon juice and salt from the counters could go from being a figurative pain to literal pain if you’re not.The most difficult part of making preserved lemons is the waiting. With the chill returning to Philly, I’ve been wanting to make Moroccan chicken in the crock-pot, but I’m going to have to wait a month before the lemons will be ready. I’ll have a follow-up post when they’re ready.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Salted Preserved Lemons
Next time life gives you lemons in the form of a season premiere after a crappy cliffhanger where they make you wait over 6 months to find out the ending, making you vow for the 40th time that you’re never watching another episode again*, make preserved lemons instead of lemonade. It’s far more productive therapy than throwing things at the TV.
* I say “I’m never watching ‘The Walking Dead’ again!” on a weekly basis, but I’ve never been very good at kicking bad habits.
Those who know me, know that I prefer my alcohol in the form of whiskey.. preferably a rye.. and typically not mixed with anything other than ice if anything at all. Summer’s a different story. Thanks to a friend of mine who introduced me to the glory of a Pimm’s Cup, we make sure we have a bottle of Pimm’s on hand during warmer months. However, the heatwave that tortured Philly last month had me craving something lighter and more refreshing. Maybe it was the sentimentality playing on my tastebuds – before bourbon, I wouldn’t drink anything except gin – but I found myself in the mood for a Corpse Reviver #2.
Sadly, I’ve been disappointed when ordering them at bars as there always seems to be at least one ingredient missing, but I did have some luck at Goat Hollow where the bartender wasn’t familiar with the drink but was up to the challenge.
I figured it would just be easier making it at home. Since we FINALLY got all the ingredients last weekend – tracking down absinthe was a pain, I thought I’d share the recipe on the blog.
Continuing with the sandwich theme from Monday, today I’m sharing what goes into one of my favorite brunch staples. When Graham and I were living in Queen Village, we usually frequented (the now closed *sob sob*) Cafe Fulya on Second and Monroe on lazy weekend mornings when we couldn’t be bothered to cook at home or get cleaned up for having brunch out. Instead, we’d each get one of their awesome sandwiches (made with pide!) and coffees to go. Once we moved to Graduate Hospital and didn’t have an easy 2-minute walk to the cafe, I tried replicating the taste and adding my own twist at home.You’ll need…
1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
lemon juice (enough to flavor cucumber slices)
diced green onions
chopped fresh parsley leaves (I usually use a handful, but I’m a parsley junkie. You can also substitute with dill, but I find that parsley makes the flavor brighter, complementing the lemon)
mayo (you can substitute plain yogurt with drizzled olive oil, but I’m an American with crude preferences)
bread (ideally, pide, but if you don’t have any on hand, this is awesome on bagels, pitas, roti [pictured below] or naan)
salt & pepper
Squeeze lemon juice over cucumber slices.
Spread mayo (or plain yogurt) on both slices of bread. If using yogurt, drizzle olive oil on top.
Add egg layers to one slice.
Crumble a layer of feta on top of eggs.
Sprinkle chopped green onion over feta.
Add the lemon-flavored cucumber slices.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add chopped parsley over cucumbers as desired.
Top off sandwich with remaining slice.
When I first started making this at home, Graham would often opt out in favor of his own breakfast sandwich (ie. egg and cheese deep-fried in butter – “It’s French cooking, Honey!”). I gave him a bite of mine one day, and now, surprisingly, he always requests one of his own.Having these for breakfast or lunch always take me back to our early stages of dating.. before he became aware of all my tics and idiosyncrasies. Luckily, when he threatened to return me to my parents a month after we got married, my mom told him his warranty on me has expired. At least he gets egg salad sandwiches out of it.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen a lot of food pictures, and if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably developed a lot of sympathy for Graham. Me too. Poor Graham. I’m a tyrant.. and my control freak nature comes out in full force in the kitchen. I loathe to let Graham take the reins at mealtime. He’s GREAT in the kitchen. I love it when he cooks salmon for dinner or shakshuka for brunch.. but I always have to look away. It’s better that the health nut in me not see just exactly how much oil and butter saturates the pan.
For the longest time though, the big rule in the kitchen was that Graham was not allowed to make sandwiches for me. It seems ridiculous to be so rigid about something so culinarily banal as a sandwich, but I swear there’s an art involved in the layering as well as some practicality! You want each layer to complement the ones above and below it as well as hit your tastebuds at the right time.
It’s not just in our own kitchen.. I’m a harsh critic of sandwiches whenever we go out. And burgers! Which really are just heartier sandwiches.. I will deconstruct and reconstruct a burger if possible to get the right layers together, softly whining, “Why are they doing this wrong?”. After a year of living together and playing sandwich dictator, Graham, rather exasperated, asked me what the rules were for creating a sandwich that would pass the Stacy test. I went to town with a diagram on our kitchen whiteboard which remained there until the whiteboard and us went our separate ways – us to Mount Airy, the whiteboard to the sidewalk in Graduate Hospital on trash night.
I was planning on posting my favorite egg salad sandwich recipe today, but the camera on my phone decided to be uncooperative, so I’m posting a revised sandwich chart instead..
This is for your run-of-the-mill deli sandwich. There’s variations when it comes to burgers, grilled cheese, veggie sandwiches, etc, but a lot of the basic principles still apply. I should add that these are guidelines for sandwiches I eat.. it’s all a matter of personal preference. Starting with the bottom layer and working up to the top:
Bread is dry. Bread always needs a “wet” ingredient to compliment it.
Mayo should always be next to cheese.
A thin layer of mustard (if you’re using it) goes between cheese and whatever deli meat you use. Think about cheese, crackers, and charcuterie.. they always come with mustard because it goes with all 3. Note: Different rules apply to bologna sandwiches.
Pickles and tomato always stay under the lettuce. It’s visually appealing to place them on top, but think about all that pickle and tomato juice mushing up the bread.
Always place lettuce on top to safeguard against all the juices that could destroy the bread.
Mayo or dressing always goes between the bread and the lettuce because.. see rule no. 1 and also because it creates a “mini-salad” with the veggies below it.
If you’re using salt/pepper.. you add that in the layers of tomato/pickles because the liquid will ensure the spices adhere.
Once you’ve read through all the chart and additional rules and realize that your wife’s controlling nature over sandwiches remind you of another crazy Korean dictator and that it’s just too much work to make lunch, hand all ingredients over to her, put sharp objects back, and back away slowly.