Whenever I give people my email, website, or username, they always ask, “What’s a wasabi apple?” or.. “You were a bi-apple?” (The latter question usually came from my previous life as an Internet dater, and withthe number of times that question came up in introductory emails, I regretted the use of it). The answer to the former is “the best ingredient to use in a sandwich.” Wasabi apples became my “gateway drug” to cooking.
In my early 20s, my cupboards used to be stocked entirely with packaged food with the words “just add water” clearly labeled on the front. There have might been a box or two of Hamburger/Tuna Helper just in case I felt like being daring. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea where I had an apartment with no counter-space and missed “western” flavors that I began wanting to experiment in the kitchen.
I spent much of my time in the kitchen during my first visit to my parents’ home after a year of living abroad. While making ham sandwiches for lunch, I tried playing around by adding sliced apples and spreading a thin layer of wasabi over them. Wasabi mayo is great and all, but I really wanted the apples to have a bite more than the mayo. It makes a difference. You end up with a spicy crunch rather than a spicy sauce.Wasabi apples also add great texture to a grilled cheese sandwich. Since we’ve a surplus after going apple picking yesterday (subject of a future post), I thought I’d make one for Graham’s lunch today. I’ve made grilled cheese apple sandwiches for him before, but this time I thought I’d also make use of the bacon jam from Skillet.As far as the types of cheeses that complement wasabi apples, I love brie, a mild harvati, gruyere (because gruyere is just amazing), goat, or a mild cheddar . Unfortunately, we didn’t have any of those in stock so I used a combination of the single slice American white cheddar Graham loves to keep on hand, swiss, and Monterey Jack.And since you know what a sandwich fascist I am with ingredient order…
Is there a way to photograph grilled cheese attractively without props or the cheese congealing so soon? You get the idea anyways. What it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in taste. It’s a perfect fall sandwich.
On a side note.. while writing up this post, I had to check capitalization rules for cheeses. I swear the rules seem rather arbitrary. And no, the irony of me, the dictator of rigid sandwich rules complaining about cheese capitalization rules is not lost on me.
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.