Tag Archives: Sandwich

The Larry David | “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

by Blake Stilwell

I realize I’ve been making a lot of sandwiches lately. I wonder what it is about the sandwich that makes it so popular in television and film. Maybe sandwiches are inherently funny? I promise more substantial foods in the future, but for now… It has long been a secret dream of mine to be so famous (or rather, well-known) that a deli somewhere feels compelled to name a sandwich after me. If this ever happened, I of course would want it to be delicious… like some kind of fried catfish po’boy with cole slaw or a gruyère grilled cheese with caramelized onions or something like that. To have a sandwich named after you that tastes terrible would be aggravating. Of course it happened to Larry David in the first episode of season five of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. larry-david-sandwich This both is and is not a joke. It’s a joke in that it’s a hilarious thing that happened to Larry on the show, it’s not in that this is really the sandwich we are about to make right now.

Ingredients:
• Smoked Whitefish
• Sabel (or some other kind of smoked whitefish)
• Cream Cheese
• Onions
• Capers
• Rye Bread

The sandwich itself is pretty easy to make, as all sandwiches tend to be. The ingredients might be a little hard to find, though surprisingly, smoked whitefish is widely available. I didn’t know this because I have never had a desire to buy smoked whitefish for any reason ever. And apparently Sabel is just another kind of whitefish. I couldn’t really find something called sabel, but I was able to find another whitefish, which… I guess is good. LarryDavid Even this monstrosity would make your dad proud. Personally, I wouldn’t care if I like my own sandwich or not, I just want the sandwich. In the end, it became the Richard Lewis because two kinds of fish just wasn’t good enough for Larry.

F**k you, Larry.

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Sloppy Jessica | “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

by Blake Stilwell

I have never been more excited about carbohydrates as I am at this moment. While watching my favorite new show of the 2013 Fall season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I came across the Sloppy Jessica, something I had never before heard of but completely support.

This bit of sandwich glory appeared after Sergeant Jeffords (Terry Crews), Detective Santiago (Melissa Fumero), and office secretary Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), start a horrible crash diet – whose lunches include a single carrot and a snack of a razor-thin slice of cantaloupe – and Gina caves immediately. As the other two sit down to lunch, Gina brings in the Sloppy Jessica, described as “mac-and-cheese-chili pizza on a bun.”

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The important thing for this younger sister of the Sloppy Joe is to determine how to best interpret “mac-and-cheese-chili pizza on a bun.” Should we make a whole pizza and stuff it onto a bun? Or make a pizza of the bun and cover it with Mac n’ Cheese and then Chili? Or just Chili Mac? The possibilities are endless! But, based on how the sandwich itself looks onscreen (I know it’s just a sitcom, but whatever) it looks like the Mozzarella is on the bottom and the rest of the bun is filled with delicious chili and Mac n’ Cheese. So it’s a sandwich in three parts! Being from Southern Ohio, I have a distinct kind of Chili preference, so I don’t often make Chili from scratch (I do have a recipe, but that’s a secret), but there are a number of awesome Chili recipes out there. While they wouldn’t be using Cincinnati Chili in Brooklyn (that’s found in Manhattan), I used it here because I want this to be as awesome as possible.

I think it would be better to make the two separately and mix them, as I often find chili mac to be really dry and half the fun of the two dishes when cooked separately. Feel free to make Chili Mac  from another recipe if that’s your preference!

Ingredients:
• Kraft Cheese and Macaroni
• Chili
• Mozzarella Cheese
• Hoagie Buns

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Open the bun and remove some of the interior. Then add a layer of mozzarella cheese thick enough to create a thick melted layer.

Cook Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as per instructions on the box (don’t mess with a classic).

Prepare chili as instructed by your personal tastes and/or laboriously developed chili recipe)

Toast sub roll and melt the cheese into the bun

Mix Chili and Mac n’ Cheese (if necessary)

Add Chili & Mac Mixture to Melted Cheese Bun

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My Sloppy J.

 

Enjoy for Hours, Lament for Days

 

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My Sloppy J.

 

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A Special, Secret Sandwich | “Dave”

By Blake Stilwell

Midnight snacking. We all do it. Or… we WANT to do it. Most of us are unfortunately limited to our meager refrigerators, woefully underprepared for any cravings we have in the middle of the night.

I disappoint myself constantly.

I disappoint myself constantly.

Can you imagine the unbelievable snacking capability and access to material the President of the United States must have? Obama could have anything he wants at any time. This is perhaps the most incredible power with which any head of state could be entrusted. I know I could not be trusted with this power.

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Neither could William Howard Taft.

If I had 24-7 access to free hot waffles, I would also be big enough to get stuck in the White House bathtub. In Ivan Reitman’s (remember him?) 1993 comedy Dave, Dave Kovic showed a little more restraint. Dave (Kevin Kline) had just been hired to be a stand-in for President Bill Mitchell (also Kevin Kline), who looks exactly like him. Unfortunately, the President had a stroke and the country needs Dave to sit in for a while in this charming, heartwarming story of pre-9/11 White House antics. It was almost as charming as President Clinton playing Battleship against Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton in the White House Situation Room. Were the 1990’s great or what?

So he spends days at a time preparing for this new job (to put it lightly). Eventually, Dave takes a time out from learning how the American government works to make a late-night sandwich, sharing half with his Secret Service bodyguard, played by Ving Rhames, who would probably look nice in a sweater.

Dave later shares a sandwich with First Lady Ellen Mitchell (Sigourney Weaver) and tells her the sandwich is both very special and a secret.

The unanswered question here is why I assume the two sandwiches are the same, and thus important. I am of the opinion this must be the same sandwich because Dave is going through a very stressful situation at both points in the movie (no spoilers). In order to comfort himself late at night, I assume he makes this special sandwich. I think he has no problem making the sandwich in front of the Secret Service agent because Dave probably assumed the USSS could pretty much be trusted to take care of Presidential secrets. Luckily for us, we are privy to the secret by virtue of two distinct shots of the sandwich being made:

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There you have it, a very special, secret sandwich. And considering the size of the paper bag Dave carries out from the Deli and the comment Ellen makes about how much food he’s packing, I think it’s safe to assume he made her one of these guys. Based on what we see in the film…

Ingredients:
Lemon Wedges (for the juice)
Cucumber
Turkey
Tomato
Pickles
Shredded Carrot
Olives (stuffed with pimento)
Pickles
Mustard
Mayo
Leaf Lettuce
Provolone Cheese
Ham
Cheddar Cheese

Slap these on a Sub Roll and you’ve got yourself the President of Sandwiches. Perfect for any social situation: football games, parties, or chatting late night with the Secret Service agent assigned to you while you’re pretending to be the President of the United States while the real President recovers from a stroke he had while cheating on his wife with a White House secretary. The usual things.

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Hail to the Chief, he’s the one we all say hail to.

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Lake Trout | “The Wire”

by Blake Stilwell

I’m something of a seafood expert. I know people don’t think seafood perfection when they think of Red Lobster, but I learned how to cook seafood really well there, having worked the line for so many years. What I know best of all is prepping and frying up cheap fish for sandwiches. At my Springfield, Ohio Red Lobster (good ol’ RL 868), the fish we fried was Hoki. This is not so in Baltimore corner carry outs, like the ones featured in HBO’s “The Wire.”

In this scene, Detective William “the Bunk” Moreland (Wendell Pierce) is using Lake Trout as a thinly veiled allusion to Detective Jimmy McNulty’s (Dominic West) personal life. Essentially, the Bunk is warning him against trying to be something he’s not. Mcnulty swears Bunk is wrong. Bunk thinks McNulty is wrong. The only thing they’re both right about is that the fish fried isn’t actually Trout, and it doesn’t come from a lake. It’s actually Atlantic Whiting, a kind of bottom feeder, usually regarded as cheap and food for pets, though you can find it easily on the East Coast of the US in your grocer’s freezer. It’s strange, You don’t ever really see anyone on the show eating it (I think they do once or twice, but it wasn’t even someone from the streets eating it, it was a guy on Carcetti’s campaign… though Bodie asked for it a few times), but people order it a lot and signs for it are everywhere in the backgrounds.

Living in Washington DC as I do, I drove up to Baltimore to sample a few Lake Trout meals before trying to come up with my own recipe. It wouldn’t do any reader much good to read this blog if I didn’t know what the stuff tasted like in the first place. This post will be a true to The Wire as The Wire was to Baltimore.And holy hell… I had no idea Lake Trout was such a cultural staple of Baltimore! People are very particular about this stuff: the hot sauce, the Old Bay, the drink, the fries, where to get it, how to eat it, etc. The nuances are many. I asked a few locals about how to eat it , but they all said something different. So I figured I’d go order a few and decide how I like it.

A recent article in the Baltimore City Paper suggested the Roost as the spot for Lake Trout in Baltimore, but the day I went (a Sunday… I wasn’t taking any chances, I went during the Sunday truce) the line was out the door! (I think this is because Anthony Bourdain went here once) So instead,  I went to Lake Trout, mentioned in the City Paper, in Edmondson Village. It was closed. Go figure. But the people outside told me to go down the street to Kimmy’s, because “Kimmy’s is better anyways.” I did. And I’m glad I did. I was disappointed at first when it didn’t come in the promised paper bag and aluminum foil combo I had come to expect. It came on white bread still, but in styrofoam and a plastic bag. But this fish was amazing. It was spicy, zesty and delicious and it came with just the right amount of the perfect hot sauce (Texas Pete. I went back in and asked).

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I could not get it into my mouth fast enough.

What no one told me (and thankfully, nothing went awry) is that this fish is full of bones and there’s a particular way of eating it (pulling the spine out first). The regular lake trout, five fillets,  and a grape soda (that’s how Bodie woulda done it) cost $7.00. Which is another reason it’s so popular. By the time I finished, Lake Trout had opened up for the day. So I ordered the regular there with a half and half (iced tea and lemonade) and I have to say, it was fairly disappointing. I think if I had gone there first instead of Kimmy’s, I might not have been so disappointed, especially because I got the brown bag and aluminum foil. But it just had half the flavor, half the zest, and the oil in the fryer could have used a good filtering.

Then I thought to myself that this place is really close to a shopping area, close to the Interstate. This isn’t where Bodie or a corner crew would go. They’d be on foot anyway. So I drove deeper into  Baltimore and came across the K&C Carry Out on the corner of Belvedere and Cordelia (3801 W. Belvedere Ave, if you’re interested in going). I got a Lake Trout (four fillets) and an orange soda. It was on par with Lake Trout’s. Not bad, but not something I fell in love with… not like Kimmy.

Lake Trout from Lake Trout. So meta.

Lake Trout from Lake Trout.

I realize some of you are not near Baltimore. This is probably for the best. So based on my taste buds’ testimony, we’re going to come up with a recipe for wherever you might be. Start finding a bag of Atlantic Whiting and make sure its unfrozen. Deep frying anything frozen is going to be painful. Trust me on this.

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Papyrus: trash type for trash fish. But this is how you quick thaw a bag of Whiting… don’t go higher than 70 degrees or you’ll lose the texture of the fish. No one likes mushy fish.

For those of you unfamiliar with deep frying, there is usually two batters, a wet and dry,  and their makeup is equally important. The first is the wet batter. You dip the fish (or marinade it, if you have time) and then cover it in the dry batter. For this recipe, I double-dipped because Atlantic Whiting is kind of a fishy fish and I wanted to cover that flavor up a little. You can single dip if you want, but when you dress to impress, you wear your finest coat. Just sayin’.

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Be like the Bunk.

Wet Batter
2 eggs
2/3 c milk
1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Texas Pete
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Black Pepper

Again, you can either dip the fish or marinate it for a period of time.

Dry Batter
2 cups Finely Ground Corn Flour
3/4 c Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tb Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

My setup.

My setup.

A Southern twist on this recipe would call for using peanut oil, but in every Baltimore carry out I went to, the smell of vegetable oil was unmistakable. If you’re cooking in a deep fryer, preheat your oil to 375. If the oil starts to smoke, your temperature is too high. Anything below that will let the fish absorb the oil and it’ll just turn greasy and kinda gross. If you’re cooking in a pan at home, make sure you give the fish plenty of room to get into the oil. It’s going to need to be submerged. At this point, I want to remind everyone that a grease fire is a dangerous situation. If one should occur while you’re making Baltimore Lake Trout, be sure not to throw water on it and to only use a fire extinguisher if the fire is catching to your walls. Just turn the burner off and put the lid on the pan. Just smothering the fire will put it out.

Technically, you want to cook the fish to 140 degrees (F), but four to five minutes in hot oil should do the trick. Mind the color of your oil! If the oil becomes dark brown sludge, your fish is going to fry that color. You cannot tell how done fried food is by the color and this is why. If you want a golden brown fish on your Wonder Bread, make sure your oil stays relatively fresh. You also can’t tell when fried fish is done by smell. The only surefire way to tell is by taking its temperature… but you’ll get a sixth sense for it after frying for a while. I’ve been doing it for years now and I can do a fried whitefish mind meld.

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The Seafood Whisperer

When you pull it out, don’t put the fish directly on a plate. Put them on a plate of paper towels first to soak up the excess oil. Then serve them.

Serve on white bread with a hot sauce option and Old Bay Seasoning. If your house doesn’t have a shaker of Old Bay, looks like the time is right for you to get one, motherf****r.

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Lake Trout from Blake’s DC Carry Out.

Bodie would order his with grape or orange soda. Of course… Bodie dead.

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