Year of the Sandwich Goes to Cuba

One of my favorite sandwiches ever, the torta Cubana at the Vallarta Mexican grocery store, is a towering affair with ham, beans, bacon, salsa, jalapeños and an egg, all on a soft telera roll. It is delicious, but it is most definitely a Mexican sandwich.

So, in preparing for our recent spring break trip to Havana, I was excited to try the actual Cuban sandwich. According to my research, there would be sandwiches on pretty much every corner. More

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Goodbye, Year of the Taco

In the first weeks of January, I declared 2016 would be the “Year of the Taco” at Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise. And the year did not disappoint.

The last taco

The last taco

I ate delicious tacos in East L.A., Mexico and Hawaii. I added six new taco recipes — including air-dried pork, Veracruz-style fish and Oaxacan turkey mole — to a blog that already boasted nearly a dozen. It was a good year. More

Quite Possibly the World’s Best Sandwich

I wasn’t much of a bologna — baloney — kid when I was young. While my friends pined for white bread with bologna and mayo, I found it rather bland and uninteresting.

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In my teen years, working at an Italian deli, I would discover that the origins of this pale, flaccid meatstuff was actually a salumi called mortadella (the American version was named after the central-Italian city from whence mortadella originates, Bologna). And my opinion would change. More

Fjord Shrimp with Andreas

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was looking in vain for the Dodgers game on cable, and stumbled across “New Scandinavian Cooking” with Andreas Viestad.

Andreas Viestad fixing to smoke some trout in the mountains of Norway

Andreas Viestad fixing to smoke some trout in the mountains of Norway

It’s one of my favorite PBS cooking shows, and it was just beginning.

“Dad!” 5-year-old Imogen said as we wandered into the bedroom, “Is that a cooking show!??” More

Building a Better Burger

Each year, as summer fades to fall, I reflect upon a season of dreadful hamburgers I’ve been served at parties and barbecues over the previous three months.

It’s not that hard to make a great hamburger. So why do so many people screw them up. Several reasons, the top two of which are:

• Too long on the grill/overcooked hockey puck burger
• Non-creative condiments (ketchup, mustard, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce leaves)

Overgrilling is the most frequent problem. And not just with burgers — you’ve been the sad recipient, I’m sure, of leathery chicken breasts or chalky soy-marinated mega-fillets of salmon fresh off their hour on the barbie. The grill should be as hot as you can get it, the burgers at least 1/2 inch thick and well seasoned with salt and pepper. Grill them until brown and a little charred on each side. Touch them with your finger, they should still have a little give — more if you like them medium rare. A burger should never be cooked beyond medium.

Non-creative condiments run a close second. First, pick a good, soft bun or crusty bread. Then think about what you can put on the burger beyond ketchup and mustard. In the video, I use a mixture of BBQ sauce and a little mayo. I cook bacon, and then caramelize onions in the bacon pan with a little rice wine vinegar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce thrown in at the end. I crumble some bleu cheese on top, and then add some arugula. That simple, and people often say, “That’s the best burger I’ve had!” Here’s some other interesting condiment combinations you could try:

Hawaiian
Grilled pineapple
teriyaki sauce
Maui onion
served on King’s Hawaiian Bread rolls

Kobe-style
Wasabi mayo (wasabi paste mixed with mayonnaise)
julienned green onions
red oak leaf lettuce
served on thickly sliced brioche

Provence
Brie
cornichon pickles
Dijon mustard
frisee lettuce
served on a soft baguette

Tuscany
Proscuitto
shaved parmesan reggiano
salt-cured black olives
arugula
served on a doughy, crusty ciabatta

In & Out Copycat
make two thinner patties for each burger
American cheese slices, cooked on burgers
chopped onion, pan-grilled in a little oil
Thousand Island dressing
ripe tomato slices
iceberg lettuce leaves
served on sesame seed buns

Just in case the above video left you wanting more, here’s the “Immy Cam” outtakes — me and friends talking about the pros and cons of Twitter, my friend Alex holding my new daughter Imogen: