Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Dynamic Duo

Posted May 11, 2010

The beautiful shrine set up outside Jen’s studio.

The food inside the house.

This past Saturday, I was off to another yoga retreat on Bainbridge Island with my friend Jen.  There are many reasons I treasure these day-long retreats.  One is getting to spend some time with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  Another is that I get to participate in two challenging and invigorating yoga classes.  Another is sharing in this incredible community of women.  And I love getting the chance to cook for those deeply appreciative and very hungry yoginis.

In general, lunch is funny for me.  I usually either eat it out, or scarf down something I would be embarrassed to tell you about before running off to pick up my kids.  I almost never actually prepare something for myself, so it is always a fun challenge to come up with lunch menus for these retreats.  I want to make something hearty yet not heavy and I want there to be plenty of variety.  Even though I almost never eat sandwiches myself (I find them either too spare or too greasy), I try to come up with a new one for each retreat.  Hungry women need sandwiches.

I’ve been on a bit of a creative roll here at Dana Treat.  After feeling tied to my cookbooks for most of my cooking life, I have been branching out and trusting myself more.  This time I had the idea to take the idea of a pan bagnat and run with it.  A pan bagnat is made using a large round of bread which is cut in half, innards scooped out, then stuffed with all manner of things, but traditionally including olives, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna.  The sandwich is made the day before you plan to serve it, wrapped tightly, and stored in the refrigerator so the flavors have a chance to meld and some yummy juices seep into the bread.  I wanted to use the idea, but change up the inside.  To feed 25 people, I knew I would need at least four of these rounds, so I decided to do two each of two different sandwiches.

I immediately had an idea for the first one, an Antipasto Sandwich.  I drizzled whole portabello mushroom caps and thick slices of zucchini with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and roasted them in a 425°F oven until they were nice and soft and a little browned.  I allowed them to cool and then thinly sliced them.  To save time, I used jarred roasted red peppers, and store-bought tapenade and hummus (don’t tell anyone!).  I layered it as follows:  tapenade spread on the bottom of the bread, roasted red peppers, portabello slices, provolone cheese, zucchini slices, chopped marinated artichoke hearts, more cheese, arugula leaves, and hummus spread on the top of the bread.  This sandwich came together easily in my mind and it worked beautifully in practice.  It also held together well under the serrated knife although the bottom of the bread got a little soggy from the tapenade.  No one complained.

The second creation I mulled over for longer.  I had seen a recipe for a sandwich with jack cheese, avocado slices, and a tomatillo/sour cream spread.  Good, but not quite hearty enough for this kind of bread or this kind of eater.  I decided to make a type of corn salsa with scallions and roasted tomatillos, poblano peppers, and cilantro.  I kept the avocado and the jack cheese and moistened the bread with a remoulade sauce made famous by none other than Jen herself.  She serves it with fish tacos and I knew the flavor would work here.  Finally, because I had some and felt like I needed one more layer, I tossed some thinly sliced cabbage with more of the remoulade to make an instant coleslaw and piled that on top.  That sandwich was a little trickier to cut – the filling kept wanting to ooze out the sides – but the flavors were fantastic.  Really unusual for a sandwich and I like unusual.  I’m dubbing that one Corn Salad Sandwich with Tomatillos, Poblano Peppers, and Jack Cheese.

Everyone loved the sandwiches which I think is a great success seeing as I had never made them before and was guessing and hoping it would all come together.

Oh, you thought “Dynamic Duo” referred to my sandwiches?  No, I meant me and Jen.  Yes, that is a birthday cake – her 40th is next week.  Recipe coming soon.  For now, my “unusual” sandwich.

(Don’t forget, I’m giving away Mario Batali’s new cookbook and a bag of the most delicious sun-dried tomatoes.  Enter by leaving a comment on this post by this Friday at noon PDT.)

One Year Ago: Moroccan Carrot and Hummus Sandwiches

Corn Salad Sandwich with Tomatillos, Poblano Peppers, and Jack Cheese
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4-8 depending on how you cut the sandwich

This looks like a long recipe but parts of it can be done in advance and I swear it will take you longer to gather the ingredients for the remoulade than it will to mix it together.  Don’t forget, the whole sandwhich needs to spent the night in the refrigerator for maximum flavor, so plan ahead.

When all is said and done, you may have leftover corn salsa.  I don’t need to tell you the many ways that you could use that delicious stuff, but Randy topped grilled salmon with it and loved it.

For the remoulade:
½ of a small yellow onion, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
½ cup mayonnaise (I used low-fat)
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. chili sauce (I used Sriacha)
10 shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 tbsp. horseradish
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch each of paprika and cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the corn salsa:
1 large poblano pepper
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 scallion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen corn
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For final assembly:
¼ head of green cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 large round bread, preferably sourdough
1 large avocado, thinly sliced

Make the remoulade:
Mix all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper together in a medium bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Can be made up to two days ahead.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.)

Make the corn salsa:
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place the poblano chili and tomatillos together on one rimmed baking sheet.  Do not oil them, just place them in the oven.  Roast for about 15 minutes total, until the skin of the poblano is turning black and the tomatillos are turning brown and starting to leak their juices.  You will need to turn the poblano periodically so it roasts on all sides.  Give the tomatillos a little shake while you are at it.

Remove sheet from the oven and allow the poblano to cool enough to handle.  Gently remove the skin, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get every speck off, and then pull out the seeds and membranes.  Discard those and the top of the chile.  Put the chile in a food processor along with the tomatillos and any juices left on the baking sheet.  Pulse until puréed.  Set aside.  (Can be made one day ahead.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter and once it melts, add the scallions.  Sauté for three minutes, just until they start to soften.  Add the corn, give it a good stir, then pour in the poblano mixture along with a good pinch of salt and few grinds of pepper.  Sprinkle in the cilantro and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaoporated, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.  (Can be made one day ahead.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.)

For final assembly:
Using a serrated knife, cut the bread round in half.  Using your fingers, pull most of the innards out of both the top and bottom of the bread and set aside.  (You can make fresh bread crumbs with this part by allowing them to dry out overnight and then pulsing in your food processor.  Store them in your freezer in storage bags.)  Take about half of the remoulade and spread it over the bottom of the bread round.  Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese.  Spoon a generous amount of the corn salsa over top of the cheese.  Lay avocado slices over the salsa, then sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.  Put the cabbage in the bowl with the remaining remoulade and mix well.  Put the cabbage down as the top-most layer of the sandwich and cover with the bread top.

Wrap well in plastic and let side in the refrigerator overnight.  Cut into 4 or 8 slices and serve with lots of napkins.

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