Cross this off the bucket list: teaching a cooking class. The class was held at our Library and was supposed to run from 2 – 3, but since we were still merrily cooking away and eating at 4, the Children’s Department wanted to know how long it would take for us to clean up? (Longer than the 5 minutes I said, but we were up and out before the children’s program at .) I had such a good time, cooking! and with a captive audience!, that we went over our allotted time.
At this point, luckily my coworkers, Roe Gohd, and Viji Savrithi, had all been pitching in and giving me a hand, so I was in good shape with them microwaving the onions, grilling panini, and passing out napkins, water and sandwich samples.
The Gruyere was the one sandwich I had not tried at home, because I knew it would be delicious – with all those good ingredients, how could it not be? But the seeded Russian rye bread (Pechter’s, from Wegmans) added that little bit of je ne sais quoi, so when I did taste it, I literally stopped in my tracks because it was so delicious.
To the sandwich, I then added strips of red pepper that I had roasted on the grill at home, gave some Nicoise olives a quick chop, and layered on some confit lemon slices, a few grinds of black pepper, and some flat leaf parsely leaves..
The lemon confit I had started three days earlier, and I demo-ed how to the slice the lemons super thinly, rind and all. You then layer the slices with salt, sugar, garlic, and shallot, and let them sit in the fridge in a jar, turning over occasionally to cure all the slices. After three days, you drain them, and cover with olive oil. Sunshine in a jar.
1 large shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar
About 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put the lemons in a saucepan of boiling water to cover for 20 seconds. Drain and dry. Slice off one end only. Cut in half lengthwise. Slice as thinly as possible, discarding seeds and the remaining end.
Mix all remaining ingredients except the olive oil with the lemon slices. Put into a jar. Turn once a day for 3 days to cure all the lemon slices. Drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Return to the jar, and barely cover with olive oil.
Yield: About 1 cup, keeps in the refrigerator at least one month.
(This makes an inspired addition to not only the chickpea sandwich, but is amazing on a sandwich with imported Italian tuna, capers, Nicoise olives and marinated fennel. Also try with sliced roasted leg of lamb, bitter greens, and black olive mayonnaise.)
The completed Chickpea Sandwich was a multi-flavored affair with a balanced mix of garlicky, creamy chickpeas, the sweetness of the red peppers, the meatiness of olives all accented beautifully by the brightness of the lemon confit: “tastes like the Mediterranean,” was one admiring comment. This was the favorite of the tasters.
For dessert, I made ‘Cannoli’ Bruschetta, this recipe one of my own creation: topped with ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, bittersweet chocolate and pistachios. (“Very elegant – and delicious”, according to my son-in-law, when I reprised the class at home.) And for good measure, an Almond Bruschetta, this one spread with almond paste, almonds and showered with confectioner’s sugar, inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network.
Now I was really rushing, because the Children’s librarians were trying to set up for the next event. But these bruschetta are no-brainers- requiring no recipe, really, so I could rush and prepare at the same time.
Mission accomplished: a four course meal all composed of sandwiches.
Either bruscetta would be an outstanding addition to brunch alongside a frittata or any kind of omelette. And they are far easier to make than any baked goods, and benefit from being done at the last minute because they are especially good served warm, immediately after preparation.
baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
good orange marmalade (recommended: Tiptree or
Dundee brand imported from England)
bittersweet chocolate, chopped, OR bittersweet mini chocolate chips
Toast or grill the baguette. Spread each slice with about 1 – 2 Tablespoons ricotta. Top with 1 Tablespoon marmalade. Sprinkle on the chopped chocolate and pistachios to taste.
baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
sliced almonds or slivered almonds
Toast or grill the baguette. Mash up the almond paste a little to make it softer, then spread a Tablespoon on each baguette slice. Top with some almonds, and sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.
So that was my take on sandwiches – at the end of the class, I was left with a huge mess, a ton of satisfaction from all the positive comments I got, and a wish to do it all again soon.
As Roe and one of the class attendees – Rose - so generously helped with the clean-up, we passed out the last of the samples and hurried to put away all the detritus from the class while the Children’s Department began their set-up.
I left the class humming this melody from a long ago favorite children’s song of my daughter Kati:
Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine,
I like sandwiches I eat them all the time,
I eat them for my supper,
And I eat them for my lunch,
If I had a hundred sandwiches,
I’d eat them all at once!
Now , “Cooking Teacher”