Thursday, October 28, 2010

The chip is out of the bag ...

Success. My closet guilty pleasure is now, well, let's just say the chip is out of the bag. We have achieved the very elusive complete culinary conversion dear readers.  The chip bag is empty. I repeat, the chip bag is empty.

I knew I had it in the proverbial chip bag when I started to pile on the cheese. Picture this: the bottom slice was broiled, oiled, rubbed with garlic, cheesed, topped with chips and cheesed again. Then, it started. The subtle peeks over the shoulder, the what did you put on top of that it looks not too bad proceeding to wow, that looks really really good proceeding to when will it be ready? (either they were hooked or they were really hungry).

Between you and me, I made sure to open the oven at the most opportune times allowing for maximum olfactory advantage. When your battle is this epic you have to pull out all the stops.

The moment of truth:





Let the crumbs speak for themselves.

Fellow food lovers, you should have seen it. The senses kicked in and salivating, savoring, crunching began and sounds were coming out.  Then, behold, the widening of eyes, the flavors registering and, the ultimate compliment:  this would make great pub food, you know, in a bar, after beer, and lots of drinking ... soooooo goood ... Yes!

For those of you who are looking at this thinking you shouldn't ... you totally should. I'll give you a few reasons so you can sleep at night. Laugh as loud as you will but this is the perfect fall food (yes I dare) in moderation because it replenishes salt lost during the summer months of heat and sweating. It gives the needed fat (yes, needed fat) to prepare the skin for the moisture depletion of the next 6 months of dehydration (at least on the east coast Canadian end). It gives you antioxidants from the fresh garlic and the good fats from the olive oil.

I guess this would be a good time to dish so:

Here is what you need:

2 slices of bread of your choice (crusty outsides and soft insides are my loves)
1 small clove of garlic
1 bag of lays ( big or small depends on how grand pow!pow!pow! you want your sandwich to be)
peppery olive oil 
extra old cheddar (shaved or grated), no mild will do.
mayo (good stuff please, it is a chip sandwich after all)
yellow mustard (go retro!)

Here is what to do:

1. Pre-toast both slices of bread in the oven at 350 to your desired crispiness. Drizzle the "bottom toast" with olive oil, rub it with a fresh clove of garlic and top it with cheese. Gingerly place the chips on top of the cheesy bread (they drop like lead if you are not careful).Then, you guessed it, gingerly, place the cheese on top of the barely balanced chips (if you lose some, cheese or chips, panic not, just pick up, discard and replenish).

2. Once perfect, place cheesed chip bread in a 350 oven for as long as it takes the cheese to melt (for me, 1.5 minutes on broil and on the very top rack)

3. At this point, adorn the "top toast" with mayo and yellow mustard and place (I know you know what's coming here) gingerly, on top of your perfectly finished chip sandwich.

Bon appetit dear reader.

And thank you for keeping an open mind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Humble beginnings ...

Ever since I can remember, I have been in love with food. My earliest childhood memory is of raiding the cupboards for the freshly delivered yogurt from the milkman. My grandmother took great care to place the jugs out of reach on the highest cupboards possible but at the tender age of four, I had a plan. The stories of my being caught precariously balancing on teetering books, jug in hand, little palms covered in yogurt because I stuck my hand inside the jar to get it out (how else could it be done) and guilty look on my face topped of with a thick creamy yogurt mustache always bring me a smile. Good times.
 
I was the cause of great drama in the kitchen to the dismay of all the elders in the house, with incessant nagging about how and why. Not paying attention to me was not an option.  I was this mini fireball whirling around with a thousand questions. I loved the noise, the smells, the colors and textures, the arguments the ladies would get into when there was a question about what the best way to do something was. I was right there with my opinion should they need it.
 
You can imagine then, how well this went off in Romania in the very early eighties with very stern Eastern European grandmothers and aunts trying to prepare for company. The occasional threats of spankings and being chased around the house with a shoe in their hand waiving furiously and mumbling something I could not quite make out due to running for it were well worth it.
 
As a teenager, my tastes were not so discerning (aka: I was broke) but even when I made my mac and cheese out of a box or my hamburger helper, yes, out of a box, I felt compelled to make them my own. I was adding all kinds of things to them, some good and some not so good but always experimenting with textures and flavors. I am about to let you in on a secret. Only three people in the world know this about me. One of my favorite things discovered during this frugal period was the chip sandwich. Yes, you heard right. The chip sandwich. To the horror of the one person who has actually witnessed my creation (the other two know only through legend), and to be frank, to mine because I cannot believe my first dish shared will be a chip sandwich for goodness sake but here we are, I would bite ravenously into what I consider to be the snack of all snacks.
 
Now, you have to be brave to try this. You will battle food snobbery, face disbelieving friends, deal with grimacing faces and shouts of are you nuts! and how could you eat that! but if you can get past these things, you will discover one of life’s very guilty pleasures.
 
The original, in all its plastic 60’s style glory, was composed of the whitest sugary Wonder Bread (yup, here I am with Wonder Bread in my blog) so soft that if you pinched it, it would be thin as paper and super salty and crispy regular lays chips. Step one, separate your bread slices. Step two, place a mountain of chips on top of one slice. Step three, place your other slice on top of the pile, squish down hard and voila! I tell you the soft texture and sweetness of the “bread” against the crunchy crispiness and saltiness of the chips …perfection. When I was feeling fancy, I would add yellow mustard. Mmmmmm …

 
 Okay, nostalgia and shock aside, since it seems that by some cosmic joke this was meant to be the first recipe I share with you dear readers (I hope you don’t judge me and tune in for the next one) I will write here a more shall we say … delicate version of the abovementioned so you can have high class snack with your beer. I am going to test the recipe tonight on two unsuspecting dinner guests and let you know how that went. Steadfast food snobs or complete culinary converts … stay tuned…