When I first came to work in Glendale, California, I was introduced to two things I came to love, Porto’s Bakery, and their Cuban sandwiches.
What is a Cuban sandwich you may ask. Well, a Cuban sandwich has roast pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread, which is similar to a submarine bread, but it is pressed in something similar to a Panini press without the ridges. If you have never had one, please find a Cuban bakery or sandwich shop and get one. You, too, will fall in love.
My mother used to make Monte Cristo sandwiches when I was particularly well-behaved, or turned in a really good report card. Monte Cristo’s are an older kind of sandwich, basically a ham and cheese sandwich that has been dipped in an egg wash, pan grilled and is served with currant jelly. They can be on any kind of bread, and very good.
When ever I have left over pork roast, I always try to make Cuban sandwiches. But, this time when I had left over pork, I had sour dough bread, which I also love. I decided to combine the two, and have a French Cuban Sandwich.
Why would anyone want to write about Thousand Island Dressing? It’s yucky! It’s that reddish stuff that sits on the salad bar and congeals because no one wants it, and rightly so. It’s the “secret” sauce on the Big Mac, and has become so common that you probably don’t even notice it on your sandwich anymore. That’s a pity, because this is a grand dame of salad dressings with an interesting and honorable history.
Thousand Island Dressing is named for the archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some of the islands are very small indeed. The one pictured above supports a single tree and two bushes. The dressing was popularized by May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star in the 1890’s. She had a home in Grindstone Island, one of the Thousand Islands. She said that the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands, and enjoyed the dressing so much that she requested the recipe from Sophia LaLonde, a fishing guide’s wife who frequently made the dressing for her husband. Miss Irwin then gave the recipe to George Boldt, the proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who instructed his the hotel’s maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu. In 1950 the dressing became a standard, and started its decline into the gloppy mess we have today.
One of the things we do at The Good Plate is to reconstruct packaged foods, so they taste better, and don’t have the preservatives common in packaged foods. I knew that venerable Thousand Island Dressing deserved a better place, and making it from scratch would make it one of my favorites, especially for sea food salads.
I made a crab salad for the dressing, and some Balsamic Toasts to go with them. This was in the midst of Spane and his friend making Play Dough on the stove. There are little bits of homemade Play Dough all over the place. Time to clean!
I have a very good friend who said to me once, “Does everything with you have to be gourmet?” and I said, nonplussed, “Yes!”. Why do you have to go to a restaurant when you can make gourmet food at home, for a fraction of the cost! I was reminded to this today when I started to make egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and decided to make this a Curried Egg Salad Sandwich.
Probably, one of the reasons I can do this is because I have a good pantry, a good spice rack, and I’m not afraid to try new foods. That means I usually have good curry powder in the spice rack, and Major Grey’s chutney in the refrigerator. I have to watch the chutney, though, because Spane likes to eat it by the spoonful, right out of the jar.
I don’t eat a lot of fried food, but sometimes, you have to fry. I wanted to make Avocado Fries, and considering that there was already going to be a pan of hot oil, why not throw some other things in as well?
When I was a little girl living in Germany, my mother used to get frozen crab cakes. I loved them. A few years ago, I found a package of Zatarain’s crab cake mix, and I made it with imitation crab. Yup, you heard me right – imitation crab.
Here’s my thoughts on imitation crab. What is imitation crab? Imitation crab is made from surimi, a concoction of fish, usually pollock, a binder and flavoring. I never think of imitation crab as crab, I think of it as Krab.
I went to the market yesterday, and stood there thinking about what to make for Friday Food. Krab was on sale, and there was a nice package of small bay shrimp on sale as well. Since I was going to be making this for Amber’s family as well as mine, I got both, and thought I would mix them together.
Paula Deen is going to be at Barnes and Noble to do a book signing this evening at 7pm. That made me think of how lucky I am to be living here in Glendale, California. We have things here that you just don’t find everywhere else.
This morning, I went to my favorite store, Best Grocery on Maple, and got two big, red tomatoes, a fat slice of smoked turkey and an avocado. I went home and made a wonderful stuffed tomato salad.