Steak sandwich

This is one of my mum's favorite things and she enjoys them however they're made but she will recognize right off it's not the real thing. In her world there is but one true Philadelphia steak sandwich and this is not it. 

You need to have the right bakery around the corner, and you need a big flattop grill, and the right cut of meat sliced just the right thickness, and authentic cheese sauce made from a single ingredient, that inexplicable American cheese, and cooks with east coast attitude that doesn't stop, those things together are transformative.

No it innt. I just made that up. If you would go there and have one you'll think it's not all that and wonder what the fuss is about. Probably. Then a week later crave that exact same thing again made the exact same way. Probably.

This sandwich is mind blowingly excellent and the bread is simply the best and all its elements fine but it hasn't satisfied a craving for Philadelphia steak sandwich ordinary as those things are.

This is a terrible thing to do to a steak, I realize that, but I don't care. 

Maybe it would help to say I don't have any teeth and slicing it up makes it easier to swallow. 

The other day at the neighborhood grocery there was a brief shuffle and a woman emerged apologetic for no reason at all, her two little kids were right there no problem that I saw but the woman was flustered, right there in front of the Polident as it happened. 

So I grabbed a box and held it up and asked the two boys if they knew what it is. They said,  "No." The woman was wondering who is this man who asks strange random questions no child could reasonably answer totally non sequitur like that to the shopping trolly scuffle.

"It holds your teeth in. It's glue. Temporary glue. 

Some people can take their entire teeth out and put them back in" 

I pantomimed someone removing their teeth. The boys were incredulous. 

"True faxs. My nana could take her whole teeth out. She did once and blew my mind. I tried to learn the magic trick of teeth removal for years. Never forgave her for messing with my mind like that. See ya." 

These onions were started first long before the meat was sliced. They're eventually caramelized which is a lot different from grilled. In Philadelphia you'll have grilled onions and they're wonderful not caramelized onions. It's one of the things that makes this sandwich better, that is different, and so also the reason why it will not satisfy a craving if the craving is for a particular Philadelphia steak sandwich. 

The bread was made and baked yesterday this is the bottom showing the segments. A segment is sliced off the size of a hotdog bun and then sliced. The two slices of a single bun are the thickness of Texas toast, but the crumb is more dense than that. These buns are actually meals themselves. The density of this bread and its sop-ability is akin to a muffin but with a rich yeasty aroma.

The bread you'll have for this in Philadelphia is excellent, delivered that morning, and it's integral to their sandwich. This bread is better than that, extraordinary even one day old. 

You can have whatever kind of cheese you want but the best seller in Philadelphia for this sandwich  is the liquid form of American cheese pumped from a #10 tin. 

I think. 

This is that with grated Asiago added. And, Man, is it ever delicious. I cannot explain why.

Open face cheeseburger with tomatoes

Open-face, broiled, twice. Once to waterproof the bread with cheese, which will not completely work, and secondly to finish. 

In the style of croque-monsieur sauf viande hachée place de jambon et fromage. Cheeseburger! Instead of ham and cheese.

There are onions underneath the meat patty. One entire onion caramelized for forty-five minutes on low, and the meat patty fried separately.

Anything you do like this with bread and cheese and anything else and with an oven, baked or broiled, turns out a bit like a pizza, a deep-dish pizza with heap big awesome carnivore topping. There's no escaping it. 

And let me tell you it is the bread that makes it, really it is. 

They're hotdog buns, ten made at once as one large loaf then separated cut off one by one divided between the bumps, then each one sliced for a pocket bread to hold a hotdog or a similar hoagie type submarine sandwich filling. 

And this bread is so good just an hour out of the oven, and fast to make too, as far as bread goes. You cannot do better than this. It has butter, olive oil, egg and milk, so brioche. It has one short first proofing mostly to autolyze, then a longer second proof whereupon salt is added. So backward from the usual way, and not stretched to redistribute this time although that would have been easy enough. I was pretending to do things the way a manufacturer would do them to make it go very fast for bread, except with better ingredients. It's wonderful. Now I wish I had tried things this way earlier.

Potato, egg, bacon, cream sauce

The power and the glory of commonplace potato is fully actualized with the assistance of fortified cream sauce. This is breakfast of egg and bacon with potato and toast in gnocchi form.  The toast in the state of flour that helps make near pasta out of potato. Pasta but not quite, more fluffy than that. These are soft as clouds.

Potato clouds studded with bacon bits, what's not to like? 

Do not smash the potato.

It's be kind to the baked potato day.

Fluff the potato.

But eventually you'll have to press. 

Press eventually, but do not smash. Got it?

A potato is microwaved and riced. If you don't have a ricer then push through a strainer, not a fine strainer but a coarse strainer. If you lack a ricer and also lack a coarse strainer then grate the cooked potato so the bits fall into loose piles of starch grains. 

Keep it loose. 

Beaten egg is drizzled loosely onto the loosely piled potato.

Along with the minimum amount of flour possible loosely combined, handled loosely.

The whole time thinking, "Am I doing this loosely enough? How will it hold together if I keep it this loose? Will a thing loose as this even work? This seems too loose."

My nutmeg was down to remnant bits so that's replenished. 

Nutmeg goes with cream.

Heated cream would work all by itself, this is enhanced with tiny nearly imperceptible amounts of

* butter, can you believe I put butter in cream?
* mustard powder
* garlic powder
* coriander seed powder
* s/white p

This gnocchi is shallow fried because I had the oil right there available, otherwise they'd be sautéed in butter and probably with sage. 

Potato, beef broth

A cubed potato boiled in commercial beef broth. That's all.

Dolled up with additional flavors. A few alliums, a few ground spices, a few whole seeds. That's all.

Caramelized onions cannot be rushed. They undergo modifications as they cook slowly. Eventually they'll become sweet at about forty-five minutes on low, depends on the type, and they pass through a slightly vinegary stage at about twenty-five minutes, some of them do, that's when these onions were stopped. So this broth has a very slight vinegar tang that would become sweet if left to caramelize longer. 

If your onions go too fast and start to burn then they can be doused with water to slow them back down. 

This is a satisfying in-between meal. Half this amount would be a good starter for a multi course dinner.


How to make taco seasoning without a package of taco flavoring mix.

Assemble the spices that go into the packages and improve on them. Leave out chile powder, that's a combination of things that is already covered.

* cayenne chile powder
* paprika smoked, hot, whatever
* coriander seed powder
* cumin seed powder
* dehydrated onion -- but you'll use real onions for improvement
* garlic powder -- but you'll use real garlic for improvement

That would be the basic flavor spice elements but you could also consider

* turmeric 
* oregano, especially Mexican oregano
* tomato paste, just a tablespoon or so
* tequila or vodka, beer, or nearly any wine, I personally like sake a lot
* Worcestershire for its tamarind and its anchovy
* s/p
* something sweet so all that doesn't get oppressive
* starch to thicken if you want meat suspended in sauce
* beef broth if you want more liquid

Using thin strips of meat is better than ground beef. Using sliced slowly caramelized sliced onions is better than diced onions. 

Lemon cake

Delicate lemon flavored cake with piped plain whipped cream filling and lemon ganache topping. 

Plain whipped cream filling that contains banana liqueur and vanilla extract and a small amount of confectioner's sugar, but with all that still plain. So plain you need a lot extra on the side to convince yourself that, yes, this whipped cream really is plain.

Lemon flavored icing with butter and banana liqueur.

Cherry preserves.

The cake is delicious, faintly flavored with banana liqueur and vanilla and lemon.

The whipped cream filling is delicious, faintly flavored with banana liqueur and vanilla and lemon.

The lemon ganache is fairly strongly flavored and with a trace of banana liqueur.

All three things are delicious separately

And horrible together. Flat horrible. 

I do not like these things one single bit and I wouldn't offer them to anybody. They simply cannot be justified. Maybe they go well with coffee, I don't know, I don't like coffee either. Just thinking about cake and coffee makes me want to brush my teeth. 

Heket salad

Pond salad or Heket salad. 

It's a beneficial practice to garnish with something that indicates what is inside so there will be no unpleasant surprises. For example a few peanuts might be placed on the edge of a plate as a signal the salad contains a potentially dangerous allergen, or a strawberry to indicate flavor and so forth.  

Heqet, the frog goddess of rain, birth, harvest and such

H is the twisted rope. The kind of "h" that gurgles in the throat like the Scottish word "loch".

Q is the cutaway view of a mountain. It's the "k" sounding kind of "q" so then Heqet is also spelled Heket. 

T is the half circle, known as a loaf of bread, the sound "t" also means bread, but this sign is believed by some to represent the primordial mound and not bread.

Seated woman is determinative for goddess, frog would work also to signify specifically the sound spelled out by the symbols for h q t  means the frog goddess and not something else. 

Salad with roasted red bell pepper, meat ball

This would be excellent for a light dinner party. A simple salad with two things in it with lettuce, homemade honey/mustard vinaigrette, and a smaller plate with a meatball and toasted bread with an insignificant pile of angel hair spaghetti. So reversed from the usual arrangement of entree and salad. 

The handmade dressing is easy as opening a bottle of prepared dressing, times four. 

In my case easier than that even because my olive oil and my rice vinegar have pour spouts not screw on tops.

* olive oil, the larger ring
* rice vinegar, light and nearly sweet, the ring inside the oil ring
* honey, splotch next to the mustard
* mustard, homemade from powder the best because it add so much that regular prepared mustard does not, but if not, then not to worry, prepared mustard is fine
* salt and pepper but that doesn't count for opening things

This avocado is soft and now it's protected from oxygen and can sit there without going dark.

These red bell peppers are sitting in hot oil and salted. Situated so a flat surface of each piece is touching the pan and they're left alone to burn slightly on one side. 

Red bell pepper strips are good by themselves as a side, they're wonderful that way, blackened in spots and heated through, oiled and salted, with a few drops of vinegar or lemon and they're even better.

The salad can hold like this until service. Vegetables protected in dressing and the delicate lettuce on top protected from dressing. 

The meatball is incidental but delicious, unauthentic but better than you'll get outside, fast and careless but satisfying as languidly marinated Old World approach. It's a meat loaf in miniature, larger than a golf ball, a meal.

A guest made the meatballs by my instructions while I made the salad and toast. 

The sauce is quite fast from spices in oil, tomato paste, and tinned tomato.

This meal is tested with other people twice and they both raved.

Both times the guests effused over the dressing, which is remarkably simple to pull off, so one is given undeserved credit for discovering something that's already in plain sight.


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