Category: Sandwiches and Snacks

Chicken Liver Mousse

It’s the holiday season and you have been invited to a few potluck parties. What to bring? May I suggest homemade chicken liver mousse that’s sure to satisfy your friends who hover over the appetizers table and at the same time impress the adventurous eaters? Look, a lot of people will bring a wheel of Brie or a bottle of wine, and let’s admit it, sometimes you just have to be different from everyone else. So if you have the time, make this and spread the holiday cheer.

You can buy fresh chicken livers at your local Chinatown butcher, or if you’re in New York City, Fairway Supermarket, but for a buck more. The extra dollar may be worth it because the chicken livers from Chinatown almost always come with the hearts attached. Now, I’m a fan of two-for-one deals, but sometimes I just want chicken livers when I buy chicken livers. But just in case yours come looking like this photo below, you can easily trim the heart off and discard (or cook in another dish, Sichuan style; but more on that later). For good measure, I also removed the stringy stuff and just left the livers like how I remember them from grade school science class.

The original recipe required lighting the concoction with a match after adding the brandy (Step 5, below). I happily skipped that step because I didn’t need to risk burning off my eyebrows. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as dangerous as I imagined, but my mousse turned out deliciously without doing it.

For a finer texture, you may strain the liver mousse through a fine sieve after you blitz it in the food processor. I also avoided this extra step and found my mousse quite smooth in the end. To avoid bubble-looking things on the surface when all is said and done, make sure your Saran wrap is flat when you cover the mousse before the last refrigeration step.

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and cleaned
2 cups whole milk
1 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsps orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
vegetable oil
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsps honey
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper
1 medium baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices and toasted

1. In a medium bowl, cover the livers with the milk and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the prunes with the red wine, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup, about 6 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate.
3. In another small saucepan, heat a scant of oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
4. Drain the livers, pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat a little bit more oil. Add the livers and cook over high heat until well-browned, about a minute per side.
5. Add the onion-garlic mixture, along with the honey and 1/4 cup of the brandy. Cook the livers until the brandy has thickened and reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes.
6. Using a heatproof spatula, scrape the hot livers into a food processor. Add the cream and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Transfer the mousse into a serving bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve the liver mousse with the toasts and prunes.

Speck-Taleggio Panini

I’m sorry to gloat, but I’m like a proud Mama Bear who just had her cub: I just harvested a second handful of mizuna greens from my terrace garden! I’ll be heart-broken when the plant is no more, but I’m going to milk it as much as I can. I’m also getting ready to plant a second round of salad greens for autumn which is fast approaching; hopefully, they’ll survive as the weather gets colder.

This sandwich needed bitter greens because of the speck’s fatty composure and it needed to stand up against the spiciness of the mustard. Almost any salad green will do like arugula or mache, of course, but mizuna complemented the stinkiness of the taleggio cheese. If you can’t find speck, good-quality prosciutto will also work.

Ingredients:
a couple slices of taleggio, rind removed
8 pieces of speck
6 mizuna leaves
whole-grain mustard
1 whole wheat panini bread, halved
a small knob of butter

1. Assemble your sandwich. On one half of the panini, layer the taleggio evenly. Top with the speck and then the greens. On the other half of the panini, spread a dollop of mustard and then place on top of the first half.
2. Melt half of the butter in a large skillet and heat the panini. Press with an iron grill press. After about two minutes, turn the sandwich gently with a spatula. Add the rest of the butter and distribute it around the sandwich while it melts. Press again for another minute and remove to a chopping block. Let it rest before slicing in two and serving.

Related post/s:
Taleggio is great for sandwiches

Panini of Hot Salami, Brie and Cornichon

I wish I came up with this sandwich recipe because it’s truly the most complicated-tasting sandwich I’ve had in a very long time. I think a sandwich is never enough for a meal during the day, but this Salume-inspired panini put together all my favorite tastes and textures in my mouth in one seating. I remember eating this for the first time and wondering why I paid $10 for it, but also rolling my eyes back after the first bite. There’s that soft brie that’s even better when melted; the hot and spicy salami for that depth and chewiness and then the sourness and crunchiness of the cornichons all held up by sturdy whole wheat bread. It’s not exactly the $10 Tropea sandwich that I love ordering from Salume here in New York City, but I think it’s a pretty close adaptation considering I spent $20 to make four of them in one week for both the beach and for lunch.

I bought the hot salami from Di Palo’s–just ask for one of the hanging saawsages from their ceiling and have them slice it so you don’t have to worry about the thinness of each piece. The Vermont brie was from my Holton Farms CSA and the whole wheat panini bread was from Whole Foods. I highly recommend good quality cornichons here because you definitely don’t want to miss out on the crunch. Add a jig of Tabasco sauce for extra spice and you’re good to go to spend the last few weekends of the summer on the beach.

I used my trustworthy iron grill press here, but if you don’t have one, pressing on it using a heavy lid that’s smaller than the skillet will do. Otherwise, find a small, clean brick and wrap it with foil for a do-it-yourself sandwich press.

Ingredients:
a couple slices of Brie, rind removed
8 pieces of hot salami, thinly sliced
6 pieces of cornichons, halved
Tabasco sauce
1 whole wheat panini bread, halved
a small knob of butter

1. Assemble your sandwich. On one half of the panini, lay out the Brie evenly. Top with the salami and then the cornichons. If you want it extra spicy, add a few jigs of Tabasco sauce. Cover with the other half of the panini.
2. Melt half of the butter in a large skillet and heat the panini. Press with an iron grill press. After about two minutes, turn the sandwich gently with a spatula, making sure the cornichons do not spill out. Add the rest of the butter and distribute it around the sandwich while it melts. Press again for another minute and remove to a chopping block. Let it rest before slicing in two and serving.

Related post/s:
Speaking of complicated sandwiches, this let me express myself after getting laid off a second time

Pork Roast, Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnut Bacon Sandwich

Ah, Internet, you kill me. It sucks to be laid off for the second time in eight years especially if it’s from a job you actually like. But shit happens, yeah? The good thing is that I can wake up without scurrying out the door and I can devote some time to the art of making sandwiches for lunch. Take for example this afternoon: leftover pernil that I carved from the bone, Gorgonzola from Di Palo Selects, a lone pear from the fruit basket on the coffee table and a handful of walnuts from a can of assorted holiday nuts; I threw in three slices of bacon in there for good measure.

This sandwich is not for the faint of heart. Substitute the pork with sweet ham and add some spicy arugula to make a sweet-salty version.

Ingredients:
leftover pork roast, chopped
3 slices of bacon
half a pear, sliced thinly
a small chunk of Gorgonzola, sliced
a handful of walnuts, crushed
4 slices of whole wheat bread
a small knob of butter, melted in microwave

1. Cook bacon. Using a skillet, cook about 4 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
2. Using the rendered bacon fat in the same skillet, heat up pear slices. Remove to same paper towel-lined plate.
3. Assemble sandwich. On a chopping board, spread one side of each bread slice evenly with some melted butter using a pastry brush. With buttered sides down, spoon some pork roast on two slices of bread and top with Gorgonzola slices. Add bacon and pears and sprinkle with walnuts. Feel free to moisten with leftover bacon fat. Layer with remaining bread, buttered side up.
4. Place large skillet over high heat and brush remaining butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and add sandwich. Using an iron grill press, put on top of the sandwich and press. Cook until browned and crisp on both sides, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to a platter lined with parchment paper. Cut in half and serve.

Related post/s:
Di Palo Selects has some good Gorgonzola
The cast iron grill press is one of the most used items in my kitchen
A year ago, I made my first pressed sandwich
Pork Shoulder Roast recipe

Pressed Pesto and Gruyere-Parmesan Sandwich

Today is the official first day of spring and I’m in a good mood. The change of seasons make me look forward to what’s ahead and allow me to start afresh. Forget the last three months of gloominess and cold weather; it’s spring! It’s the same warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I know I’ve made something awesome with my own hands. When I tried the first sandwich from this recipe, I couldn’t help but go, Mmmmm. Making several more didn’t take a lot of extra time; all I had to do was pick up the ingredients from Trader Joe’s in one trip. The pesto gave this sandwich a nice kick while the scant sweet taste of the slow-cooked ham anchored down the two strong cheeses. Served pressed and warm and then cut in half to make the melted cheeses stringy, this sandwich made me proud.

Ingredients:
pesto
Gruyere cheese, sliced
Parmesan cheese, sliced
slow-cooked ham
sourdough bread
a knob of unsalted butter, softened in microwave for 15 seconds

1. Spread one side of each bread slice evenly with some butter. Spread the unbuttered slice with a spoonful of the pesto and top with a slice of Gruyere. Add ham and then top with the Parmesan. Cover with the remaining slice, buttered side up.
2. Place large skillet over high heat and melt a small knob of butter. Reduce heat to low and add sandwiches. Using an iron grill press, put on top of the sandwiches and press. Cook until browned and crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. Cut in half and serve.

Related post/s:
Pressed Taleggio Cheese Sandwich
Pressed Reuben Sandwiches
I got the Lodge Logic cast iron grill press