Posts tagged ‘blue cheese’

August 18th, 2011

Do people eat sandwiches for dinner?

Just like my husband thought he knew all there was to know about Japan from listening to the lyrics to “Mr. Roboto,” much of my knowledge of everyday America too, came from pop-culture.  To be more specific, sitcoms.  If Everybody Loves Raymond is a true representation of America (and if it isn’t, my world is shattered), Americans like to eat sandwiches for dinner.  In Japan, this is unheard of, and as such, I was shocked when Debra offered to make Ray a turkey sandwich.  I thought, a sandwich is something you’d drop into your kid’s school lunchbox, not something you’d feed to your husband as a reward for a long day at work.  To make matters worse, if you’ve watched the show, you’d know that Debra isn’t exactly skilled when it comes to food preparation.  Are average Americans happy when their evening meal consists of two pieces of white bread wrapped around a few slices of supermarket turkey?
To find out, I asked the first average American I could find…my husband.  His answer was an ambivalent, “Yes and No,” as he went on to explain that yes, Americans might eat a sandwich for dinner, but the sandwich should be a little better than the lousy turkey sandwich described above; maybe something from Subway, perhaps. Subway?  Can’t we do better than that?

Japanese people (or maybe just me) show love, care and appreciation through cooking. By that logic, if someone made me a boring turkey sandwich, I’d eat it, but deep down, I’d feel unappreciated.  Even if you’re not blessed with a culinary instinct, it’s important to make some effort when cooking for someone you love.  Even my husband, whose specialties include eggs over easy and frozen burritos, once made me quesadillas for dinner.  While his dish would most likely have led to his elimination on Top Chef, I still enjoyed every bite. More than just melted cheese in between tortillas, it was made with love, care and enthusiasm.  Sorry Debra!

Growing up in Japan, we didn’t eat turkey, and when I arrived in America, I have to say, I wasn’t initially fond of this new taste I had discovered. With time, I learned to appreciate not only its interesting flavor, but its cultural significance as well.  I’ve even managed to create a few turkey sandwich recipes of my own that helped change my mind about this American favorite.  Click the pictures below for the recipes for two of my favorites.  Stay tuned as well for my seasonal Thanksgiving turkey sandwich recipe that always gets rave reviews (if I understand what my husband is saying when he talks with his mouth full).

Turkey, apple and blue cheese sandwich (for recipe, click here).To really make this sandwich perfect, make sure to use a good, fresh baguette.  If one isn’t available,  the recipe can transform itself into a great salad or wrap, by adding more tomatoes, walnuts and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

Turkey and brie pressed panini (for recipe, click here).Even if you don’t have a panini maker, do not fear!  I don’t have one either.  Just use your stove top griddle or frying pan and press the sandwich using another, heavier pan.  The results are delicious!

So to answer my own question, I guess we do eat sandwiches for dinner.  If only Debra could master these recipes, she could prove to her husband that everybody really does love Raymond.

July 2nd, 2011

Wedge “salad”

Before we met, the vegetable intake in my husband life was limited to tiny bit of celery in the tuna salad he bought at Gelson’s supermarket along with the cabbage found drenched in mayonnaise in their creamy coleslaw (which is pretty good, by the way).  Vegetables played a much bigger role in my life, growing up in Japan, where vegetables most often referred to strange root vegetables.  Like every girl on the planet, I love salad, but I find my definition of what makes up a salad is much different than my American husband’s.  When I say ‘salad’, I’m referring to the dish made of actual vegetables, as opposed to the caloric concoctions that are labelled salad, but could feed a tiny village for a week.So does my husband really think his favorite salad, The “Wedge of iceberg lettuce” from Stefan’s L.A. Farm in Santa Monica is a health food?  Probably, as Stefan’s staff does give you a healthy amount of bacon and blue cheese.  How can you miss with mountains of crispy bacon and blue cheese crumbled on a bed of iceberg lettuce?   Crunchy and refreshing, and did I mention bacony?  Yes, my husband IS Jewish, but he has the utmost respect for the traditions and meat of all cultures.

One of the biggest shockers when I moved to the U.S. was seeing raw spinach being the basis for a salad.  We NEVER ate spinach raw in Japan.  Instead, the lettuce in a salad was usually iceberg.  At my parents’ house, the foundation of lettuce was usually topped with some kind of seafood or ham plus cucumbers, tomatoes, and asparagus or broccoli (never raw).  It’s probably not a surprise for you to hear that Japanese portions are smaller than those in America, with a regular Japanese salad being about a size of side salad here.  Now, from this frame of reference, imagine my joy and confusion when I saw Stefan’s iceberg wedge for the first time.  It’s huge.  Almost half a head of lettuce, and enough bacon to satisfy a lumberjack.  The lettuce is more like a garnish than anything resembling a salad.  On top of that, a creamy dressing.  But before you head for your cholesterol medicine, remember, it’s a salad, and by definition, salads are healthy, right?  Marketing genius!

I found an early Wedge Salad recipe from early 20th century, and through this research, I found out, unfortunately for my husband, that the ingredient that gives a wedge salad its identity is NOT the bacon.  It’s actually the creamy dressing with other toppings being optional–such as diced tomatoes, onions or some nuts and even a boiled egg.   The dressing must be blue cheese mainly roquefort.  But throw away the rulebook, because for us, bacon makes or breaks this salad.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask the poor waitress at a well known Hawaiian restaurant chain who had the nerve of bringing my husband a piece of lettuce sprinckled with Bacos, after the menu promised a wedge salad covered in crispy bacon.