Family-Style: Grandma’s Ham Sandwich

I love my Grandma and I have such a deep food love because of her. Some may call it sacrifice, but I consider her life-long dedication to feeding others a home-cooked meal a true, honest labor of love. Stories of prized fresh cream skimmed from the top of milk; years of entertaining trustees at The Hill School; the freshest, purest applesauce in all the universe – no matter the menu, she insisted that hard work and integrity were the best ingredients.

Something about a Grandma’s touch makes even the simplest of meals taste even better and, these days, her 90-year-old hands can only do so much. You can’t visit Grandma without being offered a snack and, on this trip, she was so proud to make me and Gramps ham & mustard sandwiches. Built with the sincerest food love, I savored the best ham & mustard sandwich I’ve ever tasted. Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me.

Advertisements

To Taste: Erin’s Amish Reuben

I’m guessing most of you outside of Central/Southeastern Pennsylvania have lived your whole lives without tasting the best, THE BEST, cold cut in all of our United States. I, however, have been blessed with easy access to savory, salty, delicious Lebanon bologna (named for the PA county, not the country).

Sweet Lebanon Bologna

This PA Dutch smoked & cured all-beef sausage is available sliced as a deli meat in regular & sweet varieties. Sweet is the right kind for me – bold, zesty, tangy, smokey – all the beginnings of a fantastic sandwich. Introducing… Erin’s Amish Reuben.

Back in May, on Day #6 of my week between jobs, Sunshine & I took a trip to Zern’s, our favorite farmer’s/flea market. Every visit, I pick up a fresh pound of sweet Lebanon bologna and two fat dill pickles from my favorite butcher, Clover Farms (See: Triple Smoked Bacon). I always keep a jar of my favorite mustard, Kosciusko Spicy Brown, in the fridge for the glorious occasions I bring home the salami of all salamis. I smeared it on wheat toast and topped it with 3 ribboned slices of Lebanon bologna, a thick slice of Swiss, & dill pickle chips for a culinary daydream to the PA Amish country. Take the photo journey through my magical sandwich assembly and get your hands on some Lebanon bologna!

Kosciusko Spicy Brown Mustard

Dill Pickle

Soon to be sammie

Erin's Amish Reuben

Erin’s Amish Reuben

sweet Lebanon bologna

+ sour dill pickles

+ sharp Swiss cheese

+ spicy brown mustard

on toast

Restaurant Rewind: Phillips Seafood in AC

On May 19th (bear with me, folks! I just started a new job!), I had the pleasure of attending a food blogger dinner hosted by Breslow Partners and Phillips Seafood. I have yet to share my personal philosophy on sharing my restaurant dining experiences, so what better time than the present. It pretty much boils down to a commitment to post only about positive encounters (gratis meal, as in this case, or not) and our evening at Phillips definitely fits that criteria.

Dre & I rushed to AC after work that Wednesday, checked into our amazing room in the new Chairman Tower at the Taj Mahal (thanks, Mike!), and hurried over to the Pier at Caesars. We arrived at Phillips first and were greeted with smiles from Tina & Jennifer, the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind Breslow Partners. Our server, Mike, took drink orders as we got to know our hostesses and perused the amazing menu of food coming our way. How could you not be excited for this?

Phillips Seafood Blogger Dinner Menu

Cocktails arrived and so did 5 other new friends. It was so great to meet the people behind the local food blogs I enjoy, let alone dive into an indulgent seafood feast with them. Lisa & Lisa joined us first, from Jersey Girl Cooks and John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey, respectively (har-har!). We then welcomed Allie of A Food Coma and her guest Mikey with Elaine of Elle Eats rounding out the group. No sooner did we finish our introductions when our first course arrived, Steamed Mojito Clams.

The GM, Brian Fountain, and Executive Chef Paul Drew were nothing short of hospitable, informative, & accommodating through out the meal. They joined us between each course to explain the history & philosophy of Phillips along with all the juicy ingredient and prep details that really  make foodies like us drool.

Steamed Mojito Clams from Phillips

We all had already dove into the tender clams while Chef Drew recapped the Mojito-inspired ingredients that flavored the dish. Phillips excels in freshness when it comes to their seafood and these middle necks fit the bill. They were cooked in butter, rum, mint (which I believed is mis-mentioned on the menu), slivers of garlic, & anaheim peppers and served with a ramekin of extra Mojito butter on the side. We happily sopped up the remaining butter with the warm bread we were served. I appreciated learning that Phillips strives to maintain the option for sustainable seafood by returning all clam shells to the Chesapeake.

Next up was a raw bar lovers dream, The Chilled Plateau. Its top tier featured fresh Maine Lobster and Alaskan King Crab Legs, each steamed with cinnamon, cloves, lemon, Phillips seasoning, pickling spice, & orange and served chilled. Melpac & Blue Point Oysters and Middle Neck Clams on the half shell outlined the bottom tier with fresh lemon wedges and a red wine, shallot, & garlic mignonette. Bowled in the middle, were Tuna Tartar (ahi poke style), U15 Shrimp, and Jumbo Lump Crab Meat with sides of cocktail sauce & mustard sauce for dipping. It was a tower of raw seafood indulgence and I loved every bite (and swallow in the case of the oysters) of it!

The Chilled Plateau from Phillips

The penultimate course for our dinner were the famous Phillips Chesapeake Crab Cakes,  packed with their own pasteurized crab meat, a process first developed by Phillips. 300 million tons of their crab meat are canned each year with 1/3 of that coming from our Gulf. The effects of the current outrageous oil leak saddens me beyond words and I’m sure this will have a grave effect, short & long term, on Phillips crab meat distribution. Let’s all hope for the best that can come out of this unimaginable disaster. But, this afternoon, it’s back to the crab cakes…

Chef Paul Drew explained that Phillips variety includes jumbo lump, back fin, & special lump crab meat for a variety of taste & texture. The whole chunks of crab are seasoned and bound with Phillips seasoning, lemon, mustard, Worcestershire, egg, & mayo. They’re formed into mounds and chilled at 40degrees until broiling them at 450degrees. Dre inquired about their cooking approach, as growing up in Maryland he was used to the deep-fried variety. Without solicitation, the Chef was happy to whip up a batch of fried crab cakes for comparison.  Their table was split on their cooking preference, but I think Lisa (of John & Lisa) summed it up perfectly – “They’re really good baked, but ethereal fried!”

Chesapeake Crab Cakes, Potato Gratinée, & Broccolini

The crab cake entree was well-rounded with sides of Potato Gratinées with Swiss cheese and tender Broccolini. We discussed our final thoughts on the meal over a palate-cleansing dish of mango sorbet. Overall, it was a great experience to try a restaurant I normally would not have with great fellow food bloggers. It was a refreshing experience, as sometimes a classic presentation of a seafood indulgence truly hits the spot. I couldn’t ask for a better meal that this beachside feast to kick off my Spring/Summer!

Blogger Dinner Contacts

Breslow Partners

Phillips Seafood AC

Jersey Girl Cooks

John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey

A Food Coma

Ell Eats

Quickie: Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries + BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Seeing that I work 6 day weeks for 5 weeks straight, I had to make the most of my one & only day off this week. Once I peeled myself out of bed after a much needed sleep session (interrupted too often by allergy/cold induced coughing fits), I knew I needed some fuel to get through the chores on my list. I set out for the kitchen on a quest for Sunday Brunch for 1. 15 minutes later, I came out with a bowl of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt topped with Cascadian Farm Oat & Honey Granola and fresh whole blackberries for the breakfast half of brunch.

Vanilla Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries

A classic BLT with Sriracha mayo was a perfect match to complete my brunch couple. And so the rainy day laundry & cleaning & bloggin begins…

BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Vday Bfast: Bacon, Egg, & Gruyère Toast Cups a la Dre <3

I’m the one who does a vast majority of the cooking, so I was excited to hear that Dre planned to make me breakfast AND dinner on Valentine’s Day. Sunday is the only day that we both have off (may it be school or work eating up our time), so my only Vday wish was to spend the day together. In the morn, I stayed in bed watching whatever crappy TV I wanted while Dre got to cooking. About an hour into his kitchen session, love was in the air! I smelled something delicious!

Trio of Breakfast Toast Cups

That delicious something was breakfast delivered in a perfect package of love. Dre presented me with a charming trio of whole wheat bread cups baked full of eggs, turkey bacon, & gruyere and perfectly seasoned with S&P. All that was leftover was a bed full of crumbs, but I loved every bite.

Breakfast Toast Cups w/ Creamy Yolk, Turkey Bacon, & Gruyère

Leftover Lightning! Roasted Chicken Sammie & Rustic Vegetable Soup!

I had to work this past Saturday and needed a warm lunch before I headed out into the cold. I still have alot of leftover chicken from Thursday (and still do) and plenty of the roasted vegetables, too. Pulled chicken breast, lettuce, & mayo on sliced bread is in my top 10 favorite sandwiches, so that was an easy leftover solution.

The veggies were kinda gelatinous and freaking me out a bit, so I quickly removed the chicken and began heating the pan of veggies on the stove. I wasn’t too excited about a sammie with a side of roasted vegetables, so a roasted vegetable soup only made sense. I dug out my Grandma’s 70’s Era Cuisinart Food Processor, and after indulging its typical neediness, whirled the roasted vegetables and pan jus into a wonderfully tasty and perfectly textured Rustic Vegetable Soup… and I still have plenty of leftovers…

Homemade Rustic Vegetable Soup w/ a Roasted Chicken Sammie

P.S. I gave a shoutout on my Twitter – Re:  Dating & finding info on my Grandma’s old Cusinart Food Processor. Please shoot me a message if you can help!

My Grandma's 70s Era Cuisinart Food Processor

Quickie: Griddled Ham, Turkey, & Swiss Sandwich w/ Spicy Remoulade

The snow’s coming again! We got 28″ over the weekend and now, 3 days later, Philadelphia is putting the “Closed” sign back up as we expect 12-18″ more. I’m actually enjoying being stuck in the house as I’ve had more time to cook. For dinner tonight, I made a perfect belly-warming sandwich – Maple-Honey Ham, Roasted Turkey, & Lorraine Swiss w/ leftover Spicy Remoulade on Potato Bread, griddled with Garlic-Herb Butter.

So… effin’… good!

Griddled Ham, Turkey, & Swiss Sandwich w/ Spicy Remoulade