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kitchenMage Sandwich ~ A Memorial of Sorts

Kevin Weeks, Farmgirl Susan, and I got to be friends back in the early days of food blogs; back before spokesmodel was rebranded as "brand ambassador" and everything was sponsored.

Man, I miss those days...

The three of us created A Year in Bread, which was perhaps the first site of its kind. It was to have a finite lifespan, be tightly focused on baking bread, and would (we all hoped) build a community of bread-bakers. Little did we know what we were tapping into at the time. That first year, in particular, was a blast for all three of us.

I miss those days, too.

If you had asked any of us what our favorite part of A Year in Bread was, we'd have agreed it was the community. Secretly, I adored the conference calls just about as much. Kevin knew how to use "Hey girl..." when Ryan Gosling was but a pup. It made my day when I'd pick up the phone to hear his voice on the other end. Add Susan to the mix and it was non-stop hysterics. It was common for an hour or more to pass before one of us said, "Business! Didn't we have a list of things to discuss?" We got there eventually but the trip was the fun part.

Damn, I miss those calls.

Kevin died last year. He knew it was coming, we spoke about it occasionally over the years and he left behind a few bits of raw writing when death drew closer. Broken, Dealing, Mortality: 1.

Of all the things I miss, I miss him most.

This post was lifted from archive.org's cache of Seriously Good, the site that Kevin Weeks ran for many years. With any luck his ghost will pay me a visit to discuss copyright. I have a bottle of the good stuff waiting, Kev, bring it...

KitchenMage-sandwich-kevin-weeks

For the most part, I’m a fairly laid-back guy — calm and collected with a light Southern drawl (actually, an Appalachian mountain drawl). Not real excitable. At both meetings and parties I spend more time observing than talking. And so it sometimes surprises people when I get off on one of my passions, because I do have passions.

I can rant for hours on software quality and the value of proper software testing. The same when it comes to software design. And don’t get me started on the importance of editors for producing quality written work — this blog really suffers from not having a second pair of eyes approve each post before it goes online.

I have culinary passions too. My friend, kitchenMage, calls me “Pig, Sandwich Boy,” reflecting my passion for pork, sandwiches, and pork sandwiches. Get me started on a food passion and I’ll go a mile-a-minute, my words spilling over each other like ping-pong balls cascading down a stair-well. Witness this podcast on NPR.

One would think that having just completed an article on sandwiches that I’d be sandwiched out, but in fact I was inspired to come up with something new. So I bought a pork sirloin roast.

I cut slits in the roast and stuffed them with slivers of garlic and fresh rosemary leaves and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I browned the roast in a skillet before slow-roasting it at 225F to medium. I knew going in that the strong garlic/rosemary flavors would make selecting other ingredients for a sandwich tough, but I like a challenge.

I selected Kaiser rolls for the bread, picking up a package at Fresh Market (the local equivalent of Whole Foods). I wanted the thin but crackly crust and dry, spongy crumb of a good Kaiser roll. The first sandwich was the roll with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard for condiments, provolone cheese, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. In short, nothing out of the ordinary but I wanted a base line.

The cheese was completely wrong. I’d had smoked cheddar in the back of my head, but although smoked cheese seemed like a good bet, cheddar didn’t and neither did smoked swiss. Rummaging through the cheese case at the market I found some sliced smoked gouda. Milder and more creamy than cheddar or swiss I figured it was worth a try. Bingo!

The tomato and lettuce didn’t really contribute anything either. So I dumped them and went with very thin (1/8-inch) slices of red onion. The sweetness of the onion was a perfect foil to the garlic slivers.

Sandwich two was better, but still not there. Not enough cheese and the condiments weren’t working. For sandwich three I pan-roasted some cloves of garlic, pureed them and added them to the mayo, then I stirred in some whole grain mustard. This too was a winner. I now had the right bread, the right cheese, the right condiment, and the right veggie. But something was still needed. Thinking back over the sandwiches I’d recently written about I suddenly had it. I’d quick-pickled some daikon for the bhan mi and that combination of slightly spicy/hot, sweet, and tart would be perfect on this sandwich. It was. Over the top.

I think, in honor of my friend, I’ll call this a kitchenMage.

kitchenMage Sandwich

Makes 1

6 oz garlic/rosemary roasted pork (recipe here )
Kaiser roll
Garlic/mustard mayonnaise (see below)
Red onion — sliced 1/8″ thick
Smoked gouda — 1/4″ thick, at room temperature
Pickled daikon (see below)

The pork should be sliced very thin, the more flesh exposed to air the better the flavor.

Kaiser rolls tend to be thick, so I cut out a center slice to reduce the amount of bread.

Spread both halves of the roll lightly with the garlic/mustard/mayo. Layer on remaining ingredients.

Garlic/Mustard Mayonnaise

4 large garlic cloves
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp whole-seed Dijon mustard

Roast whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium heat until soft — about 15 minutes. Turn garlic frequently to avoid burning. Peel garlic and puree garlic in a mini food processor, add remaining ingredients and pulse several times to blend.

Pickled Daikon

1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c daikon strips

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved.

Peel 3 inches of daikon, then use peeler to make strips of daikon. Soak in vinegar solution for at least 30 minutes. Drain before using.

 

(A Year in Bread's content is in limbo at the moment but I hope to restore Kevin's recipes to a special section here...as Susan would say, "soon.")

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