baking, burgers & sandwiches

red carpet brown bag

pan bagnat

Whilst packing for an all-day whale-watching excursion, I had a moment where I thought I’d slap together a good ol’ PB&J and call it a lunch. There is nothing dishonorable about this traditional option, but I decided on this day to honor the sea by treasuring one of it’s finest offerings, the humble tuna.

pan bagnat

On the Mediterranean coastline of France, the clever and life-affirming residents of Nice created the best tunafish sandwich known to mankind, and it is the pan bagnat. The best quality tuna is simply dressed in fruity olive oil and acidic champagne vinegar or lemon juice. Leave the gloppy mayo to your tuna melts. Then you add in some vegetables for crunch and flavor (artichoke hearts, peppers, red onion), some nice salty olives, aromatic fresh basil, and hearty hard boiled eggs. Add it all in loving layers to the partially hollowed out casing of a crisp baguette or boule. I used a mish-mash of this recipe from Food 52 and this one from Martha Stewart.

pan bagnat

The beauty of this sandwich is that you can use up a lot of stuff laying around your fridge, pantry, and condiments shelf. No, the beauty of this sandwich is that you can make it entirely ahead of time, press it down in your fridge under a heavy skillet or a baking tray weighed down with heavy books overnight. No, no, no the beauty of this sandwich is that you need to make it ahead of time, because the multitude of bright flavors really come together and then soak into the bread to make it taste even better after a night being pressed.

bourbon dark chocolate blondies

While you sit back and admire your work on a lunch well-packed, might I suggest adding these supremely easy one-bowl bourbon dark chocolate blondies? Whales will be watched, seas will be sailed, and tummies will be satisfied, fortified, and nourished to forge forward into the wild blue yonder.

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baking

that warm holiday feeling

The best parts of the holiday season are that warm, fuzzy feeling of goodwill toward humankind, the impulse to bestow good tidings to strangers, and the deep-seated flush from feelings of cheer, magic, and merriness. Of course, I am talking about alcohol. When is a better time to catch that spill of Kahlua with a mug of hot chocolate? What other time of year is vodka undoubtedly better with some hot apple cider and spices? Why else does peppermint Schnapps exist?

Let’s see, so far I’ve baked with Irish beer, Mexican tequila, and French calvados, so I clearly have an alcohol problem. The problem being that I haven’t even considered an American spirit – so it’s time for some good old-fashioned, stars and stripes, eagle clutching a lady liberty figurine-style patriotism. In the form of bourbon.

Bourbon, that great American whiskey, lends its earthy, sweet, and nutty flavor well to other traditional tastes of the holidays – namely, pecans and pumpkin. It’s a natural fit. ┬áThis bourbon and pumpkin pie with pecan streusel has everything you could want in a holiday dessert, especially if you can’t decide between a slice of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or a shot of Maker’s Mark on the rocks. Have them all! I plan to substitute it for vanilla extract in every recipe from here on out. OK, maybe not but the idea still stands – it’s a great flavor that makes other flavors greater. And super patriotic.