Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Perfect Lunch

Smoked Salmon on a Bagel

Is there such a thing as the perfect lunch?  As a kid, I alternated between a deviled ham sandwich and a tuna salad sandwich.  Sometimes my mom made grilled cheese sandwiches on weekends. 

On special occasions, we would go to lunch at Isaly’s, a local delicatessen chain. You could get chipped chopped ham barbecue sandwiches—basically soft buns filled with hot shaved ham in a spicy tomato sauce.  (see recipe below).

In middle school, a friend occasionally invited me over for a Syrian sandwich, which consisted of a wedge of flat Syrian bread split in the middle and housing slices of ham and tomato.  It was heavenly—nothing like the thin and listless pita breads on the market today.

These sandwiches were perfect for their time--which was before fast-food restaurants began appealing to the lunch crowd with their burgers, hotdogs, pizza and submarine sandwiches.

I’m still enamored of sandwiches today.  I recently discovered the Cuban sandwich, which features ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread (somewhat similar to French baguettes).  I’ve also developed a liking for the Vietnamese sandwich called bánh mì.  Sliced pork (or chicken or meat or pate) is served on a small baguette, along with fresh cilantro, cucumbers and pickled carrots and radishes.

Right now, though, my favorite lunch is half a toasted onion bagel topped with cream cheese, sliced purple onion, sliced tomatoes and smoked salmon.  Pardon me while I go make one right now. 
Chipped Ham Barbecue Sandwiches – serves 2 (adapted from "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!")   
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 
2 tablespoons sweet relish 
1 tablespoon brown sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard 
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce 
Dash black pepper 
1/2 pound cooked ham, very thinly sliced 
2 hamburger buns 
Combine the tomato sauce, relish, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and ham in a medium-size pot.  Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes to heat through. 
Cut the buns in half, fill each bun with half the ham and sauce and serve with plenty of napkins.
          For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"