on picnics.

i’m going to ignore for a moment the fact that andrew knowlton hates brunch. instead, let me focus on his more constructive column in last month’s bon appetit.*


they don’t happen often enough, at least not in our house. and, really, i’m not sure why that is. regardless, what you need for a good picnic is the following: (1) outdoors (indoor picnics will do in a pinch); (2) drinks – we don’t want you getting dehydrated; (3) a good book or other good company; and (4) good, portable food.

in this case, portable food was sandwiches and crudites with dip. in the past, portable foods have included a picnic of cupcakes, one of calzones**, and one of fried chicken. to drink, we usually bring water, but in this case, i made lemonade and threw a few sprigs of basil in for good measure.

there are two noteworthy recipes here: the bread and the sauce. the meat and the cheese are key elements of course, but what is a sandwich without bread or sauce? just meat and cheese.***

garlic and olive oil paninis
adapted from mark bittman

3 cups bread flour, or all purpose flour
1 tbsp dry yeast
2 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1 cup luke warm water

mix the dry ingredients well, pour in the oil and 3/4 cup of the water, and mix until the mixture is stiff, and then begin to knead. if the dough is dry, add more water.
allow to rise for at least 1 hour.
heat oven to 425
separate the dough into 6 even sized buns, ensuring that the bottoms and sides are well sealed.
bake at 425 for 25 minutes. turn the oven down to 350 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the buns sound hollow.

a word about the sauce

like many good food things, this came to us by way of mark bittman. or rather, by way of cafe viena, which bittman claims produced the best sandwich he had ever tasted. i am inclined to concur.

sandwiches at cafe viena, and elsewhere in spain, do not come with mayonaisse, or mustard, or sub sauce. nope. they come with a mash of olive oil and tomatoes and spices. a bit of moisture, and a bit of nom. it’s the holy grail of sandwich spreads.

tomatoes, mashed
1 medium-sized tomato, preferably local and smelling delicious
1 tbsp olive oil
leaves from a spring of oregano
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

core and quarter the tomato.
process the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.
allow mixture to sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.


*BA, know that i love you, but you’ll never be as good as gourmet, ever.
**in honour of george steinbrenner, of course.
***not that there’s anything wrong with that.


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