Before I can put February behind me, we need to talk about “that” sandwich.
When I began this challenge, one of the ground rules I set myself was that I would cook every cover recipe. I didn’t realise how hard that would be. It meant, no matter how difficult the recipe (e.g. the cake that nearly broke me) or how gross the ingredient (e.g eggplant…erggghh) I had to cook it.
On the last day of February I still had three cover recipes to cook:
- Figs with honeyed yoghurt, prosciutto & mint (Feb 2005, p. 14)
- Baby bocconcini & roast tomato tart (Feb 2002, p.181)
- Fontina cheese & basil toastie (Feb 2007, p. 89) aka “that” sandwich
Why was it that on the last day of February I still had three cover recipes to go? Because I was procrastinating. I was doing everything I could to avoid making a silly little sandwich. And why? Because it involved three ingredients. Anchovies. Sage leaves. Fontina cheese. Wrong! Right?
When I put out a plea on the My Delicious Year Facebook page community for permission to break the ground rules and not make this sandwich, one of my friends from my school days rightly pointed out that no where in the ground rules did it say I had to eat it. Thanks Rebecca. You are right!
So after a busy day of cooking on Thursday (three recipes in one day!) I made “that” sandwich. I had absolutely no confidence in the recipe. Nor did delicious. magazine. In fact the picture on the cover was actually a different recipe to what was printed in the magazine! What the? Skye Gyngell’s original recipe was sage leaves, sourdough bread, fontina cheese and anchovies. delicious. magazine altered the recipe to include basil instead of sage and added fresh slices of tomato. In my eyes, even they doubted the combination of sage, anchovies and fontina.
Of course when I went to the shop I couldn’t find fontina cheese anywhere! Far out… Another reason to try to get out of making the recipe. A quick question to Dr Google on my incredibly smart phone and I found a suitable alternative, Gruyere. No more excuses. Just make the damn sandwich.
And there it was. A quick assembly of required ingredients. Into my sandwich press. And five minutes later the most revolting toastie in the entire universe was ready.
But, the thing was, it wasn’t revolting! Yes, I took a bite. I did it for the team. I did it so I could honestly report back to you on what it was like. It was only one bite, but in all honesty I could have eaten the lot (except that I couldn’t actually get it back off Mr Picky Palette after I had offered it to him).
I had convinced myself it would be this fishy, hairy, greasy, revolting sandwich and it wasn’t. Sure it was salty. But I like salty. It was cheesy. It was crunchy. It was moreish. Where’s the beer?
And now I can sit here honestly and tell you that I cooked and tried all twelve February cover recipes and lived to tell the tale.
But I will never be making that sandwich again.
What food combination would you completely freak out about if you were forced to eat it? Leave a comment for me.
Fontina cheesee & herb toasted sandwiches
delicious. magazine (Feb 2007, p. 88)
To make these sandwiches as per the cover, replace the sage leaves with basil, and add sliced tomato with the anchovies.
14 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup (60ml) mild-tasting extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease
8 slices chewy peasant-style bread (preferably sourdough)
125gm fontina cheese*, coarsely grated (I used gruyere)
6 good-quality anchovies in oil, drained
Tear 10 sage leaves. Place in a small saucepan with oil and 1/2 tsp pepper and heat over low heat for 1-2 minutes until just warm to the touch. Turn off the heat and stand while you assemble the sandwiches.
Tear remaining sage leaves. Cover half the bread slices with cheese, taking it all the way to the crust. Chop the anchovies roughly. Sprinkle over the cheese and top with torn sage leaves. Top each with a second slice of bread, then press firmly with the palm of your hand. Brush the sandwiches on both sides with sage oil, making sure you go all the way to the edges. Season with pepper.
Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron or other heavy-based frypan over low heat and sprinkle with a little extra oil. Add the sandwiches, in batches if necessary, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cheese melts. Wrap in napkins and pack in the picnic bag or eat on the way there while the cheese is still soft.
* Fontina is a melting Italian cheese from selected delis and gourmet shops.