Friday, March 11, 2011

Pacific Northwest-style Muffuletta Sandwiches with Manhattan-style Salmon Chowder

When I saw Greg Atkinson's Taste article, A Big Easy Best, in The Seattle Times on Sunday, I was keen to make his muffuletta sandwiches. When my husband glanced at the article with John Lok's gorgeous photo of these sandwiches (my rather pathetic photos by comparison are an embarrassment), he was immediately VERY keen for me to make them. The whole point of a sandwich, aside from the mobility factor, is that they're easy to make, and these sandwiches are very easy. In the Taste article, Greg suggested building them on kaiser rolls or a focaccia loaf, and on his blog, Westcoast (click here) he describes an olive oil bread made in New Orleans a friend prefers to use. Instead, I decided to make my grandmother's potato rolls (click here) shaped bun-style.

I love making any kind of bread. It's soothing and meditative. I find transforming a few basic ingredients into something as wonderful as homemade bread, to be an incredibly satisfying activity. Even though baking bread from start to finish -dry yeast to baked buns- takes up a major portion of a day, I like that it can so easily fit around other activities.

When I'm in the habit of baking most of our breads, as I am these days, I find commercial breads to be a serious disappointment. Even my lamest of loaves are pretty good stuff by comparison. To make any bread or roll recipe into a burger-style buns, I knead them especially well while keeping the dough soft, roll or pat them about 5/8 to 1/2 an inch thick to make 4-inch rounds, and allow a good final rising. I baked these at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I had some extra dough that I made into two wee loaves and baked alongside for the same amount of time.

Home baked buns will turn any sandwich filling into an exceptional sandwich experience. Though these sandwiches would be good made with pretty much any rolls or bread, I must say they were pretty incredible made with these just baked soft potato buns.

Greg Atkinson's Muffuletta Sandwiches
To make the olive salad (for 2-3 sandwiches), combine:
1 c. minced Spanish pimento-stuffed green olives
3 pressed garlic cloves
2-3 T. olive oil
Spread this generously on one side of a split bun.

On other side, layer slices of:
provolone cheese
I also added a smear of mayo on this side of my bun. Greg suggest these be made half an hour or so ahead to allow the olive oil to soak into the bread. I'm going to remember these for taking this summer on picnics, but last night I felt we needed a soup alongside our sandwiches, and this Manhattan-style salmon chowder came to mind. I liked the color of the blue potatoes here, but others eating it weren't as impressed with the visual effect -though all agreed it was very good.

Manhattan-style Salmon Chowder
1/4 c. butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
Cook until tender. Add:
1 quart chicken stock
1 t. dried basil
1/3 c. dried Italian parsley
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
Simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cube salmon trim (or a salmon fillet), saute briefly in 1 T. olive oil until done, and add to the chowder.

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