Here London. Or at least I hope, since today is Wednesday, I am still at home in my pajamas, I’m writing this post that will go online on Friday morning, while I would probably wrap myself even tighter in the blue blanket at Sarka’s house, in a house that is not mine but where I always feel at home, right from the beginning, with friends that I see not as much as I want but who are like part of my family.
Here London, a short holidays for the FoodBlogger Connect has just begun, my few free days for this year. This morning, well I mean Wednesday morning, I looked in the mirror and I saw a pale woman, strangely pale to be an Italian woman at the end of an Italian summer. I’ve spent the last few months in the kitchen, or behind my Mac screen, half hidden from people and from life. I was busy (and still I am, a little bit), busy in a project I am proud of. I am excited beyond words, I can not wait to show you the book and to tell you about an incredible collaboration that enriched it even more. But I am pale, there is no doubt about this. And this morning I decided to have my hair dyed, so now I have very short mahogany hair. I gave my an Irish look,or at least I like to think that.
To celebrate this short trip, today I will tell you about a wanderer sandwich, a sandwich which I would see in the backpack of a gourmet traveler. If there’s one thing I do not like when I travel – and I think it’s the only one, along with packing – is to eat at Italian airports. The sandwiches are usually not very fresh, salads are sadly wilted and a slice of pizza would burn in a meal my weekly bonus of calories. That’s why I would usually bring something from home, a sandwich and some fruit. It reminds me of school trips at the elementary school, when my mother would fill my backpack with fruit, some wafers, a bottle of still water and a few sandwiches with cooked ham – so it won’t make you thirsty, she used to say, thinking about our extra salty Tuscan prosciutto.
I was happy to open the plastic bag and find that bounty, neatly wrapped in paper towels, washed fruit and a packet of cookies as a little reward. She put the exactly same care in making my lunch until last year, when she made the lunchbox for my last day of work at the office. That’s why I am so fondly related to lunch boxes, especially those you bring with you on a trip. I link it to my mum and to the love she has always shown me, you could tell it from how neatly wrapped the sandwiches were, just to keep them fresh. You could tell it because the sandwiches were home-made, and though less spectacular than many pizzas or bread from the bakery, they were and remain special to me.
So I had no doubts when Negroni asked me to make a sandwich for Panino d’Autore, a project that involved over time famous chefs and bloggers in the creation of unique sandwiches with carefully sourced ingredients and a story behind that made them special. My theme was travel: the home made sandwich represents the warmth of your house that travels with you, the love of someone who has thought of you, often early in the morning before the break of dawn, wrapping it with care and letting it on the kitchen table with a note Have a safe journey, have fun. Kisses, mum.
The sandwich is made with two pieces of schiacciata: I used this amazing recipe for a sourdough flat bread posted by Sonia from Il pasto nudo, an irresistible crunchy schiacciata seasoned with good Tuscan olive oil and a generous pinch of Maldon salt – after all I was going to London. Though, you can use any sourdough bread you prefer. I stuffed the sandwich with cooked ham, because it won’t make you thirsty, as mum would say. The sourdough schiacciata is spread with a thin layer of homemade mayonnaise, to recreate a classic combination – cooked ham and mayonnaise – making it emotionally important, because not only the mayonnaise is made with real eggs and good Tuscan olive oil, but it is also fragrant with herbs from the garden.
Finally, I added also beetroots bought at the farmers’ market in Colle, the most visible sign of how rooted in my countryside this sandwich is. I recently discovered this way of cooking beetroots, to be honest I began just recently to eat beets: the fried beets are crisp and sweet just like potato chips, though with a more distinct earthy taste, I like it.
At the end you just have to close your sandwich, wrap it and go! have a safe journey, here’s your lunch…
- 4 pieces of sourdough schiacciata or 4 slices of sourdough bread
- 120 g of cooked ham
- 1 beetroot
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon salt
- 1 egg yolk at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1 pinch of salt
- About 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 1 sprig of parsley
- Some chives
- Make the mayonnaise. Beat the egg yolk with a hand blander for a minute until sticky and thick. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar and a pinch of salt and beat for a further 30 seconds. The yolks are now ready to receive the olive oil slowly. Pour it in a thin stream, or add it drop by drop, and do not stop beating until the mayonnaise has thickened. Add mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Finish with the chopped parsley and chives.
- Now cook the beetroots: peel it and cut it into thin slices. Dust with flour each slice and fry them in a large pan with some olive oil. Cook them for a few minutes, until crisp on the edges and soft inside.
- Leave them to dry for a few minutes on a sheet of paper towel and sprinkle with a pinch of Maldon salt.
- Cut out the squares of schiacciata, spread both sides with the herb mayonnaise and arrange the cooked ham on one slice and the beetroot chips on the other.
- Close the sandwich and wrap it in kitchen paper, then in an aluminum foil, to keep it fresh.
I do not know if I will be able to update the blog in the next few days: if I won’t resist without talking with you – probably – I will reappear before, otherwise I’ll be back in October, to update you on the book, the Food Blogger Connect and the rest of all the wonderful things that life gives us. Enjoy your weekend, relax and make your favourite sandwich for a trip.
Speaking of sandwich, which is your favourite one?