Pan Bagnat

A specialty of the Cote d’Azure, particularly around the Nice area, it was originally a dinner for the poor fishermen. Made from available ingredients (tuna, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, onions, olives, eggs and stale bread), it was quick and easy to make.

The version today, which is close to the original, was made by the good people of „America’s Test Kitchen“, which I only discovered a few months ago and have come to respect for their accuracy and love of authenticity. Here’s the link:

I stayed close to the recipe, but had to make it smaller to not have to eat it 3 days in a row. I did, however, make the herb/onion mix for a full recipe – now I have some left over 🙂 .

To make this best ever tuna sandwich, first buy a really good (authentic) baguette or ciabatta. If you get a baguette (18 inches long), cut it apart lengthwise and remove most of the soft bread from the bottom part. Give it a quick brush of olive oil and toast it for a couple of minutes in the broiler unit of your oven.

Next, prepare the „Nicoise salad“: 1 medium red onion, finely sliced, 3 tbs red wine vinegar added, a garlic clove grated into the mix to marinate for a while to soften the onion. In a food processor, use half a cup of parsley, 2 tbs fresh marjoram, 3 tbs capers, 3 anchovies, half a cup of pitted olives (Calamata, in my case), a twist of black pepper and 1/3 cup of olive oil and give the processor enough pulses to chop into small pieces without making a paste. Mix with the red onion and garlic, add 2 tbs of dijon mustard, then combine everything. Place a good amount into the bottom piece of bread.

Then the tuna is added to the bread. I had bought some high class albacore in olive oil just to try it out. It was very white and very good. One even more exclusive idea would be to take some fresh tuna and to fry it until barely done and use that instead.

The next step is to add the tomato(es). I needed just one. I cored it and cut it into fine slices. To reduce the amount of liquids, I used a paper towel to dry the tomato slices.

Eggs are also necessary for this sandwich. I cooked 2 eggs for 10 minutes, peeled them and let them cool off a bit before slicing them.

To make sure the flavors meld well, put some more of the Nicoise mixture on top.

Add the top and you’re done!

Well, actually the folks at America’s test kitchen recommend wrapping it with Saran wrap and compressing it with something heavy (a dutch oven, in their case) for am hour.

I didn’t do that, but I did slice it to expose the inside view.

This tuna sandwich was without a doubt the most delicious one I’ve ever had!

Black eyed peas

This post is number 4 in a loose series of posts concerning one of America’s beloved staples, dried beans, peas et al.
I have a buddy at work who likes beans as much as I do. These dishes are usually cooked with chowtime in mind rather that the more refined foods you can find between the bean recipes.
The bigger point I want to make is the one about cooking fresh and from scratch. Some people will tell you it’s alright to use canned beans, and that is probably fine if you’re in a hurry, but you can influence the taste much more if you start from scratch. What’s even better is when you can get freshly picked beans (had ‚em last year!)Anyway, without further ado…Black eyed peas (as a stew)

2 carrots, diced
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 onion
250 g black eyed peas, dry
100 g cured bacon (Schinkenspeck, geräuchert)
1 cured de-boned ham hock 250 g
marjoram, cumin, pinch of ginger, salt, pepper

Saute the diced vegetables and the bacon, add the black eyed peas, add enough water to cover, cook at medium heat, stir from time to time. Check the legumes after about an hour. They don’t take as long as some other beans. When the beans are done, cut the ham hock into pieces and return to the pot. Adjust the seasoning, serve with bread or corn bread. If you want to add anything, try sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos, cheddar, chives or even a little bit of thyme. I especially enjoyed the creaminess of the black eyed peas, much smoother than kidney beans or even black beans. Give ‚em a try!