Monday, January 22, 2007

BL Tease

We, the North American Mexpats must keep in touch with our roots. So it is important that we take care of our native needs, one of which is to make and eat the fond foods of home.
The 3 R's
Yesterday, Geni and Larry, our next door neighbors, brought us a red, ripe round tomato. These are rare here, where we have a Roma-rama of pale plummy tomatoes all year. Abundant, and relatively cheap, verdad, but quite lacking in flavor. As an American boy, born and bred , I immediately realized where my duty lay: BLT's.
(Tomato Sandwich Photo by Geni Certain)

These are the necessary elements.

The only items lacking were lettuce (which James Beard, in his seminal work, American Cookery, claimed was unnecessary to a proper BLT. With all respect to the Master, I must disagree. Lettuce must be part of the manifold textures and savors of the sandwich.)

It was Beard, perhaps, or our bearded friend, Ned Kehde, who said that a well made BLT sandwich is equal to the finest Peking Duck. Think about it. The soft, bland bread, the crisp lettuce, juicy, ripe tomato; the salty fat and smoky savor of the bacon. The Peking Duck features crispy, fatty duck skin in a soft, white po-ping. a tortilla-like flour pancake, crisp scallions and the tang of a Hoisin based sauce.

Homemade White Bread
But most importantly, freshly homemade white bread must be at hand. I set to work making a large loaf of Buttermilk White Bread in the Cuisinart Food Processor. About 4 cups of bread flour (Sello Rojo brand), 2 teaspoons of instant active dry yeast, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon white sugar (a little more to taste) 3 tablespoons of SACO Buttermilk Powder, and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Whirl the dry ingredients for a moment, then add approximately 2 cups of cool water. Process the dough steadily for 45 seconds, then stop. Test the dough consistency and moisture with your hands. Mine was a bit wet, so I threw it on the work table and kneaded it by hand for 2 or 3 minutes, then placed it in a lightly oiled 1 gallon ziplock back. Setting it out in the mild sun helped ferment it to a workable stage in about 1 1/2 hours.

I then shaped it into a loaf of about 1 pound, 12 ounces, placed in a pan sprayed with non-stick veg oil spray, stuck it back in the ziploc, and let it rise another hour.

Set oven to 375º Farenheit.

When the bread dough is about 1 inch over the edge of the pan, put it in the preheated oven. Bake about 35 minutes, or until well tanned on top. Test for doneness: remove the loaf from the pan and tap with your knuckles on the bottom. It should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.
Proper mayonnaise. I will settle for purchased mayo, although I still fondly remember my experiences at

Sam 'n Ella's Ho-made EATS Café

The essential element is really good bacon. For this, realistically speaking, since we can't get Coursey's Smokehouse Bacon nor Ozark Mountain Smokehouse Bacon, we use Wright's Thick-Sliced, Hickory Smoked Bacon, a terrific product. We get it at a premium price at Sam's Club in Morelia, but it's worth it.

The bacon: we figure on 2 1/2 slices per person, which we slowly fry in a large, cast iron skillet.
Meanwhile, we are washing and disinfecting our lettuce and tomatoes.

The bread is best sliced medium thick and very lightly toasted, spread with mayo or pickle relish sandwich spread, then a layer of carefully dried lettuce leaf, a couple of slices of red, ripe, round tomato, and the crisp, but not burnt bacon, still retaining a few areas of bubbled fat.

You may serve the pickles of your choice with it as you like.


Laura said...

Hi Michael,

I found your site via the Thorn Tree. Just wanted to say, I like your theme, and I look forward to looking at your recipes.

I'm viajeralaura on TT, just so you know.

Keep writing!

Don Cuevas said...

Thanks, Laura.
I was curious to see that the text, "Sam 'n Ella's Ho-made EATS Café" was not blinking, like the roadside café sign it was meant to resemble. (I'm using Apple's Safari web browser), but when I opened it in Firefox, it was blinking.

What did you see?