• Aviation Bread
    Breads,  Other,  Sandwich

    Marble Wheat, Spiral Wheat, or Double Take Bread? Just call it “Aviation Bread.”

    Airplanes, automobiles and Seinfeld created American crazes—and brought two-toned bread along for the ride. “Marble” or “marbled” bread usually refers to rye bread with a yin-yang swirl of light and dark. Two breads in one—what a luxury. It makes Reubens more Reubenesque. It draws us in with that hypnotic spiral. Seinfeld elevated a braided version of this deli specialty to an object of adulation and obsession in “The Rye” episode. But a two-toned bread made of wheat generally just gets called “spiral.” Although it looks like marble rye and could probably substitute for it, hardly anyone calls it “marble wheat.” Double Take Bread Years ago, someone made a valiant attempt to give spiral whole…

  • Breads,  Main Dish,  Other,  Sandwich,  Snacks

    Better-Than-Brioche Burger Buns

    In the baking aisle at Stop and Shop many years ago I passed by a young mother with two small children. She was intently surveying the shelves when her little girl reached for a tub of ready-made fudge frosting and begged, “Mommy, can we get this?” “Honey,” she snapped in a reprimanding tone, “if I’m going to go through all the trouble of baking a cake, I’m not going to put that shit all over it.” While her choice of words led me to question her parenting style, the wisdom of them has stuck with me. Yes, it’s all too easy to skimp on finishing touches. Consider the venerable hamburger.  Carefully crafted and perfectly…

  • Pain de Mie, or Pullman Loaf
    Breads,  Breakfast,  Sandwich

    Pain de Mie, or Pullman Loaf

    Oh, those French bakers. They take great pains (no pun intended) to make slender baguettes with thick, shatteringly crisp crusts. And yet, as if to thumb their noses at the whole artisan baking thing, they also crank out rectangular sandwich loaves with virtually no crusts at all. Pain de mie (“bread of crumb”) is the anti-baguette. A baguette takes days to make and goes stale after three hours. Pain de mie takes about three hours to make and stays fresh for days. (Julia Child said it tastes even better after a day or two.) Enriched with milk, pain de mie delights with a fine, light crumb and holds its shape even when sliced thin…

  • Main Dish,  Sandwich,  Snacks

    Nancy Osborn’s Cheese Dreams

    I dedicate this post to the memory of Nancy Osborn and everyone who would rather spend their time doing things other than cooking. People, for example, who “baste” a hem, try not to “slice” a golf ball, or, as in Nancy’s case, think of “beat” and “measure” as nouns, not verbs. Cheese Dreams from Willy Osborn’s childhood reflect a time when modern marvels of food technology tantalized Americans with new tastes, mouthfeels, and convenience. One slice of nutrient-fortified Wonder Bread topped with one perfectly sized slice of shiny Kraft American turned into a toasted cloud fused with molten gold. Homemakers could delight their kids with this wholesome open-faced sandwich in the time it took…