The day before I fell ill, I began preparations for A Special Sandwich. The actual assembly of the sandwich took minutes. But, making the bread was another matter. It was all due to a cookbook Bob bought me for Christmas called Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings by Margaux Sky. You may remember all the publicity when Oprah deemed her "the best sandwich maker in America". The cookbook certainly shows why Oprah felt that way. These are not your average sandwiches at all. For one thing, the breads are quite distinctive. I was intrigued with one, called salsa bread, and decided to make it for a sandwich in the book, for New Year's Day. Unfortunately, I was struck down by the demon stomach flu several days before New Year's Day. While I was unable to eat the sandwich, I was able to construct one for Bob, to eat as he watched the Rose Bowl. The picture above is bad (I toasted the bread too much)--but be kind and remember that I was very sick when I made it. Bob assured me that it was delicious and made nice appreciative noises as he ate it. Then I went back to my recliner and fell asleep.
Let me say that I would not make the breads in the book for everyday consumption. They're too rich. But they're intriguing recipes and I will pull them out on occasion. The book has recipes for Roasted Red Pepper-Mint-Brie-Bread, Rosemary-Sage Whole Wheat, and Ginger-Goat Cheese Whole Wheat, among many others. If you love making bread, you'll find this book very interesting.
As I said, the breads are rich. I began by sprinkling 1 tablespoon yeast on warm milk, sugar, and half and half, then added melted butter after the yeast was foamy. This mixture was kneaded, along with flour and salt, in my Mixmaster for about 4 minutes. This makes a moist, sticky dough, somewhat like brioche.
When the dough came out of the Mixmaster, it had a different appearance than standard dough, softer and less elastic. It was sticky, but after it rose for 60 minutes, the dough was very easy to deal with. You can see how soft it was in the picture. This amount of dough makes two loaves.
I rolled my dough out into a rectangle 9" by 11" and scattered drained salsa and pepperjack cheese onto the surface and rolled it up jelly roll fashion. Next time, I will roll it even tighter. Also, after I drained my salsa, it was less than the specified 2 cups, so I would make sure I had the full measure next time.
The bread rises for 60 minutes, then gets an egg wash, and is baked for 60 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The long baking time gives the crust a thick, chewy texture. And the flavor imparted by the salsa and cheese is very good. But, it could do with just a bit more salsa in it, (my fault).
The white dough recipe makes enough for 2 loaves of bread. I baked the other other loaf as just plain white bread. It's tender, yet resiliant with a tight crumb and would be excellant for hamburger buns or hot dog rolls. I enjoyed a tuna sandwich made with it (pre-stomach flu, of course). The bread is blindingly white, due to the large amount of milk in the recipe, I think. The book also includes whole wheat and rye bread recipes.
Avocado And Melted Swiss On Salsa Bread (Margaux Sky)
Basic White Dough
2 cups warm milk
2 cups warm half and half
1/4 cup stick butter melted
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra if necessary
2 tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons water
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and half and half until the yeast has begun to bubble a bit (about 5 minutes). Then add the melted butter and powdered sugar and mix well.
Put the flour and salt in a bowl or stand mixer and slowly add the liquid. Knead very well. The resulting dough will be moist, almost sticky.
Place the kneaded dough in a buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let is rise in a warm, draft free place for about 60 minutes or until it's doubled.
Punch it down and divide into 2 equal portions.
Making the salsa Bread
1 portion white dough bread
2 cups drained salsa
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 egg, beaten well and whisked together with 2 Tablespoons water
Roll one portion of the dough into a 9 by 11 inch rectangle. Scatter the salsa and cheese on the surface. Begin to roll the bread, jelly roll fashion, folding the edges as you go--like a burrito. Place the finished rolled bread into a well buttered 9 inch bread pan. Let the bread rise, covered, in a warm place for about 60 minutes.
When doubled, brush the loaf with the egg and water mix and place the loaf in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes or until the bread has a hollow thump.
Making the Sandwich
Avocado and Melted Swiss On Salsa Bread
2 Tablespoons soft butter
4 slices salsa bread
1 cup guacamole
2 thick slices swiss cheese
1 cup salsa
1 cup spring greens
Butter the bread and toast it in a hot skillet on both sides, then slice diagonally. Spread some guacamole on each slice of bread. Melt the swiss cheese in a microwave until runny and spread it on the guacamole. Drain the salsa and sprinkle some of it on the sandwiches. Place some baby lettuce on top of the salsa, then top with the other slices of bread. Serve extra salsa on the side.