Vietnamese Turkey Meatball Sandwich (Banh Mi)
Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Candied Bacon and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
Mango Jellies (Pate de Fruits)
Vietnamese Turkey Meatball Sandwiches
The first time I had a Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) was about 6 years ago in San Francisco. I was immediately hooked, it had it all! Crispy-chewy-meaty-sweet-sour-warm-cold-tangy-herby-spicy! Your choice of warm slices of meat, usually braised in an amazing sauce and/or cold meats, pickled carrots and daikon, spicy jalapenos and a generous handful of cilantro neatly tucked inside a soft but crisp baguette. It was one of those meals where it was so good, and you are so stuffed, but want to eat another anyway. There was this tiny hole in the wall shop, 3 seats in the whole place, smack in the middle of the Tenderloin District. If you’re not familiar with San Francisco, let me just say that I’m sure it won’t be on your list of places to visit along with Pier 39 and Alcatraz, but crazy and interesting in its own right – just make sure you take your extra large friend with you (as I did). At the time, I was working just blocks from this sandwich shop (the upper loin, if you will), not only was it the best sandwich I had ever eaten, it was the cheapest, at $2.99! I couldn’t believe it (I paid more for my grade school cafeteria lunch). I won’t tell you how many times I ate there that summer, but it was definitely my share – plus some. This Turkey Meatball Banh Mi is my spin on this sandwich I fell in love with many years ago. Instead of the carrots and daikon, I pickled the beautiful easter egg radishes that came in my CSA share this week, they turned the prettiest shade of pink. I replaced the jalapenos with serrano chilies, which are a bit hotter. I also used mini baguettes and hollowed out the cloudy inners, leaving the crunchy crust and plenty of room to fit more fillings!
I’m just going to say it, this spinach salad is one of the best I’ve ever made, really! And I make a salad just about every day. All the flavors play so well together. The crisp but sturdy baby spinach, with the creamy goat cheese, the chewy orange-honey candied bacon ((drool)), with the sweet and earthy roasted/marinated beets and the preserved lemon vinaigrette rounds it all off. If you’re not familiar with preserved lemons, put it on your shopping list. The taste is so special that I won’t even attempt to describe it to you. If goat cheese isn’t your favorite, you can use a creamy feta. There are a few steps to making this salad, but don’t let that discourage you (remember; best salad I’ve made), just plan ahead a bit. Make the beets early in the week so they can marinate, make the vinaigrette the next day- it gets better after a day or two in the fridge, and make the bacon the day you plan to serve the salad (or just before you serve, it goes faster than popcorn).
Mango Pate de Fruits
There must be a mango tree growing at every other house in our neighborhood, and around south Florida. Over the past several weeks I’ve watched the mango trees flower and now turn into tiny baby mangos. In the next month or two my counter will be overflowing with them, all being of different shapes, colors, sizes, texture and tastes – I think there are about 10 varieties (I’m sure I’ll be corrected by a few of my friends…..BS & WH ;-). My wonderful and generous friends and neighbors lovingly leaving them at my back door. When they start to ripen they fall from the trees by the hundreds, no joke – at least this is what I’ve heard. They are all over the neighborhood (along with star fruit, coconuts, avocados, and bananas) to pick up as you please, I figure the ones that are within arms length from the street are up for grabs. We have to get pretty creative to use them all up. I have friends that start canning their amazing mango chutney, others make mango jam for the holiday season, there’s mango cake, mango smoothies, mango ice cream, mango with your breakfast cereal…you name it, it usually gets mango in it. But what I haven’t received is mango jellies (pate de fruits). I received my first mangos of the season this week in my CSA share, and they were gorgeous. Last year my very dear friends G & R came over with many pounds from their HUGE tree, and we made lots and lots of jam. The recipe we came up with was so good that I thought the flavors would be perfect to use in these jellies.