If the title of this blog hasn’t made it abundantly clear, I adore shoes. I actually detest shopping for clothes and hate stores and malls; I get all panic attack-y and claustrophobic, and am convinced there is not sufficient oxygen. But, get me past the perfume spritzers and racks of clothing into the shoe department and it is as if I’ve entered a realm of cherubs and melodious harps.
Grocery shopping releases about the same amount of endorphins and my trips to market are rarely perfunctory outings. I like to slowly zigzag my through, stopping to stare glassy-eyed at the products. Oftentimes I do this purely as research – if I’m reading a recipe I can immediately recall where a particular ingredient is available for purchase, down to it’s location on a shelf.
I like to plan menus and make lists ahead of time so I can purchase all elemental foodstuffs at one go – and also to reduce the risk of becoming distracted and returning home with items I did not in effect, need. Sometimes, though, I venture out there and wander, glassy-eyed and almost dazed, puzzling over what the heck to make for dinner.
It was in this uncertain state of mind that I hooked a basket on my arm at Whole Foods on Saturday. I was there for unsweetened vanilla soy milk, but also to forage for Sunday brunch. There were fiddlehead ferns, bright green and tightly curled like storybook worms (tempura?), tiny artichokes (fried? Steamed and sauced?), leeks (vichyssoise?), but nothing was calling out to me as much as…lettuce. Yes, lettuce, which I consider much less poetic than many of its produce section siblings, was what was beckoning because I remembered that the “L” in BLT stands for LETTUCE. My mind cleared, the torpor vanished, and thoughts raced. I was going to make no ordinary BLT with flimsy bread, bland tomatoes, and waifish bacon strips. I was going to make a sandwich that would require a side of five napkins.
I gathered ripe plum tomatoes, a soft-to-the-touch avocado, a handful of salad greens, and a few slabs of thick-cut bacon from the butcher’s case and ran home to triumphantly announce that tomorrow was going to be no ordinary day.
Sunday morning I set to: I roasted my tomatoes for an hour, doused in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, well-seasoned with kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper, and tossed with a few cloves of smashed garlic. They emerged soft and wrinkled, fragrant and sweet.
The bacon, to avoid a mess in my Lilliputian kitchen, was also baked in the oven, the rendered fat brushed on pain de mie slices.
While the baking was going on, I whipped together some mayonnaise and was ready to assemble: a generous schmear of mayo, avocado slices, bacon, roasted tomatoes, and lettuce. And there it was, a BLT to the –nth power – the baconator.
1 egg yolk
2 tsps. Dijon mustard
salt + pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
150 mL (about 2/3 C.) vegetable oil
-Whisk together egg yolk, mustard, and a pinch each salt and pepper.
-In a very slow, steady stream, pour in oil while whisking quickly and vigorously, until all oil in incorporated.
-Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
-Preheat oven to 375˚F.
-Cover a rimmed baking sheet (rims will keep the rendered fat from leaking out) with parchment paper (no wax paper, unless you want to cause a fire) and lay out bacon slices in a single layer.
-Cover with a second sheet of parchment and weigh down with another cookie sheet, Pyrex, or other oven-proof cookware.
-Cook 30 – 45 minutes until bacon fat is rendered and bacon is cooked.
-Set bacon slices on a paper towel-lined dish and pour fat into a bowl. Reserve the baking sheet and first sheet of parchment.
6 ripe plum tomatoes
¼ C. olive oil
3 TBSP. balsamic vinegar
salt + pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed into large chunks
-Preheat oven to 375˚F.
-Core tomatoes and cut in half lengthwise.
-In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes with salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic.
-Spread tomatoes, cut-side up, on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet or Pyrex and stud with garlic.
-Roast 60 – 75 minutes, till tomatoes are soft to the touch.
4 slices good bread, white or whole wheat
1 ripe avocado
large handful of salad greens
salt and pepper
-Arrange bread slices on reserved bacon baking sheet and brush each with reserved fat. If not sufficient, spread slices with softened butter.
-Toast in a 350˚F until golden.
-Thinly slice avocado and squirt with lemon juice to prevent browning. Season with salt and pepper.
-Wash and spin-dry greens and sprinkle with salt.
-Spread a generous amount of mayo on two of toast slice and top each with avocado slices, bacon, roasted tomatoes, and lettuce. Cover with remaining toast, press down gently, and cut in half before serving.