Hi folks! Just back from a super quick trip to New York City where we ate way too much food and slept way too little. As always it was a jam-packed few days as we said goodbye to this guy who just recently moved to California. Their loss is our gain! It was fantastic to see Lisa Fain of Homesick Texan and chat about her new book, give Deb of Smitten Kitchen a giant hug, laugh until I cried with Maggy and Pam of Three Many Cooks, enjoy some quality time with Justin Schwartz of Wiley and Just Cook NYC, get in face time with the woman-I-love-named-Deb-Puchalla and meet new friends (Hi Sara!). Whew! Did I leave anyone out? We also had a wonderful meeting with someone very very very special over breakfast (more on that later!) and suffice it to say a dream is coming true.
After all this time we finally met Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn. and I am horrified that I initially forgot to include this in this here blog post. This is what happens when I sit on the other side of the table away from her shoving pork buns in my face. It’s a mistake I will never make again. Will you forgive me, Sara Kate?
We also finally – finally! – met Andrew and Carrie Purcell of Pictures and Pancakes. A husband and wife team that consists of a food photographer and food stylist (hey, sounding familiar?), I could have sat at their table for another 6 ½ hours with them. Truly special people and Andrew’s work blows my mind. Carrie’s too. We love them.
And the cherry on top? Linda and Jurek. Linda, thank you so much. You are amazing.
So much of our visit revolved around the discussion of books. I can’t wait to see yours! Have you finished yours yet? When does yours hit the street? What’s your next idea? When are you going to write one? It turns out that so many of our friends are in the book-writing process and that makes me happy. As an author and photographer I must say that working on book projects make me the happiest. There is a special satisfaction that comes from working on books, a pace that is still fast and quick but a bit more loose and playful. It’s a group effort, equally distributed between the photographer, the food stylist, the prop stylist, the writer, the editor and the coffeemaker. And I love every minute of it.
We recently finished shooting two projects back-to-back, one for Jenny Flake of Picky Palate and another for Jess Goldman of Sodium Girl. Next month we’re heading to Belize to photograph another cookbook and I absolutely cannot wait. And the ink is still drying on the contract I signed for my next book, it’s nothing like my first so you can knock it off with the stick jokes. (I’m kidding! I love the stick jokes, it’s just that this next book is technical and is certainly not On-A-Stick Part 2!) There are a few additional book photography projects floating around as well and I do hope to get them on the calendar. It’s some of the most rewarding work!
This past year a few books I shot came out but none gets more use than Susan Russo’s Encyclopedia Of Sandwiches. It’s one thing to photograph a book, it’s another thing to actually keep it handy because you cook from it. And I’m not sure where this quote that appears on Amazon came from, but it makes me laugh:
“Let the record show that Matt is a true sandwich champion for trying every single sandwich in this book at least once—and some more times than he’d care to admit.”
Did I write that? Somebody did and it makes me look like a glutton! But it’s true. And because I actually tried every sandwich it’s why I keep coming back to Susan’s book. Which is what I wanted to write about today but I was too busy talking about NYC and myself. Go figure.
I’ve got a list of my top 5 sandwiches from the book, somewhere in that list is Campanile’s Fresh Burrata Grilled Cheese. It’s not the easiest sandwich to make but it’s one of the tastiest. The salsa verde is what rocks this sandwich. Or maybe it’s the burrata. Or the chick peas? Ok, whatever it is it will be dinner tonight. Again. Because I love this sandwich so much. Thank you, Susan!
Campanile’s Fresh Burrata Grilled Cheese
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
olive oil for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
salsa verde (see below)
1 pound burrata cheese
4 ounces chick peas
4 slices prosciutto
4 slices white sourdough bread
3 or 4 (3-inch-long) salt-packed anchovies, rinsed well, backbone removed, and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. For the salsa verde: Using a mortal and pestle, pulverize the anchovies, capers, garlic, and salt to a smooth paste. (If you don’t have one, thinly chop the ingredients and smash with a knife to puree or chop in a small food processor.) Add the parsley, marjoram, and mint and continue pulverizing to break down the herbs. Slowly add the olive oil stirring well to combine. Season with salt and lemon juice, to taste, just before serving.
3. Boil garlic slices in cold water and cover over medium heat. Drain the garlic and return to the pan; add cold water and cover again. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Drain water and pat garlic dry. In same pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry garlic slices 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn them.
4. Spread cherry tomatoes on a small baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
5. Cut the burrata into 1/4-inch thick slices. Grill or toast bread slices. Run one side of each bread slice with garlic and place it garlic side up on a serving palate.
6. To assemble sandwiches: Place 2-3 pieces of cheese on each bread slice. Toss cherry tomatoes and chickpeas in the salsa verde and place 1/4 of the mixture on top of the cheese. Top with one slice of prosciutto and a sprinkle of the fried garlic chips.
Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo, Quirk Publishing. Photo by me.