This week I am writing to you from the west coast of Sweden. We have visited almost every summer for the last 16 years. For my wife, Sofie, it’s a way to reconnect with her homeland, and for me, I’m still finding new things in the foods, customs, and curiosities that make Sweden so unique.
Ray parties, grilled hot dogs, crispbread with pickled herring and strawberry cake with cream are part of the summer experience here. In between, my short-term cooking role for two little lake swimmers calls for simpler fare, which is why I’m offering three summer rolls this weekend.
The first is my perfect BLT — the kind of sandwich that almost always disappoints unless you make it yourself. As simple as it may sound, the bacon, lettuce, and tomato combo requires attention to detail, and well-chosen ingredients are the key to making it worthwhile. Whether you toast your bread or not is up to you. I like to fry slices of sourdough in some bacon fat just to add a little bit more enjoyment to the dining experience. Summer tomatoes at its best, salty back bacon (I love Wexford O’Neills) with crisp, freshly washed lettuce topped with a layer of mayonnaise and you’re on your way to one of the most iconic sandwiches you’ll try this summer.
Next up is the perfect picnic sandwich, Pan Bagnat, a pressed sandwich from the south of France filled with locally sourced produce. It can be found at most cafes, but is incredibly easy to make at home and makes a wonderful addition to any picnic spread. The traditional version uses a round loaf baked specifically for the dish, but I use the more readily available baguette. The sandwich can be made in advance but is best enjoyed two to three hours afterward.
Last but not least, my new favorite summer meal, grilled prosciutto and cheese sandwiches. The highlight is the combination of mozzarella and scamorza from southern Italy. Melted together, they make an Instagram-worthy, stretchy cheese train that’s quite irresistible with salty prosciutto and a touch of pesto. Delicious on its own but dipped in a tangy marinara sauce, it’s the next level as a small lunchtime treat.
The perfect BLT with Bacon Fat Mayonnaise
Time: 30 minutes Servings: 4
16 slices of O’Neill’s smoked bacon
8 thick slices of tartine sourdough
2 ripe vine tomatoes, thinly sliced and sprinkled with a pinch of salt
1 lettuce, leaves separated
For the bacon fat mayonnaise:
1 large free range egg
juice of ½ lemon
½ garlic clove
½ tsp Dijon mustard
200 ml vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
2. Place the bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
3. While the bacon is cooking, prepare the mayonnaise. Find a pitcher or jar that will fit the head of a hand blender. If you don’t have a suitable pitcher or pitcher, you can also make this by hand – it just takes a little longer.
4. In the jug, add the egg, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place your hand blender on the bottom of the pitcher and start blending. Never move the blender. After about 30 seconds you should see an emulsion forming. At this point you can begin to slowly tilt and raise the head of the hand blender until the mayonnaise is fully emulsified. Put aside.
5. After 20 minutes of cooking, the bacon should just begin to crisp. Remove from the oven, drain off all the fat in a bowl and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
6. Lightly toast your sourdough slices and place them on a cutting board to assemble.
7. Add the drained bacon fat to the mayonnaise and stir to combine, adding a tablespoon of water if too thick. Taste to check the seasoning and add more lemon juice/salt/pepper if needed.
8. When the bacon is done, brush the lightly toasted sourdough with the bacon-fat mayonnaise on both sides and season with black pepper. Arrange the lettuce on 4 slices and then top with the thinly sliced tomatoes, bacon and then add the second slice of bread. Devour immediately!
Nicoise Pressed Picnic Sandwich
Time: 40 minutes Servings: 2
1 small baguette
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp olive tapenade
4-6 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A small handful of basil leaves
4-6 anchovy fillets
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small handful of green olives, pitted
sea salt and ground black pepper
1. Halve the baguette and then halve lengthwise. Drizzle the cut sides of the baguette with olive oil until saturated.
2. Divide the tapenade between 2 halves of the baguette, then layer the tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar, basil leaves, anchovy fillets, onions and green olives. Season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.
3. Place the other baguette halves on top and then roll them up tightly in baking paper.
4. Tie with string and then place between two baking sheets with a heavy weight on top in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. When ready to serve, unwrap and enjoy.
Grilled Prosciutto Cheese Sandwiches
Time: 1 hour Servings: 4
For the chilli garlic marinara:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of good quality chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
25g unsalted butter
For the sandwiches:
6 tbsp basil pesto
100 grams of mayonnaise
4 small ciabatta or panini rolls, halved
12 slices of ham
1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
50g Scamorza cheese, sliced
50 g Parmesan, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 grams of butter
1. For the marinara, heat the olive oil over low heat and add the chopped chili and garlic cloves. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Then add the chopped tomatoes and sea salt. Stir and then cook over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 40-45 minutes.
2. Stir in the butter, allow to melt in the sauce, then set aside.
3. For the sandwiches, mix the pesto with the mayonnaise and set aside.
4. Place the bread on a cutting board and add some basil mayo on both sides, spreading to the edges. Cover the bottom with 3 slices of prosciutto, then sprinkle with 3 slices of mozzarella, scamorza and finally with parmesan. Season with sea salt and black pepper and place the lid on to sandwich the ingredients. Repeat until you have made all the sandwiches.
5. Put the butter in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 sandwiches and bake 5 minutes on one side, then flip and bake another 5 minutes on the other side. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and serve with the marinara for dipping.
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/recipes/donal-skehans-iconic-summer-sandwiches-the-perfect-blt-a-pan-bagnat-or-prosciutto-and-cheese-41858410.html Donal Skehan’s iconic summer sandwiches – the perfect BLT, a pan bagnat or prosciutto and cheese