Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Search of the Ultimate Tuna Melt (and Bread and Butter Pickles to go with it)


         Consider the Tuna Melt, that diner staple that combines tuna salad, a slice of bread and a heated layer of cheddar cheese.  I myself have consumed dozens and dozens of the open-faced sandwiches in a quest to find the perfect Tuna Melt.   And almost inevitably I am disappointed.  The tuna salad, a glutinous mass of canned tuna, mayonnaise, celery and occasionally onion, is hit or miss.  But the most common sin is that the tuna salad is often almost ice cold, while the cheese topping is barely warmed through.  But I’ve pressed on for years until I came across a recipe not just for what Bon Appetit magazine pronounced ‘the best they’ve tried’ but also for a bread and butter pickle the writers insisted was their essential accompaniment. Perhaps my disappointment came not from the sandwich but from not having the pickles to go with it?  Either way, the ringing endorsement of the Tuna Melt and Bread and Butter pickles created by the Palace Diner in Biddeford, Maine made me only too happy to rush to make it.  And while I was at it, to take a look at the Tuna Melt’s origins, some of them fact and some of them, well, if not fiction, shall we say, questionable?

Monday, September 14, 2015

If it's Meatless Monday, Zucchini Pappardelle Arrabiata with Corn, Chickpeas and Almonds ought to be on your table

"Zoodles" Pappardelle made from Zucchini

The summer season may be over but summer’s not. And for the next several weeks the farm stands will be brimming with great produce. Fall is actually a fairly long growing season and really only ends with the first frost.  Out here that will likely be deep in November.  So this dish is ideal for making right now and all the way into Fall.  First of all, it can incorporate pretty much whatever vegetable you fancy.  Secondly, it gives you something to do with that bumper crop of bumper crops, the Zucchini.  In this dish you turn Zucchini into what one recipe writer called “Zoodles”.  “Zoodles” are what you get when you take a vegetable peeler or a mandolin and thinly slice Zucchini into ribbons.  Your left with Zucchini that resemble pappardelle noodles in width and in the way you then use your Zoodles; as a substitute for pasta in this version of arrabiata sauce.