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Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book

The Best Sandwiches Ever
By Nancy Silverton with Teri Gelber

Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book

Grilled cheese never had it so good. Or Monte Cristos. Or BLTs. Or tuna melts. Or lemon cake club sandwiches in a glass! To say Nancy Silverton has a way with sandwiches is like saying Michelangelo had a way with painting.

First, let's start at the beginning. Silverton's brag-worthy background begins from the bread up. For anyone who doesn't know her breadcrumbs-to-riches story, the quick rise started in a tiny space attached to Campanile, her award-winning Los Angeles restaurant co-owned with chef/husband Mark Peel. She dubbed the place La Brea Bakery after the street name. Suffice it to say that the rustic breads she handcrafted soon outgrew their environs, moved into a big factory all their own and now populate supermarkets.

Those beloved breads led to Thursday sandwich nights at Campanile where an egg sandwich isn't just an egg sandwich, but Brandade, Sautéed Pea Tendrils, Poached Egg and Moroccan Olives and a tuna melt morphs into Olive-Oil-Poached Albacore Tuna, Remoulade and Cheddar Cheese.

Silverton already shared her bread secrets in a previous bestseller (as well as one chronicling her almost equal bravado with pastry), but none of that's your concern here unless you whip out that book or make the few offerings she gives here (loaves of brioche, crusty white or tea sandwich bread). Sandwich makers aren't often long on time, so feel free to buy to-die-for bread (artisans like Silverton have made that possible even in giant supermarket chains all over the country) and begin construction from there. The filling's the thing.

"Don't look at them as complicated sandwiches, but as satisfying entrées on bread," writes Silverton from her typically unique perspective.

Oh, and what entrées they are. A cauliflower puree that's been infused with cream and yellow onions gets topped with browned butter and a dusting of hazelnuts. Artichokes are braised and served with ricotta, mint pesto and pine nut-currant relish. A clam sandwich is adorned with a garlic-butter sauce and homemade Parmesan breadcrumbs. Home-roasted pork is piled high on sourdough bread atop caramelized onions, sauteed bitter greens and yam puree before being drizzled with balsamic-sage brown butter and scattered with sage leaves.

While the gourmet quotient is often quite high, recipes are well explained and easy to follow and most definitely learning tools that will likely lead to unbridled creativity and further experimentation on your own. But hearty, simple sandwiches—equally loved on crowded Campanile sandwich nights—make their comforting presences known, too.

Smoked ham is paired with gruyere and a creamy blend of whole-grain mustard and butter. Gorgonzola, roasted radicchio, honey and spicy candied walnuts lend themselves to another easy example. Marinated onions and mustard are all that jazzes up a classic grilled cheese sandwich.

Although Silverton advises us to think of her sandwich fillings as entrées, she deliciously breaks bread—and that mantra—in the dessert chapter. Sandwich night also inspired the pastry pro to branch out with results like a chocolate brioche club sandwich that's been soaked in milk, cream, cocoa and sugar before being served surrounded by cream, and a lemon cake club sandwich with fresh berries as its luscious layers.

Olive-Oil-Poached Albacore Tuna, Remoulade and Cheddar Cheese

(Updated: 12/11/08 SB)

Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever---From Thursday Nights at Campanile

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