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The Ruml Turkey Sandwich

I’m not sure that there’s ever been a post about the Ruml Turkey Sandwich but since I discovered two excellent photos, here goes.

I usually use a single slice of Pepperidge Farm rye bread lightly toasted and sliced into two thiner slices. But this exemplar seems to be made with two normal slices of rye bread. To start, each slice is slathered with gravy. Then, reading from the bottom, a sliced hard-boiled egg, cranberry sauce, turkey white meat, mushroom stuffing which has been crisped under a broiler, three slices of very crisp bacon, and multiple slices of emmenthal cheese. I cut the sandwich into thirds to make it possible to hold a section in one hand while I slap on lots of mayonnaise with the other.

Here’s another version built similarly:

The Pleasures of H-Mart: Octopus

The very serious Korean market H-Mart opened a gigantic big-box store in Burlington about five years ago and we paid a visit. It was eye-opening to see the stunning variety of seafood all prepared for the table. Happily about a year ago H-Mart opened a smaller market in Central Square and we’ve had great fun inspecting and trying all sorts of things not found elsewhere. We’ll devote a separate post to Hawaiian poke. Our latest discovery is the steamed octopus packaged ready-to-eat with two containers of hot sauce. I once tried to prepare a frozen octopus purchased at the 88 Market on Beacon St but it was not a great success. Here was already cooked octopus which I imagined would only need a bit of grilling to match what we almost always order when we find it on a restaurant menu. Would it work? Well, you wouldn’t be hearing about it unless it had!

The Advantages of Boxed Wine

We’re not great connoisseurs of wine but we’re reasonably knowledgeable and experienced. We’d like to have a glass of wine with the food which would benefit from the pairing but it’s not often that we want to drink a whole bottle with a meal. What to do? We’ve discovered that if you look carefully enough you can find very drinkable and satisfying wines packaged in boxes which preserve the integrity of the wine for several weeks (because the wine is held in a bladder which becomes smaller as the wine is dispensed and thus no air is introduced as with a half-consumed bottle). Our current favorites are available at Marty’s in Newton. Our white is very dry and crisp, suitable for most white wine occasions and for cooking (e.g., fondue):

The Petite Frog is $30. Our favorite red is a bit more at $45 but still very reasonable at $11/bottle:

Fat Hen in Somerville

Recently went to Fat Hen on Broadway in Somerville (but forgot my camera so no photos!). We were very pleasantly surprised when our first four dishes turned out to be superb. Things took a considerable turn for the worst with the entrees but returned to very good with the desserts. Seeing we were not happy with the entrees (tasting them was enough), the management removed an entire meal from our check. Since the price for a four-course meal is $45, it would have been a great value nonetheless; we heartily recommend that you give it a try.

MiniMadeleines Day after Day

We’re big fans of Cafe Boulud in NYC in part because at the end of each meal we’re presented with a small basket of warm, freshly-baked mini-madeleines dusted with powdered sugar. We found it difficult to undertake a batch of madeleines just to eat a few at the end of a meal at home but that’s now all changed. Dorie Greenspan mentions in her madeleine recipe that the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days. As a result, we can have 12 mini-madeleines after dinner three nights in a row. It now takes two minutes to fill the molds and 11 minutes of waiting! We have great success placing the mold on a baking steel preheated to 400. (We’re considering adding some lemon juice to the recipe for a bit more zing.)

We keep the batter in a jar with a wide mouth so that it’s easy to scoop it out into the molds:

Olive Bread

Clearflour makes a fine olive roll but it doesn’t have enough olives in it! So, using Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe, I make my own olive bread. The olives come from Sophia’s Greek Pantry on Belmont Ave (or Sevan on Mt Auburn) and each gets cut into three pieces. A full two cups of olives is not too much!

Rather than the volume amounts in the Times recipe, I use weight for the key ingredients: 400g King Arthur Bread Flour, 300g warm water, 3/4 tsp active dry yeast, and 1 tsp salt. Your best bet is to add the water last to the combined dry ingredients. I usually allow the dough to ferment for 22-24 hours. Then it bakes in my 1960s Copco dutch oven covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes.

Here’s a particularly successful loaf:


Ceviche at Home

Our layover in Miami coming home from Costa Rica at Christmastime found us at a high-end Peruvian ceviche restaurant with several hours to kill.  We were surprised and fascinated by the variety of sauces served on the ceviche.  From the cookbook The Fire of Peru, we tried this mixed seafood ceviche with a sauce containing the chili paste aji amarillo (from Amazon).  We were very pleased and commend the recipe to you.


Great ceviche at Oyamel in DC

We’ve just returned from 3 days in DC visiting the National Gallery and conveniently enough there’s a great Mexican restaurant within two blocks, Oyamel, at 7th and D.  They have 6-8 kinds of ceviche on the menu and we spent each lunchtime sampling (most of) them.  By far the best was this ahi tuna ceviche:

AhiTunaMenu 2

Since we ordered it four times, you get to see two different versions!


Our conversations with the ceviche chef (we asked to sit at the ceviche bar) disclosed that the Maggi-lime marinade is 1-2 Maggi to lime juice.  Maggi is the Swiss flavoring which is basically the equivalent to fish sauce as an umami bomb.  Amaranth is a grain grown in Central America and provides the crunch.  How exactly to prepare it from raw whole grains is still a mystery.  We thought the use of pecans was inspired!

We’ve discovered that information on making ceviche is not so easy to find so we’re starting a page at to have a single location for everything we discover.  Come visit and see how it’s turning out!

Pollo al Mattone (finally!)

One of our favorite dishes when we’re in Italy is pollo al mattone, a flattened chicken cooked in a frying pan under considerable weight (mattone = brick) until it’s deeply browned and the skin is that incomparable crispy stuff of dreams.  We’ve tried it in Italy without success.  We’ve even bought the special-purpose ceramic cooker that’s sold for the purpose: bottom like a tagine bottom and top like a very thick lid.  We used a small bird called gallinetta which seemed about the same size as those we’d been served. Not so pretty: not crisp even after long cooking.



Our favorite version was served at Cecco in Pescia (once the regional special occasion destination; now sadly closed) with a close second at Da Giulio in Lucca.  In fact, Patricia Wells in her Trattoria cookbook says that she got her recipe from visiting the kitchen at Da Giulio.  Here’s the Da Giulio version:


She wasn’t paying much attention because she calls for a four pound chicken.  In fact the dish is successfully made only with a cornish hen of about two pounds (example below from the Star Market).


When I saw the very inexpensive cornish hens at the Star I decided it was time to try again.  There’s nothing complicated about it.  Just cut the backbone off and thoroughly flatten the bird, breaking whatever bones need breaking.


Salt and pepper and then place skin down in a cast iron frying pan with lots of weight on top over medium-high heat for 12 minutes; flip for 12 minutes on the other side (skin up).  Below, there’s aluminum foil on top of the pollo, then a second cast iron pan with a bottle of peanut oil on top.  (Use the heaviest thing available!)


Serve with lots of lemon wedges and salt.  (Below, we covered it with fresh rosemary.)


Asta: Skip It!

Corby Kummer’s recent review of Art+Science in Boston Magazine described it as the best indication of what’s happening now in the Boston food world and was enthusiastic.  Since we had gone a month or so ago and not been particularly impressed (save for two dishes which were commendable), I should have known better when I read his comment that last year it was Asta that held that honor.  I remembered that it had gotten good reviews and thought that it would be a good candidate for our we-have-to-go-out-to-eat-from-time-to-time list.  On a Saturday night, the few tables took until past 8 to fill so perhaps we just don’t keep our ears close enough to the ground.  The food was arty in the extreme according to today’s fashion (I’m willing to tolerate that), the flavors mild and uninteresting, and the value near rock bottom.  Here are the details.

The  menu was prix fixe with a choice of three, five, or eight courses.  As you can see, having given up the ability to select paricularly appealing dishes, you are also left virtually in the dark about how the ingredients are prepared.  As we always order as many things as possible, we decided on one three-course and one five-course dinner supplemented with the seared foie gras.


The amuse bouche seemed a good omen even if straightforward: fava beans with pickled radish.


The cauliflower risotto was among the best of the dishes, nice balance of cauliflower, raisins and anchovies.


The lentil salad was mostly kale.  If you look very closely, you’ll spot a few lentils hiding in the crevices.  The flavor was strictly kale, however, even if fresh and appealing.


The “cod, fennel, olive” was again straightforward: nothing innovative here.  And not about to fill you up.


The most curious dish of the evening was the “egg, foie gras puree, ramps.”  There was indeed a small poached egg under the greens!  We were told by the server that the dish included “lamb-cetta, like pancetta but from lamb” (the slender slices standing up on the left). So I guess I have to rack that up as a first but, again, nothing to write home about.


So, at last we came to the foie gras which the kitchen had kindly agreed to serve on two plates.  A reasonable portion, expertly cooked, but it had cooled off considerably by the time it reached us.  The lime puree had very little lime flavor and the chili even less but the plate looked pretty!


Next we had the “lamb, spring onions, potato” and “beef stew, egg noodles” served simultaneously.  The lamb was properly dark pink and the onion nicely charred.  In all, a highly commendable dish and the best of the evening.


The beef stew, however, was a total disaster.  The very thick house-made noodles were seriously undercooked and the stew itself was as boring as could be.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beef stew, even in a diner, without some pearl onions and carrots to give it some visual interest.  The nasturtium leaves seemed to be more a disguise than a garnish.


The desserts were well-done, a milk toast with chocolate, and a semifreddo with freeze-dried strawberries.  (I need to look for that on Amazon!)  Since we’re not fans of restaurant desserts, these perfectly satisfactory ones did little to boost our spirits which were pretty low at this point.



So, let’s turn to the value question.  Aside from the $29 for two glasses of average wine, we paid $186 (with tip).  Was it a good idea to select the three-course menu?  Well, if we allocate $10 for the dessert (certainly adequate on an a la carte basis), the the lentil salad and beef stew were each $20 dishes.  I doubt that anyone could stay in business trying to sell a kale salad for $20, or that particular botch of a beef stew for $20.  So, no, not a good idea; a particularly costly error.

Am I an aging, cantankerous curmudgeon.  Perhaps.  But I’m looking forward to what I consider the proof that this was a much-too-expensive dinner for what was delivered: next weekend, we’ll shop for a blow-out meal at home; $100 for ingredients, $100 for wine, and we’ll have $15 left to go to Bartley’s the next night.