Building a Better Bagel and a Steamy Kitchen: Modern Asian Contest Entry

A Heart Attack on a Bagel

Uncle Melvin's #14

Uncle Melvin's #14

I used to have an uncle — well, I think he was my mom’s uncle, actually. But that’s not the point. Uncle Melvin had a deli. Not just any deli, but a Jewish deli in Jersey and he made a #14. Well, I am sure he made a #1 – #14 and beyond, but I was little and I don’t remember those kind of details when it comes to food. What I do remember is that the #14, a Corned Beef and Pastrami on Rye with Chopped Liver, Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing was my favorite ever sandwich! Sure I liked an Italian deli sandwich. And a Sloppy Joe at the Millburn Deli was to die for, but Melvin, that dear Uncle Melvin knew how to create a heart attack on rye that I still think of frequently.

[Side note — I had no idea this blog post about the Milburn Deli Sloppy Joe was out there. I just stumbled upon it as I was doing a Google search for the deli’s home page.] When I saw a photo of the actual sandwich it made me smile wide and … salivate! Now THAT is another to die for sandwich! Probably my #2 all time favorite. Oh and while we’re talking about favorite sandwiches, let’s make a little diversion, shall we? Vincent’s (I think that’s the name of it) just a down the block from Morristown High School was a favorite hang out for the smoking population of the high school and a place for a DEElicious turkey on a roll with mayo.

There was an Italian deli in town and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it nor the name of the kid I went to school with whose family owned it. But they made a great Italian sub! Not a grinder which you heat up if you live in Connecticut. Nope, a real Italian sub — like the Sopranos would eat if they were hanging around Morristown for an afternoon. OMG! What great food we have in New Jersey! The bread! The Pizza. Ok, back to Uncle Melvin’s #14

So yesterday when I was at Wegman’s, circling the food cases looking for inspiration for this week’s Justopia Cooks shows and sidled up to the smoked fish case for last night’s Bagel and Lox episode, I spied packages of Hebrew National Corned Beef and Pastrami.

It’s nearly impossible to get a good bagel in this part of the DC Metro Area and good corned and pastrami is, well, fugeddaboutit! But when I spied the Hebrew National logo I thought, hey! Why not give it a try? What have I got to lose?

And then I remembered I had the CORRECT GOOD mustard in the fridge. I headed right to the meat case and rolled my way up to the chicken department and looked for chicken livers.

It wouldn’t be an Uncle Melvin’s #14 without chopped liver! I had asked the girl behind the fish counter for a small container of the chopped liver that was sitting in the case and she immediately asked me if I wanted to try it. Well, why not?! I am glad I did. It was kinda soupy and sweet and I turned up my nose only to see her smile and say, “That’s why I wanted you to try it. It comes in a can and most customers don’t like it.”

Wow Wegman’s! Good on ya! That was customer service. When I got home I unpacked the groceries and started on the liver. I knew it would take a little time and I didn’t want to waste any. Now, if you are reading this and you are Kosher, or you try to stay within the realm of Kosher when it comes to food like this, I apologize profusely for what you are about to “hear.” Really! I mean really, really! I am sorry. So so so sorry! Clearly, I had to make my own. Not a problem. I needed something to cook anyway.

I had no chicken fat even though I’d just made a big batch of soup last week. I’ve been buying some very lean birds lately — no fat. The soup is never yellow. It’s really wonderful, but no fat.

So, and here’s the scary part! Please close your eyes here if you are afraid of the “flies in the face of all that is Kosher” part. I looked to the left of the stove and in a jar with a picture of a cow, there it was. The plastic jar of Ghee! Ghee?! What is Ghee you might ask and why is that such a terrible thing?

Ghee is clarified butter. YES!!!!!!!!!! I said it. Now stop judging me! Ok, I know! You do not cook a kid in it’s mother’s milk! I “hear” you. I “feel” you sneering at me. And it’s almost like the way I can’t bring myself to want to purchase the hand painted rooster plates we are now selling at the store. How can you put a chicken on a plate with a very real looking chicken and cut it? It doesn’t seem right. Just as my indiscretion with using ghee in the chopped liver last night was a horrific thing to do. I feel guilt and shame. But I did it and I am not going to belabor the point.

But let me just tell you that it made the damn best tasting chopped liver I’ve ever eaten! Nuf said.

Moving on. I had the FlipVideo out and on a tripod and filming the whole bagel building episode, but in my dorky newness to vido creating, I’d apparently neglected to press the PLAY button! So all we have are photos.

I tried a new lighting technique this morning and while some of the photos look pretty darn good, others, like this one, look a little washed out.

I am here to tell you that this was a primo sandwich though. Although it was not on rye and I did not opt to make Russian dressing — I do have my limits in the volume and calorie department, ya know. It was still a to die for sandwich to chomp on at work today.

And it would not have been complete without a couple of Bubbie’s (means Grandmother in Yiddish) kosher dills and a little bit of the potato salad I made last night.

This was a heavenly lunch!

Aren’t you salivating just looking at the pickles?

Oh, and I neglected to mention how GREAT the Corned Beef and Pastrami were — especially the corned beef it was so moist. I can’t wait to have another sandwich tomorrow!

A Great Food Contest!

Chicken with Basil

I’m entering this recipe in the Steamy Kitchen: Modern Asian contest this week. I will have to enter more recipes before the 8/8/8 deadline! And I now have a craving for Wonton Noodle Soup!

Chicken with Basil

Chicken with Basil

In a hot pan or wok add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add 2 lightly smashed garlic cloves. When garlic has just turned golden brown, remove. Add two thinly sliced chicken breasts and stir until cooked through. Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 1.5 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sugar 3 sliced green onions and stir fry to incorporate until the sugar is melted. Turn off the heat and add 1.5 cups Thai or Italian basil leaves. Serve with or over rice, or for a quicker side, boil soba noodles.


6 Responses

  1. The #14 looks so very yummy that my mouth is watering. The combination of meats sounds great ..even the chopped liver. I am one of few that loves liver, chicken or beef.
    Good luck in the contest.

  2. I almost forgot justy you were a JOISEY GAL… lol… untill I read this entry

    HOLY MOLEY.. I am sitting here and I am wanting to drool I mean I must of been Jewish in a past life or something because I LOOOOOOOVE BAGELS!


    I guess you dont live the Kosher life? ( I mean you know go by it ? )I know some of the jewish faith do and some dont.

    I had a teacher in the 6th grade MISTER JACOBS and he was jewish and he did the no lights on friday night did things by candle light and all that.

    ~ Christopher ~

  3. Oh yeah Peekers! It made a great snack after work last night too!

  4. Christopher,

    Nope, I don’t keep Kosher, but I do make some things that are easily within the Kosher guidelines. My chicken soup for instance. You’ve seen me make that tons of times. Mmmmmmm

  5. No kosher anything in this house! AAAh but the thought of having 2 sets of dishes and POTS AND PANS and all the gear! WOOT WOOT! I heart kitchen stuffs!

  6. Yep Jane,

    I can’t imagine having to manage two separate everything! I would make mistakes daily, I’m sure.

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