Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Beginning: 2009 - Sandwich Cake Anyone?

It's been five years or so since I aborted my career and started a new life in Spain. I think I wanted a healthier life that I could actually enjoy, and I have to admit that five years ago, I didn't really know how to do this. In fact, I have to admit that I'm still trying to figure it out even though I think I'm getting better at this.

I just came back from Tokyo with my partner Ronny and am still cleaning up the mess that spilled forth from our two small suitcases. The company Ronny works for closed down just before Christmas and he is unemployed now, so it's pretty unlikely we will be doing anymore traveling this year. If it hadn't been for my epicurean overly generous sister - we would have had a pretty miserable Christmas, but she made sure we were one step away from following in the footsteps of feather slinging Roman hedonists and so beyond having to take Strong Wakamoto (digestive enzymes) we were a couple of happy bunnies.

Anyway this is the start of a new year - a few years before we hit Peak Oil so I thought I'd turn over a new leaf and start some serious food blogging...or at least try to.

I've always enjoyed cooking and have done the catering for some of my friends back in Tokyo on the opening night of their art exhibits. Beyond that however, I haven't done much except make food for my own parties (and my sister's occasionally).

I think my first lessons in making 'party food' go back to my childhood when my mother used to prepare lots of finger food for her cocktail parties. I used to hang around the kitchen like a little monkey hoping to steal deep friend Wonton wrappers filled with cheese or water chestnuts and dried plums rolled up in crispy bacon. I'd watch my mom decorate the table with shallow chinaware filled with water and floating orchids. I thought that when I grew-up I'd be hosting cocktail parties too.

Anyhow I never became an expatriate in my adult life and never had to host a cocktail party so this didn't come to pass - but I still love cooking festive looking food.

At this very moment though, Ronny is still attending to the details of getting his unemployment benefits and we have a pretty empty refrigerator - so it will be a few days or next week before I can show you anything really new and I'm going to start the new year off by sharing a photograph of a sandwich cake Ronny made in 2008 and try to explain how you can make one yourself!

It's all fairly straight forward and simple so don't be shy. Plus, you can make a 'credit crunch' budget version with cheaper more readily available ingredients or really splurge and make an epicurean fantasy come true!

Here goes.



12 Slices Sandwich Bread (cut off crust)


2 Ears of Corn
Creme Fraiche
Sour Cream
1 Can Tuna or Chopped Up Smoked Salmon
Dill (finely chopped - and use as much as you wish)


1 kg Langostines
3 Lobsters
Grapes (a few)
Cocktail Tomatoes (different colors if you can get them)
Salmon Roe, Trout Roe, Lumpfish Roe, Beluga, Flying Fish Roe, etc. <---Anything you can possibly get your hands on. 200g Thinly Sliced Ham (Jamon Cocido) Lettuce (A few leaves - enough to cover the top layer of your cake) 1 Cucumber (thinly sliced) Dill (lots of it - or as much as you desire) Other things you will need:

Plastic Wrap
A tray big enough for your sandwich cake
Enough space in your refrigerator to put the cake in there overnight!

*This is just an example of what you can use and feel free to use anything you like eating or avoiding things you don't like.

The sandwich cake needs to be prepared the night before so that the ingredients (except for the decorations) have time to marry. Also keep in mind that you can upgrade the ingredients as much as you wish or is financially feasible! One person might start out by baking their own loaf of bread and another person might opt for sandwich bread that already has its crust cut off. This is all up to you.

Basic Preparations:

1. Boil the Langostines and lobsters in water with lots of fresh dill and some salt in it and then remove their shell. <----This is possibly the most labor intensive part of making this cake. 2. Roast the corn if you use fresh corn. 3. Sear the tuna steak, cool it down and make flakes if you use fresh tuna. The Basic Cake

Step 1: Assuming you already have slices of sandwich bread - make sure you cut off the crust and lay 4 of them down in a square on the tray.

Step 2: Spread Filling No. 1*

Step 3: Put another 4 slices of bread of this on top of the filling.

Step 4: Spread Filling No. 2**

Step 5: Put another 4 slices of bread on top of the filling.

Step 6: Cover the entire cake with unseasoned whipped cream using a spatula to make it look like a cake.

At this point you can put some toothpicks on top of the cake and cover it up with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight - or you can decorate it if you aren't going to have enough time to decorate it the next day. This is your choice.

*Filling No.1 : A mixture of canned tuna (buy a tuna steak, sear it and make your own flakes if this is too down market for you) or chop-up smoked salmon if tuna is an issue, corn (we roasted fresh corn and used it but if you're lazy you can also used canned corn), sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, fresh dill, salt and pepper.

**Filling No. 2: A mixture of chopped up Langostines (boiled in dill), fresh dill, sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, salt and pepper.

Note: You can also use mayonnaise if you love it or don't have the confidence to make your own blend of sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, salt & pepper or are plain lazy. It's a free world.

Basic Decoration:

1. Line the sides of the cake with thin cucumber slices.

2. Cover the top of the cake with lettuce leaves then cover it with a layer of thinly sliced ham. This can be regular ham, Prosciutto or Jamon Iberico. Use whatever you fancy.

3. Decorate the cake and serve!

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