Tag Archives: Miriam Rubin

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh

I stand by the spaghetti sub. Or lie down, more likely.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.43.51 PM

Read it on the Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette site here.

By Miriam Rubin

Call it a sub, hero, grinder, wedge (said to be from Yonkers, N.Y.), hoagie (generally from Philadelphia), torpedo, Zeppelin or Zep (from Norristown), spuckie (East Boston, referring to the bread, spuccadella), bomber (from around Buffalo, N.Y.) or Garibaldi (southern Wisconsin), or by any name, you’ve got an Italian sandwich.

Built on a long, narrow loaf of bread, the sandwich is filled with a mix of cheeses and Italian meats, and often lettuce, tomato, some type of pickled pepper or relish, a drizzle of oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. According to “The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America” the sub and its regional variations evolved from “an Italian fieldworker lunch” of hard bread, sausage and cheese. Folding it all up into a long piece of bread made it portable and easier to eat.

Sometime subs, filled with cold cuts, are warmed up and sometimes subs are even served hot, loaded with meatballs and sauce, or chicken or eggplant Parmesan.

Lisa Cherkasky, a Washington, D.C.-based cookbook author, food stylist and great cook who blogs about sandwiches in “The Lunch Encounter,” said she learned of a curious concoction dubbed the Spa Sub, filled with spaghetti and meatballs, on a trip to West Virginia but didn’t sample it.

For creating a great sub, she said, bread is key. Soft crust or hard crust is regional and personal, but the bread has to be of good quality.

Sprinkle the bread liberally with good olive oil and vinegar after cutting it open. “Then the bread has that vinegar thing going for it, and that helps a lot, even if it’s not stellar bread,” Ms. Cherkasky said. She’s no fan of Italian dressing “unless it’s homemade. Maybe an Italian garlic mayo,” she offered.

“There’s a rhythm to building the sub. It shouldn’t be hard to construct or fussy,” she added. The trick is to hinge open the bread, leaving it closed at one long side. Lay the meat and cheese across the middle and place chopped lettuce in the center, along with tomatoes if you want, “but not lousy tomatoes.” Spice it up with red pepper flakes or a bitey red pepper relish. “Then fold it up. That way everything stays in the bread and you get something in every bite, too,” she said.

Ms. Cherkasky said a sub requires a lot of filling. “I like a mix of meat and cheese, salami, cappicola — some people add ham — and provolone or fresh mozzarella. That’s delicious,” she said.

Condiments make the sub sandwich sing. “There’s the mayo camp and the mustard camp,” she said. “I’m in both, even though mustard isn’t customary on a sub.”

Subs have regional variations and quirks that can be, well, unusual. Primanti Bros. is featuring two new Lenten subs, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. Ms. Cherkasky mentioned a sub called the Broccoli Classic. Made at No. 7 Subs in the Ace Hotel in New York City and Brooklyn, it’s featured in chef Tyler Cord’s cookbook, “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches.” He writes that he’s been devouring broccoli and mashed potato sandwiches since he was a kid. His Classic combines roasted broccoli, mayo, pine nuts, fried shallots, ricotta salata and a spicy lychee relish.

And then there’s that spaghetti sub. “You have leftover spaghetti, you have bread,” Ms. Cherkasky said. “Put some cheese on the bread, put in the spaghetti, wrap the whole thing in foil, push it together and heat it up in the oven so the bread’s toasty. It would be good. My kid would eat that in a second. Yum.”

Miriam Rubin: mmmrubin@gmail.com or on Twitter @mmmrubin.

Super Submarine Sandwich With Olive-Pepper Relish

PG tested

This sandwich improves as it chills out in the fridge. The olive-pepper relish soaks into the bread and all the flavors blend together. Switch up the meats if you like but make sure they are thinly sliced, and not shaved.

Olive-pepper relish

1 cup pitted, drained Kalamata olives

3/4 cup sliced, drained, hot pickled banana peppers

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


1 loaf ciabatta bread

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

6 ounces thinly sliced hot or mild sopressata

6 ounces thinly sliced capicola, ham or mortadella

4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami

8 ounces sliced mild provolone cheese

6 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/3 cup red onion slices

For the relish: Add all ingredients in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the sub: Slice the bread in half horizontally. Pull out the extra soft bread inside the top half of loaf; save for breadcrumbs.

On the bottom half of bread, spread half the olive relish. Layer with meats, provolone, tomatoes and red onions; season with salt and pepper and spoon the remaining olive relish on top. Place other piece of bread over the sandwich and press down lightly. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, slice the sandwich into 2-to-3-inch pieces crosswise. Any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

— Miriam Rubin

Broccoli Classic

It’s featured in Tyler Cord’s “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches.” He writes: “This one could be hot or cold — it just depends on your confidence level and attitude. If you want it to be hot, I suggest having everything ready so that when you finish cooking the broccoli, you’re ready to make a sandwich.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 sub rolls, split lengthwise

2 heads roasted broccoli (trim the broccoli, peel tender stems, toss with oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees until caramelized and tender)

1 cup lychee muchim (recipe follows), mostly drained of its juice

1 cup shredded ricotta salata cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup fried shallots (recipe follows)

Spread mayo on the rolls and top with the roasted broccoli and lychee muchim. Press it all down a little with your hand to make a nice flat base for the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle cheese, pine nuts and shallots, and close the sandwich.

Makes 4 servings.

Lychee Muchim

This makes 1 cup of marinade, good for brining about 2 cups of anything. Muchim in Korean means mixed or seasoned but is generally employed to describe a Korean cucumber salad called “oi muchim.” Mr. Cord writes.

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Few drops sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons red chili flakes (or less, to taste)

1 cup white vinegar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 (20-ounce) can lychees in syrup, drained and halved

Stir together garlic, ginger, shallot, sesame oil, sugar, chili flakes, vinegar, scallions and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add the lychees and soak for at least 1 hour. Keeps, refrigerated, for up to a couple of weeks.

Fried Shallots

Vegetable oil for frying

4 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kosher salt

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy medium saucepan until a shallot ring sizzles when dropped in.

Toss shallots in cornstarch, separating the rings. Add to the oil in batches and fry until crisp and blonde. Drain on paper towels.

Heat same oil to about 325 degrees. Fry shallots a second time, until puffed, caramelized and just light brown. Drain again on new paper towels and season with salt.

— Adapted from “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches” by Tyler Cord, (Clarkson Pottter; June 2016)



The Sublime Miss M sent me this coast-to-coast sandwich escapade. Thank you!
Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 12.35.28 PM

The James Beard Foundation Word on American Sandwiches

True or Nah??

Weigh in folks.  The Cuban is a sandwich I associate strongly with Tampa. True or nah? How now, the Nuke? Am I alone in my ignorance? You from Alaska, is a Reindeer Sausage Sandwich a standard comestible? Raising an eyebrow over the Baltimore choice – perhaps I am in the dark there, too. Crabcakes do not rule the streets of Baltimore? Now the Runza, Along-for-the-Ride Heidi has whispered to me re: Runza. Believe it’s a kissing cousin, once or twice removed. And you know what blows my mind? The New Jersey Sloppy Joe has not been appropriated by hipster worldwide, inc. And, the burning issue, Mother in Law Sandwich, where art thou?

Should you desire to drill deep into sandwich bedrock, I kindly suggest you click on the links.

1. Alaska                         Reindeer sausage sandwich

2. Arizona                      Navajo taco

3. Arkansas                  Fried bologna sandwich

4. California                 French dip

5. Colorado                   Denver sandwich   

6. Connecticut            Lobster roll

7. Florida (Miami)        Cubano

8. Illinois (Chicago)      Italian beef

9. Illinois                     The Horseshoe

10. Indiana                     The pork tenderloin

11. Iowa                           Loose meat (a.k.a. the Maid-Rite)

12. Kentucky            Hot Brown

13. Louisiana (New Orleans) Muffaletta

14. Louisiana (New Orleans) Po’ boy

15. Maine                   Lobster roll

16. Maine (Portland) Italian

17. Maryland (Baltimore)  Lake trout sandwich

18. Minnesota (Minneapolis)  Jucy Lucy

19. Mississippi             Elvis sandwich

20. Missouri (St. Louis)  The St. Paul

21. Montana (Helena)     The nuke

22. Nebraska (Lincoln)    The runza

23. New Jersey               Sloppy Joe

24. New Jersey              Submarine sandwich

25. New York (Buffalo)     Beef on weck

26. NYC                           Corned beef or pastrami on rye

27. North Carolina            Pulled pork BBQ 

28. Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)     Cheese steak

29. Ohio (Cleveland)             The Polish boy

30. South Dakota (Aberdeen)   Pheasant sandwich

31. Virginia (Williamsburg)          Ham biscuit

32. Washington, D.C.                Half-smoke

At Risk of Being a Food52 Groupie

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 11.00.02 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-20 at 11.00.09 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-20 at 11.00.20 AM

See more about the Food52 Brooklyn potluck here.

Not to put too fine a cynical point on it, but do ya think they are having as much fun as they say they are having, or are they mythologizing like most of the rest of us? Nothing wrong with memoryphotoshopping to keep one happy. Highly recommended by yours truly.

Thanks to the Sublime Miss M for alerting me to the fabulousness of Food52 Does Brooklyn.

If It’s Friday, This Must Be Pittsburgh

While I cannot wholeheartedly endorse competition when it comes to food, North Side Sandwich Week is a f.u.n.d.r.a.i.s.e.r. For kids. And porn has become an accepted word to describe nearly anything now. Ask any kid.
Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 11.48.04 AM

It’s a North Side sammich smackdown!

Starting Friday, sammies from 13 neighborhood eateries will vie for lunchers’ and diners’ attentions during North Side Sandwich Week.

The second-annual promotion lets customers vote with their wallets at the individual establishments June 17-23, and vote for their favorite sandwiches online.

But on June 20, sponsoring Northside Leadership Conference (the group writes the neighborhood name as one word) holds the North Side Sandwich Sampler, an event at which attendees can taste all the sandwiches for a good cause.

That happens from 6 to 9 p.m. that Thursday at the Allegheny Elks Lodge No. 339. For $25, you get to sample each of the sandwiches, wash them down with two Penn Brewery beers (or soft drinks) plus dessert, and then you get to vote for your favorite sandwich.

Celebrity judges are WYEP‘s Joey Spehar, jazz vocalist Etta Cox, KDKA-TV‘s Jon Delano and eatPGH‘s Julia Gongaware.

Proceeds benefit the Rox Performance Academy.

Thanks to the Sublime Miss M, Pithy Sub-Stix-Pittsburgher.

A Thin Man No More

Yet another sandwichy reason to hit the brakes when you get to Pittsburgh.
Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 1.23.41 PM

The Thin Man Sandwich Shop

Dan and Sherri Leiphart

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Blog

From The Sublime Miss M:

David and I were starving. We were on our way home from working the Pittsburgh Farm-To-Table Conference where I was selling my book, Tomatoes Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 3.52.47 PMand promoting the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We stopped at buddy Amy’s Mon Amiee Chocolat in the Strip to check in and pick up chocolate and she that reminded me of the new Thin Man Sandwich Shop. David got their first and ordered two beef shin sandwiches with horseradish mayo and braised celery. Since I wanted to taste something else, I changed my order to their signature sandwich, The Thin Man, a baguette spread with chicken liver mousse, topped with local bacon, frissee and a red wine vinaigrette.

Wow! We ate both of these driving those 2 hours back home, washed down with their honey lemon drink, which tasted, just like owner Sherry Leiphart said, of honeycomb.

Fabulous sandwiches. There was nothing left but crumbs.

Sandwichy thanks to the Sublime Miss M.

A Triumph Over Death

is the egg.

By Miriam Rubin

At sundown on Friday, April 6, Passover will begin as Jews all over the world gather around dining tables. They’ll light festival candles. They’ll read ancient prayers and passages from the Haggadah. They’ll sit at tables set with gleaming silver, pressed linens, Grandmother’s china, or maybe just a hodgepodge of plates. Each place will have a wine glass, because drinking wine or grape juice is an essential element of the ceremony. Read on here.

And for all of us, celebrating Passover or not, the surging renewal of spring is upon us and the egg is triumphant.