16 May 2012

The Edgewater Sandwich Book

Everyone knows the story of the sandwich.  Once upon a time...   

The Earl of Sandwich was a big old gambler and could not be persuaded to leave the card table for the dinner table.  He instructed his cook to slap his meat between to slices of bread so he could eat and gamble simultaneously.  Here, necessity was the mother of invention.

Sine then, the sandwich has been a staple in our diet and once we eat anything, of course, someone writes a cookbook about it.  Arnold Shircliffe wrote The Edgewater Sandwich Book in 1930 for the Hotel Monthly Handbook series.  Hotel Monthly did a series of books that were long and narrow, presumably to tuck into a Chef’s vest pocket.  (Though I couldn’t name a chef that has a vest pocket these days.)  Arnold Shircliffe was quite the collector of all things food.  For many years he worked at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.

The Edgewater Sandwich Book features a dedication to the founder of the sandwich, the famous Earl, whose picture graces the frontispiece of the book.

These little Hotel Monthly books have become quite collectible.  Like so many of these little books, they are filled with recipes that are a bit vague.  Well, perhaps not vague to a chef, they are still just sandwiches.  Really, a ham and cheese open face sandwich is a ham and cheese open face sandwich. If the “recipe” calls for strawberry jam, then just add it.

The little book has hundreds of sandwich recipes and a special chapter for canapés and for compound butters and spreads for sandwiches.

There are ham, roast beef, veal, pig’s feet, rabbit, even squirrel sandwiches which one makes the same way as one would make a rabbit sandwich.  

Rabbit Sandwich

Rabbit, bread, butter, lettuce, bacon

Sauté the leg or loin of rabbit, then smother until tender.  Allow to cool, then cut in thin slices.  Arrange them on thin slices of buttered bread.  Season, press on leaf of lettuce, a strip of grilled bacon and upper slice.  Trim and cut in two diagonally.

Not only are there a plethora of meaty fillings there are also vegetable, nuts and fruit fillings.  Apples are of course, a logical choice for sandwich fillings, but prunes are a new one.

Prune Sandwich-I

Prunes, lemon juice, lettuce, mayonnaise, bread

Mix together six large prunes, chopped, two teaspoons lemon juice and one-third head lettuce, chopped fine.  Spread with butter and mayonnaise on slices of plain bread.  Press on upper slice and cut in desired shapes.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Prune Sandwich-II.  It calls for a whole wheat bread and Oregon prunes which are supposed to be tart.   For the truly bold there is something called the cannibal, an open faced sandwich of beef tartar.

Cannibal Sandwich

Spread thin slices of bread with finely ground or chopped raw beef, without tissues and sinews, mixed with a little finely chopped onion, and seasoned.  This is an open sandwich and the layer of meat should be about the same thickness as the bread.  Sprinkle with chopped chives and criss-cross with fork times to give a decorative appearance.

 Lord knows there is nothing worse than a Cannibal Sandwich that has not been decorated with fork tines.  This is one of those collectible titles that is a charming piece of history, but is probably not for everyone.  Though without this gem, I would have never thought of a pig’s foot sandwich or a cannibal sandwich, either.

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