Have you all missed me? I’ve certainly missed you. The pass few weeks have been challenging. First there were all those renovations which, by the way, are not completely done but far enough along to bring some level of normalcy back to the Hogan residence. From there, I found myself ushering repairmen and furniture deliverers out and weekend company in for a 50th Anniversary party I was hosting for my wonderful in-laws. Then my dearest grandmother, my last living grandparent and the matriarch of our family passed away. So I dropped everything and abandoned my house guests to fly to New Orleans to be with my side of the family and pay my last respects to an amazing women who touched the lives of so many with love, laughter and lots of good food!
Today’s finger food is in honor of my grandmother. You see Mimi, as we all called her, was the Queen of Sandwiches (among many other things). That may not sound like much to you, but in our family it was huge. She made the best! With her caring hands, she was able to transform basic ingredients–sliced bread, meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes–into delicious, satisfying comfort food. Why? Because she made each one with love and patience–two things very few of us do when making a basic sandwich. On average, Mimi’s creations took 10 to 15 minutes to construct. Within that time, she toasted the bread just right (in her toaster oven I might add), smeared on the perfect amount of mayo, stacked the meat and cheese just so, strategically placed the crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes on top and seasoned everything ever-so-precisely with salt and pepper. Each of her sandwiches was well worth the wait. And regardless of your appetite or stature, Mimi always insisted on seconds. If you couldn’t “fit it in” at her table, she’d simply wrap it up in a napkin and send you on your way with a snack for later. It’s one of many unspoken lessons of love I learned from her … and one of the reasons why I have trouble letting anyone leave my house empty-handed!
I suppose I could have shared Mimi’s basic sandwich recipe in this post. But an ingredient list and instructions would never have captured the true spirit and flavor of that or any other meal she served. Her food was not about recipes. Mimi cooked for us because she loved and cared about us. And she knew that as long as she had a warm meal on the table she would never be alone. She was right. These Deli Pistolettes were the last sandwiches I made with love for people I care about (they were part of the spread for my in-laws’ party). And while they didn’t take me 10 minutes a piece to make, they were constructed with warm thoughts of bringing my husband’s family together to celebrate a special occasion and enjoy each other’s company.
As this very long week comes to an end, I hope you’ll all make time to share at least a simple meal with your family and embrace the subtle way food connects and sustains all of us. And as you reach for the perfect beverage to wash it all down, I hope you’ll grab at least one Miller High Life Pony. It was Mimi’s favorite!
Until next week …
Deli Pistolettes Recipe
1 stick butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
12 5-inch pistolettes (or other small, crusty rolls)
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli Cajun roast beef
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli honey ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli smoked turkey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter, garlic and garlic powder in a medium size microwavable dish. Cover and cook on high for 1 minute, or until butter is melted. Slice pistolettes lengthwise about 3/4 of the way through; spoon and spread about one teaspoon of garlic butter on each side of each pistolette. Stuff 4 of the pistolettes with even amounts of the roast beef, 4 with the ham and 4 with the turkey. Place pistolettes on a large baking sheet and bake until the bread is crispy and the meat is heated through, 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.