Sunday, April 22, 2012

Battle of the Sandwich Spreads

Lunch time! This weekend's project was a head-to-head between two notebook recipes for sandwich spreads -- French Sandwich Spread and Snappy Sandwich Filling

In the world of sandwich spreads the hands-down most popular (and still widely available) are the ubiquitous Ham Salad and it's close relative Sandwich Spread. While neither of this week's spreads contain ham or bologna (or even exist at any deil) I though it would be an interesting leap. First, the French Sandwich Spread:

French Sandwich Spread -- submitted by Mrs. Charles Pruiett

1/2-lb. dried beef, 1/2-lb. cheese, 2 cups tomatoes (cook and strain) then add beef, cheese, 1 egg slightly beaten, little cayenne pepper. Cook until thickens, Cool and spread, makes 24 sandwiches.

Decision time...what kind of cheese? After doing a bit of research on recipes with dried beef, almost all utilized cream cheese (though I halfway expected to find Velveeta or Swiss in the recipes but no!) so I went with the majority. Plus, if the spread resembled a cheese ball type spread, it would be at least edible for Sunday lunch.

Where do you get dried beef? Evidently, on the top shelf (oh la la) next to pickled pigs' feet at Wal-Mart. I have not bought a product from the Armour company in a decade but today they got my business. Though the jar was a mere 2.5 oz jar I simply could not bring myself to purchase THREE jars of the stuff. One would have to do.

Tomatoes. Not good this time of year. I did what any Mid-Century Modern woman would have done, I opened the pantry door and grabbed a can of diced tomatoes. I drained them well and that made just under two cups.

According to the jar of beef I had to rinse the beef in warm water and then it would be ready to use. I rinsed and then chopped the now-slightly-spongy beef and combined it with the tomatoes, cream cheese on the stove. Next, the beaten egg and cayenne pepper. I set the heat to low -- didn't want a scrambled egg in the spread, and without much attention the spread cooked thick. I put it in a glass dish and let it cool until lunch.

Snappy Sandwich Filling -- by Mary Starr from "Cooking School"
This is a column that has a different format and feel than "Favorite Recipes". Mary includes a complete menu for the day as well as cooking tips and, of course, recipes like this one.

Mary says, "Any member of your family who carries lunch to work or school will appreciate a bit of  variety in his daily bread. Simple sandwich fillings can be made into snappy spreads. For instance, here is a zestful peanut butter and India relish filling:

To make four sandwiches mix together one-half cup peanut butter, two tablespoons of India relish, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped celery and two tablespoons of mayonnaise. When well-combined, spread filling between slices of buttered bread out to the edge. 

India relish? According to Wiki.Answers it's "India Relish has pickled cucumber, onion, cabbage and spices entrained in the regular sweet pickle relish consistency offering a broader taste, less sweetness and greater vinegar flavors. It is often used to reduce the sugar content of slaws and salads. Hinez makes a very fine India Relish. It seems a cross between chow-chow and sweet pickle relish.

No one around here carries it.

So, dill pickle relish it is...after all, it said "less sweetness" right? So, I whipped up the snappy filling and spread it, like directed on buttered (Pepperidge Farm) bread. I pulled the beef mixture out of the fridge and spread it (no butter) on a hearty dark bread. Time to taste!

The Snappy Sandwich Filling was ok but definitely confusing to the palate. Perhaps the taste buds expected the sweetness of jam but instead got a hearty taste of dill. Interesting. Perhaps the India relish would add a pleasing dimension but until I find the product this spread is definitely not for me. Sweet pickle relish would have been closer to jam and tastier.

The French Sandwich Spread? Better, though definitely tomato-ey. Kind of like a cheeseball on a bread. It was the more promising of the two and 6-year-old Max declared this sandwich the winner.

Battle of the Sandwich Spreads
French Sandwich Spread
Soup Can Score: One and Half Soup Cans out of Five

Snappy Sandwich Filling
Soup Can Score: One Soup Can out of Five

End note: I'm coming closer to dating these recipes. It seems Mary Starr was a popular cook with a televised segment on WATE in Knoxville in the mid-1950s. Starr also had a column, Cooking School, which was apparently syndicated and appeared on the "ladies pages" of the Chicago Daily News. I'm still looking for the exact years the column ran, but to my best guess I'm cooking straight out of the 50s here!!!

1 comment:

  1. OMGoodness...I have purchased dried beef numerous times and made a wonderful cheese ball....but this sandwich spread almost makes me queazy!!! Max & Coach didn't eat this did they?