A good day is when I have the time to make lunch. When I’m relaxed enough and yet energetic enough to open the fridge and be inspired by basic, leftover ingredients. I light up the stove, always incorporate butter, heat up my vegetable and meats et voila, déjeuner. My favorite things to make are those that are simple, yet require practice. Omlettes. Warm sandwiches.
They might be my favorite because these meals remind me of France. Taking the time in the middle of the day for myself, to do something that gives me pleasure physically and emotionally reminds me of my time in Paris when I had whole days to do as I pleased. To decide things spur of the moment, to look forward to time in the kitchen.
I made this sandwich last week, when I was working from home on my own. With Pam away on her book tour, I was spending time researching and e-mailing, all computer work. I clocked out, went downstairs, pulled out some shallots, some fresh cheese, some leftover prosciutto, one of many apples readying themselves for pie. I threw them all into a skillet, popped the day-old bread into the toaster, and suddenly there was lunch. I sat down, newspaper open to an article I’d been wanting to read and I took a bite. But it was too good. I couldn’t even read. I just closed my eyes and ate.
This is why I love food. That moment when your senses overwhelm everything else. Like meditation, like joy. I relished the combination of flavors, stood up, and returned to the kitchen. I removed the ingredients from the fridge, reheat the stove, and made myself another.
A French Lunch: Open-Faced Prosciutto, Apple, Shallot, and Goat Cheese Sandwich
I butter my toast with a quickly made herb butter, but if you have it on hand, substitute the butter and Herbs de Provence in the ingredient list with pure herb butter. If making this sandwich for dinner, I’d suggest sauteing the ingredients per traditional methods, shallots first, then garlic, then apple, then prosciutto. But since I make this for lunch, I find it easiest to just throw everything in at once.
Piece of bread
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, separated
1/2 medium shallot, sliced pole to pole into rounds
1/4 apple, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1/2 ounce goat cheese (about 2 tablespoons)
A piece of prosciutto
Herbs de Provence
If your toaster is slow, toast bread now.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, apple, garlic and prosciutto. Cook until shallots and apple are soft and prosciutto begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Remove toast and butter with remaining half tablespoon. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Add sauteed ingredients and goat cheese atop the toast and garnish with lemon juice.
If serving for company, assemble sandwich by layering the following atop the bread: shallot, apple, and goat cheese. Garnish with lemon. Serve.