I believe American author and U.S. Ambassador Clare Booth Luce put it best when she said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Now I didn’t always believe this, especially not when it came to cooking. This was a recent epiphany. Just a few weeks ago, I was spending hours scouring Julia Child cookbooks, looking for recipes with robust lists of ingredients. The more ingredients to me, the better the dish. Then it will have a fuller flavor, I thought. Then it will taste sophisticated, I thought. Then it will taste gourmet, I thought. I spent three hours simply looking at complicated recipes. I think it’s safe to say I was losing touch with cooking reality. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing immoral about a dish that contains several ingredients, but sometimes combining the freshest, simplest ingredients can lead you to your own masterpiece.
You don’t have to believe me, but take a trip to your local farmer’s market and you might change your mind. This is what turned my pre-conceived notions about complicated recipes upside-down. One quick stroll through the Clintonville Farmer’s Market later, and I had a brilliant idea for a gourmet sandwich (no lengthy cookbook required). Let me explain.
It was the perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and my stomach was rumbling like the steady whistle of a hot tea kettle. I was craving something hearty so I drove to the farmer’s market. As I stepped out of my parked car, I could hear the sizzle of a griddle and the decadent smell of charred polenta and crispy bacon.
I walked up to the first covered tent I saw. There was bread. Everywhere. Loaves and loaves of bread. It smelled of fresh yeast and warm butter. I sampled the sourdough and was pleasantly surprised. It was crunchy and rough on the outside and doughy and warm on the inside, the perfect blend of hard and soft. I grabbed a loaf and was on my way.
The cheese station was next. Leek and mushroom cheese offered the perfect amount of creaminess to balance out the bitterness of the leeks and the year-old aged cheddar was sharp and rich. After sampling several more, I settled on a mild provolone.
Next came the jam lady. It was a rainbow of fresh jellies and preserves, so I was surprised when she asked, “Do you like brussel sprouts?” “Yes,” I replied, bewildered and wondering how this could possibly mix well with jelly. In one swift motion she grabbed a cracker and dunked it in a chunky looking dip. I tasted it and the world stopped, it was that good. “What is this?” I probed. She said it was cream cheese mixed with homemade, jarred brussel sprout relish. I was sold! I bought the largest container she had and moved to the vegetable tent.
I was amazed by how authentic and imperfect the vegetables looked. I grabbed a vibrant orange tomato that was slightly lopsided and asked the vendor what type of tomato I was holding. She told me it was an heirloom and would be perfect for nearly anything I needed it for. I ended my trip by purchasing that perfectly imperfect tomato and a bag of fresh lettuce.
While walking to my car with my goods and nearly dropping everything a few times, it hit me. I had all the makings for a delicious sandwich. I could throw something together and top it with one of the eggs I had at home.
While very simple, this was one of the tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever had, and my boyfriend can attest to that! I learned to appreciate the true beauty of simplicity in cooking and the use of fresh, local ingredients. I’ve included the egg sandwich recipe below.
Note: This recipe will taste similar to a gourmet sandwich if you use ingredients from your local vendors. I highly recommend the Clintonville Farmer’s Market in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a favorite of mine and they offer a lot of variety.
Makes two sandwiches
- 1 loaf (4 slices) of farmer’s market sourdough bread
- ¼ lb cheese, your choice (I recommend a mild cheese like provolone or muenster)
- 3 tbs cream cheese
- 3 tbs brussel sprout relish or olive muffalato
- 1 orange heirloom tomato sliced into 4 thin slices
- 2 eggs
- 1 handful of lettuce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbs olive oil or cooking spray
1.) Begin by slicing and preparing all of your ingredients. I learned this lesson the hard way and have found that the likelihood of burning your eggs is much lower if you pre-slice. Slice the sourdough, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese and set aside.
2.) Microwave 3 tbs of cream cheese on low for about 15 seconds. Stir in 3 tbs of brussel sprout relish.
3.) Pour 1 tbs of olive oil in a large pan, or spray with cooking spray. Once warm, crack eggs into the pan, breaking the yoke. Cook on medium low, flipping halfway through.
4.) While the eggs are cooking, toast four pieces of bread.
5.) When eggs are cooked to your liking, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic power and place on bread slices.
6.) Top with cheese, lettuce and tomato and spread the cream cheese mixture on the other bread slice.
7.) Devour and enjoy the wonderful simplicity of this recipe!
Picture to come later!