Friday, April 8, 2011

Cookbook Review: "An Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" with a Potato Chip Sandwich & the Toasted Chocolate Sandwich

"Too few people understand a really good sandwich." --James Beard

This quote is on the back cover of "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History, and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread" by Susan Russo and I think it is true. Sandwiches sometimes have the reputation of being boring and plain, something found in a lunch box, or something you settle on for a quick and easy meal...unless they are made well. A really good sandwich is a thing of beauty ...simple, satisfying and full of wonderful flavors and textures. "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" if full of really good sandwiches and covers every imaginable version from A (the All-in-One Breakfast Sandwich) to (almost) Z (the Walleye Sandwich) in all of their mouthwatering glory.

Between the 100+ recipes and the different variations that accompany most of them, it is hard to think that there could be a sandwich out there that is not included in this chunky, packed-full-of goodness little book. Author Susan Russo is a writer for NPR's Kitchen Window and hosts the popular blog Food Blogga. The many gorgeous, drool-worthy photographs in the book are the work of Matt Armendariz from the Matt Bites blog.

In addition to being listed alphabetically, sandwiches are indexed by ingredient, and it was difficult to determine what to make to "road test" this book as everything looked and sounded so good. I put sticky tabs on quite a few recipes like the Banana Bread Sandwich, Vietnamese Bánh , Caprese Sandwich, Crab Melt, Fried Green Tomato BLT, Greek Salad Pocket, Patty Melt, even the Spamwich, the list goes on and on. Finally I decided to go with the sandwich that I kept going back to and looking at, trying to decide if it would actually be good. The combination of peanut butter, dill pickles and potato chips in the Potato Chip Sandwich sounded too intriguing to pass up.

Russo says, "Known as a crisp sandwich in the United Kingdom, a Potato Chip Sandwich is any sandwich that includes an overlapping layer of potato chips. Many people like to match a flavored chip with a particular sandwich, such as barbecue chips on ham and cheddar, salt and vinegar chips on tuna fish and plain chips on peanut butter."

Potato Chip Sandwich
"A Crunchy Salty Guilty Pleasure"
Reprinted with permission from "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches"
(Makes 1)

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 slices white bread
4 to 6 dill pickle chips
a layer of your favorite plain potato chips

Spread peanut butter on both bread slices. Place pickle chips on one slice. Top with overlapping potato chips. Close sandwich and enjoy!

*Russo notes, "Layer the chips and gently press the sandwich with the palm of your hand before biting into it. Otherwise you could risk a puncture wound in the roof of your mouth, which will hurt like the dickens when the salt hits it."

Notes/Results: Salty, tangy, creamy, crunchy and surprisingly delicious. Although I love pickles, peanut butter and chips on their own, I was surprised that I liked it in a sandwich as much as I did. Somehow it just works. As Russo says, "It may not be epicurean, but it sure tastes good." My one change was using a soft sliced sourdough instead of plain white bread--no sense in buying a loaf of bread that I won't eat. It is a bit of a salt bomb of course, but the combination is really tasty and somewhat addictive. I have a feeling I will be having some cravings for this one in the future. ;-)

I also tried the Toasted Chocolate Sandwich--although I will confess that I already eat a variation of this one fairly often as a dessert or late night snack. The combination of the dark chocolate with the fruity olive oil and hint of salt is a favorite. In the book, the broiler is used to toast the bread, but I prefer to drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and toast in in a pan--so it is crusty and chewy at once. The chunks of dark chocolate are put on the toasted bread and softened until just melty and spreadable and a very light sprinkle of sea salt tops it off. Pure perfection.

"The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" is a fun addition to any cookbook shelf. The variety of great recipes, with interesting trivia and history about the origins of the different sandwiches, as well as tips and tricks for making them provide plenty of inspiration for foodies and home cooks and make this an enjoyable read.

Obligatory Disclosure Statement: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for me to review if I chose to do so but there was no monetary compensations and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Giveaway Update: Whoops! It's been a crazy week and I forgot I had a giveaway going on. ;-) I will draw a winner and post it tomorrow--so stay tuned if you entered to win "The Provence Cure From the Brokenhearted."

Happy Friday!


  1. My review copy of this is littered with post-its as well...and I STILL can't decide what to make! Sigh.

    I don't know that I quite have the guts to try the PB+Potato chip sandwich...but maybe...since you gave it such a rave review...

  2. Delicious review! I was wondering how that tater chip sandwich tasted, I figured it'd be good. And somehow I thought you might do the toasted chocolate sammie, too ;)

  3. A resource guide devoted to sandwiches? I'm all over that! As strange as this combo sounds at first, I know that I would love it once tasted. I'm all about flavor and texture combinations. Yum!

  4. I recall putting potato chips in my lunch bag sandwiches when I was in grade school, it added a nice crispy texture. I'll have to try the peanut butter, pickle combo, it looks like such a unique recipe it could be a classic pregnancy food craving item.

  5. I love chips on my sandwiches - but sadly gave up the habit in an effort to be healthier! I'm trying to imagine peanut butter and pickle together! Weird but I believe you when you say it's good!


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