Friday, July 13, 2007

Two Birthdays, A Whole Lot of Food, Roses, and Animals

This year for Steven's and my birthdays, we played hooky took some time off work to have a picnic and go to the zoo. Temperatures the day before ranged from 95 to 100, which were 20 to 25 degrees above normal! I know I already complained, but I have to complain some more since it was just too hot for Seattleites. Luckily the temperatures cooled significantly overnight so the weather was perfectly mild and pleasant for our picnic. We set up our picnic in Woodland Park Rose Garden, which is conveniently located right next to the zoo. We dined while surrounded by the wonderful fragrance and sight of roses in full bloom as far as the eye can see.

I packed:
Ham and Butter Sandwich
Salami, Pastrami, Spinach and Cream Cheese Sandwich
Bread and butter
Seattle rolls: smoked salmon and cream cheese sushi rolls
Cold noodles: a must since noodles are a Chinese birthday tradition! long noodles = longevity
Cheese and meat platter: white Stilton, danish blue, cheddar, Parmesan, salami, prosciutto, pastrami, ham
Crackers, grapes, and raspberries
White wine and mango lemonade

Ham and Butter Sandwich

I first tasted a ham and butter sandwich at Le Fournil, a wonderful French bakery in the Seattle area. It was so simple and delicious. It's really important to use good butter, bread, and ham since the flavors of the sandwich are really subtle and clean, the ingredients will really shine. I used some Kerrygold Irish butter; this is the butter I couldn't get enough of at the cheese festival. After reading comments on Jaden's post about bread and butter, some other recommended brands are Lurpak, a Danish butter, and Presidente, a French butter. Just don't use any old regular brand, splurge for the expensive stuff! It's sooo worth it to indulge! And don't you dare use "I can't believe it's not butter" because I can believe it, and it's not butter. ;) After some Googling, ham and butter doesn't seem like a popular combination but it always struck me as a classic French sandwich. Maybe fellow French food bloggers/readers can offer some more info?

Ham and Butter Sandwich*
A section of crusty baguette cut in half
2 - 3 oz. of ham, about 3 - 4 slices
1 Tbsp high quality butter
1 - 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Spread a thin layer of Dijon on one slice of bread, and spread butter on the other slice. Layer with ham and close the sandwich. Cut in half and serve somewhat chilled.

The butter will be hard to spread if it is chilled so wait for it to warm up a little to soften so it's easier to spread. Then chill the sandwich to chill the butter.

Salami, Pastrami, Spinach, and Cream Cheese Sandwich

The idea of salami and cream cheese in a sandwich came from Everyday Food. I had never thought of pairing cream cheese with anything other than preserves or smoked salmon, but this sandwich was truly delicious. The salami and pastrami are very flavorful meats, the cream cheese added a luscious, creamy smoothness, and the spinach is a rich green that holds its own in this robust sandwich. Don't skimp on the cream cheese and no buying reduced fat! You can't go wrong with Philadelphia, my favorite brand.

This sandwich, featuring the very healthy spinach, will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, a fantastic event created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, and hosted this week by Susan of Food Blogga. Food fact: After cooking the volume of spinach will decrease by 3/4. Spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, bone building nutrients, and other healthy compounds. Eating your spinach will help prevent cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, delay loss of mental function, prevents and even reverse macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the elderly.

Salami, Pastrami, and Spinach Cream Cheese Sandwich*
2 slices of bread or a section of crusty baguette cut in half
3 - 4 slices of salami
2 - 3 slices of pastrami
A handful of baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp softened cream cheese
Optional: 1 - 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Spread a thin layer of dijon on one slice of bread (optional). Top first slice of bread with a layer of salami, followed by pastrami, and then a thick layer of baby spinach leaves.

Spread the cream cheese on the second slice of bread and close the sandwich. Cut in half and enjoy!

*The quantities are really estimations, since I made the sandwiches without measuring the ingredients exactly. If you like more meat feel free to pile it on or if you really like cream cheese or butter, like me go, ahead and add more! :)

For more pictures:
Rose Garden

Regrettably many of the zoo pictures turned out too blurry and I'm not a big picture taker at the zoo to begin with. The red panda was awfully cute though! The butterfly house was very nice also.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Happy birthdays to both of you! Lovely picnic basket.

Anonymous said...

Happy July birthday (the best month to have a birthday)! I just posted about Seattle whining about the weather. If you get too hot you can come sit in the kiddie pool in my back yard. :-)

Kalyn Denny said...

I'm glad you got to have a nice day off to celebrate! I love the idea of combining spinach and cream cheese on a sandwich, just brilliant. I can tell this would taste great.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What a lovely way to celebrate your birthdays! I love these unique combinations in your sandwiches, Amy. They really elevate typical ho-hum picnic fare and make excellent entries for WHB! My husband and I have fond memories of the zoo and rose garden from a trip we made to Seattle a few years ago, so I really appreciated your beautiful shots of the roses.

Peabody said...

Hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration. The rose garden is a great spot to do it.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! It sounds like you spent the day in a perfect way.
I love the idea of the ham and butter sandwich. That sounds delicious!

SteamyKitchen said...

Happy Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to both of you ! What a romantic picnic :) My better half and I share our birthday on the same month as well. His is on 1/11 while mine is 1/16. :) The roses are so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to both :D's so good to take a day's off and spend time together...romantic :D

Recently I got myself some english devon cream butter and simply love IT!

I welcome ham and cheese, ham and butter with open arms...<===^O^===>
French classis - croque monsier...

Anonymous said...

ooh, so romantic, what a great birthday breakaway :) Happy belated birthdays to you both love birds, cheers !:)

Anh said...

Amy, happy belated birthday to both of you... *hug hug*

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthdays!!! Your picnic sounds so much fun and romantic.

Those sandwiches are to die for! My current sandwich filling fave at the moment is pastrami with gherkins and sourcraut, mustard, etc. This has just officially made me hungry and it's not even time for lunch yet.

Padmaja said...

happy birthday to both of u, loved your recipe!!

Unknown said...

Sounds like you had a great time! A note on the ham and butter sandwich: while I've never heard of ham and butter, I often ate salami and butter sandwiches with little cut up cornichons when living in Zurich. Served on salty pretzel bread rolls and purchased at stands in the train station, they were the best fast food I'd ever had. A word to everyone: Do no fear the cured pork and butter combo! Hmmm...

Nora B. said...

happy birthday to both of you! I love picnics. This reminds me that I should get a nice picnic basket like yours.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Awww, how romantic. :)

Is it partly the vacation memories that make European sandwiches so tasty? I swear, I still salivate thinking about caprese sandwiches in Sorrento. I should have bought more than just 1!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hey, sweetie! Happy Birthday to you and hubs!!

What a delightful idea to celebrate - I love picnics!

Amy said...

Hehe the picnic basket was really awesome: plates, napkins, wine glasses, and flatware for 4 (borrowed it from Steven's parents actually). :)

Luckily the weather has cooled off a bit but that kiddie pool sounded really tempting. ;)

The original sandwich in Everyday Food used arugula which also sounds very good, especially after Susan's post about arugula and wild arugula.

Aww I'm so glad it brought back lovely memories of your trip! Thanks for hosting WHB, you did an excellent job!

Thanks! I had never been to the rose garden before but I've been to the zoo a couple of times. Can't believe I missed the garden all those times!

Thanks! The ham and butter sandwich was so delicious, but I have a hard time picking a favorite, both sandwiches were really tasty.


Cooking Ninja,
Thank you! Since we went there on a weekday there weren't very many visitors that day so the picnic was very romantic and intimate. It's so nice celebrating birthdays together.

I have some leftover ham to make croque monsieurs with later this week! Yummy!

Aw thanks. :)

Thank you! *hug*

Yum your sandwich combo sounds delicious as well. Now I'm getting hungry too.

Thank you!

I am going to make that salami butter and cornichon sandwich as soon as I get home from work. Gotta love cured meats and butter!

We're borrowing the basket from Steven's parents. He said he'll forget to return it a few times for more picnics and more picnics = more sandwiches. :D

Mmm probably both, those vacation memories most definitely make the food taste better. :)

Thanks! *hugs* Hehe he's not my hubs yet... but after dating for 5 years, he might as well be! lol.

Passionate Eater said...

Happy birthday to both you and Steven!! And it looks like you two celebrated in style (with very innovative sandwiches, with fun zoo animals, and with each other)! I wanted to also thank you for your kind comments on my blog regarding my move to New Orleans. Thank you for your support and encouragement Amy!

Sig said...

Amy, Happy Birthday to you once more, and to Steven too... What a great way to spend a birthday, a picnic in the park, so romantic... that shows how young you guys are :D... You know I went to the woodland zoo for the first time last month, and was pleasantly surprized! Haven't been to the rose garden yet, my mom loves roses, so may be this weekend... :) .. BTW both the sandwiches look great!!

Ketala said...

Happy birthday a year later! I just so happened to be thinking about ham and butter sandwiches this morning and decided to google them and your blog is the first to come up (today is my father's birthday as well, what a coincidence!)

I first had ham and butter sandwiches in Paris. The best one I had was actually at the Louvre. I have found that using baked ham is the best, and for those that can't have too much dairy, Smart Balance (with olive oil) makes an excellent substitute for butter.

I also spent some time in Seattle and the Woodland Park Zoo is by far the best zoo I have ever been to. I love how natural it all feels. The jaguar exhibit was brand new when I was there.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but finding your blog made me very happy, I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Anonymous said...

just happened on your blog today and i love it! and happy birthday!

cannonw1 said...

hey amy, wanted to share another meat and cream cheese sandwich with you. cut cream cheese with a litte bit of mayo and add chopped up olives (with or without pimiento) and put it with ham right between two slices of toasted pumpernickle. the cream cheese and olive spread is also good on crackers. love your blog


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