Food & Drink

A not-too-upset review of ‘A Super Upsetting Cookbook’

Not your usual sandwich cookbook.
Not your usual sandwich cookbook.

“A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches”? What kind of book title is that?

In this case, it’s a very good one. The book, written by Tyler Kord, owner of the New York sandwich shops No. 7 and No. 7 Sub, and edited by food writer Francis Lam, is all of that: It’s super (sometimes) and upsetting (sometimes), it’s a cookbook (mostly, when it isn’t a rant on eating), and it’s about sandwiches – sometimes weird sandwiches, but they definitely involve bread.

While testing recipes for another story, I tried Kord’s recipe “The #2 Best New Sandwich in America in 2012 According to the Huffington Post.” The title is a mouthful, and so is the sandwich. It’s roasted cauliflower on a toasted sub roll with Smoked French Dressing (you’re supposed to smoke ketchup, although I took the easy route of liquid smoke), vinegary/sweet Raisin & Scallion Relish, and potato chips.

It wasn’t hard to make, and it was ... sort of good. In a late-night, stoner-food kind of way. But I wasn’t sure how readers would like it. So I served it to a young person who’s crazy for banh mi. He went wild, raving (through mouthfuls) that it had the best elements of that Vietnamese sandwich, with contrasts of sweet/salty/sour and soft/crunchy/crispy. (If a cauliflower sandwich isn’t your thing, the Smoked French Dressing would make a killer seafood salad.)

The whole book is like that, packed with the kind of crazy combinations kitchen workers come up with after their shifts, like Genius Russian Dressing (mayonnaise with grape jelly) and the Broccoli Classic (a roasted broccoli sandwich with ricotta salata and pickled lychee).

The book, coming out June 14 from Clarkson Potter, also is a strange and profane read, full of F-bombs, fictions and back-and-forths between Kord and his editor that are sometimes hilarious and sometimes a little tiring. It’s like going to dinner with two funny but hyperactive friends: You’ll laugh, but you’ll never get a word in and you may go home with a slight headache. (In the Raisin & Scallion Relish recipe, Kord complains that cookbook editors always want to know whether to use the white or green part of a scallion. Lam’s editor’s note: “Why must you mock our culture?”)

The art is special, mostly by William Wegman, famous for his droll photography of Weimaraner dogs. If you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift for someone who plays in the kitchen, doesn’t mind profanity and has a wicked sense of humor, they may not be upset by this at all. Or they might get a slight headache.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis

The #2 Best New Sandwich In America in 2012 According to the Huffington Post

Translated, as best we can, from “A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches,” by Tyler Kord (Clarkson Potter, $22.99, on sale June 14).

4 sub rolls, split lengthwise

1 head of cauliflower

1 cup Raisin & Scallion Relish (see recipe)

1/2 cup Smoked French Dressing (see recipe)

2 cups potato chips (Kord uses homemade, but kettle chips will work)

Cut the stem out of the cauliflower and cut into bite-size florets. Toss with oil, spread on a sheet pan and roast about 20 minutes. Set aside until ready to make the sandwich.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all the bread, cut side up, on a sheet tray. Pile a quarter of the cauliflower on each of the bottom pieces. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 6 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the cauliflower is warm.

Top each sandwich with some of the relish, a drizzle of the dressing, a handful of potato chips and the tops of the rolls.

Yield: 4 “terrible and unhealthy” sandwiches.

Smoked French Dressing

Smoke ketchup by placing it in an open pan on a covered grill with a handful of soaked wood chips on the coals. Or just add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke or 2 teaspoons Lapsang souchong tea leaves.

1/2 cup ketchup, smoked or with the liquid smoke or smoked tea leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise (Kurd prefers homemade, but Duke’s works fine)

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

Put the smoked ketchup and all the ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

Yield: 2 cups.

Raisin & Scallion Relish

Kord also suggests using this with mustard on a hot dog: “It’ll scare you, how much you like eating it.” We’ll spare you the rant on why he doesn’t like red grapes and that debate over the white and green parts of a scallion.

1 cup golden raisins, roughly chopped

1 cup sliced scallions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar (we used white, but white wine or sherry vinegar would work)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well-combined. Let sit for 20 minutes before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yield: About 2 cups.