Thursday, December 1, 2011

 The James Beard Onion Sandwich Story:

So today I will post my first recipe for your enjoyment and use. It may seem simple but at this time of year I think we all could use a go to recipe for holiday party starters that are easy and different. This one is an oldie but goodie.

 Several years ago I ran across an article while perusing cookbooks at the Borders in the AOL Time Warner Center, by a well known food writer who had known James Beard. She stated that the great American Chef and Food expert never liked to serve appetizers at his dinner parties. In short he was not a fan of the canape. However, recognizing the need for a snack during cocktail hour he came up with several options that he was willing to serve. One of these being a petite onion sandwich, which by the account, was made with white bread, onion, and mayonnaise! Now, any of you who know me know that like Paula Dean likes butter, I like Mayo. I put it in all sorts of things with spectacular results. So needless to say this intrigued me and set me on a quest to find the recipe for so said finger sandwiches.

 I finally found a recipe for it  in a cooking journal from the Seventies in the cookbook section of Strand books. It also appears online I believe, but had not looked for it yet. I saw it in the book was reminded of my interest. So I decided to make them for my Thanksgiving party last year as a appi!!

 Needless to say they were a hit, They disappeared in no time and people, even the none onion lovers were a bit shocked at how good they were. In fact my friend Fred Tessler, of the Denver Tesslers, put it best. "They taste like a bite of my childhood in my mouth", he declared!!  I mean who knew!! That did kind of hit it on the head.

  Now if you were born before 1975 you probably ate your share of white sandwich wonderesque Bread! And your share of things like Mayo or Miracle Whip ( which we won't get into now) And sandwiches which might have had the sliver of onion or two. In any event this James Beard Finger sandwich with it's soft white bread outer layer to it's decadent mayo but delicate onion piquant flavor rolled in finely chopped parsley around the edges to form a elegant looking sandwich did indeed have the flavor you could not nail down but associated with GOODNESS!!!!!

 I made them again last Christmas for my Mother's Christmas party and a platter or 100 of them disappeared! In short they are a tasty treat. Now I could not say that I have added much to this recipe other to have uncovered it and brought it back, but I do have some things I do to help keep them good so here goes, enjoy you all.

Onion Appetizer Finger Sandwiches (in the spirit of James Beard)

Makes 20 sandwiches

1 loaf White Sandwich bread (thicker cut )
5 to 7  tablespoons Good Quality Mayo ( I prefer Dukes but the "H" word will do! )
2 Medium Onions Peeled
1 Bunch flat leaf parsley finely chopped
ground pepper


1) On a plate wet and ring out 2 paper towels. Place one flat on the plate use the other to cover the bread cut outs as you make them to keep them from drying out ( this is key )

2) Using a Biscuit cutter or any kind of round metal ring about  3 inches cut out the center of each piece of bread in the loaf placing them between the moist paper towels to keep them from drying out.

3) Using a Mandolin slice the onion very very thin reserving all but especially the pieces that are the mid to center cuts.

4) Then assemble the sandwiches by slathering two bread pieces on one side with the mayo, enclose one piece of onion and a shake of pepper to make the sandwich. Once that is done, apply a little mayo carefully around the edges then roll in the parsley. They should look dainty and clean on the top with the green only around the edges.

5) Place back under the paper towel to keep moist. you might need to moisten the paper towels again as you go splashing a little water on them. As you build layers on the plate moisten more towels and stack the sandwiches between them. When all are done, wrap the stacked plate in plastic wrap and place in the fridge till serving.

6) To serve arrange on a platter ( a plain white one or a silver one really shows them off best ) Enjoy!

  So that's my first Holiday or anytime recipe. I hope you enjoy!

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