Prosciutto, Cheese, Apple and Fennel Sandwich

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My tastebuds were dancing. They were truly ecstatic after eating this sandwich.

Now, we all know tastebuds enjoy cheap thrills from time to time. They get worked up over the easy highs of fat and sugar. This sandwich isn't a brownie or a french fry. But it's got layers of flavor that remind your tastebuds that despite many seemingly satisfying meals, they are rarely stimulated like this.

With the one-year anniversary of the publication of The Flavor Bible upon us, I thought carefully about arranging this sandwich as such. Cheese and apples are a classic combination. (Cherry Street Artisan in Columbia had a nice brie and apple panini.) The port salut cheese I had in the fridge is slightly milder than brie, but it would do. Prosciutto was a logical addition, providing some salt and that cured flavor I can't describe. Back to the apples, I'd been wanting to make apple fennel slaw with lemon juice as a side dish for a while, but I decided the sweet and sour flavors would be perfect for the sandwich.

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Think about this with me for a minute: Fresh French bread with a firm crust and pillowy inside. Warm soft cheese and extra thin slices of salty cured ham. The crisp bite of green apple with a lemon tang that gives way to the faint anise sweetness. And I don't know much of anything about pairing wine with a dish, but I will say that a few sips of chardonnay put this whole thing over the edge for me.

Dancing tastebuds. That's all I can say.

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Empanadas with Eggs, Pancetta and Caramelized Onions

When I think fast food in Argentina, I think empanadas. Baked or fried dough filled with various combinations of meat, cheese and vegetables. What’s not to like?

There are endless options for buying traditional empanadas in Buenos Aires, and each one costs less than a dollar. I’d be silly to make my own at home. Instead, I wanted to create a version you can’t find on the streets here.

For some reason I couldn’t get the idea of eggs out of my head. Then when my friend Marissa told me about a frittata recipe with bacon and caramelized onions, I had a burst of inspiration. I would make a filling with similar flavors, and encase it in the wonder that is empanada dough.

I added caramelized onions, pancetta and reggianito (an Argentine cheese similar to Parmigiano) to scrambled eggs, which I cooked until just set, but softer than I normally eat them, knowing they’d keep cooking when I fried the empanadas.

It wasn’t until after I made them that I realized these were a glamourized version of American Hot Pockets. But fresh, no preservatives and a lot more flavor. I don’t even know the last time I ate a Hot Pocket, but I’ll tell you, I’d eat these again anytime.

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