Food on Friday: Cookbooks and butter sandwiches


By Julia Westhoff

In this house we have two copies of The Joy of Cooking. One is pristine – white pages intact, book jacket still crisp. The other is missing the jacket and is yellow from use, with notes and stars next to most recipes. This book is literally covered with dirt, but I’ll never part with it. That well-loved copy of The Joy of Cooking was sent to me by my sister-in-law when we were Peace Corps volunteers, living in a shack in the mountains of Panama. I still remember its description of Mulligatawny Soup and the exact ingredients for its Red Chicken Curry. Cooking my way through that book did more than just feed our bellies – it fed my soul during the hardest year of my life. Reading those recipes, so steeped in history and memories, gave me comfort and peace.

I rarely use cookbooks anymore – it seems so much easier to look recipes up online. But once in a while I’ll check one out from the library and spend an hour enraptured by the photos, the creativity and the inspiration that cookbooks uniquely provide. I did that this week with Prune, by renowned New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton. If you’re looking for a great gift for a foodie this holiday season, I highly recommend it.

It’s recipes like this one that make Prune stand out – ridiculously simple while still being special. I made this with my daughters as an after dinner snack. We rarely eat white bread in this house (although, Oh! How I love it so!), but had some leftover from our Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Sitting at the table, dunking our buttered, sugared slices into a small glass of cream, Christmas lights twinkling on the tree…goodness, we’ve come a long way since that mountain shack in Panama.

Cheers to you and yours – can you believe it’s almost Christmas?

Butter and Sugar Sandwiches
Adapted From Prune

2 slices of white bread (she recommends Pullman), crusts removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 ounces heavy cream

Spread butter on bread. Sprinkle sugar over each buttered slice. Press two slices together and cut in half on the diagonal. Pour remaining sugar on a plate and dip cut edges of the sandwiches in it. Pour cold cream in a small cup or ramekin for dunking.