Okay, I know the blog has been a little sandwich-heavy lately and I promise I will get over it soon and move onto something else. But I was wondering if you could find it in your hearts to welcome one more sandwich into the fold. These Picnic Sandwiches with Shaved Radish, Poached Asparagus & 8-Minute Eggs to be exact. I mean, this is peak picnic season, these sandwiches were extremely called for, albeit not particularly well-timed. But hey, what can you do? They don’t have anything deep fried in them, which I realize is a bit of a change for me. And they’re hella colorful and loaded with veg. How can you say no?
These Picnic Sandwiches are a supped-up riff on classic French picnic fare. This may sound fancy but the treat of butter dipped radishes with good sea salt is a favorite in every echelon of French society. And if you really think about, nothing in this treat is particularly expensive, so it makes sense it would be a snack of the people. The simplicity of this flavor pairing is what I find most alluring. Each flavor gains something from the other and as a result, they become something more than they were when they started. The butter tastes sweeter with the peppery radish and the radish mellows beautifully when paired with the butter. The salt enhances the crunch in the radish and delivers a sharp and delicious contrast against the unsalted butter. Simply adding salted butter could never give you that kind of texture or flavor experience.
Okay, so that’s the deal with the French flavor classic that is radish, butter, and salt. But where do these Picnic Sandwiches come into play? Well, as you can clearly see, I’ve got my radishes working overtime and looking swell, the butter is clearly evident and, if you squint real hard you can make out those darling salt crystals. But, at this point, you might be wondering, “What’s with all the other shit?”. Well, I’m very glad you asked.
Leave it to me to overcomplicate beautiful simplicity. I really can’t seem to leave well enough alone. But I do have some small defense for my actions. Have you ever tasted French butter? Well, I don’t want to oversell it but it’s life-changing. I had one bite in Paris and I immediately started working through the logistics of smuggling bricks off it across International borders. Obviously, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk but from that day to this I know that the butter I buy on the regular is whack. So, without the supreme power of French butter in my corner, I feel like the sandwich could use a little bolstering. And these 8-minute velvet-yolk eggs, pickles, and poached asparagus certainly bring the noise.
Okay, raise your hand if you’ve seen Runaway Bride. I assume you’re all raising your hands. Unless you’re too young to know what movie I’m talking about, in which case I despise you and your radiant youth…I’m (sort of) joking. Anyway, in the movie, there’s this bit where Roberts’ character doesn’t know how she likes her eggs. This is used as a not-so-subtle hint that she doesn’t know herself. But, I’m sorry, this scene always bothered me. I don’t have a favorite way to eat my eggs and I know more about myself than I care to. How I like my eggs depends entirely on the context of the plate they exist on. If I’m having toast, I’m having poached. If I have a full English situation, you best believe their sunny-side-up. And then when we get into boiled egg territory, well, things get complicated.
Are the boiled eggs going in a salad, being used for dipping purposes, or are they being deviled in some way? Each situation calls for a different kind of yolk. How can you be satisfied by one kind of egg? Psssh! It’s the most unrealistic part of a thoroughly unrealistic movie.
I swear that’s the end of all things related to Runaway Bride. I only mentioned it to explain why I’m super-specific about the consistency of the yolk in these Picnic Sandwiches. I’ll admit I got carried away. Anyway, I choose a non-runny but still soft yolk for these sandwiches for a very simple reason: yolks can be messy. These Picnic Sandwiches were already stuffed enough that adding a gooey yolk situation just seemed cruel. Also, runny yolks and picnics just don’t mix. But, on the other hand, I despise overcooked yolks. You know that shit with the grey ring? Yeah, f**k that noise. So, I found an 8-minute egg fit the bill beautifully but, alas, it has no future as a dippy egg.
There is one more thing I feel I should highlight before letting y’all loose on the recipe. And that thing is these Jerusalem Bagel Buns. I know they’re overwhelming so just take a moment, I needed like 5. I cannot take credit for these beautiful buns. The initial idea came from Molly Yeh. You all know her, I’m sure, she requires no introduction. She very off-handedly put up a picture on Instagram of a weenie roast basket that had Jerusalem bagel hot dog buns. Now, I had been thinking long and hard about these Picnic Sandwiches and I was stumped on what bread would be appropriate. But the moment I saw those bagel buns I was stumped no more. I had to have them.
I initially thought the Jerusalem bagel buns could be purchased on Amazon but that didn’t appear to be the case. So, I went into research mode. First, I figured out what Jerusalem bagels actually are (yes, I wanted something without knowing anything about it). Then I found a mega-helpful recipe for them from David Lebovitz because of course, I did. And boom! My perfect Picnic Sandwich buns were born and man, were they good! I’m going to have to make them 800 more times.
So, that’s everything you need to know about these Picnic Sandwiches and everything you don’t need to know about Julia Roberts’ career. I hope this has been an enriching experience for you, no go make a sammich.
Picnic Sandwiches with Shaved Radish, Poached Asparagus & 8-minute Eggs
Jerusalem Bagel Buns
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3-4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon hot water
For the Sandwiches
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 bunch asparagus washed and ends trimmed
- 1 lemon
- 4 radishes sliced thin
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup sunflower micro-greens
- 1/4 cup cornichons halved
- Salt for sprinkling
For the Buns
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over low heat. Heat the milk until just warm to the touch. Transfer the milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes or until frothy.
- Add the sugar, salt and baking powder and set the mixer to its lowest setting. Add 2 cups of flour and let mix until integrated. Begin adding the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments until the dough is smooth but still tacky. It only took me 3 1/2 cups total to get to this stage.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead by hand for 5-10 minutes. Once the dough is smooth and silky to the touch, form it into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and form it into a long snake. Divide the snake into 6 equal pieces. Flatten a piece into a rectangle, then take the shortest end closest to you and roll it tightly away from you to form a cylinder. Pinch the seam close. Tuck both ends into the roll and pinch the seams close. Place the bun a on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining dough pieces
- Once all the buns are formed, cover them with a clean kitchen towel and leave them to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a small bowl combine the pomegranate molasses and boiling water. Stir until the molasses is fully integrated. Brush the molasses mixture on top of the buns and sprinkle them with sesame seeds.
- Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and place on a cooling wrack. Let cool completely.
To make the Sandwiches
- Place the eggs in a small saucepan. Add enough water to cover the eggs completely. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda and remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover the pot and let stand for 8 minutes. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath and let cool for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and quarter them. Set aside.
- While the eggs are cooling, peel the asparagus from the end up to the base of the top.
- Fill a large, deep skillet with water and place it over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, salt it, then reduce it to a simmer. Add the asparagus to the simmering water and let cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to another ice bath to stop the cooking process, then drain. Dress the asparagus with a little salt and squeeze the lemon over top. Set aside.
- Cut the Jerusalem bagel buns in half and spread butter on both sides of each bun. Sprinkle the butter with a little salt. Place 2-3 asparagus spears, 2-3 egg quarters, a handful of radish slices, 4-6 cornichons halves and a sprinkling on sunflower micro-greens to each sandwich.
- Wrap the sandwiches up to enjoy later or serve immediately.