If you love rye bread, you probably live in one of two worlds: one where you can get it at the ready or one in which you long for it, because the supermarket stuff just doesn’t cut it. Realistically speaking, this post is for the the second group as I live in the first one — The Big Apple, Pastrami Central, A Place Where Bagels Are Fresh All Day And Night. And yet, even here I can only think of a handful of places with reliably good freshly-baked rye bread at the ready. And that may be a generous estimation.
A few months ago, a friend called to say that she was telling her office mates about how I love to grill pizza and they set to searching for my recipe on this site and couldn’t find it. Gulp, I said, I’ve just never written it up! From that day forward, I made it my Summer Priority to walk you through pizza on the grill, but I have failed at each turn. Either we’ve made the pizza too late in the evening and the pictures came out anything but appetizing, or the day I decided to try again, it has rained. Seriously. If you want thunderstorms to suddenly threaten, let me promise to make you grilled pizza for dinner.
I’ve been at a bit of a standstill in the kitchen this month. It’s not really a lack of ideas vexing me, but a lack of desire to spend any time in front of a stove or oven now that the weather is so delicious, I believe I at least owe it the courtesy of spending time out in it. Sure, there are savory tarts and summery salads and even another burger bun recipe on my agenda; there’s a cake in my fridge that’s so pretty I will not be the least bit offended if you mount a protest that I am waiting until next time to tell you about it, but I need to level with you: I have not cooked a real dinner for us in over a month. A month! Perhaps longer.
Do you know what this is? This is It. This is the hamburger bun recipe I’d been obsessing, dreaming and fretting over when I had my Incident back in May, which was namely that I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time and ingredients fighting a no-good recipe with a decidedly average finish. Since then, my frustration has faded somewhat, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that perhaps they weren’t the end of the world, they just weren’t the thing I was looking for: they were more of a limp white bread bun — the kind so easily purchased at a store under any generic brand, it made little sense to eek them out at home — and I wanted something a little more moist and rich. I wanted something better, the kind of thing that you knew you weren’t going to get in any plastic bag.
There are a whole lot of foods that I’m not sure are even worth the trouble of making at home, though I suspect this list varies by what you have accessible in your neighborhood. I feel fairly certain I won’t be making any falafel sandwiches in our new kitchen, especially now that I’ve discovered our proximity to the $2.50 perfection at Mamouns. I’m not even sure I’ll ever make pirogi again, after finding my fluffy, light pirogi nirvana this weekend at the Ukranian National Home. And in general, I’ve never seen a whole lot of purpose in making bagels from scratch in New York City — save a one-time baking frenzy — and certainly not when we lived less than two blocks from our bagel ideal, Murrays. (I’m a little lost for a decent bagel in the East Village — anyone? I think we’ve been spoiled.)
Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.