……….What the hell?!
It’s 2014? I’m in my FOURTH year of professional basketball? I’m 26? It feels like I was 22 about a week ago. You mean to tell me that Midnight Snack Beast is almost three years old? Incredible. It’s crazy how fast time passes, especially since I’ve been slacking super hard on uploading my posts to MSB. I’m going to take a slightly different angle this year with MSB and post less formal, more frequent posts. At times, the Snacks won’t necessarily always be as complex as usual, although I will still post some crazy ish; sometimes it’ll just be something I whipped up quickly and figured I should lay it down on the interwebs. So it’s good to be back for sure.
And what’s this?!
Is this the desert?
For a kid from the great town of Lexington, Massachusetts who went to college in Durham, New Hampshire, This is the desert. Northern Israel. Gan Ner to be exact. You can surmise by looking at it’s Wikipedia page, to call Gan Ner a town would be a bit of an overstatement; and in my opinion, calling Gan Ner a village would be a bit of an overstatement too. I don’t mean any disrespect at all when I say that I would consider Gan Ner a settlement. Established a little over 26 years ago, Gan Ner houses less people than your slightly larger-than-average American high school. Sporting basically two businesses from what I have experienced: A quaint convenience store in the middle of town, whom, for the record, has the entire Gan Nerian provision market within a 10 mile radious completely cornered, and a professional basketball team, Hapoel Gilboa Galil.
Being Jewish, I always knew I would make my way over to Israel at some point, I just didn’t know when. After playing three seasons in my beloved Italy, an opportunity arose from the land of ultimate holiness that, after a bit of urging from my agent, I couldn’t pass up on.
Gan Ner is located in a small area just above the West Bank (Palestine), called the Gilboa, sparsely populated with settlements and villages, with a few mountain ranges spotted throughout, creating flat farming lands and valleys such as Jezreel.
The Gilboa is a very special place, and in my opinion, a bit extraterrestrial, not to the extent that I would consider it to be along the lines of Tatooine, but something that would leave a very long lasting impression in anyone’s memories; I’m glad I get to live here.
Another asset that not just the Gilboa offers, but most rural areas of Israel, are the Kibbutzim. A kibbutz is essentially a tight-knit community where everyone works and lives together. A kibbutz typically has it’s own farm that provides for the community (and outside), people have specific jobs and rely on each other in order for the kibbutz to prosper and continue on through time as they have for a little over a hundred years. I eat lunch at the local kibbutz at least 2-3 times a week, and I love it. The entirely kosher kitchen offers delicious food, starting with chicken or beef dishes, with different types of rice and grains, not to mention the vegetables, salads and different offerings of beans, sauces and root vegetables. All natural and guilt free israeli food is amazing in itself, but mix in the fact that it is ALL YOU CAN EAT(!!!) and you can wrap it, package it, and ship it away because I am SOLD!
At any rate, let us get down to brass tacks.
My buddy, CHEEZUS CHRIST herself, Mackenzie Smith, owner and operator over at Grilled Cheese Social puts out some of the best sandwiches the game has ever laid eyes on. She is an inspiration and a between-two-slices DEITY. Her knowledge of cheese and/or anything that you can imagine can go between two pieces of bread is Most Excellent and astounds me to the point at which I feel that I am not worthy. If you are ever in the Brooklyn area, be on the lookout for her popups, something your taste buds most definitely have never experienced before.
A few weeks ago, Mack and I did a little collab on GCS called The Hamburger Smash,” an oozey, gooey, crispy, crunchy, sweet, and spicy grilled cheese burger that will make you cream your jeans” as she puts it. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to try for myself but I can imagine the absolute discovery zone of flavor happening on my papillae.
I, in turn, had to create something of my own.
-2 chicken breasts (I cut them up into nuggets, in hindsight I don’t advise doing this)
-2 sandwich-sized pita bread
-8 slices of Emek cheese
-2 cups of Israeli falafel flavored crisps (good luck with that in America)
-3-4 Tomato slices
-Green leaves of some denomination (I used cabbage… trust me, it’s good)
-Half an onion
– A 1/2 cup of flour
-A slatherable amount of BeastSauce
Before we move on, I’d like to take this time to formally introduce you guys to the newest member of the MSB kitchen: BeastSauce. After months of testing and tasting in the MSB laboratories, I am proud to have finally finished the finer details of a sauce I’ve been longing to invent for quiet some time. A sauce that goes Most Excellently on most, if not all sandwiches, can be dipped in by any morsel of deliciousness that you can get your paws on, and can probably be eaten by the spoonful when you are feeling the craving for something amazing after midnight. It’s a relative to thousand island dressing and Big Mac sauce, but a bit different in that is has more of an airy texture with sting of sweetness followed by underlying zests of herbs and spices. A religious experience in a mildly viscous form. Be on the lookout for it in many future snacks and dishes.
I used cabbage because other than the fact that lettuce is not as readily available out here in the xeric shrubland that I live in, but I find cabbage leaves to be much more sturdier than lettuce, while having a very similar, if not same taste. The sandwiches that are created in the MSB kitchen are on the more extreme side of things, requiring the ingredients to have a higher factor of safety.
I started off by crushing the Falafel chips into a dusty pulp using two steel bowls. This dust will provide the crispiness and flavor required to make the chicken an out-of-body experience.
I dusted the chicken pieces with the flour and put them in an egg wash so the falafel dust would stick to them, all while providing a little flavor as well.
I then tossed the chicken in the falafel dust and made sure all the pieces were completely covered.
I sliced the pita breads in half and stuffed them equally with the Emek cheese (shoutout to Grilled Cheese Social). I basically didn’t want the gooey cheese interfering with the crispiness of the chicken, so I decided to hide the cheese inside of the bread, thus essentially creating pita grilled cheeses as the outer layer of this sandwich.
A great pairing of ingredients can be a game changer when it comes to making sandwiches, fortunately for me, griddled onions pairs well with practically anything. If you have a little bit of balsamic vinegar while griddling your onions, spash it on. You won’t regret it. These beautiful, caramelized bits of love will be added later.
Time to fry the chicken. This year I have use of a wok, so made quick work of that, making very sure not to brown the outside too harshly, although I am a subscriber to the idea that color is flavor.
Once everything is fried up, I prepped the sandwich by slapping a rather healthy sized dollop of BeastSauce on the top half of the sandwich, I then added the onions on top of that. Sliced up a bit of the pickle and put that on the onions.
An important thing to remember when making sandwiches that can get a bit sloppy or juicy is to add the cabbage/lettuce/greens to the bottom of the sandwich, to prevent the juices from penetrating the bottom slice of bread, creating a soggy, meager bread.
Time to enjoy.
I guess if I were to do one thing differently, I wouldn’t cut the chicken up into pieces, I would have just left it as a fillet. Although there was more overall falafel coverage of the chicken, this leading to more flavor; it proved to be much difficult to contain everything within the two grilled cheese pitas. The sandwich kind of fell apart while eating it, but had zero effect on the overall flavor. I regret nothing.
Be SURE to wipe up as much BeastSauce as you can with whatever you have left, be it your bare fingers if necessary.
Glad to be back kiddos. This year is going to be a most delicious one.
Keep your eyes peeled for a special documentary coming out very very soon on yours truly. Really excited about it.
Beast on, fellow Snackers