The Joy of Ham and Cheese

Brown-butter shrimp with hazelnuts or roasted salmon with miso rice are great options if a sandwich isn’t in your future.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. You miss me? I was in France for work, and if the food wasn’t as great as I’d dreamed it might be, after more than two years in the home office, at least there were ham and cheese sandwiches. Jambons beurres: warm, skinny baguettes with unsalted butter and thin slices of juicy ham and nutty Gruyère. I ate at least one of those every day I was gone, and vowed to bring the practice home with me, my 2022 song of the summer.

You don’t need a recipe to make one, only quality ingredients: a good baguette, high-fat European butter, sweet-salty ham and cheese. Use rather more butter than you ordinarily might, and less meat and even less cheese. The idea is not to create one of those towering Dagwood sandwiches, but something more closely approximating a still life. It’s a study in simplicity.

That takes discipline. Don’t make this sandwich if the bread’s not great, or if all you can manage is deli ham, domestic Swiss and fridge-flavored butter. Instead, cook this marvelous roasted salmon with miso rice and ginger-scallion vinaigrette (above). One day you’ll find the good stuff. And when you do, pounce.

Another option if a jambon beurre is not in the cards: these lovely brown-butter shrimp with hazelnuts, a one-skillet meal to serve with toast, under a shower of lemon juice.

Or maybe a baked spinach-artichoke pasta? Or this one-pot Japanese curry chicken and rice? I hate to sound like one of those subscribers who writes about how she substituted herring for the chicken and chile powder for the curry, but I made a version the other day with diced pork belly and sweet potato, and stirred handfuls of baby spinach in at the end. It was exceptional.

Grilled sausages with onions and peppers is a good midweek vibe as well, though only if you have access to a grill. (Otherwise: roasted sausages with grapes and onions, oh my.) Or you could make family-meal fish tacos to eat while watching David Attenborough narrate “A Life on Our Planet” on Netflix? That’s a nice evening.

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Drop us a line if you have any trouble: [email protected] Or write to me if you want to cavil or offer words of encouragement: [email protected] I cannot respond to everyone. But I read every letter sent.

Now, it’s a long walk through Two Medicine Valley from anything to do with rice and peas, but I read the New Zealand crime writer Vanda Symon’s “Overkill” on the plane home and thrilled to the language. Perhaps you’ll do the same.

I’m very late to it, but “Licorice Pizza”? Holy smokes that Alana Haim is good. (Lindsay Zoladz wrote about her for The Times last year.)

Here’s the coolest yacht I saw in Cannes: S/V Twizzle, out of George Town, Bahamas.

Finally, here’s new music from Gorillaz, featuring Thundercat: “Cracker Island.” Cook with that, and I’ll be back on Friday.

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