Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The End Of The Turkey O'Toole? Recipe!

I am a huge sandwich fan (I contend it is the Fourth Greatest Invention Of All Time).

So I was very saddened to read that one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the Turkey O'Toole, is on its way towards extinction. Bennigan's, creator of said sandwich, closed 160 stores nationwide yesterday, reducing the availability of the Turkey O'Toole by 50%.

What makes the Turkey O'Toole special (otherwise an ordinary hot turkey & swiss with honey mustard) is the Pretzel Roll.

For years on Long Island my friends and I used to go to Bennigan's every Thursday night for dinner. We chose Bennigan's mostly because they tolerated our nonsense, but also partially because they were one of the few restaurants that served Dr. Pepper. Otherwise, their food was rather lousy and the place kind of dingy. Over the years the restaurants have gotten even worse. They didn't have any Bennigan's nearby for the three years my wife and I lived in Greensboro, so any time we took a road trip a pitstop at Bennigan's for a Turkey O'Toole was a necessity. Every trip it seemed like the retstaurants had gone more and more downhill. Seemed like it had been ages since the carpet had been replaced (or even cleaned), and it was just... depressing. I guess with the Irish theme they had trouble competing with the trendy T.G.I.Fridays or the "healthy" fare at Applebees.

So I guess I saw this day coming. The day Bennigan's shut their corporate-owned stores, leaving open only the franchisees. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they go by teh wayside as well. So, if you have a Bennigan's nearby that's still open, hurry up now and get yourself a Turkey O'Toole while you still can.

After that, you'll have to make your own. Luckily, my wife recently figured out how to make a pretzel roll. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients for Pretzel Roll:

* 1 1/3 cups warm water
* 2 tablespoons warm milk
* 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* kosher salt or pretzel salt
* 2 quarts cold water
* 1/2 cup baking soda

1. In a KitchenAid mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix a 1/3 cup of the warm
water with the yeast and let stand until foamy.
2. Add the remaining cup of warm water along with milk, sugar & melted
butter and swirl to dissolve the sugar. Add flour and mix at med-low speed. Remove dough from mixer once it forms a nice a firm, pliable dough ball. Add more flour if necessary.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured table and knead for 2 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log and cut into 12 even pieces. Cover dough with plastic and a damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes.
4. Form dough into knots/rolls and arrange on a lightly floured surface about an inch apart and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the pretzels rest for an additional 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
6. In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add baking soda. *THIS IS KEY!*
7. Drop two rolls into the boiling water and boil for no more then 30 seconds, turning once. Carefully remove with tongs or slotted spoon and hold above pot and let drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
8. Arrange rolls on the oiled baking sheets and bake on the upper and middle racks of the oven
for about 8-10 minutes, or until browned all over.
9. Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.

10.Assemble Turkey O'Toole:

Hot Turkey slices
1 slice swiss cheese
1 tbsp Dijon honey mustard

11. Serve warm with French fries!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Billy Joel is a Jerk (Part II)

I got a couple angry comments to my recent post, "Billy Joel is a Jerk." Yeah, I admit, I have a love/hate relationship with the guy. I love him because I grew up with his music, and as a Long Islander he's practically a local hero. On the other hand I hate him because he's eschewed pop music (for dubious reasons) and he's become a greedy bastard who milks his fans for every penny.

He gave me more ammo recently when it was announced that he'd be performing the last concert ever at Shea Stadium. Tickets went on sale, and sold out in like an hour or something. So what did they do? Added a second show, of course! Meaning, those 50,000 people who bought tickets to what they thought was the Last Concert Ever At Shea Stadium suddenly found themselves with tickets to... The Second-To-Last Concert Ever at Shea Stadium. Nice.

"Forgiveable," people said to me. It's nothing to get worked up about. I just have a bias against the guy and will look for any reason to dis him, they said. OK. It's going to be the same concert anyway, right? Yeah, except until the concerts actually happened.

The Wednesday night show, according to a friend of mine who was there, featured an overweight, out-of-breath, "pumpkin-headed" Joel who was barely able to hit the notes. But the stage looked cool. And there were special guests! A group of A-minus list pop stars like John Mellencamp, the overrated John Mayer, and Don Henley. OK, not bad.

Until Friday night rolls around. Same pumpkin-head, same stage... But the special guests? A little different. How about Roger Daltrey, Garth Brooks, Steven Tyler, and... Paul F*ckin McCartney. Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING Me. Everyone knows The Beatles performance at Shea Stadium (the first concert ever at Shea) in 1965 is one of the most famous concerts of all time, and who better to put a lid on the whole thing than Sir Paul himself. (Yes, McCartney was in a band before Wings) Holy moly. So, you still don't think the Wednesday-nighters got ripped off?