September 04, 2009

Kr's (Mini) Tuna Melts

Long before Brangelina, more like back in the day when Brad and Jennifer were still together lived the infamous Krandace. Two resident assistants living in Oliver Hall at the University of Kansas on the fifth and eighth floors became one over the course of our sophomore years. Amidst fire alarms, calling the KUPD on students smoking pot, busting up keggers, avoiding Cutco knife salesman and honoring our 10:00pm curfews Kristy and Kandace became Krandace: the ultimate life long friends. As our lives intertwined throughout our college years and Kr worked her way up the Res Hall perpetual ladder by our senior year (I mean, given a few more years we would've been in that main office - that is just how awesome Krandace is - just ask Dr. Stoner!) Kr had worked her way up into having her own kitchen and multiple room apartments our last summer together and began working her way around the kitchen.

I feel it is important to divulge a bit about Kr's background. You see, she comes from a culinary-inspired family where there is cocktail hour and courses involved for every dinner! Quite a change from anything I had ever known growing up. I guess that's how you roll in the burbs of chi-town. Anyways, Kr has always amazed me in the kitchen because I believe R and B's (her parents') positive attitude about food and finding flavors that mesh well together translated into her own ambitious mixing of whatever she has in the kitchen to make delicious meals, I should know she had done this on plenty of occasions long after Krandace had to physically part (but clearly never in our heart). Check out her free spirit here as a guest blogger on Graficionada. But the point of this heartwarming story is one time, I do believe in my first apartment in Minenapolis, Kr and I cooked up some delicious tuna melts, this is a little bit of an adaptation but tuna melts are always a quick and easy lunch or dinner meal. So consider this for one of those times when you don't have much in your kitchen but you're hungry and need something filling. The amount of foods used here was enough for two people with leftovers depending on your appetite. Thank you Kr for your wonderful spirit and being the Kr to my andace.

Now, onto the meat! Two notes about my beautiful display of ingredients here:

1) I forgot a key ingredient to tuna melts - mayonnaise ugh, I try so hard to make it look pretty and this is what I do, leave out key ingredients.

2) La Kitchen Chicana is not a professional operation, I am happy about this for the most part, sure my femme sensibilities sometime push me to want prettier bowls, or dream of shopping sprees at expensive cooking, baking and dish stores but I do recognize that I have an amazing arsenal of plenty of more than adequate cookware and dishes in my kitchen. However, I am often amazed at how much money, time and effort a lot of food bloggers spend on their kitchens and their blogging. Imagine my surprise when The Lone Baker informed me that most of these bloggers have professional photography equipment to make beautifully lit photos, that alone means some serious money is involved. Then to begin to think about the amazing equipment these bloggers have in their kitchens one can become quite upset with one's own lacks in the kitchen area. I like to say what I lack in equipment I make up in love. Well, as the doctoral candidate that I am, we all know that I am not in any sort of financial situation where I can spend endless amount of money on professional photo lighting so that I can make prettier pictures, nor do I have the time to take hundreds of pictures of my food from every angle (people seriously do this - but I do scarily see the appeal) to be honest if I capture the gist of the thing I'm ok with that (for some examples of this type of blogging behavior check out the blogs that had their pics chosen on Food Gawker or one of my other favorites Pioneer Woman.)

I think these are important issues to discuss on the interwebs because blogging and the internet in general has been seen as a "liberatory" tool of the masses. In fact, I have a (albeit small) audience of people who put up with my ramblings in this published format and blogging becomes a means of communication around issues that one might not have access to in the realms of the general/mass media. Clearly, one of these issues should be global capitalism and the selling of certain "ideals" in terms of what you should be if you are a food blogger - mainly, a well-off housewife comes to mind. But what about those of us who clearly do not fit into this world? Am I destined yet again, to be in the borderlands (see Gloria Anzaldúa for more) of cyber space, trying to navigate a world that presumes class privilege while making foods that are meant for those who are clearly not in that status? It's almost too much to bear, but I keep on because I think this blog is as much about my identity as a Chicana who loves food as it is about the food I make. I'm sure I have plenty more of this to discuss but that will come, with my ruminations on future meals. I fear my audience is ready to get to the recipe already.

A perfect way to ponder these very issues is to make up these CHEAP tuna melts and share them over some lively conversation - be my guest. A and I however, enjoyed ours watching Project Runway, so maybe this is more a suggestion and definitely not lead-by-example type advice. Open and drain two cans of tuna. Add some mayonnaise I would say this is about two heaping tablespoons. Mix with a fork to combine.

Now add the secret ingredient, that when I first made these for A she was like, "hmm... what is that in there? It's good but different." That special ingredient would be (yellow) curry powder. Add in about 1/2 tablespoon and a teaspoon (to taste) of red chile powder. Mix it in thoroughly. At this stage I also add in a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.

Next comes the delicious crunch. chop up some jalapeños and put into your tuna concoction. I love jalapeños and since I have a high tolerance for spice I put in about 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers. I would NOT suggest putting in this much if you are using a fresh jalapeño, chop that finely in that case but do not add this much or you might die from over-spiced tuna melt syndrome. At this point I also add about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese - I'm using again the three cheese blend from Trader Joe's here, my favorite for easy melting.

Stir it all together and you should have something pretty chunky because of the cheese and the jalapeños and you're ready to go.

Since we're making mini tuna melts today, I cut up about half of a french bread loaf that I got at Cub that morning. It felt fresh at the time, to my disappointment it was really dry on the inside, meaning it was really difficult to cut, I think I lost about two pieces due to squishing them and their insides crumbling out. You may of course use whatever bread you would like.

Then give a little piece to your kitchen assistant, just to make sure it's edible. A will be happy to know that Sandie is working on her poses. Look at her smiling with her eyes, or is she contemplating how to bite my finger off for some additional protein? Alas, we may never know.

Now, I decided to use my Broil King because I wanted to make them all at once. You may of course (which might be the preferable method) use the broil setting on your oven. I had a hard time getting my tuna melt to melt with the BK unfortunately so, I will either use a lower setting (because my bread did get toasty) or put this in the oven to broil to ensure the insides get heated enough. There's almost nothing worse in your mouth than a lukewarm, soggy tuna sandwich. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I used butter to coat my Broil King and then I was able to make this many mini sandwiches from my tuna mix. I let both sides of the bread toast but flipped the top up onto the sandwich part sooner than later in an attempt to warm up my tuna to make it nice and melty.

When your bread gets toasty and your insides are melty, you're ready to eat! You can see that I've paired these with some delicious macaroni and cheese. This made me feel like I needed to add some different colors in my food but another day means another meal means another lengthy blog about it. Until the next time we break bread with one another...

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