Spring is here, baseball (or t-ball) season is underway and it seems time runs shorter even as the days get longer. With after-school activities and the desire to soak up every minute of daylight, it’s all too easy to succumb to the allure of the drive-through or take-out. So it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve for “fast food” at home – like a New York deli sandwich night. As an added bonus, half the fun for the kids is building their own sandwich, so the prep time is minimal.
Start with the basics – sliced bread, an assortment of deli meats, mustard and pickles. Rye bread can be an acquired taste for little ones, so look for an unseeded rye or wheat bread. The first time I was introduced to an authentic New York deli, I was delighted to discover the tangy, vinegar-based cole slaw served. I’ve included a recipe below. It is best made ahead, but in a pinch you can make it before getting the sandwich fixings ready.
If you have a little more time, get different types of mustard (Dijon-style, yellow, honey, horseradish) and let your kids sample to find their favorite. You might also have a pickle tasting, with kosher dills, bread-and-butter and sour pickles – or branch out to pickled beans, beets or tomatoes. When kids are making their own combinations, they’re often more willing to try something new.
No trip to a New York deli is complete without chocolate egg creams: Take your glass, fill with one finger-width of chocolate syrup, two fingers of milk, and then pour seltzer over the back of your spoon to about two-thirds full. Stir briskly until the chocolate is thoroughly mixed in and a nice, foamy head forms on top.
N.Y. Deli Cole Slaw
Makes 6-8 servings
1 small green cabbage
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
pinch black pepper
Remove outer leaves of cabbage and cut out the core. Finely chop the remaining cabbage and place into a glass bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over cabbage, toss to coat evenly, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.