Food at home


Due to an inordinate amount of traveling we’ve done, Jason and I haven’t made it to the farmer’s market since the beginning of June. You can imagine our delight when we went today and found a wide variety of the summer’s bounty. We picked up a smorgasbord of fresh fruit: tree-ripened peaches, an assortment of plums, apples, heirloom tomatoes, cherries, and the star of this post, blueberries.

After a great bánh mì brunch with L & C, a craving for some fresh lemonade kicked in and after thinking about it the whole way home, I thought it would be that much better with the addition of some blueberry. Jason and I came up with this when we got home and I can sum up the blueberry lemonade in one hyphenated word: kick-ass.

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Blueberry Lemonade
makes roughly 6-8 highball glasses worth

1½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 8-10 lemons)
3 cups water, more to taste
2 cups of ice
1 cup of hot blueberry syrup (**recipe below)
lemon slices or fresh blueberries, for garnish
ice to fill glasses

Combine first four ingredients in a large pitcher. Taste the lemonade and if it’s too sour, add ½ cup of water at a time to taste. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

To serve, fill 6 highball glasses with ice and pour in lemonade. Serve immediately with lemon slices and/or fresh blueberries as garnish.

** Blueberry Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup honey
¾ cup granulated sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, mash the blueberries to help them along once in the water. Add the sugar, honey, and blueberries to the saucepan. Let simmer over low heat (gentle boil) for about 20 minutes but be careful not to let it boil over!

Strain the syrup to get rid of the blueberry pulp.

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Here are some tips we came up with in our journey from turning lemons into lemonade:

  • Juice the lemons while the syrup is simmering so you’re not just wasting time waiting on the syrup.
  • Before cutting the lemons to juice, press down on them on a countertop firmly and roll back and forth underneath your palm. This makes juicing them much easier, especially when you’re doing so many.
  • If you’re patient enough to let the syrup cool, not that we were of course, change the recipe to 4 cups of water and omit the 2 cups of ice. You can even make the syrup a few days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.
  • You can double the amount of blueberry syrup and then reduce the leftovers for another 30-45 minutes to make a thicker blueberry syrup, which would be great over pancakes, waffles, ice cream, or even stirred into future cups of lemonade or iced tea. Just remember that you’re doubling the amount you make but NOT doubling the amount you add to the lemonade!

Now go ahead and refresh yourself! 🙂

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Note: JLH v1 is back with another guest post! 🙂 Let’s show him the love he deserves~

A few weeks back Jacquie sent me a link for a Columbia Crest recipe contest. All that was required of participants was to use a Washington State ingredient in a dish that could be paired with one of their wines. I debated between starting with either a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz since I love red wines, but once I settled on blackberries as the star of the dish, I knew the spiciness of the Shiraz was the way to go.

If you’re curious, the prize is a 3 day/4 night trip for two to New York City (including air fare and hotel accommodations), a dinner at one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants, and a chance to prepare your meal with him. The fact that Bobby’s the sponsor may or may not be a good thing because my recipe is based on a technique out of his Mesa Grill Cookbook. Several months ago I made his Peanut Chipotle Ribs but didn’t write about them and even though they tasted good enough to warrant a post, they weren’t my finest (or last) effort so I decided against it. The baste I made turned out too thick but the cooking technique was great so I applied it to my recipe below, but this time I kept my baste thinner.

My recipe below seems complicated because of the laundry list of ingredients but it’s really just a few sauce fundamentals. Most of my sauces start with the basics – oil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper – and vary from there depending on what the sauce is for. I knew I was using blackberries and Shiraz for the base, but I wanted to make it a little more rib appropriate; thus the molasses, honey, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce were next in the pot. If you hadn’t already guessed, those ingredients plus a tomato product make up a standard BBQ sauce. To get the tomato flavor but keep it unique I used sun-dried tomato halves instead of the commonly used ketchup. I considered adding some heat to go along with the sweet and sour of the sauce, but I knew the chili rub would take care of balancing the dish in its entirety.

Btw, I’m hoping that if I win they’ll just give me a helicopter ride to the city as a substitute for air fare and hotel. Heck, they can even throw in another dinner if they want, but mostly I want to throwdown with Bobby Flay, mostly.

Blackberry Ribs (1 lb pork spare ribs)

Chili Rub

Remove the stems from 3 dried ancho chiles, 4 dried guajillo chiles, and 4 dried cascabel chiles. Dice them up and toast in a cast iron skillet over medium/low heat for about 1-2 minutes. Don’t let them burn; the smoke they create is killer on the eyes and lungs. Thrown everything into a spice grinder and presto, you have an au natural chile rub.

**Note: for this recipe, stop there for the chili rub. However, if you have some leftover (and I did) you can make a homemade chili powder. All you have to do is add some dried oregano, cumin and paprika. I don’t add salt or pepper because I prefer to salt/pepper my food as I cook it since different dishes require different amounts. Also, you can add onion and garlic powder if you want but since I usually cook with the fresh versions, I left that out as well. I really don’t know the ratios to be honest, but basically if you combine the cumin/paprika/oregano separately but in equal proportions, it should be about the same amount as all the chili rub. Not sure if that made sense…

Dry Rub

salt
pepper
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tablespoons chile mix (recipe above)

Liberally salt and pepper the ribs all over. Next, rub about 1 tsp of cumin on the top of the ribs. Then rub in a good portion of the chile mix to the top of the rack. You want to get a nice thick coating. You can rub into the bottom too but be sure to sear that side as well (later steps). Cover the ribs and let sit in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

Baste

1 tsp olive oil
1/3 bottle Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz
12 oz fresh blackberries
¼ medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 halves of sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar

½ cup of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz
2-3 cups of water
¼ cup of fresh chopped ginger

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a medium size saucepan. Toss in the red onions and garlic and sweat the onions slightly (do not caramelize). Add 1/3 bottle Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz and the blackberries. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and then mash the blackberries a bit with the back of a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes longer (make sure the baste doesn’t reduce too much and become thick. It’s a baste, not a paste).

Remove the sauce from the heat and discard about ½ of the blackberries. Add the remaining mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Return the sauce to the sauce pan and add the rest of the ingredients up to brown sugar. You can go ahead and preheat the oven to 500 degrees now. Let simmer again for another 5-10 minutes for the flavors to meld then add back to the blender to puree again. It should be thin enough to pour in a steady stream. Mine was the right consistency but if you find yours too thick, add a little water to thin it out for basting.

Cooking Ribs

If you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Add oil to a roasting pan large enough to fit the entire rack and warm over medium-high heat. Sear the top of the ribs (or each side if you added dry rub to both sides) for about 5 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Remove the ribs and most of the oil, add in the remaining three ingredients (2-3 cups of water, ½ cup of the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz and the ginger). Set the roasting rack into the pan and place the ribs on top so they remain above the liquids in the roasting pan. Carefully place the ribs in the oven on the lowest rack (basting before you begin) and then baste every 15 minutes. The ribs should cook in about an hour to an hour and a half. A meat thermometer should register 175 degrees since these are pork ribs.

Take them out when they are done and then let them rest for about 10 minutes. Carve and enjoy!

 

Or something close to it. This meal was so delicious and praise-worthy that I’m sure Dr. Seuss will forgive us for borrowing the name of his much loved classic.

Picture taken with Nikon D80 with Nikkor 60MM Macro lens and the help of the foodio built for me by the father in law 🙂

Jason used our meat grinder on the pork we picked up from IB on Sunday night and turned it into some of the best breakfast sausage I’ve ever eaten. He has graciously offered to provide that recipe here and I would highly suggest you go to your grocery store so you can make this soon now. On second thought maybe you shouldn’t. You’ll never be able to go back to pre-made/pre-cooked/diner sausage ever again!

On Monday night we decided to use the sausage in a hash with some veggies we got on our last trip to the farmer’s market that we have to use up. We didn’t get to go last weekend b/c we were busy doing this.

Making a dish like this is great way to stretch a little bit of meat a long way whether you’re trying to save a buck or your waistline. Jason had made 2 lbs worth of sausage but we couldn’t in good conscience eat all of that meat no matter how much we wanted to. We used 1/2 a pound in this dish and froze the rest. We threw in tons of veggies and 8 oz of meat made enough hash for two dinners and 1 lunch.

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Green Eggs and Ham
serves two for dinner + 1 small lunch the next day

Hash:
8 oz of homemade breakfast sausage
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3/4 lb of whole baby fingerling potatoes (any waxy potato diced would be fine as well)
1 bunch of diced ramps, whites only
4 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms (any kind is fine)
salt and pepper

Ramp gravy:
1 bunch of ramps, greens only
2 cups of milk, at room temperature and divided (1% works fine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour

4 eggs, cooked anyway you like

Brown sausage in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once thoroughly browned, remove the sausage from heat and reserve.

Turn the heat down to medium and add tablespoon of oil. Swirl to cost the pan with the oil and add the whole fingerlings. Quickly toss to coat all the potatoes in oil and sprinkle on kosher salt. Let the potatoes cook for about 15-20 minutes. Yes, the first picture is of hands Jason made out of fingerlings.

Prepare the ramp gravy in the meantime.

Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Throw in the greens of the ramps and let boil for 1 minute. Drain and immediately place ramps in an ice bath so that it retains the bright green color. You can also just be lazy like us and place a bunch of ice cubes on top of the drained ramps and rinse with running cold water. Either way works. Just get the temp down on it fast.

Place the blanched ramps in a blender or food processor along with 1 cup of milk. Blend/puree until very smooth and uniform. If you want to get your gravy super smooth and have a tamis or chinois, you might want to run the puree through it. Jason’s been itching for one b/c he’s the sauce guy in the family and either one of these instruments would get his sauces much smoother than just the blender alone.

In a small saucepan (we used the same one we blanched the greens in) over medium heat, melt the butter and flour together and whisk to create a roux. Cook the roux for about a minute so your gravy won’t have a raw flour taste to it.

Lower the heat and slowly add the remaining cup of milk. Whisk constantly to break up any lumps that may form from the roux. Add the ramp puree and whisk to combine. Let sit over the lowest heat possible while you prepare the rest of the dish.

At this point, the potatoes should be fork tender. Smash the potatoes with a meat mallet or potato masher to break open the skin and flatten the potatoes slightly. This will add to the surface area touching the heat which will contribute to getting the potatoes crispier. Crispy = yummy.

Add the whites of the ramps as well as the shiitake and toss everything together. If you used a cast iron skillet, you can turn the heat off. The residual heat from the cast iron skillet should cook the ramps and mushrooms perfectly if you keep stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the hash and spoon the ramp gravy over top.

Jason made sunny side up eggs for us to put over top of the plated hash but scrambled, poached, over easy, etc… would work also. Top eggs with plenty of gravy. I didn’t take a picture of that part simply b/c it wasn’t as pretty after the second topping of gravy.

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This dish was by far one of the best breakfast dishes we have ever made. From the ramp gravy to Jason’s homemade sausage, every element of the dish complemented amazingly well. I was a bit apprehensive that the ramp gravy would have a bite to it like but the blanching process mellowed it out and the resulting gravy was subtly sweet. This played out perfectly with the homemade sausage that was both sweet due to the pure maple syrup and salty at the same time.

The dish took us about 45 minutes to make and was well worth every minute and effort we put in. We are so proud of this dish that we plan on serving it at the next (and first) brunch gathering we have. Anybody wanna join us? 🙂

I must confess that I do not make my own pizza dough. It’s not because I haven’t heard of Peter Reinhart’s much-praised dough or am just too lazy (well not 100% because of that at least). I haven’t given it much thought because fresh pizza dough is so readily available to me at Iavarone Bros, which I’ve given love to in the past.

IB makes their dough fresh and freezes them in plastic bags just waiting to be taken home by pizza-lovers like me. Their dough is a dream to work with once thawed and it produces a pizza with the taste and consistency as those my local pizzeria. It’s what I would strive to make mine like so why not just focus on all of the yummy toppings and leave the dough to the experts?

That is exactly what I do and for $1.50 a bag, I keep a few stocked in my freezer so I can pull one out before I leave for work in the morning when I feel a pizza craving coming on. I prepare the toppings when I get home and a fresh “gourmet” pizza will be ready for us within an hour.

I knew that once we brought home the delicate ramps from the farmer’s market, they were destined to be a topping on pizza. I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the ramps by using heavy flavors like red sauce or pepperoni so I opted for a white pie and used prosciutto to add a delicate saltiness.
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Ramp and Ricotta Pizza

serves two for lunch if you also have a salad alongside

1 prepared pizza dough (I try to flip mine around to make it as round as possible but I wasn’t patient enough to let the dough come to room temperature on Sunday so it was harder to make into a circle. I gave up and made it rectangular instead. It came out to be a perfectly respectable thin crust 18×8 pizza.)
1 cup of fresh whole-milk ricotta mixed with 8-10 cloves of garlic confit
4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, thiny sliced or shredded (I used smoked mozz because I love the flavor of it)
2 ounces of prosciutto
1 bunch of ramps, whites and greens chopped, with a handful of the greens reserved
fresh cracked black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
handful of basil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with an oven rack on the lowest shelf. Set a pizza stone/upside down baking sheet on the rack to heat along with the oven.

Drizzle olive oil on another baking sheet that your pizza can fit on. Place the prepared pizza dough on the pan and start assembling the pizza.

Generously and evenly spread – washed fingers are the best tool for this – the ricotta/garlic mixture onto the dough and go almost to the edge. Since there’s nothing really liquidy going onto the dough, you don’t have to worry too much about any leaking that could happen over the edges.

Then distribute the smoked mozz ramps, and slices of prosciutto over the pizza. Finish by drizzling on some olive oil and sprinkling some fresh black pepper over the whole thing.

Place the pan that the pizza’s been assembled on directly onto the pizza stone/baking sheet that’s been heating in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then slide the pizza directly onto the pizza stone/bottom baking sheet to crisp up the bottom. At this point, sprinkle the reserved ramps on top. That way you get two layers of ramp flavor: really cooked and just slightly cooked.

Bake for another 5-10 minutes depending on how toasted you like your pizza/toppings. Take out of the oven and tear basil leaves over the whole thing. Let it rest for a few minutes if you can resist and then slice and enjoy!

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The sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings when you make pizza in the comfort of your own home. Nobody will judge you if you make them w/ anchovies 😉

After having been preparing pizza obsessively for almost a year, I have some bits of advice on how to make a successful pizza at home.

  • If you are making a red sauce, make sure that it is reduced to beyond what would be appropriate for pasta. This is so that it won’t release too much water as the pizza cooks in the oven.
  • Be sparing with the toppings.
  • It’s best to use toppings that are already fully cooked. Meats and vegetables release water as they cook so if you put them on raw, it won’t be a good scene.
  • Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature so everything heats up evenly. This way you won’t have cheese that isn’t melted yet while your crust is nicely browned.
  • Get a good pizza cutter/wheel so the cheese/topping won’t drag as you cut your pizza

Lest you think that all Jason and I eat at home are sandwiches and sweets, the recipe featured in this post highlights a typical weeknight dinner for us.

Our inspiration for dinners usually come from how tired we are when we get home from work and the gym and on the night we made this, we were particularly lazy. We went with an all-in-one pasta dish/meal. This particular one starred the beautiful Maitake and shiitake mushrooms, shallots, and spinach we picked up from the farmer’s market. The pork was an after thought to “beef” the dish up but it would have been fine kept as vegetarian for a lighter meal.

The starch in the reserved pasta water brings all of the flavors in the dish together and makes the dish seem almost creamy. I personally prefer pastas that don’t have a traditional sauce and reserved pasta water is a MUST to making them taste wonderful. I wouldn’t dream of making a dish like this without it.

Here’s a lovely pic of the mushrooms being cut up. Yum!

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Weeknight One-Pot Pasta

serves two hungry eaters

5 oz dried short pasta (i.e.; penne), prepared according to package but drained slightly BEFORE al dente
1 cup pasta water (reserved from above)
3-4 pork chops, 1/2-inch thick, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 TB olive oil
red pepper flakes, optional
4-5 large shallots, thiny sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb mix of Maitake and shiitake mushrooms, rough chopped (any mushrooms would work here)
3-4 large handfuls of fresh spinach, rough chopped
1/2 cup white wine (stock or water will be fine for this too)
salt and black pepper
freshly grated Grana Padano cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano is fine

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet that has a cover. When the oil shimmers, add the pork chop and sear for 3-4 minutes a side. Remove from the pan, chop into bite-size pieces, and reserve.

Heat the the remaining olive oil over medium heat in the same pan and throw in the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Fry for about 7-10 minutes or until the shallots are soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Lightly salt and pepper the aromatics. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and then add the mushrooms. After 3-4 minutes, pull out a mushroom to taste it and readjust the seasonings as needed.

Add the pork back in along with the pasta, pasta water, and spinach. Stir to combine and cover the pan. Let steam for 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

Serve with the freshly grated cheese.

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This meal will realistically take about 35-40 minutes from start to finish. It may take less if you have help from a great partner 😉 Thanks for being my kitchen buddy for life!

Hello friends~

This month was my first challenge as a Daring Baker. The challenge was Cheesecake Pops from Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey cookbook. It was hosted by Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms.

The cheesecake turned out really well and it was the first time my cheesecake didn’t crack upon cooling. After doing some research, I found out that leaving the finished cheesecake to cool in the oven is the trick. By leaving it in the warm oven, the cheesecake can cool slowly. Another tip I have to making a successful cheesecake is to make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. This will ensure a creamy cheesecake with no thick lumps.

Though I loved the idea of this dessert, I must be honest and say that I didn’t think think it was worth the effort. The cheesecake slid off the sticks while I was dipping them and while Jason was eating them. I couldn’t get a good coating of chocolate on them either but I think that was my fault. Note to self, Nestle chocolate chips are best in chocolate chip cookies and not melted for a candy coating. I had an inkling that might be the case but it was the only chocolate I had in the house at the time (I have been on a chocolate chip cookie craze). The other wonderul Daring Bakers out there had beautiful results though and are obviously more artistic than I. Check theirs out!!

Sorry that the picture below is suffering from jaundice. I snapped it while Jason was eating it on the living room couch.

On a more positive note, I think these would be great at a bake sale and/or as an activity at a little kid’s birthday party.  It can get messy though so I’d suggest doing it outside and having a hose handy.

I can’t wait for the next challenge and hope I’ll have better luck with it!

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Cheesecake Pops

makes 30-40 pops

40 oz of cream cheese at room temperature (I used 1/2 full fat and 1/2 neufchatel cheese)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the insides of one vanilla bean)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed

thirty to forth 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, etc…

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

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Oh grilled cheese, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways?

You are:

  1. warm
  2. crunchy
  3. buttery
  4. salty
  5. tangy
  6. healthy
  7. quick
  8. easy
  9. cheap (sometimes)

A simple grilled cheese sandwich got my roommates and me through a few rough times at NYU. I’m not talking about a fancy schmancy grilled cheese like the one featured in this post either (I give myself credit, I know). Ours were made with two slices of Wonder Bread, two slices of Kraft American cheese freshly peeled from their plastic casing, and a thick coat of butter. The sandwich was then thrown into a hot pan and often came out burnt but eaten in delight anyway.

Though I look back fondly on those sandwiches – perhaps owing more to missing my college days – this particular grilled cheese is not like that. This one uses a whole host of ingredients that grilled cheese purists may argue make this more of a general panino. However, this is my website and my recipe so I take the liberty to call my recipes what I want. In this case, I’m calling it a grilled cheese sandwich.

The best part about this sandwich is that you can add or omit whatever you want (except of course the cheese). The main lesson here is that anything slapped between two slices of bread with cheese and then heated with butter will most likely taste wonderful. Seriously, it would probably even good with this… Or maybe just stick to the tried and true combinations like the below 🙂

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Weekend Lunch Grilled Cheese

makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of fresh sourdough loaf
6 cloves of homemade garlic confit*
2 TB Dijon mustard
2-3 oz thinly sliced extra Comte cheese, which I’ve extolled previously
2-3 oz thinly sliced ham
6-8 leaves of baby arugula
4 thin slices of fresh tomatoes
black pepper to taste
1 TB butter, melted

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Mash the garlic confit and mustard together and spread evenly on each slice of bread. Layer all of the remaining ingredients up to the butter on two slices as shown below. I like to start and end with cheese so that when it melts, it acts like glue for the sandwich. Really though, isn’t cheese in fact the wonderful glue that holds all of our worlds and lives in order? Such deep thoughts…Okay, moving on.

Top each layered slice and brush it liberally with the melted butter. Lay the buttered side of the sandwich down in the cast iron skillet first and then top with heavy pans/lids/bricks/end tables to smush it. Heat for 3-4 minutes or until it’s as toasted as you like. Before flipping the sandwich to toast the other side, brush it with the remaining butter. Flip it and then heat for another 3-4 minutes or until it’s as toasted as you like.

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I served the finished sandwich with a matching side salad of baby arugula and tomato tossed with a garlic Dijon vinaigrette. And yes, I know that’s like the the whole ordering-a-diet-coke-with-a-super-sized-value-meal type thing.

Great, now I’m in the mood for Wonder Bread and a slice of Kraft cheese.

* Garlic confit is a simple pantry item I learned to make from Thomas Keller in the Bouchon cookbook. Peel the cloves from 5-6 heads of garlic and place in a small saucepan. Pour in enough olive oil just to cover all the cloves and turn the heat on the stove to the lowest heat possible. The bubbles should barely break the surface. Braise for about 30 minutes and then cool. Store the cloves and oil together in an airtight jar in the fridge.

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