Grilled cheese sandwiches are a staple of the American lifestyle. This old standby, usually made with Wonder bread and processed American cheese can benefit from a little TLC.
The key to a good sandwich is to think thin. Keep your bread and cheese slices as thin as possible to make sure your cheese has a chance to melt before your bread gets burned.
Although the recipe calls for brushed olive oil, you can substitute butter. Just keep in mind that butter is 10-20% water, and your toasted bread won’t be quite as crisp as bread toasted with olive oil.
4 thinly sliced pieces of sourdough bread
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Enough thinly sliced Brie cheese to cover one slice of bread
1/4 cup fig paste/jam
1/4 cup arugula
1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional)
Combine fig preserves with chipotle powder and mix well.
Lightly brush one side of each slice of sourdough bread with olive oil, set two slices of bread on a pan/griddle preheated to 350-400 degrees (medium heat). Add layers of brie to the top of the bread slice.
Add arugula directly to the top of the cheese.
Spread the fig/chipotle jam on the unoiled side of the remaining slices of bread, and place the bread on top of the arugula, jam side down.
Cook sandwich for approximately 5 minutes per side (until both sides are brown, and the cheese is melted).
I recently sat down with Duff Goldman to talk about life since Ace of Cakes, his new line of cake products, and the time he gave some restaurant goers a little more with their meal than they bargained for.
Serves 6-8, depending on how full you fill the tortillas
6-8 8″ Flour Tortillas
1/2 a medium yellow onion, sliced
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup segmented fresh pineapple (or an 8 oz can, drained)
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 of a peeled mango
4-6 large strawberries
1 lb of pacific salmon, cut into 1 inch strips
2 limes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
Preheat an 8″ or larger frypan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they start to give off moisture. Add onions and pineapple and stir occasionally. As the onions start to turn transluscent, add soy sauce and cook until all the liquid is gone from the bottom of the pan, and the onions start to brown.
Slice the mango and strawberries and add to a separate bowl. Set aside
In another frypan 9″ or larger, add the salmon. Generously salt the salmon. Turn each individual strip once it looks like it’s cooked about halfway through.
While the salmon is cooking, combine the chopped cilantro with the coconut milk. Mix well.
Layer the onions, salmon strips, and mango salsa down the center of a tortilla. Top with coconut/cilantro dressing and a squeeze of lime juice.
Hawaiian Fish Taco Salad
Prepare all ingredients as above except for tortillas. Preheat oven to 325. In an inverted cupcake pan, push the tortillas in between the cupcake cups, taking care to make sure the bottom of the tortillas is flat. Bake at 325 until the tortilla starts to brown. Serve as above, but include shredded lettuce.
Makes 4 – 1 cup portions
2 Tbs olive oil
2 sliced onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1 finely diced and peeled granny smith apple
1/2 Tsp dry rubbed sage
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
3 cups beef stock (or 3 cups water and 3 beef bouillon cubes)
2 Tbs Maple Syrup
1 Tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese
Combine Olive oil, onions and garlic in a large stockpot (at least 5 quarts) over medium heat. Stir occasionally until onions start to brown (about 40-50 minutes)
Add all other ingredients except cheese and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Ladle soup into serving vessel. Top with cheese.
A recent study by the US Pharmacopeial Convention indicated that incidents of food fraud have increased by 60% since 2010. The report listed cooking oils, spices, and seafood as the items most likely to be faked. Here’s how you can counterfeit proof your food!
Spices: The most commonly faked spices are saffron, black pepper, and cinnamon. They’re EXPENSIVE spices, and easy to fake. In some cases less expensive stems. The way to know their not fake? Buy whole spices and grate/grind them yourself.
Coffee: Ground coffee is frequently cut with other ingredients to make it stretch. Buying whole beans and grinding them yourself resolves the issue.
Olive Oil: The USP determined that Olive Oil was one of the most faked foods in the world. The secret to knowing your olive oil is safe? It should smell alive and vibrant, like grass, flowers, or pungent olives. It is also recommended to purchase oil manufactured/grown in the United States. It will be fresher and authentic!
Seafood: The study found that the cheaper Escolar (which incidentally is banned in Japan and Italy) is passed of as White Tuna or Butterfish. Further, fake scallops are commonly made by cutting scallop sized discs out of shark meat. The key? Look for familiar fish that has been harvested in the US, particularly Halibut and Pacific Salmon. With Scallops, look for irregular shapes and sizes.
Hamburger/Ground Meat – With the recent horse meat scare throughout Europe, eating a hamburger can be ground beef roulette. If you’re concerned, ask your meat counter if the hamburger was ground in store.
Each steak you cook has a secret, a hidden mystery, if you will,about when it’s done. Careful observation of how it cooks will tell you how pink/red/brown the inside is.
Here’s the background, as meat cooks, the protein inside unlocks and releases moisture. The hotter the temperature, the more the moisture will be visible. In other words, by watching your steak after you’ve flipped it, you’ll have a pretty good idea what the inside looks like.
Rare – no moisture
Medium rare – moisture just starting to show on top of the steak
Medium – top of steak is wet
Medium well – moisture starts to drip off the top of the steak, on to your cooking surface
Well – Steak stops putting off moisture, but may still be wet.
2 steaks of your choosing (rib eye, tenderloin, new york or sirloin all work well)
6 oz of crab meat
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
4 slices provolone cheese
Generously salt and pepper both sides of your steak prior to placing in your pan.
Cook the steak just shy of your desired temperature on one side, then flip.
While the steak is cooking, put your crab meat directly on to your pan. Top with pine nuts, and the juice of two limes. After the crab meat has warmed through, separate it into two portions. Top each steak with 3 oz crab meat per steak, and 1/2 of an avocado, cut into slices. Top each steak with 2 slices of provolone cheese and cover. You may need to add an ice cube to your pan to steam the cheese until it’s cooked completely through.
Lobster can be tricky. Because it’s the dominant muscle the animal uses for propelling themselves through the water it’s lean, and overcooks easily. Throughout history, these overcooked/rubbery lobsters were considered food for the peasants and workers. However, with proper care, this rubbery dry meat can be turned into a delicacy.
The key to a tender lobster is in the way that you prepare it. A relatively low temperature will guarantee the best results, thus poaching is the way to go! The key, get your water hot enough so that it boils, and then reduce the heat JUST below the boiling point. Your lobster will be tender and delicious!
Now let’s talk about the butter.
Turning regular ole butter into a butter filled with infused flavor is easy as melting it. All you need to do, is melt your butter with something with lots of oil based flavors. Common ingredients are: citrus peel (lemon, orange, lime), garlic, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, and cloves. -all will flavor your butter in a way that will knock the socks off of your guests!
Have a happy New Year!!!
4 lobster tails 4-6 oz each
2 Tbs Salt
2 quarts water
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a tall saucepan. Add salt and dissolve.
Reduce heat until the water is just shy of a boil.
Add lobster tails and make sure they are fully immersed. Cook for 1 minute per ounce. (4 minutes for 4 oz, 6 minutes for 6 oz)
Remove from water with tongs, slice down the middle and serve with infused drawn butter.
1 cube of butter
Zest/peel from a lemon (or orange, or lime) – just get the colored portion of the peel, the white pith will add bitterness to your butter.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
In an oven safe vessel, (I like to use a narrow pyrex measuring container) combine the butter and citrus peel. Place in the oven for 45-60 minutes.
Remove from oven and strain the peels out of the butter.
One of my first published holiday recipes. This originated as a way to get past all the transfat is traditional sandwich cookies. The white chocolate ganache makes for a decadent filling!
1/2 cup butter at room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 cup unsweetened Dutch Cocoa Powder – you can always use a “dark cocoa” blend if pure dutch is unavailable. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and cream together until light and fluffy, and the egg and mix until it is incorporated. Add the cocoa and mix until consistent.
Add the flour and mix in by hand. You want to mix the minimum amount and still get the flour incorporated.
Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly and place in the fridge for two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After removing the plastic wrap, sprinkle confectioners sugar on rolling surface. Turn the dough onto the sugar and then roll the dough into a consistent 1/4 thickness. Using a 2-3 inch wide circular cookie cutter, cut as many circles as possible. Place the circles on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Take the unused dough, and reroll it to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut more circles, each time putting them on the parchment covered cookie sheet. Continue the process until all dough is used.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 11-12 minutes. Transfer parchment paper to a wire cooling rack.
Let cool completely before filling.
1/4 cup plus 1 TBS heavy cream 1/4 stick butter (2 Tbs) 1 1/2 cups White Chocolate chips (try to get ones with at least some cocoa butter)
Place the chocolate chips in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure the butter is completely melted.
Pour the cream/butter mixture over the white chocolate chips and let sit for 2 minutes.
Mix until all the white chocolate chips have completely melted, and then let it rest until room temperature.
Using a whipping attachment on your mixer, whip until medium peaks form.
Place a reasonable amount of filling between two cookies and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes to give the white chocolate a chance to set.