Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Badger Poutine

Cheese curds, gravy, and french fries, OH MY! You may be rubbing your eyes or pinching yourself in disbelief as you feast your eyes upon this savory poutine smothered between two pieces of delicious beer bread.  But let me assure you, this is real life and really, really, really scrumptious. And what better way to celebrate April (which is National Grilled Cheese Month) than by paying homage to the great state of Wisconsin for their amazing contributions to cheese.  Wisconsin Cheese Talk, you know I love ya.

With a little inspiration from the Wisconsin culture of cheese and beer consumption, I present to you the ingredients:


- 12 Wisconsin Cheese Curds
- a handful of french fries
- 1.5 tbs of brown gravy
- 2 pats of unsalted butter
- 2 slices of beer bread
  (1 dark beer, room temp, 3 cups of
   self rising flour, 3 tbs of sugar,
   1 pinch of salt, a few sprays of pam)

We all know that Cheese heads love their beer, so I thought it was only fitting to incorporate this cultural staple into this Wisconsin themed grilled cheese.  Beer bread is not only absolutely delicious and addicting, but it's probably the easiest and quickest bread I've ever made! 

To make it all you need is 1 room temperature dark beer (suggested beer would be Wisoconsin's own Capital Dark or Sprecher Winter Brew), 3 cups of self-rising flour, 3 tbs of sugar, and 1 pinch of salt.  Combine all the ingredients, grease two loaf pans, distribute batter equally and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  Allow to cool for about an hour before you make the grilled cheese. So easy, right?!

Once the bread has cooled down, melt the two pats of butter in your pan over medium heat.  

When the butter is about done melting, turn down the heat to medium/low and add the two pieces of beer bread directly on top of the butter.  Once they're in, gently press down and rub the pieces around to soak up all the butter. 

Directly after that, place a few cheese curds on each slice of bread and space them evenly apart.  If you've never had Wisconsin cheese curds, I highly suggest that you leave your computer RIGHT NOW and find them.  These squeaky little morsels are best when they are super fresh (about one day after production) which might make you think "hmmmm, well how the heck do I find fresh Wisconsin cheese curds?"  I thought the same thing, especially since I was in FL while I was developing this grilled cheese.  Luckily, after some googling I found a local farmers market in Daytona, FL that sold the authentic curds.  I ate about half the bag on the drive home, managing to save the perfect amount for one grilled cheese.

Anyways, back to the recipe…now you'll just wait until the cheese curds start to melt.  Make sure to check the bottom of the bread to see that it's not burning.  It took about five minutes until the cheese looked like the last picture.  The process is just too dang pretty not to document, so here it is... because I'm just a little obsessed with melting cheese.

 Once the cheese has almost melted completely, you'll be ready to add the french fries. Just stack 'em evenly onto each side.

Right when you finish that step, carefully spoon the hot gravy on top of the french fries.  The melted cheese sort of creates a gravy boundary, which will keep your bread from getting soggy.  

At this point, the bread should be crispy and golden so you'll want to gently take the pieces of bread out of the skillet and smush together.

Now just slice it, crack open a nice cold delicious Wisconsin beer and get your taste buds ready for some extreme eating!  

I hope everyone has an amazing grilled cheese month! Bon Appetit!



Monday, April 11, 2011

Pretzel Logic

 The other day I was strutting around walking like a normal human being around Trader Joe's with my headphones feeding me some sweet, sweet melodies from Steely Dan, when all of a sudden a pretzel loaf caught my eye.  "What was this?" I asked, only to feel a wave of excitement roll through me like Donald Fagen tickling the ivories on Can't Buy a Thrill.

Had I found the perfect item to make a post that tied together my two favorite things - food and music?  I believe so.  Like Steely Dan, this sandwich is complex and full of texture but comes together with smooth harmonizing pieces and is almost a little too close to perfection... almost.

It seems like only yesterday I gazed through the glass when I used the following ingredients:


- 1 soft pretzel roll
- 1 tbs of chow chow
- 1 tsp of sweet and hot mustard
- 2 pats of salted butter
- a few slices of Sweet Grass Dairy's black
  swan cheese (or any mild cheddar)

As you can see I found some pretzel bread. OMGawwdd was it good.  I had never eaten it before but it was some of the most delicious bread I've ever had - soft, salty, and sort of sweet.  Unfortunately it was a rather small loaf but it turned out to be a lot of fun to make a few lil'baby grilled cheeses rather than a big 'ole one. 

So to begin,  I just sliced sliced the loaf up and spread on some of the hot and spicy mustard.  Gotta have mustard on a pretzel, right?

Then I layered some of the black swan cheese on top.  

FYI: I got a cheese subscription from Sweet Grass Dairy so you'll see me using a lot of this brand - which is pretty amazing.  I know a lot of you probably can't find it in your area so I'll make sure to list some alternatives that would be fitting. I've got to be honest and tell you that when I saw the black swan label I was kind of horrified freaked out (that movie did a number on my mental stability), but I totally got over it when I tasted this delicious cheddary type of cheese.  It was mild, creamy, smooth and  harmonized with the sweet and spiciness of the chow chow and the mustard and with the saltiness of the pretzel bread. 

And after that I piled on the chow chow.  Being from south, chow chow was something that we always had in our fridge and I rarely can find a good jar up North.  Luckily for me, I have the best mom and uncle in the entire world and they mail me "food care packages" on the reg.  If you haven't been able to experience the goodness of chow chow, It's basically a super chunky relish that's made from green tomatoes, cabbage, hot peppers, and an abundance of other crunchy veggies.  Pickle relish doesn't have smack on chow chow, and that's for real.

Next, put on some more cheese.

And top it off with another piece of that delicious pretzel bread.

Smear on some butter and heat your pan to medium and place these little guys in.

Cook for about three minutes on each side until it develops a golden and flaky crust.

Once the cheese has finally melted and it's crispy and golden on each side you know it's done.  Take it out and serve with a black cow and some pickled okra and have yourself a little picnic.

Any major dude will tell you that this combo is worth grillin.  *guitar solo*



Monday, April 4, 2011

Little Boy Blue

I get no greater joy than from jumping out behind a door and scaring the **** out of my friends.  With my recent infatuation with Matthew Gray Gubler Criminal Minds (yes, i'm a dork) the scaring/spooking/pranking has hit an all time high.  So it's no surprise that one of my friends would fall victim to the paranoia that I've instilled when they hang out with me.  Unfortunately for my friend Max - waking up with a blue tongue seemed like the result of a prank from the previous night.  With frantic texts inquiring about how his tongue got dyed blue, I was filled with a sense of awesomeness. I had not done anything to turn his tongue blue but I was thrilled that he thought I was the culprit behind this amazing situation. I had become the prank queen (inadvertently).

Too bad it all ended when Max Criminal Minded (def: solved the mystery) the situation by remembering that he ate a bag of m&m's before bedtime.  So as a sort of cheers to this self-inflicted prank, a blue cheese grilled cheese was created.

For Max's blue tongue grilled cheese inspiration, this is what I used...


- 1 tbs of crumbled Asher Blue Cheese 
  (Sweetgrass Dairy, GET SOME! )
- 1/2 tbs of Tupelo Honey
- 2 pats of salted butter
- 1 slice of Morbier Cheese
   (Sweetgrass Dairy, I love my cheese 
- 1 English Muffin
- 2 or 3 slices of pear

To begin, let's talk about this Morbier cheese.  This cheese smells totally awful but tastes totally delicious.  It has a really creamy texture when it melts and sort of tastes like a blue brie (almost).  I also liked the name because I think Morbier kind of sounded like morbid which fits in perfectly with the "scared" theme that I'm going with today.

But anyways, to begin cut your English Muffin in half and flip it over so the bottom is the side with all the delicious nooks and crannies.

Now simply pile on a few pieces of pear.  The semi-grainy texture of the pear is really great when it's held up against the melted cheese and crunchtastic texture of the grilled English Muffin.

After that, gently sprinkle on some of the Blue Cheese.  If it falls off the sandwich, don't worry - the next step will help keep the blue cheese on.

At this point, drizzle on some Tupelo Honey.  If you read my blog you know I swear by this stuff and consider every other honey to be sub-par to this delicious southern treat.  Also, this would be a good time to try and stick some of the blue cheese back on if you were having trouble in the previous step.

Now you're almost done!  Just put on the top piece of English Muffin (remember inside on the outside!) and smear a pat of butter all up in those delicious little nooks and crannies.  Then once your sammie is built, go ahead and melt the other pat of butter in your skillet by turning the heat to medium.  Then when it's melted, gently place sammie in and try to sop up all the butter.

Depending on how hot your range gets, it should take about 3-4 minutes to develop a nice crispy crust on the english muffin.  Once it's ready on one side, gently flip the grilled cheese and brown the other side as well.

Then when evenly golden and crispy on each side, take it out of the skillet and serve while it's all hot and gooey!

Remember, scaring people can be a lot of fun and so can eating this delicious sandwich.  So please, try both of them (but don't hurt anyone, please) and let me know how it goes. Have a spooktastic week!