Thursday, May 26, 2011

The (F)unemployment Special

(F)unemployment: (Noun) The state of being unemployed in New York City.  

Yeah, it's cool for about a minute until you start to drive yourself crazy.  For once I don't have work or school and I have no idea what to do with myself.  I guess I shouldn't complain, it's been great in some ways. My room is constantly clean, I've caught up on new music, and a lot of reading has been done.  But I want to work (which is a weird thing to say, i know). I need to have something to do, something to work on, something to keep my stress level higher than it is now.  It's only been a week and I'm starting to feel like a blob -  I'm not into this blasé lifestyle AT ALL. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Little Devil (on horseback)

Guess what everybody? I finished grad school FOREVER. Yep, that's right, no more finals, papers, assignments or pop-quizzes for me.  I can't even explain how happy I am that I don't have to make the hike from Brooklyn to Morningside Heights Harlem on the reg anymore.  Even though my official graduation isn't until tomorrow, my family is here (and let's be real they like to eat and party just as much as I do) so I decided to commemorate my time at Columbia with a celebratory grilled cheese.  For some inspiration I thought I'd use some blue cheese to symbolize the school colors of blue and white and since grad school seemed like a curse most of the time at times, I decided to incoroporate devils on horseback (bacon wrapped dates) into this sinful and devilious little grilled cheese.

So here's what I used in these bad boys...

- 1/5 pound of Blauschimmel cheese
  (or a saga blue brie)
- 4 slices of french bread
- 2 pats of salted butter
- 2 devils on horseback
  (bacon wrapped dates)

So to get the cheese for this sandwich I decided to go to one of my favorite places in Williamsburg the world - The Bedford Cheese Shop.  I had originally went in to buy some saga blue brie but the cute guy behind the counter (I swear everyone in there is so adorable that they make my heart melt) told me they were out, and to my delight offered me some of this amazing blauschimmel.  I would try to tell you about how amazing this blue cheese is, but I like the way the shop puts it way better...

"One of the most exceptionally buttery, slightly soured, delicately veined, blue cheese you will ever have the pleasure of eating.  It's like fresh churned butter on steroids, or a beefy blue on E. Smear on top of a dense dark bread for an evening of bliss. Pair with a dirty martini."

See what I mean? Awesome cheese, awesome description, and awesome shop.  So anyways, go ahead and treat yourself to some of this delicious blue and smear it on two pieces of crusty french bread.

Look at those veins!

 Next comes the devils on horseback.  A while ago I went to dinner with an amazing fellow grilled cheese enthusiast - Rick Wolfe.  He is opening up a grilled cheese truck (The Cheesy Truck) in Columbus, Ohio, so you should definitely eat there if you live in the area (believe me, I've drooled over the menu).  So while we were at dinner, Rick decided to order us some devils on horseback and I was instantly obsessed with these sweet and smokey little morsels.  Even though i basically devoured the entire tray (sorry for forgetting how to share Rick), I honestly haven's stopped thinking about them since.

To make devils on horseback you basically just wrap some pitted dates in thick cut bacon, and bake them at 400° for about 20 minutes (or until your bacon is cooked through). Once you have them prepeared, gently slice one down the middle and put both halves onto a piece of bread.

Then pile on some more of that delicious blue.

And top with another piece of french bread.

Now butter both sides of the sandwiches and heat your pan on medium high.  Because the cheese is already so soft, it will only take a few minutes on each side.  Once they start to crisp up and show that nice, golden brown, and toasty color, flip them and repeat. 

When both sides are crusty, take the grilled cheese out of the skillet and serve!  If you have some spicy mustard on hand I'd definitely recommend dunking them in for an extra zing.

Although this sandwich has a lot going on, each component melts together to form one hell of a grilled cheese.  The sweetness from the date balances out the tartness of the blue, and the smokiness from bacon rounds everything out.  Oh and as for the bread and butter, well I guess we can all agree that they just make everything taste a little bit better.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Señor Snappy

¿Como estas mis amigos? Are you super excited that today is Cinco de Mayo? Because I sure as am.  I've got my tequila chilling in the fridge and my El Guincho (NSFW) record playing on repeat.  The limes and salt are set up like a shrine to our Lady Guadalupe and I've got my sombrero party shoes on.  If only all of my friends didn't have real jobs so they could be here drinking with me.  But yeah, so to pass the time until happy hour rolls around - I'm making a fiesta grilled cheese for you and all your amigos to enjoy. Es muy bueno!

So what's in this bad boy?


- 1 tbs of pickled jalapenos 
- 1 tbs of pickled red onions
- 1 tbs of shredded roast pork
- 2 pats of butter
- 1/2 cup of quesodilla queso
- 4 sweet plantains (aka maduros)
- 1 Bolillos (or a crunchy french bread)

One of the best parts about living in Williamsburg is the huge Hispanic population that makes up the other half of hipsterdom.  I don't even have to get my passport stamped in order to have access to a zillion amazing little Ethnic markets.  I love it, I can find anything (and I mean anything), but most importantly I found the bread that tortas are made from (which are called Bolillos) at a super cute bakery called Grand Morales. This delicious disk shaped crusty french-like bread is absolutely perfect for this grilled cheese. It's thick and hearty and holds up perfectly when it's packed with tasty fillings.

So to begin you'll want to cut your Bolillo in half and then gently cut off the top of the bread.  Then flip the butt of the bread over because later you'll want to cover it with cheese and use the inside of the bread for the buttered outside.

Now it's time for the queso! While I was at the market I found an entire shelf full of different kinds of queso.  Now let me inform you that I took like five years of spanish and the only thing I really retained was the names of food but beyond that I was totally screwed. I had absolutely no idea what to buy so I mustered up my español courage and asked the cashier what was the best melting cheese by wiggling my fingers in a poor attempt to sign "melt". She directed me to queso quesadilla which should have been the most obvious choice, cause com'on duh quesadilla cheese - I should know that.

But yeah, so I got my queso quesadilla and shredded it and sprinkled it on to one half of the sandwich.

Once the cheese was on, I delicately placed some pickled jalapenos on top.  For these, I bought some of the pre-sliced nacho jalapenos at Whole Foods and drained them and then put them in the leftover brine from my favorite pickles in the world - McClures of Brooklyn.  They've been in there for quite a while but having been soaked in vinegar made them extra tasty.  They were still spicy but they were  also a little sweet as well.

Next came the roasted pork.  I cheated and bought mine pre-made but if you have time you should totally make this yourself.  When I was browsing recipes I came across this little gem, but with finals approaching and me scrambling to find a big girl job, I sadly resorted to the pre-made stuff to make my day a little easier. 

After that I put on the maduros.  If you've never had these and are wondering what in the world they are, let me tell you.  They're the best things in the world.  They're basically fried green plantains that look like big bananas and become sweet and caramelized once they are cooked in oil.  I love 'em so much.

Now at this point I put on some pickled red onions to balance out some of the sweetness.  To make these, I thinly sliced a red onion and then soaked them in red wine vinegar for like 30 minutes. 

Since the sandwich was getting rather high, I decided it would be best to grill the two halves seperately so the cheese could adhere to both pieces of bread and essentially glue the ingredients together. 

I went ahead and melted two pats of butter on medium heat and put each half in and smeared them around in the butter.

I let them cook for about 4 minutes on each side until the cheese started getting ooey and gooey and melty and goodie (sorry, overboard - i know, but you get the point).

Once I could tell the cheese had melted and wasn't going anywhere, I carefully put the cheese-only side on top of the massive-amounts-of-ingredients-side and let the cheese work it's magic.

After another minute of this delicious grilled cheese sitting in my skillet, I removed it and sliced it half, and then fought off my roommates from eating it so I could snap some pics.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Salud! And don't forget to drink plenty of water before bed, tequila hangovers are no joke.