Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The #1 Dormmate

I don't know about you but my dormitory experience was absolutely awful. I lived in a little allergen-infested cubbyhole with a girl that spent almost every night instant messaging until three in the morning. This wouldn't have been that bad, but you see, she always kept the volume turned all the way up. Do you remember that little ba-ding noise that happened EVERY SINGLE TIME you sent or received a message? Well yeah, it sort of drove me crazy. Oh and not to mention, she had a huge obsession with Sponge Bob. Our tiny cage, i mean, dorm room had it all: a Sponge Bob comforter, Sponge Bob pillows, Sponge Bob posters, the whole package. She had it and I was not having it.

She was a great girl though. Really. 

Anyway, beyond being stuck with an 18-year-old female version of the 8-year-old boy I used to babysit, I was also without a kitchen for the first time in my life. This was a hard adjustment for me. I didn't get a meal plan because I thought the cafeteria was gross so I was forced to adapt. For the first few months I lived off of Pabst Blue Ribbon, copious amounts of cereal (Smacks and Lucky Charms if you can even consider those sugar concoctions cereal) and far too many peanut butter and jellies sandwiches (aka Pea-nutter-jel-andwiches). This was definitely a fun and exciting time in my life. Living on my own, having no curfew, and doing whatever the eff I wanted was wonderful. But my palette and reputation were suffering; one can only go through the TacoBell drive-thru so much before they start to know you by name. That was, until one day, I discovered this beautiful gem.

GRILLED CHEESE - IRON STYLE


Here's some simple ingredients that changed my dorm life and probably my slammin' teenage figure.


Ingredients:

- 1 iron
- about a 1 square foot of tin foil
- 2 pats of butter
- 2 slices of hearty whole wheat (mine was seeded)
- a little under 4 tbsp of shredded serious cheeses
    - 1 tbsp grated Comte
    - 1 tbsp grated Gruyere
    - 1 tbsp grated Ossau Iraty
    - .5 tbsp crumbled Stilton (or some yummy blue)
 



To begin, Plug in your iron and put it in a safe spot. I know you probably don't have a lot of room, but this is very important, burns are the worst. If it has a steaming option, turn it off and set it to the highest heat setting (which is usually labeled cotton).

From here, lay out your tin foil and butter one piece of bread. Flip it so the butter is face down.


Now pile on your cheeses! I know I definitely didn't have enough money to buy fancy cheeses like these while I was enrolled in college (and to be honest, I still don't have enough money!) and I'm not even sure if they had these delicacies available in Tallahassee (besides Sweet Grass Dairy which I didn't even know about until I was a senior..sad face).

I should have totally thought about this before I did this post... BUT OH WELL. I think it would be just as good with a Kraft single, some provolone and swiss, and maybe even a slice of muenster if you're extra fancy or go to an ivy league school or something like that.


Now simply place the other piece of bread on top and butter it!


Now fold up the tin foil to create a little alien spaceship home for your sandwich. These silver packets can function as really fun and playful weapons to use when your suite-mates* are getting out of hand. You can chuck it at them in anger without hurting them and as soon as they realize what hit them in the back of the head - you're forgiven because of the warm gooey cheesy mess that's about to grace their state college oh-so-refined palette.  

*Why do they even call them suite-mates? There is nothing sweet about it.


Now when your is iron piping hot go ahead and place it on top and apply some pressure. After about five minutes, carefully (it's freaking burning hot) check to see if the bread is starting to crisp up. It took me about 5-6 minutes for each side. 

I've heard you can also do this without the tinfoil, but at the time when I learned this method I didn't want to risk having any my beautiful Forever 21 garments spotted with butter stains. But to be completely honest, this was probably the most action my iron got during those days. And to be even more honest, I couldn't even tell you the last time I ironed anything. I really love the wrinkle release spray stuff. It saves my life or at least my appearance.


After it's all cooked up, go ahead and gently open up your packet. I think it's best to take out the grilled cheese right away because it gets kind of soggy if it stays all cooped up.


Now this method isn't only for dorm room residents. It also works really well in hotels, apartments with gross kitchens, bus stations, train terminals, dive bars and so on. As long as you have a plug, you can bring your sandwich pre-wrapped and cook it anywhere. Well almost anywhere, I'm sure the cashiers at Forever 21 might have a problem with it.

Stay tuned for next week, where I present another new and exciting way to cook up a yummy grilled cheese sandwich!

xoxo,

GCS




Monday, August 15, 2011

Cool Dude Cappy

Guys, I am so excited! It's finally cooling down. It feels as if the gates of hell have lifted from my kitchen. Because of this, I've been paying a lot of attention to my out-dated and temperamental lovely "vintage" appliances. I sure missed them. When the highs were hitting around a thousand degrees, making anything that required more than fifteen minutes in the kitchen was off-limits. I just couldn't do it, the heat was excruciating and exhausting. I even had a weak moment where I thought about taking a break from GCS. I'm not being a baby, either. Sure, i miss central AC and all the wonderful times we had together. But it got to the point that every time i whipped up a new sandwich for a post, my entire apartment ended up feeling like a gigantic blow-dryer with a heat-seeker had gotten out of control.

So yeah, now that it doesn't feel like an exhaust pipe from the L train (do they even have those?) is funneling into my house, I'm finally taking a stab at all the recipes I've been hoarding saving over summer. One of the first on the list - eggplant caponata. Oh yes.

Of course I ended up with way too much, so here's a teaser to what I did with those leftovers: Deep, rich, and sweet caponata jam balanced out by creamy and tart goat cheese. Fresh mint is hanging out in the mix as well, to give a nice pop of herbal brightness that refreshes and cleanses the palette. Oh and I can't forget the super nutty and hearty whole wheat bread that acts as a crispy buttery case that encapsulates all this warm goodness.


THE GOODS:


Ingredients

• about 2 heaping tbs of Sweet Grass Dairy Goat Chevre
• 2 pats of salted butter
• 5-10 fresh mint leaves
• 2 slices Balthazaar's multigrain bread
• 2 tbs of Caponata Jam
  (combine 1 tbs of eggplant caponata
   with 1 tbs fig butter or preserves)




There are so many varieties of goat cheese. I really like this chevre from Sweet Grass Dairy (I mean, let's get real, I like EVERYTHING from them) though. Like a lot. It's creamy, tart, and smears on really well. It's not very chalky and I found that it works really well for grillin'.

Sooo anyways, back to the point, MacKenzie.

Smear on some of that good stuff. About a giant heaping tbs for each side.*

*obvs more or less depending on your bread size. You want just a nice thick and delicious layer and that's all that matters. Smear your heart out*


Now for the Caponata Jam. I had some of this delightfully sour and sweet eggplant dish left over and I thought it could be an interesting ingredient for a GC. As i was dreaming up some concoction, I began to think about the played out classic pairing of caponata and goat cheese. And although I feel like this combo is boringly delicious, it's been overdone. You probably even had the combo smeared on top of some dried out crostini at your little brother's basketball banquet. Or some other cutting edge event like that.

But ya know what? I couldn't let this routine pair make an appearance on one of my sandwiches. No way. Ick. So ya know what I did? I made a jam out of it. Not the fancy go-all-out-and-can-it-jam but rather a simple combination of sweet fig butter and tart, slightly tomato-y caponata spread.

So follow my lead and smear on about 2 tbs of this bright and sweet spread which will balance out the lip-puckering goat cheese.


After that comes the mint leaves. There's nothing like fresh mint. It's bright, citrus-y, and has the ability to balance out rich dishes by leaving a cool and refreshing aftertaste.

You'll want to just place a couple of the little green leaves on top of the caponata.  Or if you're like me and have a mild case of OCD, well then arrange them in beautiful little straight lines.  Now do this four more times until they are absolutely perfect. 


Then place the other piece of bread on top and smear some salted butter on it. I always use salted butter because...well...because i like it.

OK? Is that so wrong?

Unsalted butter is boring. 


Now heat your skillet up to medium high and place your sandwich in. Butter the other side and grill for about 4 minutes (or until it gets that nice golden crust) and flip it. Repeat for the other side.


SEE? This is what's up. F'real.


After it's all beautiful and bronzed (Not bronze as in Snooki bronze, but yeah, the above kind of bronze) take it off the heat and let it sit for about a minute or at least until it's cool enough so that your fingers don't burn off when you are trying to feed your face. 


Stay tuned for next week, because I'm beginning my AWESOME WAYS TO MAKE GRILLED CHEESE SERIES which will feature...well... awesome (and innovative!) ways to grill-up your all time favorite sandwich, the grilled cheese.

xoxo,

GCS

Thursday, August 11, 2011

While you wait

Well hello pilgrims! I know everyone someone (anyone?) out there in the blogosphere is probably in tears waiting for a new GC post to be up this week but unfortunately I've been super busy and haven't had time to do a write-up. I've already shot it though, and let me tell you, a combo of caponata jam, goat cheese, and fresh mint grilled between some buttery whole wheat bread makes for one sassy little sandwich.

 And luckily for you, my good buddy ole pal, Travis, made you something AWESOME to smile at while you pass the time. Weeeeeeeeee!
Am i dancing? If not, click on me!

LOVE YOU ALL,

GCS

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Bee Sting (remix)

I've got to get this off of my chest. I care about bees. Like a lot. So much so, that when I have to write up the Links We Love at work each week I try to throw in one story about what's going on in the world of bees. It's gotten a little much though. I know. I know. People don't want to be depressed and sad thinking about these poor little fuzzy insects that are living on the brink of their demise. They just want to think of them as cute little furry things that fly around and pollinate flowers and produce sweet liquid gold with their other bee friends. They have a matriarchic system for cryin' out loud! They're even raw enough for Wu-Tang to care about. So yeah, they're rad.

So to talk about bees without being a total drag, I've made a new sandwich to showcase their sweet, sweet nectar. It's inspired by one of my favorite pizzas OF ALL TIME. The Bee Sting. It's from this place Roberta's and it is the best thing I've ever had. It's sweet, spicy and absolutely divine. It's got fresh mozzarella paired spicy sopressata, basil, and red pepper flakes. Then it's finished with a touch of honey that just makes your taste buds go "WTF was that? GIVE ME MORE." Well, at least that's what happened to me.


So here's my spin...


Ingredients:

- about 4 slices fresh mozzarella
- 2 hearty slices of a Bâtard
- 5 slices of sopressata picante
- 1 tbs of red pepper flaked butter
  (combine 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
   with one tablespoon of real salted butter, MIX)
- 1 tbs of basil infused honey
  (fresh basil leaves and tupelo honey, OF  
   COURSE)



Ok, so I'm totally obsessed with tupelo honey (and it doesn't have anything to do with my obsession for Van Morrison either. I swear.). It's the only honey I'll eat and you might remember it from the Floridian honey mustard that so deliciously starred in The Homebody. I even get my mom (love you mom!) to ship it to to me, because sadly, I can't find it ANYWHERE in NYC. It's a bummer. If you don't have any, you should buy some. Seriously.

To make the basil infused honey, julienne about ten small basil leaves and stir them into a tablespoon of honey. I let the mixture sit overnight to let the flavors of the basil steep into the honey. When I was searching for a basil laced honey recipe, I found that a lot of people said to heat them together but I didn't think it was necessary. I found that covering the mixture and letting it sit overnight worked wonderfully. After you've got your mixture ready, just spoon on about a 1/2 teaspoon (or more, depending on the size of your bread) onto each slice of the bâtard.


Then add a layer of mozzarella. Fresh mozz won't melt but it will get super stretchy and warm and delicious.


Then add some spicy sopressata. This salty dry meat pairs perfectly with fresh mozzarella because of how moist and mild it is.


And now add on the last layer of mozz.


Then the top piece of bread... AND THEN...


IT'S TIME FOR THE RED PEPPER FLAKE BUTTER. This stuff is for real. It's super spicy and it balances perfectly with the sweetness from the honey infused basil.


Then turn your burner up to medium and set your sandwich in. The lower the heat, the better. You'll want to cook it at a lower temperature so the red pepper flakes don't burn and have a chance to infuse the butter.


Cook it for about three minutes on each side or until it gets golden brown. WATCH OUT though, you don't want to burn the pepper flakes because they get nasty and bitter and no one wants that.


Before you chow down, let the sandwich rest for a minute so that the cheese isn't super stretchy and doesn't slip out when you try to cut it.


So there ya have it. And even though you might not be thinking about bees like I had originally intended, at least I got to talk about them without making people cry. For that, I'm thrilled. Enjoy!

xoxo,

GCS