Friday, November 25, 2011

The "I'm never eating again" Sandwich

Minus having a broken meat thermometer and one too many morning mimosas, I'm happy to report that yesterday was a total success. As you can imagine, because of our blood alcohol concentration and the absence of a certain kitchen tool, our bird ended up sort of dry. But whatever, it was still edible and that's all we seemed to care about after what seemed like an eternity of cooking.

Proudly, we even managed to not eat ourselves into a coma and got all pretty and went to hit the strip on Bedford. To our dismay, we discovered that not a lot of people actually go out on Thanksgiving here in the grand old neighborhood of Williamsburg, but we did! And after about five drinks at a bar where we were the only patrons, we all decided that it was the perfect time for Thanksgiving round II. So we went back to my apartment to destroy my perfectly clean kitchen what was left of our feast.

One of our creations consisted of a grilled holiday citrus roll with cranberry mustard, leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, and some nutty, gooey gruyère. So I decided to share that with you all, only a prettier, less-sloppy version, of course.

Here's how we made use of our leftovers.

- 1 heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes
- 2 thin slices of gruyère
- a couple pieces of turkey
- a dollop of Inglehoffer cranberry mustard
- 2 pats of butter
- 1 leftover roll (we had some weird citrus-y
   ones that had nuts in them)

So any leftover roll will work, but the trick to getting a nice, evenly grilled cheese is all about making sure your bread is level. If your roll has a huge, ridiculous top like this one, simply cut it off and eat it right away. Consider it your appetizer. Then make sure the other end of the roll, aka the butt, is used as the inside of the GC.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of rolls these were besides that they contained chunks of nuts and orange zest. My roommate's brother, who forgot the meat thermometer and the yeast rolls, managed to somehow get his hands on these citrus-y babies, so of course, we utilized them. 

Then pile on whatever cheese you have on hand. I always have some sort of fancy fromage in my fridge and last night I just happened to have some leftover gruyère from our sweet potato gratin*.
Gruyère's a semi-hard, nutty, and caramel-y cheese from Switzerland. It's one of my favorites and it melts really beautifully but sort of takes a long time.

*The sweet potato gratin was voted as the majority favorite, so one of 
these days when I start a non-grilled cheese blog, I'll share the recipe.

Then you'll just want to slap on some mustard.

I got really lucky and was handed a bottle of cranberry mustard before I left work last week so I used that. I think you could totally mix some of your homemade cranberry jelly with some honey mustard and it would probably be the same thing.

Now it's tater time! Just put a dollop right in the middle and don't worry about spreading it out. Once you add the turkey, it'll naturally squish out everywhere.

Then add some turkey...

... and another layer of gruyère...

... and the other piece of bread and then do a little dance because your sandwich is done being built! Smear on some butter and turn your flame to low and place this Thanksgiving treat in your pan. 

Cook for about 10 minutes on each side or until everything gets warmed up and the cheese starts to melt.

Then pull the GC off the grill and you know the drill - let it sit for a minute to firm up, and dig in!

I want to give you all a virtual high five for making it through Thanksgiving without cutting off any fingers or drunkenly yelling at any family members. If you didn't make it through without any disasters, then i want to give you a hug and say it'll be better next year, as long as you give me your booze, promise.

And as for a booze pairing, I'd follow my lead go with a bright and crisp brut champagne to play off of the citrus flavors in the mustard and bread.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pre-Turkey Melt(down)

One of the many depressing parts of growing up is realizing that you are way too broke to go home for Thanksgiving. Which sadly means no more of Mom's famous mac'n'cheese, Grandpa's baked beans, or Uncle Bro's secret mashed potatoes (ok, not so secret, he mashes one sweet potato in the mix and it makes all the difference!). It's not all that bad though, because it also means that there's no more interrogation sessions about what you're doing with your sad, pathetic life in Brooklyn self after you finish your internship or your alliance with certain political affiliations (My parents are grown-up hippies, so yeah, I'm not talking about them). But I'm sure you can relate, and I can definitely do without that.

Instead, I'll be trying to fit 15 of my closest friends into my tiny little apartment (there's no kitchen table so I'm still trying to figure that one out), having panic attacks over botched recipes, and making way too many trips to the liquor store below my apartment. And ya know what? I can't wait! And because of all these Thanksgiving-related things that are flooding my mind, I decided to do a simple grilled cheese that will give you an easy yet delicious meal to hold you over until the big feast. With a spicy pepper jack cheese from Tillamook (you know, my favorite), and some sweet, creamy apple butter, and a buttery croissant, this GC encompasses one of my favorite flavor combo's SWEET & SPICY (and buttery) and it's an excellent little Fall treat that pairs nicely with an acidic Sauvignon Blanc.

Because you'll probably be spending way too much money this Thanksgiving, here's a simple 3-ingredient GC!


- 1 plain croissant
- a few slices of Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese
- 1.5 tbsp apple butter (I used Fly Creek)

The first thing you'll want to do is slice your croissant in half and thinly slice some of that Pepper Jack and lay it on. I only use Tillamook's variety because I love how there's little bits of sweet peppers and how the creaminess of the cheese contrasts with spicy little bits of jalapeno peppers. It's so freaking good.

Then you'll just want to dab on some of the apple butter.

My roommate brought some of this stuff home from Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard, which is upstate, and it is sooo amazing. Slightly tart, yet super sweet and utterly creamy. I could eat spoonfuls of this stuff. Seriously.

Add another layer of of the Pepper Jack and put the top piece of bread back on top. Because croissants are basically all butter, and because I remember how greasy the last GC was that I made on a croissant (SEE HERE), you don't even need the stuff! You'll just want to turn your heat to medium low and stick it on.

After about five minutes on each side, it should start becoming even more flaky, golden, and crusty. I smashed mine a little because I couldn't resist.

When it's all pretty on both sides, take it off and give it a minute to sit. At this point, the cheese will be soaking up into croissant, and omg, it's about to get REAL.

I hope you all have an awesome Thanksgiving and that you remember your knife skills so that no one looses a finger. And if/when you're about to have a food-related breakdown, step out of the kitchen take a deep breath, eat a xanax take a huge swig of some wine and get yourself together kid!

Pair this GC with a nice tart and acidic Sauvignon Blanc which will contrast with the sweet notes in the apple butter along with the creamy texture and spicy undertones from the Pepper Jack.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ellie Green Bean

I'm seriously having puppy withdraws. My dog Ollie, the super fat dachshund, is a wimp and hates the cold so he's staying with my parents at the beach. Because of this, I'm talking to strange dogs on the street and sneaking in tail grabs pets when the dogs' owner walks by me. Let me just explain how weird things have gotten.

The other day I was at work and this guy came in with a brand new snow-white, blue-eyed puppy, named Elephant (OMG! think i OD'ed on cuteness). He tied him outside of the store and I heard him whimpering so I ran out to get some pets and possibly score a puppy kiss (just a lick, but I call them puppy kisses). Anyways, I instantly fell in love with him and was kneeling on the ground while he was jumping up and trying to lick my face. When he did this, I went in for a hug and I accidentally touched my bright red MAC-glossed lips on his white furry side. I retracted my hug and saw the gigantic crimson streak and tried to rub it out. Whelp, that mac lipstick that I'm in love with, well yeah, it's great because it's a stain. I STAINED A STRANGER'S DOG! I had to walk in and tell the owner that I kissed their dog and now it's stained red. The poor dog's red abdomin couldn't be anymore red than my poor, blushing face. Needless to say, I was super embarrassed but at least I was honest. I'm sure he totally thought I was a freak. 

But anyway, this blush-worthy story has absolutely nothing to do with this Thanksgiving green bean casserole-inspired grilled cheese, but I thought I should share because it was absolutely ridic.

Inspired by one of the my favorite side dishes, this GC uses the following ingredients.


- 1 half wheel of Camembert
- 6 inch baguette, cut in half
- 2 pats of unsalted butter
- 2 tsp of French Onion Dip seasoning
- 1.5 tbsp sauteed shiitake mushrooms
- a couple cooked green beans

Camembert, a mild brie-like cheese that has an earthy mushroom taste is perfect for this GC because it sort of mimics the cream of mushroom soup that is so often found in green bean casserole. You'll want to cut a few slices and basically just smush the camembert into both sides of your bread.

Then, gently press in some cooked green beans. If you have leftovers, totally use that, otherwise just trim ends and plunge the beans in boiling water for two minutes. Then strain and throw them in an ice cold bowl of water so that they stay nice and vibrant. No one wants some nasty old brown string beans.

Next comes the mushrooms. For extra texture, I did a quick sauté using diced shiitakes and a little bit of butter. Quick, easy, and delicious.

Then gently place your other piece of bread on top. The cheese that you smushed into the bread should stick so you won't have to worry about trying to get it laid out evenly.

This is my favorite part! You know those packets of French Onion Seasoning that you use for like dips and baked chicken and stuff? Well I sprinkled some of that on top of my butter so it could be like the fried onion crust that's obviously the best part of the casserole*. Do this on one side now, and then on the other once you have it cooking and are ready to flip.

*This was my best idea of the week, just so you know.

 Once it's built, turn your burner to medium and place GC straight into the pan.

Place a weight on top of the grilled cheese so that the round part on the top will cook evenly when you flip it over. Let it grill until golden and crispy; about 4 minutes.

Because Camembert is ultra creamy and super silky, you'll want to let it rest for a hot minute. Resist urges to bite in because you will burn your face off with hot molten cheese lava. Trust me, I might just be the world's biggest klutz an expert on melted cheese oriented burns.

With Thanksgiving about to slap us all in the face and make us ten pounds heavier, I figured why not start the party early. And, if you take any message away from my aforementioned story, remember honesty is the best policy. I might have made a fool out of myself, but that guy might have been even more freaked out if he didn't know why his poor little pup had a giant red blood streak down its entire side.

Oh! And for my new beverage-of-choice pairing, I'd suggest a robust red Bourdeaux, which stands up nicely against bloomy rind cheeses like this and at the same time, enhances the earthy flavors from the mushrooms.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Frumpy Dumpling

My brother's gone and I made it through Halloween without getting arrested. Thank God. He's such a party boy and trying to keep up with him was absolutely exhausting. You know how when people come to visit, it sort of becomes your vacation too? Well yeah, I'm just going to go ahead and call this my fall spring break because I partied like I was still in college - not that I normally don't. And since Halloween is my favorite holiday, and because I didn't think (or have time) to do a Halloween post as awesome as last year's, I'm making these savory cheesy pumpkin grilled cheese "dumplings" that are bathed in a sage brown butter sauce as the new exciting method for cooking up these awesome sandwiches. Get excited!

Here's what you'll need to get your spook on.


- 1 tbsp ricotta cheese
- 1.5 tbsp gouda
- .5 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 2 small sage leaves
- 1 tbsp of chopped cooked nueske's bacon
- 1 pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, & sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 large dinner rolls dough at room temp

First we need to mix up our filling. I combined the ricotta, pumpkin puree, and grated gouda.

Then I mixed in the spices and the cooked bacon. If you haven't had nueske's bacon then you are seriously missing out. The New York Times calls it the beluga caviar of bacon and I completely agree.

Once the mixture was ready, I started to stretch out the thawed dough. Be careful not to let it break because it will if you play with it too much. You'll want to stretch it far enough so you can seal in the filling.

Then I plopped about 3/4 tbsp of the mixture in the dough.  If you think you can fit more, go for it!

From there, I gently folded the dough over and sort of made a little hand pie. I basically just tucked in the the outside so the filling wouldn't ooze out. You can also use the fork approach and go around the edge with the spiky part by gently pressing down. If you have no idea what I'm talking about (I don't blame you, trying to type this took me about 20 minutes) then check out this video.

Once these little pockets of goodness were ready, I started to make the brown butter sauce. Because I'm essentially cooking the "dumplings" in it, I made sure not to let the butter brown too much because I didn't want them to burn and I wanted to let the insides get all hot and melty. So to do this, turn your heat to medium, add the butter, and once it starts to bubble stir in your bay leaves.


Then, plop your little dumplings in there and let them sizzle for about five minutes. Your kitchen should start smelling really good. The sweetness from the dough mixed with the nuttiness and herbal awesomeness from the sage brown butter... Ohh la la!

After about five minutes the crust should resemble the picture below. If it doesn't, let it cook for a little while longer and if it does, then flip it! If your dumplings were big, then feel free to rest them against each other to cook the sides that aren't brown. I did so on the opposite side of the seam so I could get more crunchy bites.

Then when they're all nice and golden, take them off the skillet and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Make sure to let them rest for about a minute before you serve them. 

So yeah, that about sums it up. I hope you all had an awesome Halloween and I'd love to know what you were so leave a comment below - I get a kick out of that stuff. I was Garcia from criminal minds one night and a failed baby Sinclair from Dinosaurs the other. So I'll just leave you with this grilled cheese song until next week when I bring you another unique method for cooking GC's.