What better way to celebrate Fourth of July than with great food and friends? I was lucky enough to be invited to Jeni and Dylan’s bbq for some serious eating. If you don’t already know they are a pair of serious cooks and eaters so I had to really think about what dish I was going to contribute to the festivities. I settled on Grilled Pork Confit and turned it into a sandwich using homemade brioche buns, mustard relish, cress and everyone’s favorite, Zuni Cafe pickled red onions.
B.L.T. is the king of sandwiches. This month I reached the pinnacle of my blt making history, partly because we’re still in the juicy tomato season and also because I found the perfect bread. If you don’t already know Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica makes the most amazing breads ever – light and fluffy with a super thin crispy crust. They started selling sliced bread! Imagine that freshly baked bread toasted and spread generously with mayonnaise, topped with thick juicy slices of pineapple heirloom tomato straight from the farmer’s market, smoky juicy Niman Ranch dry-cured bacon, and fresh and mildly oniony onion sprouts. Heavenly, no joke. My favorite sandwiches that I’ve made besides this blt is just suped up version it. The blt stuffed with perfectly ripe haas avocado is mouthwatering. One with the avocado and also spread on one side with fresh goat cheese? To die for.
Although there’s been waaay too much grilled cheese in my life I made a new one today to dedicate it to the Grilled Cheese Month. Let’s just call it Harissa Dreamin’. On La Brea Bakery’s crazily priced $9.75 walnut bread I layered harissa flavored cheddar, smoked gouda, pimenton-stuffed olives and a pinch of za’atar. Then grilled it in goat butter and speared it with a whole pimenton-stuffed olive. Let me tell you, this was delicious! I love the earthy spices the harissa brought to the cheddar and the slight sharpness of the goat butter. I wish now I went with my first instinct and also included goat cheese inside the sandwich. The olives also added a nice salty briny touch. Oh and the bread? Really really good. However $9.75 still seems quite steep for a loaf of bread. I need to start baking more bread.
Hi folks! So I entered the Grilled Cheese Invitational for the first time along with two of my friends. I decided to give it a go for each of their four category and I made it into the top ten rankings for two of em. Complete list of results are here.
St. Yoon’s Missionary
The rules for the Missionary category was strictly white bread, yellow cheese (American or cheddar), and regular butter. I used Cake House’s “buttered bread” which browned nicely, a mix of Kraft American singles and sharp cheddar, and a delicious fleur de sel French butter. This was my favorite of all my sandwiches. I have a soft spot for classics. Any other grilled cheeses are just an homage to the og sammy.
Spoons 8th place!
Now the Spoons category expands the boundaries a bit by allowing any kind of bread, any kind of cheese, and any kind of butter. However no extra ingredients whatsoever are allowed. I ended up making my spoons sandwich with Trader Joe’s garlic-cheddar sourdough, sharp cheddar, comte, truffled Italian cheese, and black truffle butter. The sourdough crisped up so nicely and looks appetizing speckled with truffles for the truffle lover. That would be me! I got 8th place in this category. I wonder what the other winning sandwiches were like. My friend Allison got 9th place with her Ultimate Queso sandwich.
Kama Sutra 6th place!
Kama Sutra was a freestyle category. The only thing a contender had to abide by was to keep the ratio of cheese to other ingredients 6:4. I ended up baking a bacon-gruyere loaf for the Spoons category but accidentally ended up using it for this category. By the time I had smeared romesco on the slices it was too late to salvage them. But it ended up working out because the garlic-cheddar worked well for the truffle flavored sandwich and the bacon-gruyere bread turned out to be perfect for my romesco inspired sandwich. After the smear of romesco on one side the sandwiches were layered with pepperjack, smoked gouda, chopped Nueske’s bacon, and roasted jalapenos. Since Nueske bacon is super smoky the toasting bread gave off such a nice aroma. When I was serving them at the competition I topped each mini sandwich with a round sliver of fresh jalapeno for an extra kick and final little juicy crunch. I got 6th place in this category. Number one spot was gloriously snatched up by Chef Eric Greenspan of Foundry.
Cinna Toast Redux
I didn’t get placed for the Honey Pot category which is a dessert version of the freestyle similarly just requiring 60% cheese. My sandwich which started off as a cinnamon toast somehow turned into a strawberries and cream sorta ‘wich. Whipped cream cheese flavored with lemon and orange zest, brown sugar and honey was sandwiched between two slices of brioche along with macerated strawberries and toasted hazelnuts. It was then dusted with cinnamon powdered sugar and speared on top with a little section of a strawberry. Unfortunately I forgot the strawberry and sugar on about half of my samples so that might have cost me. My friend Ellen got an honorable 7th place with her Moons Over My Sammie sandwich though!
All in all it was a fun silly time. Sooo much bread, cheese and butter. Allegedly there were many contestants cheating but I was too busy grilling my sandwiches to really notice. No matter how arbitrary an event seems cheating at something like grilled cheese seems a little ridiculous. Kind of takes all the fun out of it, no? I hope all the cheating didn’t affect my rankings at all because that would really suck big time. For the pounds of cheese and loaves of bread I went through, and minutes spent grilling it up (and perhaps inches gained on my waist) I think I at least deserve a fair chance! Now time to go work off the cheese…
The French version of a ham and cheese sandwich. According to Larousse Gastronomique a croque is a hot sandwich “with the crusts removed” made with Gruyere and lean ham, and if desired topped and broiled with a Gruyere bechamel suace. Add a fried egg on top it becomes a madame. I made mine with stuff I had around the kitchen – sliced sourdough bread and thin honey ham. I like mine with the gruyere bechamel bit so I went ahead with that but also added parmesan and dijon mustard like Ina does.
Larousse states that “the ham can be replaced by white chicken meat, the Gruyere cheese by Gouda, and a slice of tomato or even pineapple can be added.” Pineapple??? Haha. No pineapple version of mine but I’ve made a peppered country bacon one before topped with a fried quail egg. Take a look at the browned cheesy goodness. Irresistible.
You know I didn’t even have my first falafel until a few years ago when I was in Amsterdam. There was a falafel store down the block from the hostel I was staying at with a few friends from summer school in England. We were only there for a few days but it was our first meal of the day for the whole weekend. Without it I would have perished! The best thing about it was the condiment/toppings bar. So many different types of salads and sauces. It was heaven for me. I am a total condiment girl.
Since then I’ve had very few falafels. The sandwich at Arax is good and the pita from Eat-a-Pita was ok. Pretty minimal though. But when I was in Paris in last winter and got to eat a delicious sandwich from L’as du Falafel memories of my first falafel came rushing back. The falafels were crunchy on the outside, soft and nutty inside. Oh man it so good.
I thought I would give homemade falafels a go for my friend Julie’s birthday. I fried and packed these suckers up for a work lunch congregated in her honor. I found a recipe on epicurious and the falafels turned out great. It’s deep-fried chickpea batter. That can’t be bad. I made quenelles of the ground chickpeas and fried them in canola oil. I also fried up some eggplant a la L’as du Falafel. First I sliced and salted the eggplant first to draw out some of the bitterness. Boy assisted by rinsing the slices and drying them to get them ready for the hot pan.
The toppings included tabouli, pickled red cabbage, pickled red turnip salad (bought), tahini sauce, cucumbers in yogurt, tomato mint salad, and the fried eggplant. Phew, I can finally cross falafels off my “to make” list! And it was a success. Double whammy. Now for the other million dishes…
My dad used to make this breakfast sandwich on Saturday mornings for our family when I was way younger, around middle school or so. Toasted white bread topped with ham, tomato, iceburg lettuce, American cheese and the best part, a fried egg. The tomatoes were juicy, the lettuce fresh and the bread toasted to a golden brown in butter resulting in a the best sort of crunch.
Even before our lives included heirloom tomatoes, wild arugula and fancy hams like prosciutto food was still delicious. So in honor of those delicious Saturday mornings I decided make my dad this breakfast sandwich for Father’s Day.
My version included whole wheat bread toasted sans butter, black forest ham, applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, the ripest Japanese tomato and perilla lettuce (also known as limestone or roussette) from the farmer’s market, and of course a fried egg. I fried it just until the white were cooked but the yolk was still a bit runny. When I cut the sandwich in half I could not help but ogle it, especially with that tempting egg!
About two and a half weeks ago my brother’s friends Sarvi and Aaron contacted me about catering for their wedding party. It was supposed to be a more casual event held at a artsy and hip neighborhood bar/art gallery, providing guests with a light lunch. I enthusiastically took on the task with the help of my friend Ellen. So I began the menu planning keeping in mind that the food would have to be finger food so guests can eat easily while standing and drinking, the food would have to go with some nice wine, and of course something delicious.
Back in the middle of December Boy added another ring to his tree trunk. We usually take each out for birthdays but I wanted to do something a little bit more special, something a bit more tailored to what he loves.
To put it simply, the Boy loves beer.
Hmmm, at first I thought about getting him a case of Westvleteren Trappist ale which is not available in the states but I decided against that when the mailing seemed a bit dodgy. What if it never showed up? (Which has happened to Boy before with international purchases). So instead I got him a case of delicious domestic beer. Now this is not just any domestic beer, but Stone Brewery’s 10th Anniversary IPA. Only a limited batch was released and lucky me, I picked up the last full case of these at Beverage Warehouse.
But the real gift was a dinner – a five-course beer and food pairing dinner plus the addition of a special pre-dinner nibble.
Iberico Bellota Lomo, Zonin Prosecco
I got the lomo from the first batch of em (after FDA approval) that was sent over to the U.S. back last summer. It is seriously stupendous. I love pork. Especially the cured kind.
Marshmallow-Stuffed Sweet Potato Croquettes with Cranberry Chutney, Kiuchi Brewery Hitachino Nest White Ale
Bacon Croque Madame, Ommegang Witte
Roquefort & Roasted Garlic on Charcoal Cracker, Moylan’s Old Blarney Barleywine Style Ale
Skirt Steak with Arugula, Harissa & Ricotta Salata, Alesmith YuleSmith
Ricotta Fritters with Prosecco Berry Compote, Girardin 1882 Gueuze Black Label
Boy proclaimed “This is the best meal I’ve ever had!” Of course we know what really won him over is the overflowing of all sorts of delicious beers. And the croque madame.