Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Refrigerator offal: grilled cheese sandwiches

Sandwiches of Berkshire blue cheese, figs, watercress and Monterey jack cheese, bean dip, avocado, each on sourdough

I didn't feel like going to the grocery store today, and when I surveyed the contents of my refrigerator I thought, there's food here. Surely I can cobble together something for dinner using what's here. There used to be a show on the Food Network about some emergency crew that would raid your home and put together a meal using only what you had on hand. I'd always imagined them coming over to my apartment and trying to find a use for miso paste, three kinds of mustard, blueberry jam, and an artichoke. This is what comes of shopping for groceries daily and never stocking up in advance. But today I was better provisioned.

I had some extremely stale, but not yet moldy, Amy's sourdough bread, so clearly grilled sandwiches were in order. For the first kind I used some Berkshire blue cheese (artisanal blue made presumably in the Berkshires), some ripe figs (first of the season and not very flavorful, all the more reason to put them in a sandwich), and watercress I had meant to put in chicken salad sandwiches earlier today. And in the second kind I spread that bean dip I'd used for quesadillas a few posts ago, Monterey jack cheese, and very ripe avocado.

I buttered the slices of bread and heated two pans, the cast iron and this other steel pan my brother bought me at a garage sale and which I love and use all the time. I turned the hot steel pan on top of the sandwiches and put my Dutch oven on top to press the sandwiches while the cooked. I cooked them this way for about two minutes, and they came out golden, melty, crunchy.

A friend of mine was recently telling me about the time she made someone a grilled cheese sandwich. Her guest, who never cooks, was amazed that such a creation could be made outside the expertise arena of a diner.

Here's how I made my chicken salad sandwiches, by the way. I poached some chicken legs (skinned, on the bone) and tore up the meat. I prefer dark meat, and meat generally comes out more flavorful when cooked on the bone. Then I mixed the chicken with crushed pistachios (my favorite nut, in case you haven't noticed), tarragon, chives, olive oil, and a little salt. I used croissants. Now that I think of it, I'm glad I didn't use the watercress because it was a particularly peppery variety that might have upstaged the tarragon and chives.

Whenever I poach I recall reading that poaching water should be kept at what the French call a "whisper" -- not really boiling, just burbling quietly. It's a neat metaphor for calm, steady, work that performs its duties slowly but beautifully.


Dave said...

See, I would never have put figs together with blue cheese in a grilled sandwich. But now it's Adriana approved, so I must try it. I've actually never bought figs -- that's my level of foodiness.

Re: grilled cheese and diners. I was out at brunch with a certain young man in San Francisco when I casually mentioned that my love of French toast was undercut by how easy it is to make at home -- you feel a bit bad about ordering it at a restaurant. The young man was incredulous. He had no idea how to make French toast and assumed it was some complicated thing that only chefs could pull off. So I made some for him the next day.

Swizzies said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Swizzies said...'s where the REAL differences start to show up. Like when I hear 'grilled cheese sandwich,' I'm still thinking sliced bread from a plastic bag (from the supermarket) some kind of yellow or white cheese, and some butter and a hot pan. It's a 'fancy' grilled cheese if it's made from like Swiss cheese or has bacon or tomato in it, not just cheese. A blue cheese, fig, and sourdough bread grilled sandwich is NOT a grilled-cheese sandwich. And it couldn't possibly be regular old 'refrigerator offal'! I mean, what are you foodie/chef-y types doing to the rest of us?? I live in freaking Europe and I still eat Pringles for chrissake. I have good French wine with them though. Maybe it's a start...
(PS - I deleted this once because I spelled too many things wrong and I was too anal to leave it that way. I didn't say anything scandalous and/or interesting that I deleted for any substantive reason.)