Wingin’ It Wednesday: Experiments in Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese 13

I’m trying to change up the way that I make food that I know is crappy for me. I figure if I make it well, with conscious effort to be precise, then it somehow makes it less crappy. Early on in our relationship, the Pie schooled me on the correct way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and today I’m going to start playing with it to see if I can’t jazz it up a little bit. Today I’m going to add some tomatoes to the mix. Because tomato/cheese sandwiches are a favourite of mine.

Grilled Cheese 1

So we start with our bread. The Pie prefers a solid white Texas toast or thick-sliced sandwich bread to be his base. Everyone has their own preferences of course, but I do like how light and crispy white bread gets when you grill it, and it’s pretty much the only time we eat white bread so we figure that’s okay. Next, sparingly cover one side of each slice of your bread with margarine. This is the only time (aside from making those margarine cookies) that we use oleo in the house. Normally it’s butter, but we find the butter tends to burn too quickly in this particular case.

Grilled Cheese 2

Make sure to go right to the edges with your margarine. And don’t add too much – this is already a grease pile of a snack so you don’t want to overdo it. This is also why you don’t put margarine on BOTH sides of the bread. That’s too much.

Grilled Cheese 3

Now you can plop one of the slices of bread, spread-side down, on your warm griddle (medium heat is best), and add your cheese slices. We like to use high quality old Canadian cheddar. Because really it’s the best.

Grilled Cheese 4

I also had some cheese curds in the fridge so I added those as an experiment.

Grilled Cheese 5

Then I added on my slices of tomato. I think it helps if your tomato is at room temperature so it doesn’t interfere with the melting of the cheese.

Grilled Cheese 6

Then my second slice of bread and more cheese. I need the cheese on the second slice to melt enough to stay in place when I flip it down over the tomatoes.

Grilled Cheese 7

Of course when I flipped all the cheese curds fell out into the pan. But then I got some warm fried cheese curds, which were great. Like mini haloumi.

Grilled Cheese 8

And now you cook it long enough for everything inside to get gooey. Some people like their cheese only lightly grilled.

Grilled Cheese 9

Others, like myself, prefer a tougher exterior.

Grilled Cheese 10

Serve with a glass of milk and some pickles on the side. Always. How do you do YOUR grilled cheese? Next time, I’m going to try avocados!

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Creamy Pasta with Roasted Squash and Sauteed Mushrooms

Creamy Squash Pasta 20

I think this dish will make your Friday night, especially if it’s one of those nippy nights that is a portent of cold evenings to come.  This will serve a family of six happily.  Here’s how I did it, but feel free to add your own flair.

Creamy Squash Pasta 1

To begin with, roast 2 heads garlic and half an orange kabocha squash with olive oil and salt and pepper at 450°F for about 40 minutes.

Creamy Squash Pasta 2

While that’s on the go, dice up 2 small onions, and slice up a whole package of white mushrooms.

Creamy Squash Pasta 3

And grate a 150g package of asiago cheese.

Creamy Squash Pasta 4

When the squash is roasted, chop it up into little cubes after peeling off the skin.

Creamy Squash Pasta 5

I popped the roasted garlic cloves out of the head and sliced them up as best I could.

Creamy Squash Pasta 6

Here I defrosted about 2/3 cup of the frozen pesto we have on hand (if you grow a lot of basil, you make a lot of pesto).

Creamy Squash Pasta 8

Now, this is not a sauce you want to make well in advance.  I suggest making it right before you serve it and your pasta water is already on the boil.

In a skillet, melt a knob of butter with a dollop of olive oil over medium high heat.

Creamy Squash Pasta 9

Add in your mushrooms and sautée them until they’re browned.

Creamy Squash Pasta 10

Chuck those mushrooms in a bowl for now.

Creamy Squash Pasta 11

Add your diced onions to the skillet and cook until softened.  Then you can chuck the mushrooms back in, together with your garlic and roasted squash.

Creamy Squash Pasta 12

Give that a stir.  Already it smells amazing.

Creamy Squash Pasta 13

Then chuck in your pesto, as well as 4oz (half a 250g package) plain cream cheese.  Stir that until it’s all melted and lovely.

Creamy Squash Pasta 14

Pour in about 3/4 cup whipping cream, as well as 1 cup milk (or any combination of dairy you wish — that was just the amount of cream I had to get rid of).

Creamy Squash Pasta 15

Add the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.

Creamy Squash Pasta 16

Toss with your cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Creamy Squash Pasta 18

You can garnish it with whatever you wish! Even nothing!

Creamy Squash Pasta 19

Artichoke and Asiago Dip

Artichoke & Asiago Dip

This quick dip is easy and has only a few ingredients.  All you need is a food processor and a cheese grater and you’re ready to go.

Artichoke & Asiago Dip

Start with some artichoke hearts.  These usually come in a jar or a can, preserved in brine or oil.  Grab yourself 12 ounces of these.

Artichoke & Asiago Dip

Plop them in the food processor with 1 package (250g) plain cream cheese that has been brought to room temperature.

If your artichokes were in brine, add in a dollop of olive oil.  If they were packed in oil you probably won’t find this necessary.  Sprinkle in some dry mustard and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. Pulse that sucker silly.

Artichoke & Asiago Dip

Grate up some asiago cheese and stir that in afterwards.

Artichoke & Asiago Dip

Top with some fresh basil if you’ve got it and serve (or wrap up and store in the fridge for a few days). We had ours alongside some baba ghanouj and the five minute flat bread I showed you on Monday.  Tasty!

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Tomato Lunch

A rain charm to fend off the storm.

It’s a rainy afternoon from where I’m writing.  It’s only eight degrees outside but I’m determined to think of summer.  What better lunch, then, than a tomato salad?

Here is my tomato.  It’s had a hard life being imported from somewhere into my refrigerator, but I’m not a snob when it comes to aesthetics.  Of course, this would be a different post altogether if I had my mother’s multicoloured heritage tomatoes at hand.  But we make do with what we can.

Let me take this opportunity to introduce to you a tiny piece of steel that makes eating tomatoes so much easier: the tomato huller

Rather than simply slicing off the top of the tomato and discarding it, or using a knife to cut into the top and leaving a tomato slice that looks like a victim of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this little tool quickly and neatly removes the tough bits of tomato attaching the stem to the flesh without wasting all that tomato-y goodness.

So first you remove the stem.  Just pop that sucker right off.

Then take the huller and dig the little spokes into the area around the stem-hole.

Ease the huller around the edge of the stem-hole and work it underneath, like an ice cream scoop.

Then just scoop away the icky parts.  Tada.

Makes it easy to slice up your tomato, lay it, salted and peppered, on a plate with some fresh basil leaves, and drizzle it with a smidgen of vintage balsamic vinegar (because we all know how much I love vinegar).

You can see how that lovely top slice didn’t go to waste.

I grated a wee bit of asiago cheese on top and ate it with a roll (which I baked myself!) to sop up the juices.  Mmm.