Saturday, August 20, 2011

KITCHEN THOUGHTS and Grilled Cheese

Is there a more wonderful place on earth than a warm, inviting kitchen?
Pots and pans hanging within reach, clean work surfaces and tools at the ready....a well appointed. properly outfitted kitchen is any cook's hope, desire and goal.
Randi's kitchen
Most of us aren't in possession of stainless steel walls, professional strength burners or that oh-so-useful salamander!  Drat the luck!

But in truth, the room doesn't have to be huge or full of the latest appliances.  Most of us have to work with what's available.  There are very few of us with the (be still my heart!) instant hot water spigot over the stove.  But we all have a place to prepare our meals....from a window sill and a hot plate to the Waldorf's main kitchen we all have that one location from which good things can come.

And that place should be seen as special, treated with respect and kept clean...ready for meal prep or snacking at a moment's notice. After all what comes out of there goes into not only our bodies, but the bodies of those we know and love.
What makes a great kitchen?  Part of it is the room itself, some of it is the tools available...no lie there. But the most essential ingredient-the one that makes or breaks everything else?  The cook.

It boils down to the cook and their commitment to produce the best possible food experience. The cook's passion.  Without it, the resulting meal can seem lifeless....even if technically perfect. 

So when you're setting up that special part of your world, treat it as special....sacred...ready for the task at hand and unavailable for bullshit.   Arguments don't do well in kitchens-too many sharp objects!  Clutter doesn't work well in a kitchen-garbage and good food don't mix!

What does work is a clean surface, some ready tools and the best ingredients you can get.  A bit of thankfulness to the Cosmos during preparation couldn't hurt, either!

As for a recipe today....how about something simple?!
Let's celebrate Saturday with some good old fashioned Grilled Cheese!

What makes this version stand out?
It's crunchy....inside and out!
This is accomplished by pre-toasting the inside  portion of the bread before adding cheese.

A hot skillet and release spray works, but so does a toaster, especially the kind with the bagel setting. Put both slices of bread into one toaster hole and press the bagel button and let it go on a mid-low setting.

When it comes out, the exposed parts of the bread will be toasted and the other will still be waiting for the pan!  Also, with the toaster method, you don't add any extra butter or grease.  Nifty way to cut a few fat corners, eh?   As for bread choice, that's a personal matter.  Sometimes I absolutely JONES a toasted sourdough....other times my tasters will have nothing if it can't have a multi-grain or even toasted oat.  Toasting is to bread what grated cheese is to spaghetti....another opportunity for the Yum Factor.

Types of cheese?  Again it's a personal decision.  Have fun!  Mix it up!  Try some Pepper Jack! Throw a couple tomato slices into the mix!  Maybe even experiment with left over pieces of French Toast-minus the syrup and confectioner's sugar-for an added dimension of taste.  Try cooking it with a little bacon grease or olive oil, garlic and herbs-just make sure your skillet is very hot, but not smoking before adding the food...that to insure crispiness.  Otherwise it'll get grease soaked and nasty.

I've had it made with thin-sliced, toasted eggplant....between softened tortillas....
I've even heard of someone trying it with waffles....although I've personally not had that experience to date.
REMEMBER-Slice your cheese thin...repeat THIN!  Better to layer thin sheets of cheese than wait for a big chunk to melt! Your bread will be hopelessly burnt by the time it does! 

No matter how you slice it, Grilled Cheese is simple, satisfying and adaptable for most people.
If you have any suggestions, ideas or anything feel free to share!

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