Monday, April 16, 2012

Real grilled cheese & white asparagus


So few food bloggers seem to write about their mistakes, the cake that fell, the sauce that was too salty, the mustard-chocolate-blueberry combination that didn't work. (Or did it?) I imagine such a post of mediocrity would seem like it calls into question their expertise and also, maybe, it would miss the point of why people read their blog. Anyone can screw up a recipe. Why I am reading you?

But then: What about the wise adage about learning from your failures? (Which wise adage? Oh, you know ... pick any one.) Julia Child made mistakes. (Though, it turns out, she didn't drop a turkey on the floor.) And you can't become a Julia Child, or anything approaching a great cook, by avoiding making mistakes, making mental notes, and making it again, better.

With these caveats, I tell you: We tried to make real grilled cheese. A bit Mediterranean, even, with cheddar and harvati cheese, tomato slices, basil sprigs, drizzles of olive oil. Fancy.

But ...

It fell apart. The grill marks failed to make a dazzling appearance. The cheese didn't melt.

(Note that I am not saying it wasn't tasty. Cheese + bread = tasty.)

Our tips, for next time:

1) The bread matters. A narrow baguette is a terrible vehicle for grilled cheese. We needed hefty, wide, thick slices. Think steak sized.

2) Find an oven-proof dish to top your sandwich, and weigh it down with something like a big can of tomatoes. Or an antique iron. (Mark told us that was important. We didn't listen. He's a NY Times writer for a reason.)

3) Preheat the grill. OK. Now longer.

4) Be patient. OK. Now more patient.

On the plus side, the white asparagus we bought at the German farmers market for 2 €, of which expectations were nil, were .... fabulous. Crisp, sweet, nutty. Delicious.

We tossed the stalks with olive oil, salt, pepper. That is all. And sometimes, that is more than enough.

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