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Manolo's Food Blog - Part 29

Cheese It!

Grilled Cheese there are limits to deluxe

Grilled Cheese: there are limits to deluxe

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? You’d think that the simple Grilled Cheese Sandwich, beloved by ketchup-slinging toddlers and truffle-scented gourmets alike, could be appreciated for its own merits, without being tarted up like a four year old beauty pageant contestant, but noooooooooo.

Honestly, if you want to get fancy, make the pickle on the side an artisanal pickle and you’re good. Super-deluxe it by slicing some fresh mushrooms on top of the cheese before frying if you want, and you’ll even find that the enzymes in the mushrooms make melt-resistant cheese as soft and pliable as a wodge of velveeta in the heart of Eyjafjallajökull. Why, the low rent version made with margarine instead of butter may even contain the secret to immortality!

But that’s not enough for some people; indeed, some people never met a food they weren’t capable of enthusiastically ruining, including God’s Own Comfort Food, the glorious grilled cheese sandwich. I’d like to present (very much WITH comment) the world’s most expensive grilled cheese sandwich.

Now, it’s not the simple $50 fontina and truffle version featured on Gossip Girl.

For the Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
• 8 slices of fresh baked white bread; look for a local bakery
• 16 slices of fontina cheese
• 2 tablespoons sweet butter
• 2 oz. fresh shaved black winter truffles
• Salt and pepper

Layer 2 slices of fontina cheese between 2 slices of white bread and shave a couple of slices of truffles in the middle of each sandwich; do the same for all four sandwiches. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is nice and toasted. Remove and slice sandwiches in half and place onto four plates.

Adding a few extraneous truffles to something is, as we all know, the first resort of the unimaginative trying to make something ostentatiously and purposelessly expensive. Besides, truffles taste like toe jam that’s gone off.

There. I said it. Truffles are to mushrooms as durian is to mangosteen, which is to say, they are the version of that food that is served in HELL.

But I digress. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. It’s a post about Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Right, the world’s most expensive grilled cheese sandwich, other than the $28,000 one with St. Mary of Cracker Barrel on it, is the $170 version made for the Frome Cheese Show and consisting of:

…cheddar cheese blended with white truffles, quail egg, heirloom black tomato, apple, figs, dainty mustard red frills, pea shoots, red amaranth, 100-year-old balsamic vinegar dressing and sourdough bread topped with edible gold dust.

Edible Gold Dust on a grilled cheese sandwich. Edible. Gold. Dust.

Please report on the geographic coordinates of your supreme being at this time.

Wonderful French Toast – First, buy the Challah

For this recipe I recommend an unseeded Challah.

I am a big fan of breakfasts, as is the rest of my family. I often skip it, but I love it. Lunch I can pretty much do without. Dinner is the best.

One of my favorites for breakfast is French Toast and a while back I cam across a recipe for for French Toast that I love. It is less eggy than many recipes which look like nothing more than a fried egg with bread in it. The recipe can be made with other breads but Challah (or Hallah), makes it an exceptional breakfast item, as good as virtually any you will find at a restaurant.

As an aside, Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread generally eaten on the Sabbath and holidays. It is made generally with eggs, sugar, water and fine white flour. It is very rich and eggy which helps make it a perfect bread for this French Toast recipe which omits the egg whites. Another special ingredient makes this even better.

French Toast:

One loaf of good quality Challah

1-1/2 cups room temperature milk (2% or whole)
pinch of salt
a generous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
0-2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brown sugar

And, in order of awesomeness, one of the following:
One Tablespoon Pear Eau De Vie (Our present favorite is Kuchan™ Poire Williams / Bartlett Pear Eau De Vie from Old World Spirits . For the LiquorLocusts review of this product, click here.)
or
One Tablespoon Bourbon, of a kindler, gentler nature like Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark.
or
One Tablespoon vanilla.

The Pear Eau De Vie should be tried. It is great. A subtle but rich flavoring. Bourbon versus vanilla is more a matter of personal taste, but everyone should try the pear.

For the bread, preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Slice bread about 1-1/4″ thick. Put on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, flipping bread once, half way through. Take it out and let it cool. Alternately, take your bread out of the wrapper and let it get stale for a few days. The baking works better though, but if your bread is already stale, there you are.

Mix milk, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks brown sugar and your choice of the eau de vie, bourbon or vanilla in a medium bowl. Add melted butter by preference. It is not necessary but does add a bit of richness to the flavor. If you use non-fat milk I would definitely add 2 tablespoons, one for 2% and personally I would still add one with whole milk. If you are not using Challah, which is a rich, buttery bread, I would perhaps add 3 tablespoons melted butter and definitely two,.

Pour the liquid in a 9×13 baking dish. Put slices of challah in and let soak 15-20 seconds per side (both sides) and move to another sheet to sit. Let the bread sit for 2-3 minutes before putting on griddle.

Cook the french toast on a griddle or non-stick pan until golden brown.

Serve with a simple

blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberrys or 1-3/4 cups frozen Wyman’s Wild blueberries.
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado) or plain sugar

cook in heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook approximately 10 minutes, until blueberries break down somewhat. Allow to cool to just warm.

Finally, a bit of ham, a half a grapefruit, and to kill your day,

Diamond Gin Fizzes.

Recipe is here at LiquorLocusts.

Anyway, I think you will find this an excellent and enjoyable recipe.

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver

Vieux Carre cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

Tales of the Cocktail, Vancouver by Degen Beley

They call us Hollywood North, and soon they’ll be calling us New Orleans North, as Vancouver will host the first ever Tales of the Cocktail event outside of NOLA, from March 13-15th. I guess they picked it for the swamp-like conditions that prevail in March?

At the media launch yesterday they announced the winner of the contest for the Official Cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail Vancouver, and while I don’t currently have ANY of the ingredients, I’m looking forward to trying it ASAP: The winner was the Dalhousie Cocktail by Jonathan Smolensky from Brix and George (aka “that place with the Chihuly chandelier”) and it does sound delish:

Dalhousie Cocktail Recipe

Start by taking 6-8 Canada plums, which have been dehydrated in coarse sugar, and steep them in Gibson’s 18yr Canadian whisky for 4-5 days.

Then use these ingredients:

60 ml (2 oz.) Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s

15 ml (1/2 oz.) Domaine de Canton liqueur

10 ml (1/3 oz.) Zwack Unicum

1-2 dashes of high quality rendition of Boker’s bitters

Lemon peel

Chill a coupe glass and a mixing/Boston glass.

In a mixing glass, add the Canada plum infused 18yr Gibson’s, the Domaine de Canton, the Zwack Unicum, and Boker’s bitters. Stir until heavy and properly diluted.

Remove the pith of the lemon peel and rub the peel on the inside edge of the coupe glass, then toss the peel.

Double strain all mixed ingredients into the coupe glass and garnish with a small Canada plum fan.

Then, presumably, put on Barrett’s Privateers, don a festive toque (our Northern fez substitute) and enjoy. Yes, this is going to take some shopping. I think I’m all out of Zwack Unicum, and it takes time to give a unicorn a quality zwacking off.

Who’s In Charge Here?

The Magic Potion

The Magic Potion

Here’s the quote of the day, from an Englishman and thus, naturally, a tea fanatic:

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, “Work!” After beefsteak and porter, it says, “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity! ”

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

via ItWasNow

Complete Fruitcakes!

fruitcake

You'd have to be nutty as a fruitcake to eat a sentient dessert


Or incomplete fruitcakes as the case may be. Me, personally? I love the stuff, but I realize I am alone.

So, so very alone.

Are you alone and different from me and stuck with a mouldering or pickled lump of brownish carbs, fats, and assorted undigestables, covered in some unnamed and unnameable sticky substance, the whole Shoggoth-like agglomeration wrapped in hideously toxic-looking red or green “festive” plastic?

What you have there, my friend, is a fruitcake. And if you still have one lying around, and it’s not one you’re going to be feeding and watering (with booze, please, and none of your foofy white zin either) and then devouring once it’s achieved that peak of perfect pickleosity, then I’m assuming it’s not #1 on your favorite foods list.

But there is hope.

You don’t have to consume it at all! The ingenious folks in Manitou Springs, Colorado have found a way to turn what’s basically a brick made of calories and cholesterol into an extreme sport. This, my friends, is true genius: co-opting a seasonal calorie source and transforming it, simply by sheer can-do-ism, into an athletic activity.

Behold the annual Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss.

Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” In Manitou Springs the local Chamber of Commerce encourages people to throw cake. Each January the community hosts its Great Fruitcake Toss, the strangely compelling spectacle in which participants fling fruitcakes through the air, competing in events that emphasize distance, accuracy, and showmanship. While the contest does nothing to improve the reputation of the much-maligned fruitcake, it has succeeded in attracting media attention to a town best known for its natural mineral springs and proximity to Pikes Peak.

Behold as well, the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Launch (trebuchets, what looks like a potato gun, and a crossbow are among the launchers). Behold, finally, the Manitou Springs Fruitcake CATCH. And behold, lastly, well, I won’t spoil the surprise. But it combines two of the most disliked physical objects of our time and only one of those is fruitcake.

King of the Road

Suck on this, Skyscrapers!

Suck on this, Skyscrapers! Gyeongbok Palace by Laszlo Ilyes

Prepare to be gobsmacked by this gentleman of the road, a mere street food vendor in the humble Namdaemun Market in Seoul, Korea. In only a couple of minutes he spins a hunk of chilled honey into 16,000 delicious candy threads, then rolls and stuffs them to form individual desserts. While he calls this an ancient Korean delicacy, it’s really nothing more or less than a dressed up version of that staple known as Dragon’s Beard in any Chinatown, or Cotton Candy in any county fair.

I’d tip big for a snack served with a side of this fresh charm.

Happy Hour, Family Hour

Cheers! I would not want to be the one to wake this family up in the morning

Cheers! I would not want to be the one to wake this family up in the morning

Am I alone in thinking the water in the goldfish bowl is slightly Pilsnerian? That’d make for some super-satisfying soused sushi subsequently! Even Rover, Polly and the Baby are happily sucking down a pint; wait, was this taken at Miley Cyrus‘s house? It would explain an awful lot.

Bormioli Rocco Set of 4 Amedeus Pilsner Glasses

Why Gnott?

It explodes alrighty, and not just with flavour

It explodes alrighty, and not just with flavour

In today’s lesson, Steve from Webrestaurantstore will demonstrate why we shouldn’t deep-fry gnocchi and, for bonus points, why our solution to somethingdeep-fried spitting at us should not be to turn up the heat. Oh, you may think you know this stuff already, but do put in the time to watch this video, at least up to the 1:45 mark. You won’t regret it.

via MisterHippity

In related news, this civilian was actually successful in his attempt, but then he had the good sense to a) use cooked gnocchi as his substrate and b) batter the gnocchi first, thus rendering its exterior significantly freer of H20. Still, speaking for myself I’d have to say that battered, deep-fried potato dumplings are not exactly something that makes my mouth water, and I’m not even on a low-carb diet. We have starch, wrapped in starch, deep-fried. Please stop the madness.

Food for Thought