Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Q & A With The Foodist

A friend recently sent me a message posing a question, or rather a topic, that he thought might be interesting for me to address. The AIM name has been changed to protect from spam.

"The Friend" (7:24:04 PM): culinarily professional things you can do to spice up house-hold classic
"The Friend" (7:24:20 PM): grilled cheese & tomato soup, mac & cheese, hamburgers, etc.
"The Friend" (7:24:57 PM): came up with the idea because i was making grilled cheese and i thought, "how would (You) suggest to make this better? multiple kinds of different cheeses? seasonings? butter? types of bread?"

Its really a good question in alot of ways.

The idea of making our home cooked meals more exciting and adventerous has always been goal of a real foodie. The problem that prevents most of us from obtaining the "upscale quality" that we hope to at home really boils down to just a few things:

-Fear- We are afraid to try new things, try some different method of preparation, or think outside our cubbard.

-Lack of Information- This plays into the fear, without proper information we are afraid to try new things because we dont want to mess anything up. Just remember, a recipe is ONLY a guideline and the best way to learn is to experiment!

-Lack of Proper Equipment- The simple fact folks, is most of us will A) Never be able to afford the quality of equipment found in most professional kitchens and B) Would only use the equipment at home once in a blue moon.

Adaptation is the key when cooking at home. Your not going to go buy a couple thousand dollar smoker just cause you want to try smoking some ahi at home, instead use a good quality wood chip some metal pie tins and your backyard grill... There are all kinds of ways to do quality proccess' at home without shelling out big bucks.

So lets look at the basic things you can do by using my friends situation.

Grilled Cheese. The single, lonely, and lazy mans best friend. So what do when your feeling not so lazy or when you have a lady coming over that you want to impress (And I hope to god your gonna make more then grilled cheese sandwiches!).

Sometimes small and simple changes can be the most impressive or amazing.
The standard grilled cheese sandwich consists of:
Bread
Butter
Cheese (Yellow American Anyone?)
Tomato (if your one of THOSE people)

The key to spicing up something as simple as the GCS (yeah, thats right I abbreviated!) is change the base ingredients to different products.

Bread- Try using a different bread. Instead of your standard white bread loaf try something like Sourdough, Nine Grain, or even a Baguette.

Butter- Not a whole lot you can do to change this. Try making a compound butter. Be aware though if you use lemon juice or herbs not to over power the taste of the cheese. Too much can make everything bitter or sour.

Cheese- Now we come to the center of attention. Whats a GCS without Cheese? Toast. So how do you change things around? Well here in the states the standard GCS is either Mozzerella or Yellow American. But looking at what kind of bread you want to use you could go any number of cheese routes.

Just keep in mind, ALOT of cheeses do not lend themselves to melting well. Now in my opinion a nice Baguette with a slightly warmed Brie would be great. But you dont want to throw the Brie in the oven and let it melt all the way, at least in my humble opinion.
If your not sure how a cheese will melt or the flavor youll get from it when it does, cut off a piece and do a taste test prior.

Other Items- Tomatoes and the like make a great addition to a GCS. They break up the monotony of it and adds flavor and texture to the product. So what to do about tomato.. what to do... Well you could always find some nice Hierloom tomato. Oddly shaped, beautifuly colored, and amazingly flavored Hierloom tomatoes would definatly spice up a boring GCS.

Outside of tomatoes you could do any number of additions:
-Carmalized Red Onion
-Pesto
-Fresh Herb

The options are really limitless. Just remember to keep in mind what cheese your using and the flavors it gives.

Frankly a standard GCS on its own is a wonderful thing. Comforting and warm its the basis of good lazy sunday afternoon cooking. But if your looking for spice and change change the basics for something new and exciting.

I hope this gives you some ideas and thoughts on the GCS topic and others!

Happy Eating!

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Every oppurtunity I get where I'm able to eat lunch at home, I fire up the ol' George Foreman grill and griddle up a turkey and swiss cheese sandwich on oatmeal bread with smart balance bizzaro-butter on each side. I especially appreciate it when making one during the winter.