Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All Hail the Cheese

April happens to be National Grilled Cheese Month. Since today is the penultimate day of the month, I figured I'd better get on with the honoring or I'd have to wait an entire year. It also coincided with the President's 100 Day mark so I thought it was actually quite an appropriate day to pay my respects to (the Big) Cheese. [OK, that was lame but I couldn't resist.] So without further ado, I bid you my celebratory grilled cheese sandwich! 

I've been daydreaming lately about frittering away the day in a charming little hamlet in Spain, feasting on Jamón Iberico and Manchengo cheese and, of course, washing it all down with a nice glass of Tempranillo. Since I couldn't actually get this direct from the source, I figured I would do my best to recreate it here in the form of a grilled cheese. 

The fact that I had none of the needed ingredients in the house was no deterrent because I'm always looking for things to prolong my procrastination of work tasks. [I hope none of my clients are reading this!] I ran down to one of my favorite stores to pick up the necessary provisions. Since this is Santa Barbara and not Spain, I had to settle on Jamón Serrano, which I think you'd agree does not qualify as a crisis. Speaking of a crisis, I did double check that Spanish cured meats are not a source of swine flu, which I was grateful for. I could have gone with Manchengo but opted instead for the more complex Campo de Montalban for my cheese representative. And to add a little decadence to my grilled cheese — it was a celebration after all, I chopped up some fig almond cake. I recognize that cake is not your typical sandwich ingredient, but I was reminded of a quote by Marie Antoinette: "If the people have no bread, let them eat cake." I figured if you had both, you could eat them together, right? And this is more of a Fig Newton-like cake, which makes it almost healthy. 

Well, it was delicious! All that was missing was my glass of wine, which even I had a hard time justifying at noon. But come 5 o'clock, you know what I'll be pouring to complete this observance. 

Spanish Grilled Cheese

1 ciabatta roll or other country bread
3 oz thinly sliced Jamón Serrano or prosciutto
3 oz Manchego cheese, thinly sliced 
2 oz Pan de Higo Almendrado (fig almond cake) or 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Slice roll in half and lay cheese on both sides of bread. Add thinly sliced Jamón and fig almond cake and place on a hot panini press. Cook for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. (Alternatively, heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Place sandwich in skillet. Place another large skillet atop sandwich; place weights such as canned goods inside skillet on top. Cook sandwich until golden brown and cheese melts, about 4 minutes per side.) Yields: 1 sandwich.

1 comment:

  1. Our client Eric Greenspan owns a lovely restaurant in Los Angeles called The Foundry. He won last year's Grilled Cheese Invitational here in Los Angeles. He recently appeared on Iron Chef, and he serves his amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and other delicious sophisticated faire at The Foundry 7463 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 (323) 651-0915.