I've had some great luck with cookbooks lately. The first, which I've mentioned previously, is Great Grilled Cheese by Laura Werlin. The entire book focuses on the delicious, gooey title sandwich, in dozens of iterations. Craving something garlicky, Dave and I decided to try the Garlic-Crusted Sourdough with Cheddar sandwich. The secret is the garlic- and parmesan-infused butter used to crisp the bread -- it elevates the flavour of this sandwich way beyond your typical grilled cheddar.
We needed something to pair with our sandwiches, so I turned to another new cookbook: Once Upon a Tart... by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audreau. Once Upon a Tart is a bakeshop in New York that specializes in tarts, naturally. This book caught my eye because I have a complete weakness for cookbooks that are put out by restaurants. Plus, the pictures looked delectable and the writing syle seemed friendly and easy-to-follow. It was an easy sell.
Flipping through the salad section, I was tempted by the Haricot-Vert-and-Corn Salad with Roasted Artichoke Hearts and fresh Tarragon-Lemon Vinaigrette. I love roasted corn, and the tart vinaigrette seemed like it would be a nice contrast to the rich cheese sandwiches. I wasn't wrong -- the roasted veggies and fresh beans tasted great with the tarragon dressing, and made for an interesting combination with our flavourful grilled cheese. The only change I would make would be to maybe add some honey to the vinaigrette or use a smaller lemon, because it was a little too acidic.
Two great recipes from two great cookbooks, making for one great meal. Enjoy!
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
8 slices sourdough bread
8 ounces cheddar, grated (I used aged white cheddar)
1. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the garlic. Boil for 5 minutes, drain, and mash the garlic with the back of a fork in a small bowl. Add the butter and parmesan, and mix well.
2. Butter one side of each slice of bread with the garlic butter. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down. Distribute the cheese evenly over the 4 slices, and top with the remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered side up.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet (in batches, if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to soften. Uncover, and turn sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately.
makes 4 sandwiches
Haricot-Vert-and-Corn Salad with Roasted Artichoke Hearts and fresh Tarragon-Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2 pound haricots vert, or string beans, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
4 cups cold salted water
2 cups frozen or canned corn
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
One 13.5 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
a pinch of fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Make vinaigrette: Whisk everything but the olive oil together in a small bowl. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking all the while to form an emulsion. If dressing is too tart, add a small amount of honey to taste. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Bring the water to a boil. Add the beans and blanch them for 1 minute. Drain, and run cold water over them. Drain well before adding to a large salad bowl.
4. Toss the corn with 1 tbsp olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, and a few twists of freshly ground pepper. Scatter the corn on a sheet pan, place in the oven, and roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Shake the pan once or twice while cooking to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the oven and scrape the corn into the salad bowl.
5. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters and toss with the remaining olive oil and garlic. Spread artichokes on the sheet pan and place it in the oven for 25 minutes, until the artichokes begin to get brown with charred edges. When they're done, remove from the oven and scape the artichoke hearts into the salad bowl.
6. Just before serving, toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette. Salt to taste, and serve warm or at room temperature.