Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aaahhhh..... Comfort Food!

Comfort food means different things to different people. Sure, that makes sense, since we all had unique views on life growing up, our influences were different and as such, the result will be too. BUT, there are certain things that spell C O M F O R T to all of us and hit just the right notes, right?

For the most part Comfort Food used to mean fattening, heavy, indulgent and unhealthy- but why should it? In today's much more health conscious world where nutrition plays a more prominent place in our lives along with practicality and budget sense, Comfort Food can bring you amazing flavors while still taking care of your other concerns, all it takes is a little thought and the results can be fabulous!

What does Comfort Food mean to you? Is it something that evokes childhood flavors from a kinder, gentler time? Does it remind you of a wonderful place? Is the texture and mouth feel important? Smooth flavors or kicked up taste, which do you prefer? It all depends on what you're used to, of course, but with so many amazing foods now readily available at your local A&P, there are no limits to what you "feel like".....

It also doesn't mean you need to buy expensive imported ingredients to get the taste and quality you're looking for either, there are plenty of domestic products that are excellent and will allow you to satisfy your cravings while still keeping an eye on the family budget. If you consider the ideas I've enclosed, they can take the place of heavier more expensive meals so you could actually end up saving some money to boot!

What else spells comfort? Grilled Cheese Sandwiches! Done the whole way..... Great Pizza made with excellent crust. Amazing fresh pasta done the way real Italians make it in Italy, not drowning in sauce with flavor plus! A really well made Hamburger could also spell comfort, super French Fries, sure! Crispy, amazing Fried Chicken? Why not. A gooey, tasty Lasagna? MMmmmm!..... Mashed potatoes, flaky biscuits, the list could be never ending. How about a decadent French Onion Soup Gratinee? (YES!), a Chocolate Souffle? An amazing Tangine or Bisteya? YES! YES!..... there are no rules and we can each make a list of dozens of favorites..... what's your choice?

Here are some ideas for an easy yet amazing choice in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches which you can make for any weekday meal or even turn a weekend into a special day. Watching the game? How about a Brunch idea with some soup and a great cup of coffee? A romantic midnight supper with some Proseco? Get a great  Artisanal Bread, the perfect cheese or blend of cheeses you prefer, some extras and you're on your way. Want some ideas? Read on...........


1- Sourdough Bread with Cheddar, Havarti and Monterrey Jack Cheese.
2- Whole Wheat Bread with White Cheddar (or Cheese Curds), Prosciutto and Tomato Marmalade
3- Walnut Bread with Gruyere and Ham
4- Twelve Grain Bread with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Greens
5- White Bread with Pulled Pork and Brie Cheese with a touch of Apricot Preserves
6- Wheat Bread, Cheddar Cheese, Guacamole and Bacon
7- Sourdough Bread, Oaxaca Cheese and Chorizo
8- Wheat Breat, BBQ Chicken and Monterrey Jack
9- Ciabatta Bread, Roasted Red Peppers and Feta Cheese with Spinach
10- White Bread, Gouda Cheese, Black Bean Humus, Guava Jam and Pickled Jalapenos
11- Seven Grain, White Cheddar, Bacon and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
12- Wheat Bread, Sharp Cheddar and Roasted Asparagus
13- White Bread, Spicy Crab Dip and Colby Cheese
14- White Bread, Provolone, Turkey Breast and Honey Mustard Sauce
15- Wheat Bread, Swiss Cheese, Tuna Salad
16- White Bread, French Brie, Mushrooms and Truffles
17- Wheat Bread, Fontina, Emmenthaler and Gruyere with dressed greens
18- Nut Bread, Cheddar and Gruyere Cheese and Basil with Tomato
19- Ficelle Bread, Ham, Salami and Cheddar
20- Multigrain Bread, Fontina Cheese with Bacon and Tomato
21- Focaccia, Mozzarella and Fontina Cheeses with some Olive Tapenade
22- Wheat Bread, Chihuahua Cheese, Roasted Peppers and Onions with some Arugula


Roasted Tomato Soup.- The perfect company for your sandwich, easy to make and perfect!

3 lbs ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons minced shallots (or use yellow onions)
About 2 3/4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

Preheat the oven to 325°. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise through the stem; quarter larger tomatoes. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with the sugar and salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 2 hours, or until most of their juices have evaporated and they are just beginning to brown. The tomatoes should look like dried apricots and hold their shape when moved.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the onions, cover and cook until they are soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a food processor or blender, add the tomatoes and puree. With the machine on, drizzle in the chicken stock and process until well incorporated. Pass through a sieve to insure it's really smooth, serve hot. Can be topped with some shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

How to go about grilling a sandwich? You can butter the outside of your sandwich or use mayo. You need a hot pan and sometimes instead of butter I just use some vegetable oil, about 1 or 2 tablespoons and lay the sandwich directly over the oil or fat instead of putting it directly on the bread. Keep watching it so it doesn't burn since it toasts quickly. Turn and repeat on the other side. If you have a Panini Grill, this works great or you can also use a bacon press if you like your sandwiches this way. If you're going to add greens or anything that you don't want cooked or heated, open the sandwich after grilling and add them. You can prepare fillings that will be added in advance, like roasted peppers, asparagus, etc. add them and then grill.
Or make the best use of leftovers by using them as add on's to your grilled sandwich! Anything will work and it's great as long as you like it!

Since the weather is beginning to change, I'm working on some warming soup ideas to share, keep checking back, I'll be posting these soon..... My best to everyone!

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