Sunday, July 14, 2013

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Spicy Pickled Tomatoes

I have a new favorite cookbook.  I know it's a little ridiculous to call something my new favorite cookbook when I have only made a salad and a condiment from it, but I LOVED both of those dishes.  And the only reason I bought the cookbook is because it was on sale at Anthropologie.  I didn't even realize they sold cookbooks but it was on sale, the pictures inside were pretty and Hugh Acheson is perhaps my favorite Top Chef judge of all time.  So I bought it.  And I am genuinely (and thoroughly) excited by a number of recipes so it worked out really nicely.  Stay tuned.  If I had my way (instead of work having its way with me) I would have made at least 3-4 other recipes from the cookbook already.  I have 4-5 more recipes already bookmarked that I want to make as soon as possible.  I promise to make more as soon as I can.  I guess I should mention the name of the cookbook sooner or later - it's A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson.  It helps that I am in a Southern phase recently - this weekend we had great meals at Maysville and Mighty Quinn's Barbeque.  I didn't take any pictures since we were at both restaurants with friends, but they were both totally yummy.  Every year summer hits and I start thinking about Mexican food and Southern food.  I want tacos, barbeque, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread and beer.  And tonight, Alex really wanted grilled cheese, which isn't exactly Southern, but it's not not Southern?  I had mentioned grilled cheese as a natural pairing for these pickled tomatoes when I asked Alex to make them last week, but I didn't know that Alex was going to get so fixated on the grilled cheese idea.  I went to the farmers' market this afternoon after the gym and was ready to make a peach, prosciutto and mozzarella salad for dinner but Alex was dead set on the grilled cheese with spicy pickled tomatoes idea.  I picked a rather labor-intensive grilled cheese recipe from Serious Eats that I saw a few months ago because I always feel like our grilled cheese sandwiches aren't as crispy as I want.  This grilled cheese took awhile, but it was perfect.  And I do mean PERFECT.  As far as methods go, I don't think it can be improved upon.  I might experiment with adding new ingredients in with the cheese (or try other cheeses or types of bread), but I have never had such a nicely cooked grilled cheese.  And the spicy pickled tomatoes were delicious.  It was such a fun play on grilled cheese with tomato soup (or ketchup).  The acidity and heat of the tomatoes really complimented and cut through the richness of the grilled cheese.  I can't wait to try these tomatoes in other dishes - I'm thinking cornmeal-crusted chicken breasts or sauteed chicken breasts.  I don't know, but I think these tomatoes are the perfect thing to keep in the fridge at all times to really jazz up a meal.

Recipes after the jump!

Grilled Cheese
Adapted from Serious Eats
3 tbsp butter, cut into three tbsps
6 (small) slices sourdough
6 slices American, Cheddar, or Jack cheese (we used cheddar)
sea salt
Melt one third of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add bread slices and cook, swirling occasionally, until pale golden brown on bottom side, about 2-4 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board toasted-side-up. Place cheese slices on top of one slice per sandwich, then close sandwiches, with both toasted sides facing inwards. 
Melt one more piece of butter in the skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Add sandwich and cook, swirling occasionally, until deep, even golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove sandwich using a spatula. Add the remaining butter. Return sandwich to skillet cooked-side up. Season lightly with salt. Cook, swirling occasionally, until second side is deep, even golden brown and cheese is thoroughly melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with Spicy Pickled Tomatoes.
Spicy Pickled Tomatoes
Adapted from A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen 
By Hugh Acheson
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup evoo
3 shallots, minced 
3 serranos chilis, thinly sliced (the recipe called for 4 jalapenos, but we were out)
1 tsp cumin seeds, taosted and ground
1 tsp mustard seeds, toasted and ground to a paste
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (the recipe called for cane vinegar) 
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Place the tomatoes in a medium glass or ceramic bowl that can withstand a little heat.  Season the tomatoes with the salt.
In a large fry pan bring the evoo to a shimmer over  medium-high heat, just below smoking.  Add the shallot and then the chilis.  Fry until tender, about 2 minutes.  Add cumin and mustard seeds.  Toast for about 1 minute and remove from the heat.
Let cool slightly and carefully ad the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar.  Pour mixture over seasoned tomatoes.  Add mint and parsley and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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