July 20, 2019 (89 Days Old)
Sourdough Grilled Double Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese may be a simple sandwich, but I occasionally find that even simplicity can become delicious complexity with just a few simple additions.
Cheese, bread, butter: what could be simpler? But better tools and better ingredients can lead to better results.
Readers of this site will already realize that any cast iron obsession will quickly lead to a secondary fascination: sourdough bread.
Sourdough, a day or two after baking, when it's just on the edge of stale is great (as it turns out) for elevated grilled sandwiches.
I've been working towards the lofty goal of gratuitously elevating many sandwiches, sometimes with mixed results, but the sourdough grilled double cheese is definitely a winner.
Ten-and-a-half
My flat pan -- skillet -- Lodge calls it a griddle, but it does not have the
ribbing
ribbing
Raised lines on the cooking surface of a pan that elevate the food from cooking directly on a flat surface. They also make pretty stripes on your meal.
I'd normally associate with a griddle -- is a perfect, multipurpose pan.
It joined my collection as a
crepe
crepe
Thin, flat French-style pancakes, usually more egg than flour, and served with sauce or whipped creams.
maker -- a long post-worthy story that links back to me volunteering with a
local food festival
local food festival
Research the Edmonton Heritage Festival, a three day food extravaganza with hundreds of thousands of people enjoying foods cooked by about a hundred local cultural groups.
-- but has seen much more action than french pancakes since then.
In fact and for a while this simple, round, shallow skillet lived almost permanently on our stove-top.
The ten-and-a-half is my go to for
grilled cheese
grilled cheese
A simple sandwich usually consisting of pan toasting two pieces of bread and some cheese... any cheese.
: it heats up quick and even, is simple to wipe down after, and lets me dive in with a spatula for easy, precise sandwich flips.
The Pieces
Two Slices of SOURDOUGH bread.
BUTTER or MARGARINE.
A handful of grated CHEDDAR.
Half a handful of grated PARMESAN.
The Heat
Butter one side of the sourdough and slap it butter-side down onto a hot cast iron pan or skillet.
Toss the grated cheese into an even mix, and then place on the unbuttered side of the bread already on the skillet.
Add the second piece of buttered sourdough (butter side out) to complete the stack.
Cook until bread is toasted golden and the cheese has started to melt.
Flip and repeat: and enjoy.
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July 18, 2019 (91 Days Old)
Communal Campfire Nachos
Gathered around a pile of smouldering logs is one of those human experience activities that transcends rational explanation and instead digs deep down into the bedrock of our very genetics.
Campfires are the primeval television set, a flickering light from which comfort and stories and companionship swirl outwards and make us feel part of a group.
I had noticed that along with the distribution of beverages, and a few moments reprieve from salty snacks while the kids constructed sickeningly sweet
s'mores
s'mores
A popular campfire treat where a sandwich of chocolate, roasted marshmallow and graham cracker are constructed over a fire and consumed in a hot, sticky mess.
, much of the food that came to the fireside, while shared, was individual.
Cookies appearing from tupperware bins.
Campfire pies (perhaps in a future post).
Marshmallows burned to a crisp on steel rods.
We rarely created a group dish -- a dish to share as a platter of communal munchies.
The Share Plate
I recently had the pleasure of spending a guys-night-out with some friends, and one of our regulars brought along a visitor who was in Canada but called Hong Kong home.
Our evening adventure landed us in a small, local bar, the kind that sells draft beer (and only draft beer) and the comfortable selection of crunchy, fried, cheesy foods that go so well with a
Molson
Canadian Beer
A popular brand of popular large-batch lager in Canada.
brew.
Our new pal had, or so he told us, never tried nachos, but from his Asian-perspective the concept of a plate of food that was shared with the group was a way of eating that was so deeply ingrained in him he thought we were the oddities for ordering individual meals.
It occured to me that the sharing of food, and more so, the sharing of food around the campfire is far from a curiosity: it's an instinct we cannot deny.
That's probably why my communal campfire nachos were such a hit on a recent camping trip.
Simple Ingredients, Epic Results
A BIG CAST IRON skillet (I used my 12 inch).
One bag of plain TORTILLA CHIPS.
One handful of shredded CHEDDAR CHEESE.
A selection of toppings to taste: ONIONS, JALAPENOS, OLIVES.
A selection of dips: SALSA, SOUR CREAM, GUACAMOLE.
The Build
Hot skillet, meet chips.
Chips meet cheese and whatever toppings you choose to add.
Top shelf your skillet over the campfire in the dying light of a warm summer evening while friends and family are gathered around.
As the cheese starts to melt, invite all to tuck in and enjoy.
Repeat until everyone is full and content.
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July 9, 2019 (100 Days Old)
9 Ingredients to Put on Your Campfire Pizza Masterpiece
Grill up some flat bread in your hot pan then add your toppings, cast iron pizza is a fast, fun addition to your camping, culinary adventure.
You won't be able to cook these fast enough! Now about those toppings:
Cheese
Shredded or chunked.
Obvious.
Gooey.
Melty.
A perfect indicator of done-ness as the cheese heats and browns.
You can’t make a pizza without cheese, to be honest, but you’ll get a thrill over watching it sizzle in the heat of fire.
Capicola
Sliced.
Smokey and rich.
Adds a fancy flare to your pie and pulls away from the simple tang of basic ham.
Spinach
Chopped or whole leaf.
Colourful.
Simple.
Plus you (and all of us) could use some green veggies while you’re out camping eating hot dogs for every other meal.
Bacon
Crumbled.
Decadent.
Messy and indulgent.
But crisp it up it in your cast iron pan first to season your iron for the dough and crust.
Onions
White or yellow.
Finely chopped.
Cook these up in the bacon grease to
caramelize
caramelize
Cook something to the point where the natural sugars brown and add a caramel-like richness to the food.
then massage them into the sauce before the rest of the toppings.
Fresh Tomatoes
Sliced.
Fresh.
Acidic.
If you’ve got a nice fresh sauce to match, it pulls everything together as the hot tomatoes cook and meld between the layers of toppings.
One Egg
Sunny side up.
You can crack it right in the middle.
Lid up the pan.
Let it cook.
The yoke drizzles over everything and you’re brain will melt at this culinary innovation if you’ve never tried it.
Mushrooms
Thinly sliced.
Meaty.
There are such a variety of these.
I like simple brown mushrooms, but some oysters always go nicely, too.
Hot Peppers
Cleaned.
Minced or whole.
Hot or mild.
Elevate your taste buds and have a cold beer on stand-by.
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