Best Grilled Cheese Recipe From Curtis Stone

Australian chef Curtis Stone, of Top Chef fame, has an interesting take on the grilled cheese sandwich. In addition to melty Parmesan slathered with creamy pesto, he includes heirloom tomatoes which are just coming into high season.

Because Stone toasts his sandwiches on an outdoor grill, they are ideal for a day at the beach or any summer outing. The dish serves six and is sure to disappear quickly. Enjoy!

Curtis Stone’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Creamy Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

Ingredients

Pesto:

2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
1 ½ cup (lightly packed; about 1 1/2 ounces) fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
⅓ cup (about 2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

1. To make the pesto: Using a Bump and Grind or another large mortar and pestle, mash (“bump”) garlic, salt, and pepper flakes into a coarse puree. Add 1 cup of the basil and pound (“bump”) until it is coarsely chopped. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of basil and pound until the basil forms a coarse puree. Add the pine nuts and pound just to break them up. Add the cheese and oil and mash until the nuts are coarsely ground and the mixture is well blended. Makes about 1 cup.

Sandwich:

1 ½ lb ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf ciabatta
1 8-ounce piece Gruyère cheese, rind trimmed, cheese grated (about 2 lightly packed cups)
1 4-ounce wedge brie cheese (such as St. Andre), sliced

Directions

1. To make the sandwich: Prepare the barbecue for high heat (500°F).
Toss the tomatoes with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and toss occasionally.
Using a large serrated knife, cut the ciabatta horizontally in half. Spread both cut sides with pesto then top each with Gruyère cheese then brie cheese.

2. For a 2-burner gas grill, turn 1 burner off and place the ciabatta halves, cheese side up, on the grill rack over the unlit burner. For a 3-burner gas grill, turn the left and right burners off, leaving the center burner on. Place the ciabatta halves on the grill rack over the unlit burners. For a charcoal grill, pile the charcoal on 1 side of the barbecue and place the ciabatta halves atop the grill rack on the opposite side. Placing the ciabatta over the unlit burners ensures it doesn’t char too much.

3. Close the barbecue hood and grill until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Avoid opening the hood too often in order to maintain the heat inside the barbecue.

4. Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board. Scatter the tomatoes over the bottom half of the ciabatta; discard the juices in the bowl. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta, cheese side down, and press gently. Using a serrated knife, cut the sandwich into 6 pieces and serve.

Note: The pesto can be made 2 days ahead. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto to prevent it from discoloring, and then cover with a lid and refrigerate.

‘Plenty’ of Ottolenghi Books

Categories:Blog, Products
I recently ordered 2 more cookbooks from one of my favorite chefs Yotam Ottolenghi. After years of cooking and converting the measurements of his recipes from my British-bought versions of Plenty and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, I finally decided to purchase the American editions from Amazon.
They’re all filled with wonderful dishes and have even inspired many past and several of my April cooking classes. Click here to get your own version of Plenty and here to get your own version of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. And here to check out my April classes.

My Adapted MOMOFUKU SHRIMP AND GRITS

Serves 8-12

Ingredients

 

4 cups water

4 cups quick cooking grits

4 cups Bacon Dashi (recipe below)

¼ cup light soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 pound best quality smoky bacon cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil

8-12 poached or sunny-side up eggs (I like to use fried eggs and fry them in the bacon fat)

1 cup chopped scallions (both green and white parts)

 

Directions

 

1.     Combine the water and grits and soak overnight (or at least 8 hours) in the cooking pot. Drain grits and return to pot

2.     Add bacon dashi and simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly.

3.     After 5 minutes, turn heat to low and add the soy, salt, pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring a lot if not constantly, for 10 minutes.

4.     Add butter and stir till combined. Adjust salt and pepper. Set aside, covered to keep warm.

5.     Meanwhile, cook the bacon in large heavy skillet until crisp and browned. Drain bacon on paper towels. Discard fat or use to fry the eggs. Do not wash the pan.

6.     Toss shrimp in a mixing bowl with the oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.

7.     Cook shrimp in bacon pan in batches if necessary: Heat pan to hot over medium-high heat. Sear shrimp on first side, pressing down until golden, 1-2 minutes. Flip and sear other side until shrimp almost–but not quite–cooked. They’ll continue to cook a bit out of the pan.

8.     Dish can be plated or served on a platter:

To plate: Give everyone a helping of grits, nestle an egg in it. Arrange piles of shrimp, bacon, and scallions. Serve at once.

To serve on a platter: Spread the hot grits on a large platter. Top with the eggs, nestling them in when possible. Sprinkle the bacon and the scallions over the top and place the shrimp in a serving bowl alongside..

 

To Make Bacon Dashi

Makes approximately 4 cups bacon dash

 

Two 3 by 6 inch pieces konbu, rinsed well in cool water

8 cups water

½ pound best quality smoky bacon

 

Directions

 

1.     Combine konbu and water in a medium saucepan

2.     Bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

3.     Remove Konbu from pot and add bacon. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes

4.     Strain bacon out of broth and chill broth till fat comes to surface. Remove and discard fat. Discard . Will keep in refrigerator for up to a week. Or freeze.

Catalan Chicken With Dried Cherries And Port

No need  to chop down a cherry tree to make this dish. You can even lie—though I am not suggesting you take that route. And this deceptively simple chicken concoction—which was included in my February 9th Wall Street Journal article— is probably much more exotic than anything George Washington would know what to do with. Nonetheless, it is replete with cherries, and I see no reason not to celebrate our first president by turning this tasty chicken-with-cherries recipe into tonight’s feast.  You can throw it together in under a half hour if you use a store-bought rotisserie bird; and there is no reason not to as the flavors of the dark, lushly fruity, and not-too-sweet pan sauce will mask any possible differences between a supermarket-prepared chicken and your own.

Adapted from “The New Spanish Table,” by Anya von Bremzen, who, in turn, adapted it from the Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, this dish never fails to impress my guests. It’s baked in a sauce flavored with tawny Port, cinnamon, citrus zest and—this is the element that always surprises—tangy dried cherries. The combination of fruit and poultry, sweet and savory, is unexpected and festive, and engages the whole palate. A perfect way to pay tribute to a president.

Catalan Chicken
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup pitted dried cherries

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 4-inch strips orange zest

2 4-inch strips lemon zest

½ cup tawny Port

1 small cinnamon stick

1 cup chicken stock

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add dried cherries, nuts and zests and cook, stirring, until nuts are golden, 3-5 minutes. Add Port and cinnamon and cook until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add stock and cook over high heat until reduced, 5-10 minutes.

2. Nestle chicken snugly in a baking dish. Pour sauce over top and turn to coat. Bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

NOTE: you can substitute dried apricots, figs, plums, raisins or prunes for the cherries—or even better, use a combination.

 

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Ludo Lefebvre’s Apple Clafoutis

Ingredients

 

2 tbsp Butter

1 cup & 2 tbsp Sugar

10 Eggs

4 Egg Yolks

3 cups Heavy Cream

1 1/2 cups Flour

2 lb Apples, peeled and sliced

3/4 tsp Almond Extract

1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

 

Directions

 

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

2. Prepare a baking dish using butter, and sprinkle sugar over the dish, shaking to create an even coat.

3. Spread apple slices in the dish.

4. Combine eggs, extra yolks, and sugar in a bowl. Blend well.

5. Add 2 cups cream and flour until combined.

6. Pour batter over apples in the baking dish.

7. Cook 50 minutes, until crust is brown and center is just set.

8. For the almond cream, combine powdered sugar, a cup of cream, and almond extract until fluffy.

9. Serve dish warm with almond cream and powdered sugar.

 

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My Favorite Cake Lifter…

Why I didn’t buy one of these decades ago, I have no idea. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

It makes taking a Baked Alaska off the pan effortless, and lifting huge layer cakes now a breeze.  It’s also ideal for getting large pieces of fish off the grill, pan or out of a skillet unscathed.

I’ve only had my gigantic spatula for a week so I’m sure there are many, many more uses out there. Do buy one for yourself by clicking here—the best $15 you’ll ever spend—and let me know what you come up with.

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Chicken and Arugula Salad with Apples, Avocados, and Walnuts

Categories:Blog, Recipe

For maximum flavor, be sure all the salad ingredients are at room temperature.

8 servings

 

for the vinaigrette:

5 tablespoons cider vinegar (if unavailable, you can substitute red wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons walnut oil

sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few drops of Tobasco sauce to taste

 

for the salad:

4 to 5 cups leftover cooked chicken cut into bite-size pieces or sautevsmall chicken breasts and cut into bite-size pieces

1 pound baby arugula,  washed and dried

1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced celery

1  cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

2 ripe-but-still-firm avocados

3 Granny Smith apples

For salads, buy avocados that are ripe but still firm.  Overripe,  they will lose their integrity and turn into a puree (or mush) as the salad is tossed.

Directions

1.  Make the vinaigrette: Put the vinegar into a small bowl and whisk in the mustard and then the olive and walnut oils to form an emulsion. Stir in salt, pepper and Tobasco sauce to taste. Set the dressing aside.

2.  Place the chicken, lettuce, celery and walnuts in a large salad bowl. When ready to serve the salad, peel and core the apples and cut them into the thinnest possible wedges. Add them to the salad, along with just enough dressing to coat the ingredients, and toss well.

3.  Peel the avocados. Cut them in half and remove the seeds.  Cut lengthwise  into 1/4 inch slices. Cut the slices in half horizontally and add the pieces to the salad. Toss gently keeping the avocado pieces intact. Adjust salt and pepper and serve.

 

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Maya Angelou’s Banana Meringue Pudding

Ingredients

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
3 cups milk
8 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups vanilla wafers
4 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt; stir until blended. Mix in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and boiling. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

3. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then whisk in 1/2 cup of hot custard until blended. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan of custard; cook over medium heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla until blended.

4. Place vanilla wafers on bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Top with layer of banana slices and custard. Repeat layering, ending with custard.

5. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar; increase speed to medium and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks.

6. Spoon meringue over hot custard immediately, making sure that meringue touches baking dish on all sides (to prevent it from shrinking). Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for at least 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

 

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The New Rose Bakery

I just got back from the DOVER STREET MARKET. It’s divine and even better than I had imagined. I’m wildly excited to have it and its legendary Rose Bakery literally one block from my apartment.

While I was out of town for the holidays, the New York outpost of London’s multilevel fashion retail store—created by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons—opened with a bang at the corner of 30th and Lexington.

On the ground floor as soon as you walk in is the Rose Bakery, the perfect spot to meet a friend for coffee or a snacky lunch before or after exploring the many floors of fabulous (and sometimes outrageous) fashion.

The bakery has their two fabulous cookbooks for sale right there, but if you don’t feel like lugging them home, just click here to get them on Amazon.

 

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French Scrambled Eggs with Caviar

I love how the French add a soupçon of heavy cream to the beaten eggs before scrambling. I also love that their idea of scrambling is to stir constantly in a double boiler or over a very, very low heat, almost like making custard.

The result is a smooth, tender, and richly elegant food for the gods that in no way resembles breakfast at the diner. Topped with caviar and dolloped with creme fraiche, this easy to make guilty pleasure is well worth the guilt as well as the splurge. Of course Beluga and Sevruga add a certain something but even garnished with salmon roe, the dish is pretty great. I serve it at brunch, but it’s also a spectacularly chic first course at dinner.

French Scrambled Eggs with Caviar

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

8 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped chives, optional

Caviar

Creme fraiche

 

Directions

1. Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl with salt, pepper, and cream until well combined.  Set a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and when it has melted, swirl the pan to cover bottom and sides. Turn the heat to very low.

2. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the eggs into the pan,  and start scraping the eggs from the bottom of the pan as they very gradually coagulate. Stir constantly. This will take several minutes. When they have thickened, stir in the remaining egg and chives, if using. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

3. Divide eggs among 8 plates, top each portion with a large spoonful of caviar and a dollop of creme fraiche. Serve immediately.

 

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