Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brie and Pear Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Well, we are now waist deep into National Grilled Cheese Month and I have to say it's been a heck of an awesome April so far - grilled cheeses are a good omen in my book.  I mean, life can't be THAT bad when you have a plate of creamy flavorful cheese in between two pieces of buttery toast, right?  I've mentioned before that when I was a wee thing, I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a sliced up pear everyday during the summer while I sat in front of the TV "wondering" if Kevin Arnold was ever going to end up with Winnie Cooper.  And all that was maybe slightly sad going on in my life like misplacing my favorite blanket or breaking my favorite sky blue crayon all went away when my mom put that simple yet wonderful grilled cheese sandwich in front of me. 

Of course, back then I would have never thought in a zillion years to put the pear inside my sandwich, but today it's an absolute must.  It gives the classic grilled cheese a sweet and savory twist that excites your pallet.  And pair it with some thyme and pecans and you've got yourself a delicious combo of nutty and herby flavors that complement the creamy brie and sweet pear beautifully.  

And the best part, you can still reminisce about your childhood grilled cheese days without having to feel like a kid when eating this one.

What you'll need: serves 2

1 Anjou pear (thinly sliced) crispier pears work better for this recipe
1 tbsp butter (plus extra for toasting the bread)
1/8 cup raw pecans chopped
3 sprigs thyme (roughly chopped)
4 slices White Bread (GF Udi's White Sandwich Bread)
Double Cream Brie Light (1/4 in. slices)

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the 1 tbsp of butter, throw in the slices of pear, chopped pecans and thyme.  Let cook for about 15 mins, until the pears have softened, stir every couple of mins.  Remove from heat.

Butter your bread for a golden crust and start layering in a pan over low-medium heat - bread, brie, pear mixture (get all those pecan and thyme morsels in!), more brie and bread.  Let each side cook for about 5 mins to allow the brie enough time to melt, but don't burn the bread!  Lower the heat if the crust is getting too brown too quickly.  Slice in half, plate and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cucumber Margarita

Spring is officially here and I'm ready for a cool and refreshing drink.  I'm all for the typical fruity margaritas but they can often be over sweet and mask the yummy flavor of tequila. Cucumbers, on the other hand, are light, healthy and complement tequila and lime very well - the perfect drink for these sunny late afternoons.  All this margarita is missing is a set of maracas!  Trust me, you'll wish you had some after a couple glasses of these.  Aye yai yai!

What you'll need: serves about 4

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cucumber (skin removed, finely diced)
4 jiggers El Jimador Tequila Blanco
4 jiggers Jose Cuervo Light Margarita Mix Classic Lime
juice from 2 limes
1/2 cucumber (skin removed, quartered for garnish)
cherry tomatoes for garnish
kosher salt for glass rim

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a bowl, to make the simple syrup.  Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 mins), remove from heat and let completely cool.  In a blender, puree the diced cucumber until completely smooth.  Add 1/2 cup of the cooled simple syrup and mix until well incorporated.

Rub some lime juice around the rim of four margarita glasses and dip in kosher salt.  Fill each glass with a couple handfuls of ice.  Divide the cucumber mixture and add to each glass along with one jigger of tequila, one jigger of margarita mix and a tablespoon of lime juice.  Mix and drink up!