American Classic – Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Source:  Auntie Paulie in the 1970’s

Personal Notes:
Well, it was a Thursday night after a day of touring around town.  The usual question came up, “What’s for dinner?  I’m hungry!”.  Gulp, I had to come up with something fast, or the natives would become restless!  My aunt came to my aid and said, “Let’s make grilled cheese sandwiches, those are quick and delicious.”  “Yes, great idea!”  I quickly replied-once we ate these, it immediately reminded me of my childhood.  Sure, I’ve made these before for the kids, but it’s been a while.

We used what we call here, “Bauern Brot” which is a rustic farm bread, sliced it up, pulled out what I had in the fridge for cheese, which was Gruyere and Appenzeller cheese, warmed up the cast iron pan, and cooked away.  Enjoy, and remember, never forget the simple things!

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

Bread-hearty rustic style is delicious! Butter-for buttering the sides of bread
Cheese-nutty flavor such as Gruyere is great

Directions:
Slice your bread to your desired thickness.  Slice the cheese alike-I like my bread sliced thin, and my cheese as well, but we decided to grade the cheese this night.  It seemed it was a good choice-the cheese melted evenly and well and gave the sandwich a creamy texture.

Butter your bread on the cooking sides only (or brush on melted butter as we chose to do.  I think by brushing on the butter you get more of a crispier finished product.)  line the cheese, close the bread to become a sandwich and cook in melted butter.  You can go light on the butter if you cook in a nice seasoned cast iron skillet, as it wont stick to the pan.

Slice and serve alone or with fruit, chips, or whatever you have on hand.

Farm Fresh Salsa

Farm Fresh Salsa

Source:  Farm Fresh Ingredients about 1999

Personal Notes:
I’m a shopper/consumer who will NEVER buy pre-made salsa in the grocery store again!  No matter how good it looks in the plastic container sitting in the refrigerated section of  Whole Foods, it’s never better than my home-made salsa!  The fresher the ingredients, the better!  For this recipe, I picked the early-girl tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers, and garlic.  It was amazing!  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Farm fresh organic salsa
Farm fresh organic salsa

Ingredients:

3-4 “Early Girl” tomatoes 2-Spicey red chilly pepper or jalapeno
1-Very large bunch of Cilantro 2-cloves garlic
1-Onion Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash and combine all ingredients in blender or Cuisinart mixer.  Pulse to your desired consistency.

Serve and eat!

Chicken stir-fry

Chicken Stir-fry

Source:  My Mom about 1980’s

Personal Notes:
This is a really simple dish – I can’t stress to you enough.  Before there was Rachel Ray and Jamie Oliver, there was common sense!  Then along came the pre-made frozen meals and our common sense and creativity went out the window.  I’ve made this meal so many times in a pinch to feed the family, and it takes 15 min.  This is super served alone, with rice, over or along side noodles, over polenta, with beans…you can choose!  Enjoy!

chicken stir-fry

Ingredients:

Olive Oil to sauté 1-2 thick breast filet of chicken, skinned and sliced into 1-2” strips
Diced onion Lime juice for garnish
Sliced peppers (your choice, bell, Anaheim, etc.) Cilantro for garnish

Directions:
Begin with dicing onion and sauté along with olive oil.  Once onions are translucent and flavored well w/ salt and pepper, add your chicken strips and stir to incorporate all the flavors in the pan.  Cook for about 8 min. Clean and pear your peppers, can cut them in long diagonal strips.  Throw in your peppers and cover.  Adjust heat to medium.  Cook for about 5-8 min.  Check to be sure the meat is cooked throughout.  When it is cooked, pull pan off and plate your dish.  Sprinkle on the juice of a lime and garnish with chopped or whole cilantro.

PS: I accompanied the dish with Basmati rice, lemon, cilantro, beans and other toppings.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Source:  Aunty Bruna:  About 2005

Personal Notes:
My mom and Aunty Paulie just left (March 2013) from a 3 week visit where we did lots of talking about food, meal planning, recipe sharing, and where I gained a lot of “hands on” experience!  It was a joy to share, learn and to work off the days stresses in the kitchen together.  By the request of the kids, my mom made her famous Coconut Cream Pie for us.  It was delicious.  My mom said that if we thought hers was good, that we’d have to taste Bruna’s.  Bruna is my Aunt who lives in Arizona.  Just recently, Aunty Bruna and I were talking; she said she was making her coconut cream pie.  The moment could not have been more perfect for me to ask her all about it.  Her philosophy is, if you’re going to make a cake or pie, make the entire thing from scratch…even the pudding!  I think you’ll find this a wonderful recipe!  Enjoy.

Coconut cream pie
Coconut cream pie

Ingredients for Filling:

½ C. sugar 1 ½ C. milk
2 large eggs 1 ½ C. sweetened coconut flakes
1 large egg yolk 1 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbs. flour 1/8 tsp. coconut extract

Directions for Filling:
Whisk 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl. Bring milk and coconut to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return to same saucepan; cook until pastry cream thickens and boils, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and coconut extracts. Transfer pastry cream to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent formation of skin. Chill until cold at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Transfer filling to crust. Cover and chill overnight.

Ingredients for Crust:

1 ½ C. flour 6 Tbs. chilled butter cut into small pieces
1 Tbs. sugar 3 Tbs. chilled/solid vegetable shortening
½ tsp. salt 4 Tbs. or more of chilled ice water

For the Crust:
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 4 TBS. ice water over mixture. (use more if needed) Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball: flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9- inch diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 15 minutes.(Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.)

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans or in our case 3 rocks. Bake 20 minutes.  Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Crust can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature)

Ingredients for Topping:

2/3 C. coconut flakes 2 Tbs. sugar
1 ¼ C. chilled heavy (whipping )cream 1/8 tsp. coconut extract

Directions for the Topping:
Toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Cool completely, making sure you don’t burn the coconut.

Using the electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread  cream all over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead)  Cover and refrigerate.

Scrambled Ostrich Egg

Scrambled Ostrich Egg

Source:  husband Marcel 2013

Personal Notes:
Tasting an Ostrich egg was always something my husband wanted to do.  As it turns out, we have an Ostrich farm about 10 min. from us in Switzerland.  He put in his order for 1 Ostrich egg in the fall of 2012, and in the Spring of 2013, it had been laid.  Each egg sells for CHF 32.  Each egg is equivalent to about 10-15 eggs, size dependent.  He brought the egg home, extracted the yolk and egg white, and we began our scramble for the morning.  We were a head count of 7, and it fed us all comfortably with some left over.  Give it a try-it tasted like a “normal” egg to us.  Enjoy!

size difference
ostrich egg compared to chicken egg

Ingredients:

1 ostrich egg 1 cup fresh spinach or diced greens of choice
1 onion salt and pepper

Directions:
Well I doubt you need instructions for scrambled eggs, but here is what we did different. We drilled a 10mm hole in order to save the shell, then the egg was drained and the large cast iron skillett was fired up.  Add some herbs, leeks, or onions in a bit of butter, scramble the egg in the bowl, and pour into the warm pan.  Cook as you would normally.  P.S.  We saved the shell to have our kids paint on them.  It’s quite a nice project for the kids to paint the large Ostrich shells, and it’s something they can have forever if they don’t break it first!  Enjoy the slideshow