Wednesday, July 5, 2006
My mother-in-law and I have extremely different cooking styles … she cooks what she knows and follows recipes by the letter. I like to improvise and embellish on the old classics. I spend money on fancy knives for chopping, and she prefers to chop with the same old knife she's used since 1977. But there's one thing we do have in common when it comes to cooking—we both like to feed her son. Of course, I sound like his mom when I say he's a good eater, but the truth is he likes everything—well, almost. Once, I asked him if there was a food he didn't like, he considered the question for several minutes and finally declared he didn't particularly care for deviled eggs, but if at a picnic in a pinch, he'd suffer through them.
Recently I discovered a sandwich I just had to make for my husband that originated from the legendary Harry's Bar in Venice. It's basically a fancy grilled ham and cheese. Who doesn't like a warm, gooey sandwich loaded with cheese and meat? The core of this sandwich is the cheese, which is a spread made from shredded Gruyere combined with Dijon mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. It's then lightly pan fried in extra virgin olive oil. I was so excited when I discovered this sandwich, I couldn't wait to tell my husband about it. After my description, my husband smiled and said that it sounded like the Super Bowl sandwich his mother used to make. I was flabbergasted. Did this mean my mother-in-law had a food processor? Did she have an alternative to the basic yellow mustard?
Before I had time to ask any questions my husband explained.
"She would make this sandwich with roast beef, onions, Cheez Whiz—"
I gave him "The Glare" before he went any further. "How are you comparing Cheez Whiz to Gruyere?" I cried.
Despite my outburst, he continued to lovingly describe the sandwich of his childhood. The roast beef is cooked in all its glorious juices in the electric skillet (oops, I threw his out when we got married) and the bread toasted, then loaded with Cheez Whiz, roast beef and onions.
So as a compromise, the key to a happy marriage, I modified the two sandwiches and plan to serve this for the upcoming World Cup game between the United States and Italy.
8 slices of sourdough bread (or your favorite type)
Combine 1-1/2 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 clove garlic and few dashes of Worcestershire in food processor. Pulse for several minutes, until it forms a paste.
Spread cheese mixture on both sides of bread. Sauté mushrooms and red onion and place on one side of bread and place ham on the opposite side.
Using the same sauté pan, place sandwiches on pan over medium heat. While the bottom side cooks, sprinkle olive oil on the topside and continue to press sandwiches down with spatula. After five minutes, flip carefully and continue pressing down. Allow to cook for five minutes, grab a plate and enjoy.
Brilliant piece. Obviously a talented writer, though her choice in men….