Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winston's Comfort Food Dinner

My dear friend Winston, who could easily give Martha Stewart a run for her money if he chose to make WJDJR an international brand, made our book club the most delicious meal a couple of weeks ago.

I was so entranced I had to try to replicate it. And I think I didn't do such a bad job! I used cheddar and asiago, but you could use any cheeses that please your palate.

So here for you today I give you:

Winston's Croque Monsieurs, Tomato Bisque, and Roasted Cauliflower
(aka Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup, and Popcorn Cauliflower)

4 slices crusty bread
Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
Sliced cheddar cheese
Sliced asiago cheese
2 thin slices tomato
2 medium-thick slices onion
Black forest ham (or whatever deli meat you like)
Olive oil

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp curry powder
Olive oil

Trader Joe's Creamy Tomato Bisque
(Yes, here is where Winston and I diverged: he makes his from scratch. I chose to go with this super-easy and very tasty option instead. He wins, again.)

First, get your cauliflower in the oven. Preheat to 450F. Toss your cauliflower florets with ~ 1.5 tbsp olive oil -- enough to coat, but not thickly or heavily. Add the bit of curry powder and salt and pepper, and spread the florets in a baking dish or pan so they're in a single layer. Pop them in the oven and leave them be for ~40 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them near the end to make sure they don't blacken, but you do want them to get nice and roasted and nutty, so they do need to be in there a good long while.

While cauliflower is roasting, assemble your sandwiches: slather one piece of bread with a thin coat of dijon mustard, and the other with 1 tsp of honey. Then build -- putting cheese on top of the bread, then meats and veggies, then cheese, and top with the other slice.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan til it is VERY HOT. Really -- let it sit there a while. If you're going to get these puppies to melt properly without burning the bread, your pan has to be hot. (So, please DO NOT use a pan with a non-stick teflon coating.)

Once it's hot hot hot, drizzle some olive oil in there and make sure it coats the surface, but that it's not too thick. Place your sandwiches in the pan and cover if you like. Then just leave them be for a bit.

If you're me, pour soup into a pan and heat over medium-low heat. If you're Winston, make creamy tomato bisque from scratch just because you can.

Check on your sandwiches every so often to gauge the cheese-meltiness factor. Once the bottom layer of cheese has started to melt well, you want to flip them over and get the other side of cheese melting and the other slice of bread nice and toasty.

Once your sandwiches have achieved "grilled cheese" status and your cauliflower is done, serve with a mug of soup. And be in absolute comfort food heaven.


  1. I like the way you write about food. Yum.

  2. Thanks! That's like the best compliment a food blogger like me could receive!


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