Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Plain Old Grilled Cheese, Please.

For lunch today, I split a Mozzarella, Raspberry, and Brown Sugar Panini (pg 213) with Charlie. Neither one of us liked it much.

The recipe calls for "bakery-style white bread," but I just used regular old whole wheat bread. It instructs you to brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil. I only did the sides that would be hitting the panini press. I don't think these deviations caused the problems with this sandwich.

All you do is smear raspberry jelly on each slice of bread, sprinkle rosemary on, then sandwich mozzarella cheese in between the slices. Then, you sprinkle brown sugar on top of the bread, on the part that will hit the pan. I did the slightest sprinkling of sugar, because it seems excessive. Grill it in a panini press until it's golden, and voila!
I like the idea of this sandwich, but something was not right. The bread got soggy from the jelly, and I think the mozzarella released some water once it was hot. The flavors didn't seem to come together into one delicious bite. I think I'd prefer this with a different cheese. Mozzarella doesn't have a strong enough flavor to compete with raspberry jelly and rosemary. It became raspberry flavored chewiness. Jelly is amazing on salty cheeses like a fresh Romano. Romano wouldn't melt right for a grilled cheese type of sandwich, but something with that sort of salty/tangy profile would balance things out more. Adding my little bit of brown sugar didn't make one lick of difference, so perhaps that would have been better if I'd used the proper amount. I don't think adding more sweet on top of sweet is the answer, though.

Conclusion: Just okay. Not worth it. Charlie will eat any cheese I give him (especially stinky ones!), plain or in sandwich form, but he wouldn't eat this.

Dinner was Honey-Balsamic Lamb Chops (pg 125). As far as I'm concerned, lamb is the greatest of all the meats, so something would have to be very wrong with this recipe to make me disapprove. Fortunately, it was good.
Get in mah belly!
All you do is season the chops with salt, pepper, rosemary, and a drizzle of oil, then haul out the ol' grill pan, yet again, and cook them up. In the food processor, mix balsamic vinegar, garlic, and honey. Once it's combined, with the machine running, slowly add vegetable oil. This produces a surprisingly thick sauce, and lots of it. I was too impatient to do the math to quarter the recipe, so now I have a jar of sauce in the fridge. I'm overly excited about the mason jars I bought at the supermarket yesterday. They were on sale. Don't tell Matt. haha! Every time I clear out a little nook of space in the kitchen, I find something else to fill it with. Oh well.

If you need sauce with your lamb, this is a good one. I enjoyed it. However, I realized while eating it that I never put sauce on lamb. A little garlic and rosemary is all it needs. I prefer it that way. It's tough when you're trying out recipes that mess with your favorites.

Conclusion: A good, solid Liked It.


  1. the combo of mozzarella and sweet berries just doesn't sound that appetizing to me- whether in a salad or sandwich. I think mozzarella was born to marry with tomatoes, garlic, veal, beef, eggplant, basil,sage, oregano, ham, pork, mushrooms, chicken, balsamic vinegar, marinara sauce- lots of hearty, savory, earthy, and/or herbal stuff but just not with a sweet fruit- I wonder why Giada likes to pair it with sweet fruit and if there is any Italian regional precedent or just her preference.

  2. Sorry about the 'dislike' on the grilled sammich. Guess they can't all be winners. The lamb sounds great tho!

  3. I agree. She doesn't say anything about it being personal taste vs. regional preference, so I don't know about that. I wonder if having a fresh, beautiful mozzarella di bufala would work differently with the fruit, since it has a different flavor than the crap I'm using. Beats me.

  4. hhmm.. mozzarella di bufalo is really difficult to heat i think b/c it releases water right after it melts. Personally I think this is a taste combo I would steer clear from if she has any more recipes that riff on this theme.

  5. I'm pondering what other cheese would go well in a panini with jam. Maybe brie with apricot or fig jam? Then add some prosciutto?

  6. yes brie is always great with fruit conserves or jam, and some sort of salty meat like ham or smoked turkey- sadly I am off cheese for a while but wow you made me hungry mentioning it! also italian scamorza is also a REALLY great cheese for grilling- not easy to find

  7. Oh, I know--I didn't mean necessarily to make a panini out of the mozzarella di bufala, but was wondering in general if it would taste better with the sweet fruit theme she's got going on. I don't think there are any more recipes in here that feature fruit and mozzarella. None spring to mind.

    Yummychunklet, I like where your heads at with the prosciutto. mmmmmm

  8. Ei check this out: