(WJBK) - Ward off your mid-winter blues with MYO grilled cheese party. It is a great food plan for a humdrum Sunday with extended family, or you can create a fancier version for a mid-winter gathering with friends (perhaps paired with a couple varieties of Bloody Mary's).
Here are suggestions for how to make a successful make-your-own grilled cheese bar from Chef Kelli from 2 Unique Catering and Purefood2U.
PICK YOUR MAIN INGREDIENTS
1. Say CHEESE: could look like: brie, cheeses, gruyere, Gouda, goat, gruyere, smoked cheddar, fresh mozzarella, Havarti, compound cheeses; onion, Cotswold, peppered jack, bacon/tomato, huntsman and on and on.
2. Ingredients of interest: caramelized onions, grilled veggies, fried onions, plum tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, fruit preserves, apples, pears, bacon, avocado, fancy meats like prosciutto & specialty hams, crab, smoked salmon, sliced pickle pillows, arugula, basil, roasted peppers sage, shishto peppers cole slaw, grilled mushrooms nuts and dried fruits
3. Condiments: spicy tomato jam, honey mustard, dilled Dijon, compound butter, spicy ketchup, aioli, fruit preserves. Olive tapenade, hummus, Russian dressing, French onion & spinach dip.
4. Bountiful Breads: ciabatta rolls, pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, baguettes, flavored breads such as; olive, onion, tomato, petit English muffins, wheat, bread flats.
To cook, have a skillet ready for your guests to grill at will. If you'd like, also, serve with classic tomato soup!
CLASSIC TOMATO SOUP
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock/broth
28-oz. can whole peeled organic plum tomatoes, pureed (include the juice)
1 Tbs; honey, agave or maple syrup
1 sprig fresh thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil
1. In a large 6 qt stock pot heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat until the butter melts.
2. Add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onion and garlic.
3. Add the broth, tomatoes, honey, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring the mixture to make sure that the flour is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes.
4. Discard the thyme sprig. Let cool briefly and then purée in two or three batches in a blender or food processor. Rinse the pot and return the soup to the pot. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper
Ten ideas to give your favorite tomato soup a little extra zip!
1. Top with bacon and a sprinkle of cheddar and swirl of sour cream or greek yogurt
2. Add a can of diced tomatoes, a teaspoon of cream, and julienne fresh basil leaves.
3. Swirl some aged white balsamic vinegar into the soup and serve with a stack of mozzarella and fresh basil leaves on a toasted baguette.
4. Pita chips, sliced olives and a feta crumble.
5. Add a drizzle of pesto and sour dough croutons
6. Rub a slice of bread with raw garlic, top with Gruyere cheese and melt under broiler or in oven
7. Sautee onions, garlic, and julienne kale for a minute. Drizzle with white wine or lemon, place on top of soup with shaved parmesan.
8. Diced avocado and sour cream
9. Golden fried onions & shredded mozzarella
10. Spinach sautéed with a little heavy cream & seasoned topped with grated gruyere or swiss
11. Thinly sliced baked brie crostini
12. Gnocchi with julienned basil and shredded parmesan
Martha Stewart has a fun yellow tomato Bloody Mary that would pair nicely at a grown up grilled cheese bash with your favorite red-style Bloody Mary cocktail.
Servings: Serves 4 (about 3 cups)
1 pound ripe yellow tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)
3/4 cup (6 ounces) best quality organic vodka
5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
20 dashes hot green pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated, peeled fresh horseradish
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Celery hearts, for garnish
Yellow and red cherry tomatoes, for garnish
1. Puree yellow tomatoes in a blender. Press through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids.
2. Stir together tomato puree, vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, green pepper sauce, horseradish to taste, salt and pepper in a pitcher. If not using immediately, mixture can be refrigerated, covered, and overnight. To serve, divide among 4 large glasses filled with ice.
3. Garnish each glass with celery and cherry tomatoes on toothpicks.