Gastrobabble

A quest for gastro-liberation, an excuse to buy more cookbooks…


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Grill. Ooze. Crunch.

I blame Bertha. I firmly lay the blame at her door.

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This was entirely down to her. She was the reason that I didn’t go out running and instead inhaled this with some red wine and my own company. Sunshine brings the crunch and crisp of a rather different nature than the colder months. Cucumbers in gin; warm crisps in the park; the crunch of ice cubes in a sweating glass. This is the crunch that we are familiar with when we attempt to convince ourselves that we enjoy visibly sweating at every turn.

The crisp of the encroaching months is a very different beast indeed. It is the sound of a fork breaking into the shiny golden top of a pie; the crunch of new autumn apples; and the crackle of chicken burnished golden in the oven.

Let’s add another to that pantheon. I saw Chef a few weeks ago and have been obsessed with American-style grilled sandwiches ever since. Bread that is brushed with butter and crisps up when fried. Crisp without and tender within, cheese, caramelised onion and spinach oozing out. Ideal for a solitary meal, those nights where you have only yourself to please.

Grilled cheese

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The spinach here is purely because I tend to have spinach in the fridge. Sautéing leeks along with the onions would also be most agreeable. As would a mixture of dried and fresh mushrooms.

Two slices of white bread
50g mature cheddar
50g emmenthal (other nutty hard cheeses also good here)
Dried thyme
Two small onions
A garlic clove
Two handfuls of spinach
Butter

Start by gently frying the sliced onions with a generous slug of olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook on a gentle heat for 20-30 minutes until soft, golden and sweet. Fold in the spinach to wilt and then decant into a bowl to mix with the grated cheese. Butter the bread and assemble your sandwich with the buttered sides on the outside. Place back into the pan on a medium to high heat and fry until golden outside and until the cheese melts. Serve with a napkin ready as this is not a knife and fork scenario.