Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It ain't easy being cheesy.

The 1st 7th Annual Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational was held this past Saturday April 25, 2009. Top Burnt Chef with sous-chefs Hovin, Chivon, and Alice competed alongside 300 other cheesy enthusiasts in front of a crowd of over 2000. Kraft Singles was on hand grilling over 14,000 grilled cheeses for the hungry spectators while Izze provided refreshing beverages. I must have drank 3 or 4 green apple sodas. Competitors were separated into 3 categories: "Missionary" (strictly bread, cheese, and butter NO additional flavorings), "Kama Sutra" (anything goes but it must be grilled and be 60% cheese) and the Honey Pot (like the Kama Sutra but on a sweeter side).

Team Top Burnt Chef competed in the Honey Pot category. We thought we would make a good showing with our sandwich "Honey's Got the Blues," a sweet gorgonzola, Bartlett pear and Bosc pear jam sandwich on Challah bread fried in butter then drizzled with honey but it didn't fare to well with the judges. It earned an "uk" from the judges although Team Top Burnt Chef's sous chefs are still debating that the "uk" was really a hastily written "ok."

It was so crowded that I didn't really get to see too many other sandwiches but there were several that stuck out in my mind. One was a comte and aged Utah cheddar on sourdough cooked in clarified brown butter and then sprinkled with sea salt from the Great Salt Lake. That sandwich won judges' favorite. One that sounded super gross but was popular with the crowd was an Indian curry grilled cheese on naan bread. In the dessert category, someone had a "cheesecake sandwich," which was a slice of cheesecake on bread made from graham flour then drizzled with rasberry coulis and chocolate sauce. I don't think technically that is a grilled cheese but it won 1st place in the Honey Pot.

Even though I lost and my creation was deemed disgusting, I had a great time and I can't wait to do it again next year. I am already dreaming up of new cheesy creations. Thanks again to Hovin, Chivon, and Alice. You guys rock! In the excitement of it all, I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich but here is the recipe for the "uk" sandwich!

Honey's Got the Blues
makes 2

Quick Homemade Pear Jam
(3 lb pear
2 cups sugar
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 box Sur-Jell fruit pectin)

4 slices Challah bread
6 TBSP room temperature butter
4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce
Bartlett pear, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1. For the pear jam, peel, core and chop pears. Cook in large pot with sugar until it starts to look like apple sauce. I like to mash it with a potato masher too. Then follow the directions on the pectin box.
2. To assemble the sandwich, butter 1 side of each slice with the room temperature butter. On non-buttered sides spread with 1 oz of cheese. Spoon pear jam on two of the slices and top with remaining slices.
3. In the pre-heated skillet, place 1 TBSP of butter. After it stops foaming place sandwiches in skillet. Cook until golden brown and then flip and cook other side.
4. When both sides are golden brown, lift from skillet and place on cutting board. Let sandwich rest a few minutes.
5. After sandwich has rested, cut into 2 wedges. Pry open each half and place pear slices in shingles. Replace sandwich top and place on serving plate.
6. Drizzle with honey. Serve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hola Mi Amigas Te Llamas

Research for my Mexico report

Because I am obsessed.

And when he came to the place where the wild things are
they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws

You Tube

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Burger War: East vs. West

Since I am going to be an East Coast transplant soon, I had to find a replacement for In N Out Burger. Everyone kept telling me Five Guys is the place, so on my last visit, I finally made a trip to see what the fuss was all about.

I visited the Five Guys in the Inner Harbor. It happened to be opening day for the Orioles and they were playing the Yankees so there lots of Yankee fans around. Like In N Out, Five Guys does not use frozen meat and they hand cut their Idaho potatoes. While In N Out has a very simple menu, Five Guys offers bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs as well. You can get chili cheese fries or Cajun fries in addition to regular. The thing that distinguishes Five Guys is the 15 free toppings you can choose for your burger. From sauteed mushrooms, grilled or fried onions, several different kinds of sauces, it can be a bit overwhelming. Also a regular burger is a double so in order to get a normal size burger you must order a "Junior." They also give you a ton of fries, perfect for sharing. In other words, this is not a place to eat if you are watching your weight.

I got a regular cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions. It was very messy. The bun was a bit soggy but maybe it was because the burger was wrapped in foil. It was a good hamburger but I think next time I will keep it simple and nix the sauteed mushrooms. Overall, it's a decent replacement to In N Out. In N Out will always be #1 in my heart (and my first stop after leaving the airport) but Five Guys comes close to hamburger perfection.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April is Grilled Cheese Month!

Today I celebrated Grilled Cheese Month with a Cuban influenced grilled cheese. Traditionally the sandwich is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread. The sandwich was popular amongst workers in the cigar factories and sugar mills and it's no surprise why. The tangy pickle and yellow mustard with the salty ham and cheese are a perfect salt and sour combination.

Here is my tribute:
Setting up the operation


Finished Product

Amy's Grilled Cuban Sandwich
makes 1 sandwich

You will need:
  • 2 slices of bread (I like Trader Joe's Cheddar and Garlic Sourdough)
  • Yellow mustard (I like French's)
  • Muenster cheese and cheddar cheese
  • Ham (I used leftover Honey Baked Ham from Easter)
  • PICKLES!!!!
  • butter, of course!
1. Preheat your skillet on LOW heat. Remember low heat and patience are the key.
2.Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. On the non-buttered sides, spread yellow mustard. Then layer cheese and pickles on one slice and the ham and cheese on the other. Place together.
3. Place on your preheated skillet and cook until toasty, golden brown and melt-y. Flip and cook other side until same.
4. Cut in half and enjoy with an ice-cold Coca Cola

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Call of the Sirens

New Agent Provacateur ad campaign shot by Tim Bret Day

Pan and the Vestry of Virgins

Pirate Provacateur

Season of the Witch

Source: Like Cool

Monday, April 13, 2009


After 57 people dead in several mass public shootings, guns and the NRA are not so popular these days. By offering this limited edition meat grinder gun to new members, it is hoping to attract food lovers who might also be gun lovers. WTF?!?!?!

NRA spokesman Bart Barnaby stated “food lovers and gun lovers have a ton of things in common, maybe for the food lover it’s seeking out that crazy fish you kind of know you’re not supposed to eat, while for the gun lover it’s killing that animal that might be considered kind of borderline endangered....Think about chefs with all their knives – I’m just struck by the parallels between gun rack displays and those neat roll-up knife carryalls. There are so many identical things among the foodies and the gun lovers that this partnership is a no-brainer.”

Again. WTF?!?!

I hope this is an April Fools.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lock it up

Check out this new lock by German lock maker Abus (inventor of the U lock). It offers the strength of a U-lock but with greater flexibilty and it can fold up small when not it use! Much easier to use than the Kryptonite New Yorker!

You can buy it at Com-cycle USA

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fashion Fotos

One of my favorite editorials from Vogue shot by Steven Meisel

Snow White's Apple

Posting from Like Cool

BYOBL (Bring your own bike lane)

Brilliant concept.

"A close brush with a distracted driver is enough to intimidate the most avid bikers from riding at night. The problem isn’t just about visibility, as safety lights are effective at capturing the attention of a driver. However, these lights are typically constrained to the bike frame, which highlights only a fraction of the bike’s envelope. Bike lanes have proven to be an effective method of protecting cyclists on congested roads. One key is that the lane establishes a well defined boundary beyond the envelope of the bicycle, providing a greater margin of safety between the car and the cyclist. Yet, only a small fraction of streets have dedicated bike lanes, and with an installation cost of $5,000 to $50,000 per mile, we shouldn’t expect to find them everywhere anytime soon. Instead of adapting cycling to established bike lanes, the bike lane should adapt to the cyclists. This is the idea behind the LightLane. Our system projects a crisply defined virtual bike lane onto pavement, using a laser, providing the driver with a familiar boundary to avoid. With a wider margin of safety, bikers will regain their confidence to ride at night, making the bike a more viable commuting alternative."

From Dust Bowl

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April is Grilled Cheese Month!

I already wrote a post about grilled cheeses but in honor of April being Grilled Cheese Month I just had to mention some grilled cheese happenings.....

On April 25 the Grilled Cheese Invitational will be held in Los Angeles. 300 competitors will vie for the Best Grilled Cheese in three categories: Missionary Position (only standard bread, butter and cheese), Kama Sutra (any kind of bread, cheese and additional flavoring ingredients) and the Honey Pot (any kind of bread, cheese and additional flavoring ingredients but the overall flavor is sweet).
L.A. restaurant Clementine will be celebrating Grilled Cheese Month all April with 25 different grilled cheese and a weekly special created by guest chefs such as Nancy Silverton (La Brea Bakery, Mozza), Amelia Saltsman (author of the Santa Monica Farmer's Cookbook) and Evan Kleiman (Angelli Caffe and host of KCRW's Good Food).

If you can't make it to Clementine (I know I won't even though soppresatta pepper jack with pickled Calabrian peppers on white corn rye bread from La Brea Bakery has my name on it) check out Pithy and Cleaver. They will be featuring different grilled cheese recipes all month and have started the celebration off right with Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cooking...so easy a Caveman can do it.

Cooking can be super easy. Here is a fool proof recipe that can be adapted many different ways.

Mediterranean Chicken Packets
taken from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

You will need
  • heavy duty aluminum foil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 artichoke hearts (from a 14-ounce can), quartered
  • 12 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
  • 4 teaspoons capers
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375˚. Place four 12-inch squares of foil down. Place one chicken breast on each piece of foil. Season with salt and pepper
2. Divide the tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, cheese and seasonings among the chicken. Sprinkle with oil. Fold foil over ingredients and crimp edges.
3. Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
4. Serve with potatoes, rice or noodles.

You can change the ingredients and seasonings to create different flavors! Or substitute fish like salmon or halibut for the chicken

  • mixing 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and 2 teaspoons honey. Spread on the chicken breasts. Add carrots.
  • adding lemon slices, spring of thyme, garlic cloves and potatoes.
  • teriyaki sauce, julienned bell peppers and onions, broccoli florets.

This is also a great recipe for camping. Double wrap the chicken in heavy duty aluminum foil and place in the camp fire or on a rack set above the fire.

I am developing camping recipes for my friends website Camping Mecca. What are some of your favorite camping meals?
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