Tag Archives: pistachio

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Confit and Pistachio Pesto

9 Dec

So first off, let me say that I’m sorry this wasn’t posted earlier.  I intended to have this posted on Friday but with traveling for work and traveling for family I just haven’t had time to post this.  Anyway…

In order to create a very tasty grilled cheese sandwich, you must first invent the universe…or something like that. At least that’s what I’ve heard. In this case, you do need to make a couple other recipes. Before I get into that, let me say that for right now at least I will not be posting the exact recipe. I’m not sure how those copyright laws work exactly, and it seems unfair to the people that put all that time and effort into creating The Modernist Cuising at Home to post the full recipe for free online. I do promise though to do more research into this and post what I can.

The first thing I made this week was tomato confit. The basics of the recipe is that you take some tomatoes, core them, score the other end in an “X” pattern, and then blanch the tomoatoes so you can remove the skin easily. The Modernist Cuisine tells you to boil water and blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds before plunging them into ice water to stop the cooking process. That’s all well and good, but I’m way more modern than that! I have a microwave! So instead of taking all that time to bring a whole pot of water to boil for eight measily roma tomatoes, I microwaved them using a little bit of water to blanch them, and then peeled the skin off. It was just as easy but used way less time and water.

After the tomatoes were blanched and peeled, I cut them in half lengthwise per the recipe and seeded them. Apparently I didn’t do a very good job coring the tomatoes, so I had to remove a bit of the core as well. This is not difficult if you don’t want to core the tomato ahead of time, but it’s important to be very careful when removing the core so as not to tear the tomato. Once that’s done though, you pat the tomato half dry with a paper towel and place it cut side down on a silicone baking mat. I’ll admit, I roasted my silicone baking mat a few weeks ago and haven’t replaced it. I used a piece of parchment paper for this recipe and it turned out fine, so I will go out on a limb and say that parchment paper will work! After all your tomatoes are put on the mat/paper, top them with garlic, bay leaf (I used fresh, not dried), and thyme and bake them in your oven set to 250 for an hour. After an hour, turn the heat down to 210 and continue baking until they are pretty dried out and gummy. This took only four hours in my oven but could take up to 8 hours depending on the size and water content of the tomatoes. The result is what I call “tomato candy.” The tomato flavor is extremely condensed in the drying process and it is amazing, even using winter tomatoes!


Tomatoes drying in the oven.

Once they’re done drying out, put the tomatoes in a bag with olive oil and vacuum seal to infuse the oil. I don’t have a vacuum sealer yet, so I used a ziploc bag. I put the bag in a bowl of water and worked all the air bubbles out. Then I sealed the bag, and that seemed to work pretty well. This is called the “water displacement” method of sealing bags. The recipe is very good, but my advice is to make a larger batch so that you have them on hand considering the time involved in making tomato confit.

The next recipe needed to make a great grilled cheese sandwich was pistachio pesto. This one was quick and easy! The recipe called to blanch all the greens, which I’ve never done when before when making pesto. I didn’t notice much of a difference, so maybe next time I will skip this step to see if there actually is one. In addition to the obvious, pistachios, there is basil, spinach, cilantro, and scallions in the recipe. After the greens are blanched, you blanch two (or more, depending on your taste) garlic cloves. Then mix the greens, garlic, pistachios, and parmegiano-reggiano cheese in your handy food processor. Add olive oil as you would a normal pesto, and you’re pretty much done. I have to say that I tasted a lot more of the cilantro than anything else in the recipe, but it is still a very tasty pesto.


Electric green pesto!

There was a recipe for “the perfect melting cheese” that I neglected to make for this sandwich. I think it turned out alright even without the cheese melting perfectly, but I will be making it later on of course. There are several grilled cheese sandwich variations in the book, so I have time. All the stuff done ahead of time made for quick preparation of the sandwich itself though, which is great for a working mom. I just layered the pesto, tomato, goat cheese, basil and that was it! The recipe calls for buttering the outside of the bread, which I found a bit difficult after the sandwich was assembled. I’ll have to work on that bit. Anyway, so you can either grill the sandwich in a pan for 2-3 minutes per side or use a sandwich grill like I did. Essentially, you just grill the sandwhich until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted and you’re done!


The Sandwich!

This ended up being what I consider to be a very high end grilled cheese sandwich, probably the best one I’ve ever had! It didn’t, however, pass the toddler test. My little one loved the goat cheese, but wasn’t really all about the sandwhich itself. The hubby loved it though, and so did I. If I have a complaint, it’s that the tomato confit got a bit lost within the goat cheese and pesto. I’m not sure if maybe I didn’t use enough on each sandwich, but I ended up using all the confit I had. It was a lot of work to put into a sandwhich, but it was well worth it.

I’m excited to try another recipe and see how it goes. Next week I’m going to be trying something from the microwave cooking chapter. But until then…

Bon Appetite!


A New Ingredient: Xanthan Gum!

5 Dec

I thought that on my first endeavor into The Modernist Cuisine at Home  I would keep it simple.  I decided to start out with a new ingredient instead of going whole hog and buying a sous vide machine, though that thought did cross my mind…just a bit.  Anyway, I will admit that it was a little difficult finding a recipe I could make without buying a new piece of equipment, but when all was said and done, I found three!  This week I’ll be reviewing Tomato Confit and Pistachio Pesto, which uses our new ingredient, Xanthan Gum, as an emulsifier, from the Basics chapter.  I’ll be using those recipes as ingredients in the third recipe, a very yummy sounding grilled cheese sandwhich called the Goat Cheese on Baguette with Tomato Confit and Basil.

So what is Xanthan Gum?  The Modernist Cuisine defines it as a “naturally occurring carbohydrate” which I thought was a little vague, so I did a little more research.  It is more specifically a polysaccharide, created from fermenting corn, wheat, or soy with a bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris.  That’s the bacteria that turns your broccoli and cauliflower black and slimy.  The fermented bacteria is then dried and turned into a powdery substance.  Commercially, its commonly used as both a thickening agent and emulsifier in many everyday products including salad dressings, sauces, and even toothpaste!  In home cooking, it’s usually used in gluten free baking.  It helps to give the dough that naturally sticky feel.

The book suggests that you can buy Xanthan Gum at your grocery store and states that it should cost around $15 for 450 g.  That may be true for some people, but not for me.  I found it, not at my normal grocery store but at a higher end store, and for twice the price!  $15 for 226 g.  Don’t fret.  It’s not the end of the world!  The great thing about this ingredient is how little of it you have to use, usually no more than 0.2% of the weight of the dish.  However, I will say, when I start running low I will be buying my Xanthan Gum online.  It’s way cheaper there!  What can I say?  I’m frugal!

So that’s Xanthan Gum in a nutshell.  It’s a very cool, very modern ingredient, and I’m very glad to add it to my pantry.

Until next time…