A big ol’ American cheese hug!


Photography by Matt Hocking.

At the end of yoga class our instructor would guide us through a meditative experience. We slowly climbed down a ladder to a quiet place inside ourselves. Once there we moved ourselves to the most comfortable place we could imagine. I guided my mind past beaches and gentle breezes, past spring mornings and the warm sun streaming in the window of my bedroom, to my family’s home and arrived at the kitchen table on a sunny spring morning, dew still on the grass outside, windows open, birds chirping and I am sitting at the kitchen island with my Mom and Dad, sipping coffee and talking with no urgency whatsoever about the promise-filled day ahead over an endless breakfast. I would emerge from the vision calm and centered, filled with a purposeful, frenetic-free energy.

Photography by Matt Hocking.

Comfort foods, indulgences of texture, taste, smell and memory, serve the same purpose: to deepen moments of calm – think a pancake breakfast on a snowday – or to center us in moments of pain, uncertainly or loss. Grilled cheese is as perfect a comfort food as I can imagine. Crisp bread giving way to creamy cheese. Rich, sweet butter balancing the pleasant bite of cheddar or Gruyère. It is adaptable to any moment, from the salving balm of melty Provolone to the cheerful wit of creamy goat cheese paired with peppery arugula.

Whether what you need today is a white bread and American cheese hug or some celebratory Gruyère sandwiched between sourdough, brushed with white truffle oil may you enjoy some comfort.

What are your favorite comfort foods? Share below.

Spanish Ham And Fig Grilled Cheese

Serves 4

Salty, savory ham, sweet, earthy figs and nutty Manchego cheese balance for comfort that feels bacon-level indulgent.

Photography by Matt Hocking.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 4 thick slices crusty Italian bread, about half a loaf
  • 2 cups grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/4 lb jamón Serrano, Spanish ham
  • 1/4 cup fig preserves

Photography by Matt Hocking.

Directions:

  • Cut each slice of bread in half. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter.
  • With buttered side facing out, layer four pieces of bread with cheese and two thin slices of ham. Spread fig preserves over ham and top with more cheese.
  • Top sandwich with another piece of bread, buttered side out.
  • Cook sandwiches in a 10” skillet over med-low heat, turning once, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Goat Arugula Sourdough Grilled Cheese

Serves 2-4

Bright and peppery, these little sandwiches are a comforting delight with the just the right amount of pinky-finger-held-out sophistication. If you feel like doing a little more work, sauté chopped wild mushrooms in olive oil, deglaze the pan with a little dry Sherry and  season with chopped thyme and parsley. Toss together with the chopped arugula before assembling the sandwiches.

Photography by Matt Hocking.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 8 thin slices french baguette, cut on the bias
  • 1 cup chopped baby arugula

Directions:

  • Blend together goat cheese with black pepper and garlic powder.
  • Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Spread the other side of each piece of bread with 1 tbs goat cheese.
  • Top 4 pieces of bread with 1/4 cup chopped arugula. Place a second slice of bread, buttered side out, on top of arugula.
  • Cook sandwiches in a 10” skillet over med-low heat, turning once, about 3-4 minutes per side.

 

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