Grilled Cheese with Spicy Tomato Jam.

When I was out West last week, my brother and I spent most of our time away from cities. Walking along the coast, going on strolls through raspberry fields, hiking in the North Cascade Mountains. Whether consciously or not, most of our activities revolved around nature. That being said, you cannot fly out to the Pacific Northwest for nine days without spending at least a little time in Seattle. That would be absurd.

The last time that I was in Seattle, or the Pacific Northwest for that matter, was eight years ago for my cousin's wedding. A lot had changed. And a lot had stayed the same. Looking back at my day in Seattle, I feel as though most of it was spent in or around Pike Place Market. Watching fish get thrown to and fro. Admiring the beautiful bouquets of flowers. People watching. Drinking coffee at Storyville Coffee, overlooking the iconic Pike Place Market sign. And then making our way down to the waterfront to watch ships head out to open water.

One of my favorite parts of the Market was getting a grilled cheese at Beecher's. Really? You got excited over a flipping grilled cheese sandwich?, you are probably thinking. Okay now, cool yourself. For anyone that does not have a seriously nostalgic memory revolving around grilled cheese sandwiches...well, I am not sure I can trust you. Is there any food more definitive of comfort food? Imagine this - you are sitting inside on a cool gloomy day. There is a slight chill in the air that forces you to put on a sweater. You want to go outside and do something, but the steady rainfall eliminates any possibilities. So what do you make when you get hungry? A hamburger? Sushi? Pasta? No. You make a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup.

When I got back to Chicago this week, I was in desperate need of a little comfort food. Grilled cheese was in order. With a little inspiration from Beecher's (a simple cheddar cheese wouldn't do for this sandwich), I fell upon this recipe for grilled cheese with spicy tomato jam. While I am typically not a fan of brie-esque cheeses (i.e. Camembert), this combination was perfect - elevating the sandwich just enough to make you feel okay for making a grilled cheese as a 28-year old.

tommy.

| Grilled Cheese with Spicy Tomato Jam |
Recipe from Max and Eli Sussman

Ingredients: 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 slices brioche, each about 1 inch thick
4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 slices extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, at room temperature
4 oz Camembert cheese, at room temperature, broken into small pieces
4 tablespoons spicy tomato jam (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of each bread slice. Sprinkle the buttered sides with the Parmesan, dividing it evenly, and shake off the excess.
  3. Turn 2 of the bread slices butter-and-Parmesan side down. Top each slice with a slice of Cheddar, then half of the Camembert, and finally 2 tablespoons of the jam, adding the jam in small dollops. Close the sandwiches with the remaining 2 bread slices, buttered side up.
  4. Heat an ovenproof nonstick or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the sandwiches in the pan (do not crowd them; if your pan is small, cook them one at a time). After 3 minutes, check to see if the first side is a deep golden brown; it may need another minute. When nicely browned, flip the sandwiches and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, another 3 minutes or so. Let cool slightly, then cut in half and serve warm.

| Spicy Tomato Jam |

Ingredients: 

2 lbs ripe tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup honey
1 tbsp balsamic
3 tsp (or more to taste) Sriracha
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Directions: 

  1. Fill a large pot with boiling water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 12-14 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Rinse under cool water, then slip their skins off (they should come right off). Let cool, then core and chop.
  4. Dump the water out of the pot and return it to the stove.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, onion, honey, balsamic, Sriracha, salt and pepper.
  6. Turn the heat up and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 55-65 minutes.