Friday, January 13, 2012

On homemade 'gourmet' food

Sometimes, restaurants elevate simple dishes to higher planes than are typically achieved at home. Sandwiches, to me, are included in this list of foods. Mostly the sandwiches I make look like this:

1 slice bread, lettuce (optional), 2 slices cheese, 3 slices lunch meat, butter, 1 slice bread.

Definitely not gourmet. Cheap, but not particularly appetizing. Sometimes these sandwiches are made better by heating, either in the toaster or in a skillet. Those are usually pretty tasty. Still, it's no wonder I rarely have sandwiches!

Recently, I embarked upon a quest to improve my sandwiches. It started with building a better quesadilla. Using a Burger's Smokehouse Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast (seriously, one of the best Christmas gifts ever) as a base, I added some brie and spinach. The spinach was a lame attempt to add a vegetable, but it worked out well. My friend gifted us some raspberry jalapeno jelly, which made a really delectable foil to the smoky/salty flavors. Those were some damn fine quesadillas.

A week later, I had some bread that needed using, and a sudden urge to have a grilled cheese. So, fighting the urge to simply slap some sharp American cheese between two slices of white Italian, I re-created the quesadilla as a sandwich.

Tell me that doesn't look more gourmet than my usual sandwich. I owe a shout-out to my mother, who taught me how to achieve the perfect golden brown color on grilled cheese sandwiches. Thanks, mom! And yes, that is the dog's hairy face in the lower left. I'm not the only one who thought it smelled good.

For me, I think the secret to a pseudo-gourmet meal, one that makes me feel like I'm eating takeout, is to include condiments that I wouldn't usually use on a sandwich. Sprouts, for example, or that raspberry jalapeno jelly.  This year I'm going to try to actually consume some of the pickles and jams I make, instead of just admiring them on the shelf. Adding them to simple meals seems like the only way I'll achieve this goal.

But I need help - what other easy changes can I make so that my usual meals seem a little more UNusual?


  1. add mustard :)

    i kid, i kid! i am impressed by that perfectly browned sandwich. teach me?

  2. Happily. On Purge Saturday :)