French-Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Every now and then I want real comfort food. Food that is hearty and goo-y and a bit salty. I was in that mood the other day and came decided to make grilled cheese. But me being me, decided to make it french-onion soup grilled cheese.

A while back I made a batch of French-onion soup (vegetarian, of course) and removed some of the soup before adding all of the liquid. I froze it thinking I could defrost it, add more water or broth and have soup another day. Instead, I heated it up, boiled off more of the liquid and made grilled cheese.

This really was pretty perfect for me. Slices of Gruyere cheese topped half a hoagie roll. Very condensed onion soup on top of that and a little more Gruyere cheese and a  touch of pecorino completed the sandwich. I broiled these for a few minutes to make sure everything was melty and goo-y.

Yes, those are two different sandwiches. The first one (on the foil) came apart when I pulled it up because the cheese melted onto the bread and foil so it was a total mess. I just took a picture of the sandwich I made the next day (same ingredients) before moving it to the plate.

Shannon Ridge – Zinfandel, 2013

  • Basic info: Shannon Ridge  High elevation collection Zinfandel, Lake County, CA – 2013
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $20 (local wine store)
  • Look: Opaque. Dark garnet or plum in color.
  • Smell: hot. oak, charred wood.
  • Taste: jam. dark fruit and a little hot on the palate. Medium acidity and some black cherry flavors. Short finish.
  • Conclusions: I generally LOVE zinfandel, but this was not my favorite. It tasted of a lot of alcohol and I’m not sure of the bottle was bad or if it was just the style the one maker was going for.
  • Other notes: Zins for me are fruity, jammy and deep in flavor. This one didn’t do it for me. One of the great thing about a good zin is that you don’t take the alcohol, even when the abv is above 14%. They should be easy to drink and this one wasn’t.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the winemaker, ” The Zinfandel delivers extracted characters of raspberry and blackberry with notes of pie spice, clove and anise.” 13.9% alcohol by volume.

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Patricius – Furment, 2014

  • Basic info: Patricius Dry Furment, Tokaj, Hungary – 2014
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $17 (Weekly Tasting)
  • Look:Very pale yellow with a slight green tinge to the wine.
  • Smell: Slightly sweet, citrus
  • Taste: Lemon pie, apple, white cherry. Good acid with a long, tart finish.
  • Conclusions: Completely unique. I’ve never had a wine like this and the flavors were so different than what I generally expect in a light white wine. It was fantastic. Both Bob and I thought it was clean and crisp with a lot of interesting flavors (most of which we just could not identify).
  • Other notes: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this wine, but I went into it with an open mind. Whenever something note that the varietal is usually sweet, I hesitate, but I’m glad I tried this version because it was actually a dry wine. Was there some sugar there, yes. But it wasn’t sweet.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Weekly Tasting, ” honeysuckle, fresh and dried apricot, and a candle wax-type note hop out of the glass. … it’s completely dry with a ripe peach and apricot note. Strong white flower and honey flavors play against high acidity. There a touch of bitterness on the finish, giving this wine a tension that will surprise you.” 12% alcohol by volume.

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Cheesecake with Cherry Curd

I love reading blogs, especially blogs that contain really great food ideas. I sometimes make those dishes very close to instructed and sometimes I take the inspiration from them and do my own thing. (It doesn’t always work, but when it does … )

Cheesecake is a favorite dessert in our house, but with only two of us I have a hard time making one. We just don’t eat it fast enough to justify making it, so I was super excited to find Andrea’s small batch cheesecake at Cooking with a Wallflower. (If you aren’t reading her blog, you should be – the photos alone are worth it, but she also has fantastic recipes.) I’m not sure why I never thought to reduce the size of the cheesecake, but it is a genius idea – and so simple.

I did make a few adjustments – I added made a slightly different crust (one I’ve made before and really love), added whipped cream to the cream cheese for a slightly lighter texture, baked it in a larger, but shorter pan, and made a cherry lime curd to go over the cheesecake so that I would also have a filling for mini pies if I wanted later. Trust me, if you are going to go through the trouble of pitting cherries, make enough of something for two dishes.

So here is my version of the cheesecake – Bob called it my best effort to date. Given that he has devoured other cheesecakes I’ve made in the past, this is high praise. He actually gushed over this one.

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix all ingredients and press into a pan – I used an 8×6 baking dish – lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer while you work on the cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake:

Heat over to 325 degrees.

  • 2 8oz packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until soft. Add the egg and whipping cream and mix until everything is incorporated and smooth. Mix in vanilla extract.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes. Turn off oven, open door slightly and allow to cool in the over for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating. (I took the cheesecake out of the pan using the parchment paper here and let it cool on a wire rack for just over an hour.)

Cherry lime curd:

Follow Diane’s recipe here.

Seghesio – Arneis 2014

  • Basic info: Seghesio, Arneis, Russian River Valley, CA – 2014
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $18 (from Weekly Tasting)
  • Look: pale straw in color
  • Smell: honey, lemon and peach
  • Taste: crisp, white peach with a tiny bit of melon about half way through. Good acid – tart and refreshing with a medium finish.
  • Conclusions: Good. This was interesting, but not my favorite. Good wine, but not one I would seek out again.
  • Other notes: This was one of the few wines I’ve had where it was better alone than with food. I generally prefer wine with food, but this one was much better on its own. It took on a slightly sour note when I ate it with lo mein that was not particularly pleasant. That could be influencing my general feelings about the wine, but if I don’t like it with food, I’m probably reluctant to drink it.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the Weekly Tasting notes, “This wine is medium bodied, with a light straw color and flavors of yellow apple, white cherries, grilled pineapple, and light white flowers. The texture is a bit creamier than some crisper white wines, and yet it is still very refreshing and tart with a lot of stones, almonds, and minerality.” 13.3% alcohol by volume.

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Prunus – Red Blend, 2014

  • Basic info: Prunus Private Selection Red Blend, Dao, Portugal – 2014
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $18 (Weekly Tasting)
  • Look: Dark black cherry in color with minimal legs at first and medium legs when it warmed up. (thank you Bob and Ed for the color descriptor)
  • Smell: Sandalwood (I kid you not – that was the dominant smell in the glass and I almost didn’t try the wine because of it)
  • Taste: Some effervescence up front with taste of blackberry and jam. Thin for such a dark wine. Medium finish.
  • Conclusions: This wine was good and the taste was completely different than the smell. It was a bit thin on the mouthfeel, but there was more flavor than texture in this wine. We liked it – didn’t love it but liked it.
  • Other notes: So we opened this bottle when Ed and Erin were still here and we had the first glass after finishing the bottle of the Eyrie, so our opinions of this wine may be a little biased. The Eyrie was just such a perfect wine that I’m not sure what wine we opened after, it would not have compared favorably. That said, this wine was good – not great – but certainly very drinkable.
  • From the bottle: “Elegance on a grand scale. Lightly oaked and perfectly balanced with a silky texture and crisp edge. Supporting black cherry, plums and raspberry fruit flavors.” 13% alcohol by volume.

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Irma’s Aftermath

We are fine. Let me start with that because that has been the question of the day. We are fine. We are incredibly lucky also, and everyone is ok.

Irma had the potential to do major damage to us, and since we did get hit with (or were very near) the western wall of the eye, the little damage our area sustained is just amazing. Whatever forces of nature merged to slow and weaken Irma worked in our favor and while there were some definite scary moments last night and into this morning, it all came out ok for us. For other parts of Florida, large parts of Florida, they were not so lucky and cleaning up and rebuilding after this (heck, just getting the power back on for many, may people) will take some time.

Bob and I walked around the neighborhood today and the one thing that struck me most of the sheer volume of water that came down over the last 48 hours. Nothing like Houston, but it still boggles the mind. Places where I would walk Jessie (and sometimes walk Arthas) are now rivers. No, seriously – we have retention ponds that are usually ponds – they are now connected and flowing into we aren’t sure where.

There is usually a large path where this starts, with lots of land between the path and the pond on the right. Everything to the left as the camera pans is normally field. The still pictures tell the story just as well, I think:

You are not supposed to have rapids and white caps in a retention pond.

But we are all ok. There is a lot of debris to clean up, and some things to check on. There will be roads flooded for a few days (hopefully less) and friends to check on. I will definitely take what we got, especially since it could have been, and should have been, so much worse. What I hope doesn’t happen is that people don’t take the next storm as seriously. Just because this one weakened and turned does not mean the next one will. The house has never suffered damage until it does; everyone has always been ok until they are not. There is always a first time for everything and if we get lucky again, fantastic. If we don’t, we will be prepared.