Grilled cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods. But when put in the hands of Viviane Bauquet Farre, this simple dish achieves new culinary heights – thanks to the use of peeled garlic cloves cooked gently in extra virgin olive oil and some other dynamite ingredients. (Click here to see the grilled cheese recipe.)
“When garlic is gently poached in olive oil, it becomes sweet, with a subtle flavor,” says Viviane, the culinary guru behind the excellent online magazine foodandstyle.com. “The cloves become so soft that you can spread them on your toast – or in this case, in your grilled cheese sandwich.”
This gourmet sandwich is among the most popular recipes on our website. And for good reason: It goes way beyond the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, which relies on plain white bread, butter or margarine, and orange American cheese.
Viviane, by contrast, uses crusty rye country bread, peppery baby arugula, the garlic spread, and a “nutty, pungent” aged cheddar, gruyère or fontina.
To make the garlic spread, peeled cloves are gently cooked in extra virgin olive oil for 40 minutes over very low heat. The oil’s temperature shouldn’t reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The poached cloves are known as garlic confit. (Click here to see the garlic confit recipe.)
While you can use other types of oil, Viviane prefers extra virgin olive oil. “Since the temperature of the oil doesn’t get too high, its natural flavor is preserved and then slowly imbued with the delicate garlic flavor as the cloves cook,” she says. We’d use our Everyday or Arbosana oils.
Viviane recommends using the leftover oil in salad dressings and marinades. It’s also good, she says, for drizzling on vegetables or dipping bread.
For the grilled cheese sandwich, the outer surface of the bread is brushed with the garlic-infused oil before the sandwich goes into the frying pan. (Click here to see the grilled cheese recipe.)
Viviane recommends pairing this grilled cheese with her leafy green salad for lunch. Or, for a “casual dinner,” serve the grilled cheese with a side vegetable like Viviane’s roasted potatoes with lemon and bay leaves – “a meal that every cheese lover will want to devour.”
Your friends at California Olive Ranch