Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

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Sometimes I write recipe posts where I share a recipe at the end and other times I write recipe posts where the recipe is embedded in the post itself. There’s a reason for that!

Recipe posts where the recipe’s at the end are the kinds of recipes where specific amounts matter; recipe posts where I just write a recipe as part of a larger narrative are recipes where you can just wing it. So, Sam Sifton’s Pear Cobbler? You need to follow those instructions. But my Butternut Squash Soup with Whiskey Ginger Cream? That’s a totally improvised recipe and I wanted to give you the power to improvise your own version. If I’d written that with specific amounts, chances are you would’ve just replicated what I did instead of doing it your own way. The soup will taste better if you do it your way.

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Gourmet Grilled Cheese Night

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Here in L.A., there are restaurants that do a gourmet grilled cheese night. It’s a nice idea: you get to go to a fancy restaurant (like Campanile, for example) and spend far less money than you’d normally spend there for dinner. Only, I find it hard to justify spending ANY money on grilled cheese. It’s the kind of thing anyone can make at home (in fact, this may be the one dish that Craig–who doesn’t cook at all–is better at cooking than I am). Last night I decided that I’d do our own Gourmet Grilled Cheese Night to prove that you don’t have to be a fancy restaurant to spend your night frying bread in butter and waiting for the cheese to melt.

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Rachel Wharton’s Pimento Cheese

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Because we had some technical issues with the first broadcast of “Someone’s In The Kitchen With…”, I’m afraid many of you missed Rachel Wharton’s very winning recipe for pimento cheese. As you can see by the picture, this is a pimento cheese to be reckoned with: it’s spicy, it’s tangy, it’s creamy, it’s fluffy and it’s very, very hard to stop eating. (Cholesterol be damned.) So for those who missed the video, here’s how you make it.

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The Return of CHEESE FOR DINNER (with Heidi’s Oat Soda Bread)

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You may remember May 12, 2009 as the day in history when I served cheese for dinner. I wrote a post about it called Cheese For Dinner and 47 of you left comments because you were so shocked and disturbed by the idea. Cheese for dinner? How can you eat cheese for dinner?

Actually, most of you had the opposite reaction. “I love cheese for dinner!” one of you wrote. So, last week, traipsing through Murray’s Cheese on my way back to the apartment I decided to revisit the concept. I picked up two kinds of cheese, a box of salad greens and a pear from the bodega close by and prepared myself for the return, the return of CHEESE FOR DINNER.

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Improvised Mac & Cheese

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The Mac & Cheese you see above was created by yours truly without a recipe. I don’t know if you find that impressive, but I’m certainly impressed with myself.

It all started when I made those roasted red peppers you saw in the previous post. The next night, I had those in the fridge and I also had our latest shipment of the Cheese of the Month Club from Murray’s Cheese. That shipment contained both cheddar and Emmentaler, both of which I thought might work in a mac & cheese. Since I also had milk and some flour, I knew I could make this happen.

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Pimento Cheese

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Growing up, I hated mayonnaise and I hated cheese. Strange for a kid, yes, but the cheese-hatred had some basis: my dad hated it, so we never had it in the house. And I became so conditioned to hating cheese, it took me years (and a cheese-loving boyfriend) to get over it. As for the mayo, that was entirely my own thing: nothing repulsed me more. The gummy, gooey whiteness mortified me; nothing could ruin a sandwich faster than spreading mayo on it first. I could abide it in coleslaw and tuna salad because I didn’t see it go in, but a turkey sandwich with gloppy mayo on top? To this day, I’d say “no.” So imagine how repulsed I’d be if, as a wee lass, you’d presented me with a Southern delicacy known as “pimento cheese”–cheddar cheese mixed with mayo and chopped up pimentos. I might’ve, to use an elegant verb from my childhood, hurled.

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Cheese For Dinner

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Murray’s Cheese is often celebrated as the best cheese shop in New York. Frequently I walk past it and wonder, “If I go in there, what will I buy? And how can I make a meal out of that?” I’m very meal-oriented when I food shop: I usually ignore long-term ingredients like high-end oils and designer vinegars in favor of short-term ingredients like vegetables and meats that I can put to use right away. And with cheese, there are very few short-term things you can do with it, in terms of making a meal, that I find satisfying. 1: you can make mac and cheese; 2. you can…? See my point? So the only reason to buy cheese is if you want to keep cheese around long-term to snack on. But I don’t shop for long-term snacking, I shop for meals. Which is why, the other night, walking past Murray’s, I had a provocative thought: what if I served cheese for dinner?

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