It is done. There is snow on the ground in here, probably never to melt again before Spring. *sigh*. I'm not ready. I was outside 2 days ago, soaking up the warm autumn light, admiring trees with yellow leaves and bushes with red berries and it was so bittersweet because I knew what the weather forecast said. I knew a storm was coming. The next day I awoke to gray clouds and overcast skies with rain coming later in the day and lasting into the night. This morning I woke up to a white haze and a blanket of snow across the whole valley. There was enough for my kids to make a respectable snowman outside, who they named "Jolly" and while it was cute indeed, I just don't think I'm ready for this.
I like the snow, don't get me wrong. I just wish It wouldn't fly until after Halloween every year and then abruptly stop after New Years. Instead, it usually starts in the beginning on October and doesn't begin to thaw until April, and even then, isn't officially gone until June. we have long winters in the mountains. We are blessed with more than our share of bluebird days (where the sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, the snow is crisp and clean and the air bitter cold), which gets us through. The other thing that gets me through is having an arsenal of comforting meals that are hearty on a cold day. When it's nasty out, I like to cook, and cook and cook, so it works out. It gives me something to do with purpose, while you wouldn't want to be outside anyway. I am homebound, so I might as well make the most of it, ya know? On days like today I love making soup and stews, chili's and the like while I also like to braise things, slow bake and therefore draw out the process. I love it. The world just seems like a better place when you have something bubbling away on the stove for dinner, hot chocolate heating up for the kids when they come stomping in from the cold, teeth chattering and noses red. And, a little hot lunch. Again, something hearty, warm and out of the ordinary does the trick on days like today. This apple, sharp cheddar and grilled cheese monte cristo with maple mustard...yes, you heard it right people, this sandwich is ridiculous...is perfect and takes little effort for big results. I use the honey crisp apples because they are sweet and crunchy and in peak season this time of year. They are also a perfect match for sharp cheddar.
In the picture I took of the sandwich It looks chock full of apples. It would probably be better with only one layer of them, but I love apples, so what can I say? This is a monte cristo, not just a grilled cheese, because after you have assembled your sandwich you roll the whole outside in some egg, thinned out with a little milk and spiced with a bit of cinnamon, like you would french toast. Then you cook it in a skillet until the egg is cooked through in the bread and becomes custardy and then cheese is melted inside. The result? Perfection.
Apple and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese Monte Cristo with Maple Mustard
adapted from Rachael Ray
Yield: 2 sandwiches, or 8 appetizer bites/snacks
4 1/2-inch thick slices good quality bread
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons dark amber pure maple syrup
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
Honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced (McIntosh or Gala work too)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg
a generous pinch of cinnamon
Combine the mustard and maple syrup together and stir to combine. Build 2 cheese and apple sandwiches. I used enough cheese to cover the bottom of the bread, with a layer of apples and more cheese on top with a layer of the maple mustard on one half.
heat a griddle pan over medium-low heat.
beat the eggs with the half-and-half or milk and season with nutmeg and cinnamon. Turn the sandwiches in the egg and cook in butter melted on the hot griddle pan. Grill the sandwiches until deeply golden and the cheese has melted.
Cut sandwiches into triangles or four square pieces to serve.
If you are not much into the maple mustard, you can substitute for prepared fig spread. The sweetness compliments this just as well. Well, I'm off to finish the rest of my day doing exactly what I have suggested here. I going to make us a big pot of chili, brew some peppermint tea and let the good times roll!