I am currently in Detroit at my parents’ home, whose well-stocked refrigerator and pantry allows me to dabble to my heart’s content. Today’s experiment: a truffle scented grilled cheese sandwich with fresh basil on olive bread. The truffle aspect probably makes my parents sound a little snootier than they are in reality; however, they are very passionate about food (they prefer both quantity and quality). My mom and I were in the grocery store the other day, and she pointed out a small package of truffle butter as we were walking through the dairy isle. She said “we have some of that at home; dad and I like to put it on popcorn sometimes, like Ina Garten.” My mom likes to buy different varietals of popcorn at the Detroit farmer’s market, and she pops it on the stove. My dad hovers near by, watching her in awe, and then scoops popcorn into his mouth by the handful, eating happily and peppering the floor with the evidence. In a nutshell, they love food, and obviously the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So I took advantage of their beautiful kitchen and food supply one lazy afternoon during my trip home. I started by splicing shards of cheese off a large block of Jarlberg that was loitering in the fridge. I crumbled some feta, and gathered a small pile of shredded Parmesan on a plate. I set all the cheese aside to allow it to come to room temperature for a deluxe grilled cheese sandwich. I then removed a clump of basil from the bushy plant on my parents’ front porch, and buttered both sides of two pieces of bread studded with Greek olives. Why butter both sides? Because the outside required butter for browning, and the inside received a delicate layer of truffle butter for flavor. I let all of my ingredients come to room temperature before layering them together to compose my beautiful sandwich. While I waited for my ingredients to lose their chill, I had the perfect pocket of time to cut up this beautiful watermelon.
I finally cooked my sandwich in a small sauté pan over a very low heat. When it reached the ideal state of golden brown, with cheese beginning to bulge from the sides, I let it rest on the rack of the toaster over (no heat). This allowed the molten cheese to settle (and to protect your mouth from burns), without the bread getting soggy on one side. In a few minutes it was ready for a swift diagonal cut in half, which was the final step before my mom and I devoured it. It was delicious and ridiculously decadent. The flavor of the truffle butter may have gotten lost in the richness; however, the basil makes a huge difference, waking up the whole sandwich and cutting through any excess richness and saltiness.