I typically find relief in January. There are no parties to attend or gifts to buy. The children have made merry and are happily back at school. Without the clutter of Christmas, our little house feels clean and airy. The brilliant January sunlight streams through the frosty windows beautifully. But I also find myself nostalgic and a little fumbling as I set a course for the new year.
I’ve missed this space over my holiday, and though I’m not recharged in the way I wanted to be, I’m happy to be back here sharing good, seasonal food. To start, I’d planned on a warm salad. But as I began putting my recipe together, I decided little grilled cheese sandwiches – ones with cheese inside and out – plus toasty Brussels sprouts and garlicky mushrooms were a much better way to kick 2016 off.
You should know that I’ve given up on actually grilling my grilled cheese sandwiches. The oven provides a more even cheese melt and I have yet to burn a single slice of bread. I sautéed the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms first, buttered the bread, melted the cheese, and then put it all together with a bit more butter and cheese on top for good measure. Though not the gooiest of combinations, I went with a mix of Parmesan and Gruyere to play up the richness of the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.
I like these sandwiches with lots of pepper – I’ve been using freshly ground white pepper lately and like the flavorful heat it brings to winter foods. For bread, you’ll want something with a relatively soft crust. I recommend Italian bread, but any thick-cut slice will do.
- 1 heaping cup thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 heaping cup 1/4-inch thick sliced mushrooms (about 1 pint)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- sea salt
- ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 4 thick-cut slices Italian bread (or bread of choice)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup grated Gruyere
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slide a small baking sheet into oven to preheat as well.
- Set a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter, toss in Brussels sprouts, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes undisturbed, stir, and cook until sprouts are tender with brown edges, about 2 minutes more. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan, melt another 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add the sliced garlic and scatter in mushrooms; sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed about 4 minutes, or until mushrooms are nicely browned and have started to release their water. Flip, and cook until both sides have browned, about 4 minutes more. Towards the end of cook time, sprinkle mushrooms with sherry vinegar. Remove cooked mushrooms to a bowl.
- Divide remaining 2 tablespoons butter into 6 small bits.
- Remove preheated baking sheet from oven, add a pat of butter to each slice of bread; set butter side down on baking sheet. Carefully pile cheese on each slice of bread, reserving a bit for the tops. Slide into oven and toast 3 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven, pile 2 of the 4 slices with cooked sprouts and mushrooms, add a sprinkle of parsley, top with remaining slices, and add a pat of butter and a sprinkle of cheese to tops. Slide into oven and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is bubbling – about 5 minutes more.
- Serve immediately.