If you love food, one of the best reasons to go to an upscale or chef-famous restaurant is to try combinations of food that are new to you. If I had unlimited resources, I would probably eat out a lot more often, checking out the best chefs in any area. However, the places I am talking about are the $20-$30 lunches and $50+ entree establishments. Far above my pay grade.
However, that does not mean that I can’t have creative food at home. I do not have a roaring success with every experiment, but I am guessing (since I have never had the luxury of top-level dining on a regular basis) that not every expensive meal is a home run. I brought this one to you because it was good, but not yet great, as an example how you can customize your own creations.
A while back, a site about basil included a couple of my ideas, including one I called Garden Pizza. (See that article at Basil Basics and give it a try if you have fresh strawberries.) This cold “pizza” sandwich is one of my favorite July lunch treats (fresh strawberry time locally), but since our strawberries are not quite here, I decided to try a twist. Pears were next up in my fruit bowl, perfectly ripe, but not going to stay in prime shape for long. Pears and blue cheese is a classic combination I love.
So, I started with a warmed pita, light cream cheese, added thin slices of blue cheese, thinly-sliced pears and topped it off with coarsely chopped hazelnuts (bought at the weekend farmer’s market), fresh basil (plenty in my garden) and freshly ground pepper.
It was good. It was almost great, but I had used too much blue cheese. It wasn’t a huge amount, but I thought a whole pear would require more than just a sprinkling. I was wrong — pears have a gentle flavor that was overwhelmed by the strong cheese. Next time I will just crumble a little blue cheese onto the cream cheese and spread it around before adding the pears.
On the plus side, the hazelnuts, basil and pepper combination was wonderful. I will repeat this dish often, and would proudly serve it to company with the reduced amount of cheese. As you move through year after year cooking with ingredients, you build up quite a stock of ideas like my fruit pizzas. I don’t remember what inspired the first one. Perhaps a magazine article, or a recipe on the Web, but creating a quick lunch with fruit and cheese on a pita has become a summer staple.for me.
Making a ham sandwich at home, rather than grabbing one from a fast food place saves some money for sure. This sandwich cost about $1.30 to make. Think about what I would have had to pay for the same sandwich out in the retail meal market. Many, many times as much ($7- 8 is not an unreasonable estimate) because the corner diner with the great prices just does not have this kind of food. And in this case, there is no doubt it would have taken me more time to go buy the meal than to make it.
This page has been shared on Real Food Wednesday at KellytheKitchenCop.com