Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Salad Bento

One of my favorite vendors at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market is Les from Offerings of the Land. He's got the most amazing greens! His braising greens mix is lovely, and often he has great bunches of kale or mustard greens. But my absolute fave is his salad mix. It's hearty and has so much flavor. And the colors are amazing, with little orange petals and blue flowers here and there. His mix is really popular, so you have to get to the market early to get some.

In this bento: salad greens from Offerings of the Land, homemade croutons and a cherry tomato from Ridgeview Farms. In the second compartment: quesadillas made with La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style White Corn Tortillas, swiss cheese and leftover roasted chicken, cucumber from Crescent Moon Farms, a fresh lychee, fig slices from The Patch in Sonoma, more cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, steamed edamame and a bit of beni shoga (pickled red ginger). I also made a bit of yogurt dressing to toss with the salad greens.

The leftover roasted chicken was from a chicken I bought at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market! Triple T Ranch has eggs almost weekly, and every once in a while they will have fresh chickens. I decided to go for it, and I was really happy I did!

I roasted the chicken on a bed of sliced up Gravenstein Apples and filled the cavity with more apple slices and a few cloves of garlic. I rubbed it with a mixture of butter, parsley, mustard powder, grated garlic, salt, and pepper. It turned out really yummy, and I have to say it tasted more chickeny. If I see these guys for sale at the market again I will definitely buy one.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bento M-O-U-S-E

A friend of mine is recovering from surgery and has asked me to make him a get well bento. He is a SUPER fan of Disney, so I went to the Disney Store and found BENTO BOXES! I was hoping against hope that they might have some, and they did. And even better, they were on sale 3 for 10 dollars! I picked up a Mickey and pals one for Tim, a Princesses one for my step daughter, and two for me: a Toy Story one and an Ariel one. Oh goody goody goody!

For Tim, I put together this bento filled with meatballs, homemade spaetzle, a cherry tomato from The French Garden in Sebastopol, a fig from The Patch in Sonoma, greens from Offerings of the Land in Glen Ellen, two fried potatoes shaped like Mickey, steamed broccoli, and carrot flowers.

Here's the top of the bento box. It is pretty cool and comes with two removeable dividers inside. The only thing I don't like about it is that the latches on the sides have to be perfectly lined up in order to stay shut. But for 3 bucks, it can't be beat.

My bento is very similar, although I picked up this bento box in San Francisco Japantown. It is a three tiered box and I only used the lower tier for this bento. It cost a bit more than 3 bucks I am sad to say. In my bento: steamed corn on the cob from Duffy at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, cherry tomatoes from The French Garden and Ridgeview Farms, a fig from The Patch, fried Mickey potatoes, meatballs, steamed broccoli, carrot flowers, and greens from Offerings of the Land.

I like this Mickey Mouse box a lot and I also found the Mickey vegetable cutters and stamps at the same shop. I need to figure out how to make the stamp come out better because you can barely see the face details.

I hope that Tim likes his Mickey Mouse bento and gets well soon. This is the first bento that I have made for someone outside of my immediate family.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BLT 3 Ways Bento

I thought about how to make this bento for two days. That may seem to be excessive planning, but we're dealing with a very serious subject here: BACON. Ohhhhh yeah.

Possibly the best meal on the planet is a BLT made with artisan bacon, good bread, in-season tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and a bit of mayo. It's simple and wonderful. But it doesn't exactly fit inside of a bento box. So I wanted to adapt the flavors of a BLT and put them into a bento. Here's what I came up with:

It's a BLT 3 Ways Bento! In this bento are BLT Skewers, BLT Wraps, and BLT Salad, along with some grapes from Neufeld Farms and a side of mayo.

Of course to start, you have to use the best bacon. I am proud to say that I have been a member of the Black Pig Meat Co Bacon Club. One year of artisan bacon! I need to sign up again, since I let my membership lapse. Luckily, this bacon is for sale at local markets, so I can get my fix even though I am not getting my monthly slab of bacon. Black Pig Meat Co Bacon is made by John Stewart and Duskie Estes, two phenomenal chefs and owners of Zazu and Bovolo Restaurants in Sonoma County. They are really nice people, too. Duskie is going to be a contestant on the Food Network's Next Iron Chef competition, so be sure to cheer her on! Go Duskie!

For the BLT Skewers, I fried up some slices of Black Pig Meat Co Bacon and sliced them into chunks. I threaded these onto skewers with a bit of romaine (or spinach) from Offerings of the Land (I love their salad mix available at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market), a cherry tomato (these are from Ridgeview Farms and the French Garden), and a homemade croutons made from La Brea baguette (yes, I cooked them in butter and bacon drippings, OMG!) Repeat on skewer until it is filled up.

The BLT Wraps were made with a wonderful Sonoma County product called La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas. They are chewy and soft and soooo good.

Inside of the tortilla is a smear of mayonnaise, chopped up Black Pig Meat Co Bacon, chopped cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, and a few torn pieces of lettuce from Offerings of the Land. Roll them up and slice them in half. You can secure them with a bit of toothpick if needed, but they will stay rolled up in a well packed bento box.

And finally, I made a BLT Salad with a homemade crouton (different shape than the croutons for the skewers), slices of Black Pig Meat Co Bacon, a few cherry tomatoes, and a bit of lettuce from Offerings of the Land. It's placed inside of a silicone cupcake liner. I had a side of mayo with this lunch to dip the skewers and salad mixings in, but it would have been nice to make a creamy style dressing to go with the BLT Salad.

Recipe for Home Made Croutons
bacon drippings
butter
chunks of bread (or thin slices)
italian seasoning

In a skillet, heat the bacon drippings and butter together over medium heat. When the oils are hot, add the bread and toss gently to coat all sides. Heat until bread is toasted and turning brown. Add italian season and toss gently again. Remove from heat. Turn croutons out onto a plate covered with a paper towel to allow croutons to crisp up.

Beverage Pairing Suggestion: BEER. I love the very hoppy local brew made by Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg. Racer 5 India Pale Ale has a bitter bite that will offset the sweetness of the tomato and caramelized bacon. Yum, yum, yum (for 3 kinds of BLT).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pear Crostini Bento

Yesterday I could not wake up and felt kind of dizzy. I think our three days of 90+ and occasionally 100+ weather did me in. Today I am much better and out of that weird funk. Rest and gatorade did the trick.

I was able to stop by the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, because I'd pretty much have to be dead to miss it, and picked up a perfect pear from Reenie at Ridgeview Farms. Reenie is the greatest, I love her veggies and fruits, and she has the most gorgeous flowers arranged in coffee cans. I also got a basket of little orange cherry tomatoes, so sweet!

I thought about the pear all day yesterday, while I was alternately resting and zoning out on the couch. When the heat finally broke around 8pm, inspiration hit! Little pear crostini!

In this bento: pear crostini made with a perfect pear from Ridgeview Farms, edamame, and slices of Aidell's sundried tomato chicken sausage with a little panda pick.

In the upper compartment: arugula from Triple T Ranch, walnuts from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, a few little slices of red onion, and cherry tomatoes from The French Garden and Ridgeview Farms. I'll toss this with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper for a little salad.

The sweet orange cherry tomatoes I got at Ridgeview Farms.

Look! I really did get a perfect pear. :)

A close up of the pear crostini. Besides the perfect pear, there's bread from La Brea Bakery (I keep a bag of their frozen mini baguettes on hand: ten minutes to crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle hot bread!), butter, Honey Powder from Savory Spice Shop, and crumbles of Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese.

Recipe for Pear Crostini
1 mini baguette, sliced thin
butter
1 small pear, cored and sliced thin
Honey Powder
2 ounces Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese

On a cookie sheet, arrange baguette slices. Spread a small amount of butter on each slice. Top baguette slices with pieces of pear. Sprinkle Honey Powder on top of pear slices. Top each crostini with a bit of blue cheese. Broil crostinis for a few minutes, until cheese melts and crostinis just begin to get toasted. Makes about 10 small crostinis.

Beverage Pairing Suggestion: We have an amazing cider maker in Sonoma County called Ace Cider. They make a wonderful hard cider called Ace Perry Cider. It's very refreshing and would go so well with these crostinis.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caprese Skewers Bento

Today's bento celebrates the fact that summer has FINALLY arrived in the bay area. We have had seriously chilly weather for most of August, so much so that one of my pals nicknamed it the month of Fogust. Ha! Today we are hitting the upper 90s and 100s. Woot! I will not complain, at least not for a few days, because I have sorely missed this hot hot heat.

Summer (and I mean the real summer, not wishy washy milquetoast summer) means no or little cooking and lots of fresh tomatoes. Caprese salad is my go-to dish when it gets this hot.

I took the caprese salad idea and applied it to bento by making these caprese skewers. In this bento: steamed corn on the cob from Duffy at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market, edamame, an Italian Sugarplum from Triple T, two baby carrots, two turkey patties, grapes from Neufeld Farms, and caprese skewers made with cherry tomatoes from The French Garden in Sebastopol, basil from the Wednesday Night Market, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

If you missed the interview I did with Sheri of Happy Little Bento yesterday, I have uploaded it in two segments here. It was really fun and I think we were able to demystify bentos for those who are curious about how to make them.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Winner of Sonoma Bento Giveaway

Congratulations to... Journal Mommy Yenny! Mommy Yenny says that she also has a year-round farmers market and that she loves to get fruits and veggies in season. Thanks for following Sonoma Bento and I hope you like the fun prize pack I put together, Mommy Yenny! I'll be contacting you today to get your mailing information. You can visit Journal Mommy Yenny's bento blog at her site, Mommy of Twins.

The winner was selected randomly out of 71 entries. I had to make a spreadsheet of the entries because there were a few people who did not separate their entries into different posts, and I wanted to make sure those people got the right amount of chances to win. Thanks so much to all of my followers, new and old!

This was a really fun experience, especially finding out about different farmers markets and how many of us like to support local farmers and enjoy seasonal treats. With so many instances of contaminated food, it really makes sense to buy from trusted local producers. I hope you were as inspired as I was reading all of the great farmers market comments.

Today's bento is hyper local! The only non-local ingredients were staples like flour, salt, pepper, and olive oil (although I can get local olive oil, I just don't have any on hand right now). This is a true Sonoma Bento.

In the upper compartment: zucchini "pasta" tossed in a simple vinaigrette with few slices of okra on top (got this 'pasta' idea from bentobird), cherry tomatoes, arugula omelette, fried okra, and basil leaves. In the lower compartment: cherry tomato, a mini gala rabbit apple, steamed corn on the cob, italian sugar plums, arugula leaves, and grapes.

The zucchini, arugula, and italian sugar plums are from Triple T Ranch. The egg is from Hector's Honey. The okra and basil are from a merchant at the Wednesday Night Santa Rosa Farmers Market. The cherry tomatoes are from Sebastopol's French Garden. The apple is from Ridgeview Farms in Healdsburg. The corn is from Duffy's RHS Farms. And the grapes are from Neufeld Farms. I even used local red wine vinegar in my vinaigrette from local producer Bruno Albini, and local garlic from Crescent Moon Farms.

While normally I try to fit two or three local items into my bento lunches, I really wanted to highlight the fact that there is so much available here in Sonoma County that being a 'locavore' is ridiculously easy. If you have access to a farmers market, or a farm stand, a backyard garden, or even a generous neighbor with a zucchini plant, try to use these items in your lunches. You'll feel better by supporting a farmer. You can be confident that your food isn't tainted. You'll be eating seasonal foods at the peak of nutrition and taste. You will avoid the amount of gas, packaging, and preservatives it takes to bring non-local, non-seasonal food to the table.

Hug a farmer! :) Or just buy his or her products. And be sure to ask for advice on how to prepare the ingredients. More than likely, she has a favorite way to prepare that ingredient. And be sure to go back and tell the farmer how it worked for you. That personal interaction is what makes shopping at farmers markets so fun.


Recipe for Fried Okra
6 okra pods
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil

Trim okra tops and cut pods in half lengthwise. In a shallow bowl, combine egg and water. Whisk together. On a plate, combine flour, salt and pepper. On another plate, scatter panko breadcrumbs. Dip okra slices in egg wash, then in flour mixture. Redip okra in the egg wash, then roll in panko breadcrumbs. Fry okra slices in olive oil that has been preheated to medium in a small skillet. Turn okra slices to get all sides browned. Drain slices on a paper towel. Makes 6 fried okra slices, enough for 1 bento box lunch. I like to make a dipping sauce of mayo + hot sauce. Triple T Ranch makes a yummy blend called Hoppin Jalapeno. Use your favorite hot sauce.

P.S. Be SURE to tune in this afternoon at 5:30pm PST to KSRO 1350AM. I will be interviewing Sheri from Happy Little Bento about bento box lunches. The interview will also be broadcast on the internet at ksro.com. Just click on the Listen Live link in the upper righthand corner.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bento Smurf

Oh yes I did. My buddy Carina asked me to do this bento a while ago, and I had some leftover blue rice from my 50th bento post, so today's the day, Carina! It's Bento Smurf, who I think is related somehow to Handy Smurf. :)

In this bento: grapes from De'Santis, steamed broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes from French Garden, a turkey patty (hidden under Bento Smurf), Chocorooms, blue rice onigiri in the shape of a smurf and decorated with cheese and nori seaweed details. I stuck on his nose and ear with a skewer of spaghetti.

These are Chocorooms which I found at Daiso, but I have since seen them at many asian markets. They are pretty tasty!

I had a lot of fun making this bento, and also had time to head to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market to get more bento ingredients. Here's a video of the market in action, and a few shots of the food I bought.

video

I absolutely loved this father/daughter band at the market. They were doing a bunch of killer tunes on accordion and drums. Who would have thought that combo would make a great band??

I am very excited to let you know about an interview I did with Sheri of Happy Little Bento! The interview is all about bentos and will air this Monday, August 23rd at about 5:30pm PST. You can listen to the interview locally on KSRO 1350 AM, or if you are out of the area, tune in online at ksro.com. Just click on the Listen Live link (upper right corner) on Monday afternoon. Thanks bento friends, and a HUGE thank you to Sheri for talking with me and helping to spread the bento love.

Don't forget to enter my 50th Bento Post Giveaway!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Italian Black Truffle Salt Bento

OMG, I am in love with this Italian Black Truffle Salt I got at Savory Spice Shop. I posted about this new shop in downtown Santa Rosa and I am just getting to trying out the goodies I purchased. I pretty much made a beeline to the salt section and went straight for the sample bottle of Italian Black Truffle Salt.

Heaven. Complexity. Earthy. Sensual. Perfect!

And the bottle I purchased was very reasonably priced. I thought I would try it in this bento box lunch, using eggs from Hector's Honey. Hector is at many of the Sonoma County farmers markets, and his eggs are highly sought after, for good reason. I urge you to find eggs from a local farmer and compare them to the ones you get at the grocery store. Such a difference in quality and richness!

In the upper compartment: pita bread slices and grapes from De'Santis Farms. In the lower compartment: my own version of tamagoyaki (a rolled up omelette with spinach from Offerings of the Land in Glen Ellen and a tiny pinch of Italian Black Truffle Salt), steamed broccoli, carrot flowers, cherry tomatoes from The French Garden in Sebastopol, and steamed edamame.

I used this new bento box that I picked up at Daiso for 6 bucks. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the top of the box has a crack in it, and apparently I bought it that way. Sadness! But it's just the cover that is damaged, so I will still use it.

Recipe for Italian Black Truffle Salt Omelette
butter for the pan
1 farmers market egg
3 leaves of spinach, cut into a chiffonade (thin strips)
a tiny pinch of Italian Black Truffle Salt

Crack egg into a bowl and then add the spinach. Whisk until combined a little frothy. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add butter to pan and let butter melt. Add egg mixture and cook, while shaking and tilting the pan so that the eggy mixture fluffs up a bit. Alternately, you can use a spatula to move the egg curds towards the middle of the omelette and let the runny parts of the egg move to the outside. Once the omelette is nearly set, sprinkle the truffle salt along the middle. Use your spatula to roll up the omelette. Remove from pan and allow to cool. Cut into segments and place in bento. Makes enough for one serving.

Don't forget to enter my big ol' 50th bento post giveaway!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

50th Sonoma Bento Post and Giveaway!

I am so excited! This is my 50th Sonoma Bento blog post. Looking back I can see my style developing and my photography skills improving. :) I really appreciate all of the people who have encouraged me to try new things and explore the world of bento. Bento has helped me pack more nutritious lunches that are smaller in size but bigger in flavor. I've made new friends from all over the world, and found a new way to express my creativity. To celebrate, I have put together an awesome giveaway with goodies I picked up in San Francisco Japantown. Here's what you could win (this contest is open to everyone, even outside of the U.S.!):

Friends In The Sea Bento Box! This bento box has three tiers, including the upper utensils compartment. The top tier is 360ml, the lower tier is 280ml. It comes with pink chopsticks, a pink elastic bento strap, and a removable plastic divider for the top tier.

A frog shaped mini craft punch to make kawaii cutouts from nori and soy papers!

Two egg molds for hard boiled chicken eggs. There is a fish shaped mold and a car shaped mold.

A package of jewel-toned bento picks in an array of animal shapes, including fish, seals, and a few seashells. There are 30 bento picks in this package.

Pokemon Furikake Seasoning! Aaaaag! So kawaii! I found this at Nijiya Market in their vast selection of furikake. This package has four foil packets of Pokemon shaped fuikake. 

There are two packets of Pikachu furikake, and two packets of Piplup furikake. There is also a Pokemon sticker trading card. I think I might die from cuteness.

A handmade Sonoma Bento Box Strap! This cutie 'octodog' strap is made of felt, and attached to a blue felt and elastic band that will fit a three-tiered bento box. It will fit bento boxes up to about 32cm around, including this Friends In The Sea bento box. And it's awesome! Check out more of my cool handmade bento box straps at my Etsy shop!

And finally, since I am all about seasonal and local foods, The Farmer's Market Cookbook by Richard Ruben. It has over 100 recipes organized by season, and has awesome lists of what produce is ready during Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Many of these recipes can be used to make yummy bento fillings.

I loved this Friends In The Sea bento box so much, that I had to get one for myself and one to give away. Here is how I filled my aquatic bento:

In the upper tier: blue tinted rice, a broccoli leaf, an octodog decorated with cheese and nori, cheese bubbles, a cheese starfish, a cheese seahorse, nori seaweed (ha ha), and grapes. In the lower compartment: steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, blue tinted rice, cheese bubbles, and a cheese jellyfish decorated with nori eyes, red pickled ginger mouth, and rice noodle tentacles.

I drew the seahorse on paper and used a toothpick to trace around the pattern and cut out the cheese shape. It worked really well!

The jellyfish was a last minute idea. I originally thought I might try a fish made out of a hardboiled quail egg, but this was easier and turned out super cute. I featured this bento on Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog, a great place to find inspiring bento ideas.

This is what the cover of the bento box looks like. And don't worry, if you win the prize you are getting a new one, not the one I used to make this bento. :)

Ok, the important part: HOW CAN YOU WIN?

1. This part is Mandatory. You MUST be a follower of my blog. To follow my blog, simply click the Follow with Google Friend Connect button on the right side of this page, or click the Follow link located at the upper left corner of the blog. Leave a comment telling me that you follow the blog and what your Google ID or Blogger ID is.

2. Mention this giveaway on your own blog or twitter account for a second chance to win. Just post a comment here with a link to where you mentioned my contest.

3. For a final chance to win, leave a comment here telling me about your local farmers market and what you like to buy there.

Please leave separate comments for each of your entries. Entry deadline is Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 11:59pm PST. Winner will be selected randomly from entries. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Starry Spice Bento

My hubby and I finally went to visit a new spice shop in Santa Rosa called Savory Spice Shop. It is part of a franchise based in Denver and the new shop here is just a few months old. They sell online if you aren't near one of their shops.

Oh. My. God. It's like Disneyland for Foodies! We went a little crazy because my husband likes to make spice rubs and I was trying hard to show some restraint when browsing the curry aisle. I gave in and bought this wonderful mix called Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry.

I also ended up with Honey Powder, Italian Black Truffle Salt (!), Vanilla Bean Sugar, and Medium Yellow Curry. So much for restraint! Ha! I used the curry to make more turkey patties for bento stash.

In this bento: an orange bell pepper, grapes from De'Santis Farms, cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, a turkey patty topped with cheese stars, a mini purple rice onigiri decorated with nori stars, a radish from Triple T, cucumber slices, and a few more cherry tomatoes 'cause they taste so good.

I used a punch to make the nori stars and wrapped a strip of nori with a star hole in it around the mini onigiri. I think it turned out really cute!

Recipe for Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry Turkey Patties
4 oz ground turkey
1/2 tablespoon Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry blend
a few grinds of pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 grated clove of garlic
1 egg yolk
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium/medium high heat. Shape mixture into small patties. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes in oil until browned, then gently flip patties and continue cooking until patties are browned on both sides and cooked through. Watch the heat and turn it down if the patties are browning too quickly. Makes 4 or 5 small patties.

A Big Thank You to everyone who has been following my bento adventures on this blog. Tomorrow look for a cool giveaway to celebrate my 50th Sonoma Bento post!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gravenstein Apple Bento

Gravenstein Apples are an heirloom variety of apple that have been grown in Sonoma County since the late 1800s. This past weekend we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Gravenstein Apple Fair. This fair is my very favorite fair of the entire year. It is set under sprawling oak trees in a big park and does not have the typical fair things you expect like carnival rides or trying to throw darts at balloons for cheap stuffed animals. They have a hay bale maze that is free for the kids to wander through, and there was a place set up with apples tacked to a plywood board. Hit one with a dart and win a bag of apples! But mostly, this fair is about the Gravenstein Apple.

The Walker family has been growing apples since the mid 1800s in Sonoma County. Generations of Walkers have made their living by growing Gravensteins.

A new company in Sonoma County called Hot Cheese made special grilled cheese and Gravenstein sandwiches. They were sooo good, paired with zucchini pickles and seasoned sweet potato fries.

The treat I look forward to most of all is the piping hot Gravenstein Apple Fritter. Church ladies have a booth set up and all they do for two days straight is make these cinnamon powdered sugar topped fritters and vats of coffee. The line for Fritters can get pretty long, but it is so worth it!

Of course, I had to make a nail design to go along with the Gravenstein Apple Fair! Gravensteins have a red and green streaked skin, sweet/tart flesh, and are perfect for making pies. Of course there is a apple pie baking contest, apple pie eating contest, applesauce eating contest, and more! They should have an apple nail design contest, ha ha!

I look forward to this fair so much, that I kind of go into withdrawl when it is over. So I decided that today's bento would celebrate the Gravenstein Apple! I used the Hot Cheese recipe as my inspiration for an apple shaped grilled cheese sandwich with Gravenstein Apple and ham, and a little cucumber skin 'leaf'. Also in this bento: Gravenstein Apple 'rabbits', edamame, cherry tomatoes, corn on the cob, cucumber slices, grapes (including a cutie grape 'tree'), and red bell pepper slices. The Hot Cheese version of this sandwich does not have meat in it, and they added a delicious curry seasoning. If you can find them (Windsor Farmers Market or they do catering!) you have to try it... sooooo good!

Recipe for Gravenstein Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 grated garlic clove
2 slices white bread
1 slice gouda or provolone cheese
thin slices of Gravenstein Apple
1 or two slices ham
mayo (optional)

Soften the butter and add the grated garlic. I use a Microplane Zester to grate the garlic really fine, into a paste really. Set the butter aside. Assemble the sandwich by spreading mayo on the bread then top with cheese, slices of apple, and ham. Top with the second piece of bread. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spread butter mixture on the outside of one of the sides of the sandwich. Place that buttered side down in the skillet. Grill until the bread is golden brown. Spread butter on the top of the sandwich, then carefully flip the sandwich over to grill the opposite side. If needed, cover the skillet to help melt the cheese. Serves one.

P.S. You can now vote for my nail design at The Daily Nail! I entered in a design representing Sonoma County for a 'home' themed contest. I would really appreciate it if you took a moment to vote for me on The Daily Nail blog. Thanks and wish me luck!