When the Viking and I were sick, we lost a few pounds between us. It’s too hard to eat when you’re coughing up a heart valve every five seconds, and it’s pointless anyway if you can’t taste. We drank literally gallons of peppermint and Breathe Easy, and told ourselves that we could always make up those calories later. WHICH WE DID.
Step 1: Cheesy Bread.
So, my local grocery store sells these huge rolls that are actually just that white, spongy “French” bread loaf that you get here in the US, but shaped into roll form and topped with sesame seeds. These rolls are useless for anything except making cheesy bread, but they excel at it, so I forgive them. Use any bread that you are comfortable with using, but if you’ve been sick and your part of the country has decided that instead of summer you are going to let spring come out for an encore, then get the cheapest, whitest, most chemically and scientifically refined bread you can find.
Any soft cheese will do – I had leftover fontina here, which is lovely and mild and melty, so something like monterey jack would be a good substitute. Cheddar is of course lovely. Don’t get too fancy; a little parmesan is fine, but use an unassertive one.
Anyway, the secret is to grate the cheese very fine, and to mix it into some butter to make a thick paste of it all. When it toasts, it will melt and crisp a little in a homogenized, even, offensively tasty layer, allowing the cheese to ooze into and bond with the bread in a way that just setting the cheese on top cannot achieve.
Of course I did not get a final shot of it, despite making the bread several times over a few weeks, and despite having a camera in hand. It’s just one of those foods that trips eat-blindness.
there are variations on this theme that would be tasty, but try varying the herbs before messing with the cheese. i like spicy cheesy bread with chili flakes in it. the recipe is for two – four people’s worth of bread (two sick people who aren’t hungry but who suddenly find the cheesy bread delicious, or four more reasonable sides for folks eating a main course and a salad), but can easily be doubled and quadrupled for make enough for a crowd. just slice a large grocery store “French” loaf in half long ways, spread the paste on it, and broil each side whole.
2 Tbsp butter, softened but not runny
1/4 cup, heaped, of finely shredded cheese such as fontina, jack, or cheddar, or a blend
pinch of garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp freshly chopped chives
salt to taste
a large roll, large enough to share, cut in half longways, or two or more thick slices of soft bread
- In a small bowl, mix together the butter, cheese, garlic powder and chives. If you used unsalted butter, you may need to add a pinch of salt. Mix this paste very well, taking care to essentially break down the cheese into an actual paste.
- Spread a fairly thick layer on each piece of bread. Don’t skimp here. This isn’t healthy at all, this is a pile of ill-advised calories that will, on the flip side, inspire you to maybe live for one more day.
- In a toaster oven or in your big oven, place the bread close to the broiler and set to broil. I cannot emphasize enough how much you cannot take your eyes off it. Do not walk away. It will scorch and catch on fire and burn your house down. When the bread is nice and browned around the edges and bubbling and alluring, take it out, turn off the broiler, and let the bread sit for a minute before using a large knife to slice it into finger-like batons, so that each piece you pick up has both crispy edge-bits and moist, greasy middle bits.