Ok y’all, this post is very special to me because I interviewed one of the best, most supportive people I know – Miro Korenha. I’ve known this wonderful woman for 10+ years now and she is just the best! She is an amazing, creative cook who has opened my eyes to so many new foods over our friendship. I couldn’t imagine interviewing anyone else first for Comfort Food Convo, so let’s get to it.
Picture it: you are holding a sandwich with perfectly golden brown bread and you pull the sandwich apart and you see the melty, gooey cheese. And you take a big bite and hear the crunch of the bread and you taste the warm, comforting cheese. It’s perfection. It’s a grilled cheese sandwich.
So, why is grilled cheese Miro’s go-to comfort food? Miro was born in Ukraine and moved to the United States when she was almost 6 years old. They didn’t have American cheese in Ukraine, so she didn’t have a grilled cheese until coming to the U.S. When she had it for the first time she said it blew her mind (I mean, can you blame her?). It was the first snack she learned to make on her own, so it became a big part of her childhood. It’s a food she turns to time and time again because of her childhood memories, but also because it’s so versatile. You can make it as fancy as you want or keep it simple with American cheese and white bread. She said whatever you need in that moment to feel cozy and content, you can likely turn it into a grilled cheese. I couldn't agree more.
As I said earlier, Miro is a bomb cook and some of my most fond memories with her are when we made grilled cheese together. She has experimenting with different cheese, fillings and bread over the years, and from the best of my recollection, they were all a success. Below are two recipes that were inspired by my conversation and friendship with Miro. Let’s get cooking!
Apple, Smoked Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
Miro and I used to be roommates and she would make an apple and smoked cheddar grilled cheese on our outside grill. It was heaven. I wanted to recreate this recipe and add in some caramelized onions because they add a nice tart and sweet flavor to compliment the cheddar and apple.
One apple (I use a hearty apple like Granny Smith or Honeycrip)
Smoked cheddar (I would go with 6-8 slices)
Two slices of bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 small red onions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
First, let’s caramelize the onions. Heat skillet on medium heat. Add some olive oil once the pan is hot. Cut the onions in half and slice ¼ inch thick. Throw in the onions once the oil starts sizzling. Add the salt. Let the onions cook for 30-60 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they start to brown. About 10 minutes before you are done, add some balsamic vinegar to the onions and stir. They you are done! This caramelized onion recipe will make more than you will need for one grilled cheese, so here is a guide on how to freeze any extra.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add half the butter to the skillet and let it melt. While your butter is melting, spread some mayo on one side of each piece of bread. Then once the butter has melted, place one piece of bread, mayonnaise side down, in the skillet. Then add 3 slices of cheese on the bread (Or more if you want. No judgement here). Add 2 apple slices and caramelized onions; then top with the remaining cheese slices. Top your sandwich with the other slice of bread with the mayo side up. When the bread is golden brown, add the remaining butter to the skillet and flip over your sandwich. I usually press down gently on the sandwich to help get the other side to brown quicker. Give it a few minutes until the cheddar is melted. Then you are ready to eat!
Cocoa Spread, Strawberry and Brie Grilled Cheese
Cocoa Spread (I found a cocoa and almond spread at Trader Joe's, but use your favorite spread)
3 large strawberries (tops removed and sliced thin)
Brie (rind removed)
2 slices brioche
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Heat skillet over medium heat. Add half the butter to the skillet and let it melt. While your butter is melting, spread some mayo on one side of each piece of bread. Once the butter is melted, place one piece of bread, mayonnaise side down, in the skillet. Then add a layer of the spread, then brie and then strawberries. Add another layer of the spread and brie to the other piece of bread. Top with the second piece of bread, mayo side up. When the bread is golden brown, add the remaining butter to the skillet and flip your sandwich. Press down gently on the sandwich to speed up cooking. Wait a few minutes for everything to be gooey and bon appetit!
Step-by-Step Photo Guide
I'm only going to do the step-by-step guide for the apple, cheddar and onion grilled cheese, since they both basically use the same step
First, get your ingredients together
Caramelize your onions
Then once your onions are cooked, add butter to your hot skillet
Add your bread and cheese to the pan
Add your apples and onions on top of the cheese
Lastly, add a few more slices of cheese, top the sandwich with another piece of bread and cook on both sides until golden brown. Then you are ready to eat!