Peach and Brie Grilled Cheese

Oh hey, I turned 21 this weekend, fancy that.

We like to celebrate birthdays in my family -- I think mostly because it's an excuse to get the family all together and eat excessively -- but we usually don't do birthday surprises. So I was totally shocked (and incredibly happy) that two of my aunties came to Chicago to visit and celebrate with me! I got to have birthday eve lunch with them, and birthday dinner at A10. Birthday fun also included lumpy pancakes for the Lumpy Space Princess (they weren't that lumpy, but Tor likes to be self-deprecating about her cooking abilities) and Batman decorations a la Tor, as well as a cute and awesome (but enormous) BMO cake. BMO, or Beemo, is a character from Adventure Time (so is Lumpy Space Princess -- Tor and I watch the show together at home), and he's one of my favorites. LSP (Lumpy Space Princess) is too -- if you watch the show you can probably imagine why I identify with her.

In addition to my thing for mason jars, I have a thing for mis-matched plates. For most of the gift-giving holidays since I started college, my mom has given me a new plate to add to my collection. She gave me an especially nice plate for my birthday this year that's more on the order of fine china than usual. The pattern is beautiful and delicate, and I love it -- I don't know if I can bring myself to put food on it. She was searching for one with a pattern that was especially significant, and found this one called Santiago. She's a very thoughtful mommy, that one.

And so, in honor of my birthday, I present to you one of my favorite sandwiches.

Peach and Brie Grilled Cheese

2 pats of softened butter
1 small barely ripe peach
Enough brie to make you happy
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of honey
(Arugula or radicchio if you've got some)
2 slices nutty wheat bread

Two protips for awesome grilled cheese: heat management and sufficient pressure. As Emeril Lagasse would say: you see this knob right here (as he takes the knob off his stove and shows it to the audience) -- it's there for a reason, use your knob! Burnt grilled cheeses are sad. For weighing down the sandwich to achieve optimal bread crispiness and cheese meltiness, I fill up my tea kettle with water and put it on top of the sandwich (after cleaning off the bottom of course).

Heat a nonstick pan over medium. Slice the peach and brie thinly. Brush the first slice of bread with butter, and place it butter-side down in the hot pan. Arrange the brie over the bread, followed by the peach slices (keep in mind that you're going to have to flip this over when you're arranging), honey, seasoning, and greens if you're using them. Place the second piece of bread over the top, then weigh down with the kettle.

Check the bottom to make sure you've achieved perfect golden brown deliciousness, then spread the top piece of bread with the remaining butter. Turn over, then weight down again with the kettle. Usually I put a piece of tin foil in between the bread and kettle at this point (both to insulate for cheese melting purposes and to prevent buttering the bottom of my kettle), but if you're feeling especially lazy then it's not a big deal.

It's advised that you eat standing up at the kitchen counter with peach juice dribbling down to your elbow, because it's finally summer.