Recipes

Mozzastein: Four-cheese poor man’s buffalo mozzarella

There are three things in my little culinary life that come around about as frequently as the Perseid meteor shower (i.e. not very often, but which is on my mind because it peaks tonight): Blueberries, sandwiches and balsamic so decadent I want to swig it like a Muggle’s first Butterbeer.

I don’t ever crave blueberries, so I never buy them because they’re expensive. I usually only eat sandwiches for the stuff inside them (so then I think, why bother?), because the only bread I buy is the healthy seed-filled stuff that I don’t enjoy eating as much as, oh, I don’t know, irresistible fluffy croissants or sourdough. And contrary to the previous two, my allegiance to aged balsamic is so strong that I would bankrupt both my food and entertainment budgets (read: spend way too much money without thinking about it and then burn with shame upon facing my credit card bill) if I indulged in buying it for myself.

But this week, all three converged. My mom brought me blueberries and blueberry jam from a trip to the farm in Bowmanville, my best friend brought me aged balsamic back from Italy and I found a recipe for grilled cheese I couldn’t stop thinking about.

I know, I know – a recipe for grilled cheese? It was actually helpful in this case because it’s not the intuitive grilled cheese you’re likely used to and it’s far from traditional. Unless you are a classically-trained nonna. In which case, okay, fine.

The recipe is from Half Baked Harvest, a food blog I recently discovered and have become a bit obsessed with, for mozzarella in carrozza, or a fried mozzarella sandwich.

I know. Hold it together.

Half Baked suggests serving it with blueberry balsamic jam. Coincidence? I thought not.

Sometimes my roommate and I have “food nights” – an innocuous way of describing, essentially, all-out pigging parades, which would be more apt for our last one, a literal sausage fest. We decided tonight would be one such night, and I couldn’t think of a better companion than one fried cheesy sandwich with a side of balsamic-y blueberry jam.

There was just one problem. I had no access to buffalo mozzarella. By that I mean, although I live in Toronto and I guarantee you there was some of it somewhere in the city, available for purchase, my usually-dependable grocery store and the others I stopped at on the way home were fresh out of not only buffalo mozzarella, but bocconcini and any other fresh cheese I could think of.

So I did not what a rational person does, which would’ve been to break out the Annie’s boxed mac and call it an almost-success. Oh, no. I had been dreaming of this gooey sandwich all day (practically a lifetime when you’re chronically peckish). I behaved like a maniacal cheesemonger playing god and decided to create my own. I made Mozzastein.

The foraged bones

The foraged bones

That’s right. I chose four cheeses that each brought something to the table that I deemed to be a crucial part of buffalo mozzarella: Havarti, because it’s melty; cottage cheese, because it’s wet and slightly briny; cream cheese, for pseudo-binding and a touch of extra flavour; and shredded mozzarella, because it is actually mozzarella.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that under no circumstances did I expect this to live up to buffalo mozzarella. That sh-t is sacred. But when you’ve come this far in your fantasy, sometimes you have to allow yourself to get just as pumped over a strange, amorphous substitute.

So I mixed the four together and started my journey.

Appropriately-menacing shadow

Appropriately-menacing shadow

Sandwich assembly, with my Mozzastein in the middle.

Mozzastein-bread

Next up, I dipped both sides in milk, then flour and eggs.

My Igor - er, roommate, scrubbing into the surgery

My Igor – er, roommate, scrubbing into the surgery

I rapidly tossed it in the frying pan with already-steamy olive oil ready to go.

Mozza-pan

And then I waited.

Fine, if you must know, the balsamic is on my bed and not the counter in this photo because I last encountered it dribbling pools on my palm to lick off while watching Netflix. I am the monster here

Fine, if you must know, the balsamic is on my bed and not the counter in this photo because I last encountered it dribbling pools on my palm to lick off while watching Netflix. I am the monster here

Mixed my blueberry jam and holy-cannoli balsamic.

Flipped, waited, and retrieved.

Then I cut into it.

It certainly had the gooeyness. (How do you actually spell this word?)

It tasted cheesy. But it did not taste like buzzalo mozzarella.

Behold - my creation!

Behold – my creation!

Were you hoping after all this raving determination it would? I sorta was. Sadly, like Dr. Frankenstein, I learned that you cannot create a carbon copy of that which already exists from parts that happen to be available. There’s something philosophical in there somewhere, but my takeaway was this: Buffalo mozzarella may have taken a rare turn on my absentee roster, but blueberries and balsamic will not be returning. Although it had the least help from me out of any of the dish’s elements (in my inventor mood today, that was probably a good thing), the blueberry-balsamic jam was the star. I am definitely buying – and combining them – more often in the future. Thanks, Mozzastein.

P.S. I have filed this under recipes and use the term loosely in this case – I encourage you to check out the real recipe I was inspired by if a cheese-monster hybrid doesn’t appeal to you.

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