The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible. Belief fuels enthusiasm. Enthusiasm explodes into passion. Passion fires our souls and lifts our spirits. Having a simple, clearly-defined goal can capture the imagination and inspire passion. -Michael D. Krause
For Alex and me, that goal was to learn to cook. We started with little more than the will to try. I couldn’t even boil a pot of water for pasta. (Seriously, I was a lost cause.) But over the years we learned, little by little, to have the faith to believe it was possible.
People ask us how to get started cooking. Some of our best advice is: just try it. Believe that it is possible. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect first time. Give yourself grace. Try and try again. Take risks and gain the rewards, or learn from the failure. Be enthusiastic, and let your enthusiasm grow into passion. It sounds really generic, but this is about 90% of what we know about cooking — and food photography, for that matter.
Here’s a recipe that’s great for the beginning cook: it’s easy, but a little more than “just grilled cheese” since it involves roasting tomatoes and using fresh herbs. The juice from the roasted tomatoes is mixed with a bit of mayo for a killer sauce (while we don’t use much mayonnaise in our recipes, it’s essential here). The combination of the savory tomatoes, silky mayonnaise and fresh basil on crunchy grilled bread is a little bit of heaven, and just might inspire you to more beautiful things you can create in the kitchen.Print
- 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 8 basil leaves
- 8 slices bread
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tomatoes on the sheet. Roast for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are starting to burst.
- Place the tomatoes in a bowl and carefully mash with a potato masher to extract the juice. Strain the tomatoes completely and reserve the juice in a small bowl. Mix 1 tablespoon of the juice into ¼ cup mayonnaise until it has the consistency of a sauce (double the tomato juice and mayonnaise for extra sauce). Reserve the strained tomatoes and sprinkle them with kosher salt.
- Spread each slice of bread with tomato mayo. Top with 1/4 of the strained tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and some torn pieces of basil. Sprinkle the toppings with a pinch of kosher salt and top with another slice of bread.
- Heat a grill pan to medium high and brush it with butter. Cook the sandwiches until toasty and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.