1. Put the mustard greens in a pot over high heat with the water that clings to the leaves plus one-half cup. Sprinkle with one-half teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, garlic and the pepper flakes and cover. After the leaves have collapsed, reduce the heat to medium and cook until they're tender when you taste one, about 7 minutes. Drain, then squeeze the excess water out of the greens. Put them in a bowl and season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper sauce or vinegar to taste.
2. Slather the outside of the bread with olive oil. Cover one slice of the bread (the dry side) with cheese, pile on half or one-third of the greens, and add the pepper strips. Spread the top slice with Dijon mustard, then cover.
3. Cook in your panini maker or in a skillet until the bread is crispy and the cheese melts. When a wave of melted cheese hits the hot surface, there's a bonus tang, but don't let it burn. Slice it diagonally; it's easier to eat that way and it looks jaunty too.
Each sandwich: 611 calories; 20 grams protein; 73 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 16 mg. cholesterol; 1,447 mg. sodium.
LUCQUES' GRILLED CHEESE WITH SHALLOTS
Total time: About 30 minutes
Servings: 1 or 2
Note: From chef-owner Suzanne Goin. She recommends serving the sandwich with an arugula salad dressed with lemon juice and best-quality olive oil.
2 large shallots
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 slices country white bread, sliced 1/2 -inch thick
5 ounces Cantal cheese, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1. Cut the shallots in half lengthwise and peel them. Place the shallots cut-side down. Slice lengthwise into about one-eighth-inch wedges. In a small sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often until the shallots are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Heat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining butter and swirl in the pan until it is melted. Place the two slices of bread in the pan and toast for a minute or two until just beginning to color. Divide the cheese evenly between the two pieces and top with the shallots.
3. Place the pan in the oven and cook 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden and crispy. Remove to a cutting board and carefully assemble the sandwich, placing together the two slices of bread. Cut in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.
Each of 2 servings: 705 calories; 26 grams protein; 53 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 43 grams fat; 26 grams saturated fat; 120 mg. cholesterol; 1,026 mg. sodium.
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time for the béchamel
Note: Adapted from La Dijonaise Café et Boulangerie in Culver City. The restaurant uses bread from a local bakery and recommends pullman-type bread for the sandwiches.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
1. In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce the heat and keep the milk warm over very low heat.
2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When it bubbles, whisk in the flour and continue to cook until the mixture forms a golden roux, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Whisking constantly, add the warm milk in a steady stream. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with one-half teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, along with the nutmeg, or to taste. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled. This makes about 2 cups sauce.