Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press). Copyright (c) 2015.
Author's headnote: If there is one vegetable I would love to go sky-...
My mother, a working mom of three girls, cooked dinner almost every night. I know there is much ado about women feeling obligated to cook these days; about how providing healthy meals that kids will eat is too difficult; about how a lot of people don't like to cook so why should they, etc. All I will say is that my mother had her strategies for getting a nourishing and delicious meal on the table without running herself ragged and spending hours in the kitchen. Good cooking doesn't need to take vast swaths of time or involve complicated logistics. Looking at Pinterest often doesn't help with the assumption that cooking is just too hard or time-consuming. But long before Pinterest, people were cooking quick and satisfying meals for themselves, and I maintain that it is still possible.
My mother made a lot of dishes that I still remember fondly. She made a baked Greek chicken dish that I've recently been trying to recreate. She made spaghetti pie and city chicken and something called "chicken tortilla stack" that rates really high on my list of favorite dishes. But one of her weeknight mainstays was this simple way of making ham biscuits (I call them sliders here because you don't use actual biscuits). She usually served them with tomato soup, but they make great little appetizers for holiday parties.
I hesitate to even give such a simple, commonsense recipe here on the site, but it has nostalgic value for me and the results are truly delicious. For me, it's all about the combination of the mustard butter and Swiss cheese (feel free to use any nutty alpine cheese here--Comté, Appenzeller, Jarlsberg, etc.). My mom always made these with honey baked ham slices, which is great if you happen to have some leftover ham. However, you can use your favorite ham--any kind of ham you get at a deli counter will work, as will nicer, thin-sliced hams such as Prosciutto or Serrano. More than anything, make sure to put enough mustard in the butter. Start with a tablespoon, then add more if you think it needs more. Remember that once you put it on the rolls it won't be as strong.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Split open:
12 small rolls, store-bought or homemade
Combine in a small bowl:
1/2 stick softened butter
1 to 2 tablespoons spicy or Dijon mustard
Spread some of the butter on the insides of the rolls, about a teaspoon per roll. Put in each biscuit:
A slice of ham
A small square of cheese (Swiss, Comté, Gruyère, Appenzeller, or Jarlsberg)--about 6 ounces total for the whole batch
Close the rolls, wrap in foil, and bake until the cheese is melted and the rolls are browned and starting to crisp around the edges, about 20 to 30 minutes.