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Grilled Cheese, Please!

11-Apr-2011

 

grilled cheese, please

  I did not pay a fee to attend the event covered in this post and received a copy of the cookbook at the event.  Please see my Review Policy page for more information.

 

April is National Grilled Cheese month.  I don’t know how or why it is.  A quick web search shows lots of blogs and periodicals claiming it so but no source for this information.  However, considering that no harm can be done by inaccurately reporting this information, I’m going with it!  I love grilled cheese sandwiches and since I often work from my home office they are a lunchtime staple for me. Sometimes I make the very basic cheddar on sandwich bread – this toasty, buttery, cheesy palate-pleaser is a standard for good reason.  But, on a regular basis, I mix it up with different cheese or cheese combinations; or add a little something like herbs or tomato or charcuterie or grilled onions to bring additional flavor; use different breads; and even cook it different ways. It’s hard to go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Hog Island Grilled Cheese

 

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a gathering hosted by Myra (aka Viv or Seattle Bon Vivant) featuring Laura Werlin.  Laura spoke to the small group about her latest cookbook, Grilled Cheese, Please! In addition to this book, Laura is the author of four other books about cheese.  I don’t know how I’ve missed them, especially since this is her second grilled cheese cookbook. But I’m glad I’ve found her work now.

She has studied and become a self-trained expert on cheese made in America.  In addition to creating a couple of recipes from the latest cookbook for us, Laura took a few moments to provide some basic info about types of cheese.  I love when someone is so knowledgeable that talking about a subject has become second nature and this definitely describes Laura.

Laura working the grill

We sampled three Pacific Northwest cheeses (it was nice that she chose local cheese for this tasting): the rich and gooey Dinah’s cheese from Kurtwood Farms, a bloomy rind cheese; a lovely, nutty, aged sheep’s milk cheese, Tin Willow Tomme from Black Sheep Creamery; and we finished with the tangy Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue, just one of the wonderful blue cheeses produced by this creamery.  But on to the real stars of the night – the sandwiches. 

 

Mouth-watering

 

We sampled two.  The Hog Island replicates a sandwich from a San Francisco oyster bar with the same name and uses four cheeses for a perfect grilled cheese experience.  The second was like soup and sandwich rolled into one.  The Double Cheddar with Tomato Jam had two great surprises.  As you may have guessed, as well as cheese there was a layer of a tangy-sweet tomato jam inside the sandwich but the biggest surprise was on the outside.  Instead of using plain butter to prepare the bread for the grill, a butter-cheddar mixture covered the outside of the sandwich. So simple and yet genius!  So you had melty cheese inside the sandwich and toasty cheese on the outside.  Both sandwiches were deliciously rich and satisfying. After looking through the cookbook last night I’m looking forward to trying some of the other combinations.

Slicing and Stacking

    Besides meeting Laura, my favorite part of the night was the tips and tricks Laura covered throughout her presentation:

  • cook your sandwiches low and slow – this confirmed what I know but was good reinforcement
  • use grated cheese – I’ve heard this before but always hesitated as it seemed it would be so messy when flipping the sandwiches but watching Laura proved otherwise
  • flip twice to aid in melting all the cheese
  • after flipping press down with a spatula to help it all adhere together
  • use a pan with a lid for perfectly melted cheese – remove the lid for the last few minutes to allow the bread to crisp
  • let the sandwich sit for about 5 minutes before eating it – this allows you to better taste the flavors in the sandwich 

 

Double Cheddar and Tomato Jam Sandwiches

 

The thing that is great about a cookbook like this is that it not only provides you with a repertoire of interesting and delicious recipes but it provides creative inspiration.  These recipes can be used as a starting point for you to customize your own delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.

It’s time for lunch – guess what I’ll be having?

 

Stacked

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 11-Apr-2011 2:51 pm

    Yum! Looked like a fun event.

  2. 11-Apr-2011 3:09 pm

    It was delicious! Maybe this should be your next cookbook for your project! ;-)

  3. Jayne Martin permalink
    11-Apr-2011 7:10 pm

    I’m going to have to have Lindsey this, the pics look delicious!

  4. 12-Apr-2011 10:08 am

    Jayne: I think she’ll like it!

  5. 30-Apr-2011 10:53 am

    I tried to make a gourmet grilled cheese yesterday and failed miserably… burned the butter and then it fell apart while I was flipping it. So this is some much welcome advice! I think I had my stove on medium… should I go lower? I also tried to get a little adventurous and add some avocado and tomato to it. It tasted great, but the cooking process was much more of a hassle
    ~Nancy Lewis~

  6. 02-May-2011 9:57 am

    Hi Nancy,
    Medium-low heat is best. Flipping grilled cheese when there are other ingredients can be challenging. I find that three things help: when flipping keep one hand firmly on the top of the sandwich as you flip it: try to keep the ingredient pieces as close to the full size of the sandwich as possible, for instance two larger tomato slices are much better than four smaller slices; and use the cheese as “glue” by adding thin layers of cheese between ingredients and on both the bottom and top of the stack of ingredients.

    For your ingredients I would have put a thick layer of cheese, topped with the avocado, topped with either thin slices or a little grated cheese, topped with tomatoes, topped with a final layer of cheese. They key is to keep the “extra layers” thin enough so that you don’t build a gigantic sandwich yet they provide a little help keeping the contents together.

    And, as a last resort, once the sandwich is flipped just tuck in anything that slipped out! ;-)

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