Grilled Cheese, Please is an exciting book that takes the lowly sandwich to the level of gourmet. It made me want to be creative and experiment with a variety of cheeses and breads. That’s the basis of the book. The author, Laura Werlin, experimented with an enormous number of grilled cheese sandwiches and included fifty of the best in her book.
Once I started trying the various recipes I became very enthusiastic. I wanted to share a variety of my favorites with others. I came up with the idea of having a “Grilled Cheese Tasting” party or meal. I used smaller slices of bread cut from baguettes. And I cut larger sandwiches in half or in quarters. This way people could taste several different sandwiches without overdoing it. [A big pot of soup or a variety of salads makes for a complete meal.]
Before I tell you some of my favorite sandwiches from this book, let me tell you some of the author’s “rules” that were new to me but ones I quickly adopted:
- Grate the cheese rather than slice it
- Thick cheese and thin bread lets you taste more cheese
- Spread butter on the bread instead of putting it in the pan
- Cover the sandwich in the pan so the cheese has enough heat to melt
- Flatten slightly with a spatula to encourage the bread and cheese meld
- Go low and slow. Don’t use a high heat or the bread will be done before the cheese melts.
All good suggestions for making the very best grilled sandwiches. Now here are the sandwiches that were my favorites. My goal had been to try to branch out with cheeses I don’t normally use. The author has a nice section on cheeses that melt well. Unfortunately, you’re not going to see a wide variety of cheeses here in my list of favorites. It turns out my old favorites make the best grilled cheeses. But I did learn to pair them with some unique-to-me additions. Here’s my list:
- Classic With a Twist: sourdough bread, coarsely-grated cheddar cheese, bacon, thinly sliced tomoto, and thinly sliced red onion that’s been soaked in cold water for up to an hour.
- Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese: sourdough bread, guacamole, colby, Monterey Jack, and goat cheese. Crushed tortilla chips are mixed with the butter and spread on the outside of the bread. When grilled it makes a crispy, crunchy outer crust.
- Pizza Grilled Cheese: pizza sauce, cooked mushrooms, sliced black olives, pepperoni, tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, mozzarella cheese, and split ciabatta bread with olive oil.
- Say Oui to Normandy: french bread, camembert cheese sliced 1/4 inch, finely chopped fresh thyme, sliced Black Forest ham, and thinly sliced tart green apple, like Granny Smith.
- Jalapeno Popper: This is from the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco: bacon, fresh goat cheese, Monteray Jack cheese, jalapeno relish (recipe included) on pain au levain or Italian or sourdough bread.
- The Wisconsinite: This sandwich was created to celebrate the major crops grown in Wisconsin – cranberry sauce, dijon mustard, colby cheese, and blue cheese on rye or marble bread. (Creamy with a kick – pure Badger State flavors.)
- The Californian: Fresh goat cheese, a canned chipotle chile en adobe (finely chopped), Monteray Jack cheese – all on cinnamon-raisen bread with thinly sliced almonds pressed into the outside/grilled area.
One “I dare ya” sandwich I didn’t try called for bologna, peanut butter, colby cheese, and diced dill pickles grilled on whole wheat. Umm, no thanks.
Other things in this book:
- One chapter is recipes from grilled cheese restaurants.
- The author included several condiment recipes in the last chapter. When the veggie season is at it’s peak I want to try the tomato jam and pickled cucumbers.
- There is a list of restaurants that feature grilled cheese sandwiches. It seems to cover only the United States, but not every state. There are two in Portland, Oregon so, on our next visit I hope to check them out.
The book was just published in March by Andrew McMeel. It’s available at public libraries, local booksellers and Amazon.
So what’s your experience with grilled cheese sandwiches? Have you expanded beyond the usual bread and cheese? Have you visited a restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese? Tell us about it.
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.