You’re Invited To a Grilled Cheese Tasting

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.Β 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.

 

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25 Responses to You’re Invited To a Grilled Cheese Tasting

  1. Louise says:

    A book about grilled cheese sandwiches would never have occurred to me. The standard version here in Australia would be ham, cheese and tomato, which is pretty good. My son is somewhat addicted to toasted cheese sandwiches. We have a huge range of toasters and presses though that we cook them in, we don’t do them in pans on the stove in a pan.

  2. Staci says:

    Too bad we’re not neighbors..I would’ve signed up to be your guinea pig on all of these…even the PB one!! Your post has me wanting to be more creative with this old time sandwich!! πŸ˜€

  3. kaye says:

    I’ll have the #4 s’il vous plait. Merci! Yum yum yum, you just can’t beat grilled cheese.

  4. Kay says:

    This book and the sandwiches sound really good. Although, I can’t tell you the last time I had a grilled cheese sandwich. Years ago I suspect. And I can’t even remember the last time I made one. I just never think of it. LOL

  5. Whenever we travel, I look for 3 things before we go: indie bookstores, indie coffee shops, and grilled cheese places! And sometimes they actually have them!

  6. Love grilled cheese. Or anything with cheese. What a fun book!

  7. Kate says:

    There’s a nice food cart in Portland that does fantastic grilled cheeses, somewhere on SW 10th downtown (maybe at Alder?) – I wonder if that’s one that made the book?

    My classic grilled cheese includes as many kinds of cheese as I have available, tomato, and basil – pretty simple. But I LOVE the idea of using guac or avacados on one – would work great especially with the tomato (in my mind, at least.) Thanks for the tip!

  8. Beth F says:

    OMG — I now have a craving! I make bread this week that included ale and cheddar — I bet it’d make an awesome grilled cheese.

  9. Nan says:

    Though I don’t eat them, Tom makes a grilled cheese sandwich many days of the week. Flattening with the spatula and buttering the cooked side of the bread are two essentials for him. I’ll show him this post. Now, for me, I like just the grilled bread, :<) though sometimes I'll put some peanut butter and jelly on the inside, or make the Elvis sandwich.

    http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2008/04/elvis-sandwich.html

  10. Rikki says:

    Oh, I love grilled cheese. This sounds like my kind of book. Off to amazon!

  11. We love grilled cheese sandwiches, I’m a lot more adventurous than my family and I’d love to try the jalapeno popper sandwich! Great review, I have to check out that book! Thanks πŸ™‚ My favorite (so far) is just cheddar, bacon and tomato grilled on fresh pumpernickel!

  12. mark says:

    Wow. These sound great ! Nothing is quite so satisfying as a well made sandwich.

  13. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for supper a couple of times while we were traveling in the RoadTrek — easy, satisfying and simple with the limited cooking space. I knew about buttering the outside of the bread — my mom used to do that so I do too. I used good cheddar and added a slice of tomato because it was summer! I’ll try a couple of your variations next time.

  14. I NEED this book! I’ve always used sliced cheese, but Vance recently told me I should use grated – I wonder if he’s read this book.

  15. candice says:

    i’m crazy about grilled cheese… you know, i make them almost weekly & ours include mustard, sometimes mayo & mustard & turkey or ham. The GC makes having soup for dinner agreeable to the girls.
    At square peg, we made the BEST ever: Fontina Lemon Garlic on Wheat Berry bread, truly THE BEST! fontina cheese melts quickly and is so creamy, the lemon oil gave it a beautiful high note the house-made (by me) bread was chewy & crunchy and the garlic rubbed on the outside made you want them for every meal. I need to find this book.

  16. Chinoiseries says:

    Mmm, I love a good grilled cheese sandwich and a good cookbook that introduces several different variations sounds like a winner!

  17. Esme says:

    I have this book and love it-I am a huge grilled cheese fan.

  18. Wow! This sounds really fun. I love your idea of a tasting party.

    My experience with grilled cheese is kind of embarrassing. My mother hated to cook, so a fairly frequent meal in our house was grilled cheese made with singly-wrapped American cheese and served alongside tomato soup from a can.

  19. Uniflame says:

    This does sound really interesting πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  20. kaye says:

    sounds like a must at my house!

  21. Cerrin says:

    One of my favorite sandwiches is grilled cheese with one small slice of roast beef and a tomato. But to try and get someone else to make this. They want to throw a ton of roast beef on it and you miss the flavor of the sandwich.

    Oh and for the bologna, peanut butter, colby cheese, and diced dill pickles grilled on whole wheat. I remember UB making us Peanut butter and bologna sandwiches in the summer. It was a great change from the regular bologna, and the regular PB sandwiches. I believe our pickles were on the side. and no cheese. But I would try it. heh

  22. I recently figured out the trick to authentic diner-style grilled cheese. The way they make them at most diners is they grill both sides of each slice of bread. So you butter the bread on both sides, grill each slice on one side, then flip the slices over. You put the cheese on the already grilled side of each slice while the other side grills. Then you put the two pieces together and you have a delightfully tender yet crispy grilled cheeese. I watched this being done at a diner and tried it at home. It greatly improved my efforts.

  23. izzybella says:

    This makes me want a grilled cheese sandwich so much.

  24. stacybuckeye says:

    I just made grilled cheese tonight. I did try it with bagel bottoms forthe first time and hubby liked it. Looks like I’ll have to take a look at this one!

  25. lol, one of my friends actually tried that sandwich…and said it was surprisingly good! I want to try it just for kicks. loved this book πŸ˜€

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