In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, we asked our resident food enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief Caroline to share some of her favorite original recipes.
CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE
The great thing about grilled cheese, of course, is that it tastes pretty great no matter what cheap ingredients you use. That said, I wanted to challenge myself to create the ultimate classic grilled cheese, and this is it for me. Not only do extraordinary local ingredients give it a flavor boost, superior techniques really send it over the edge: salting and peppering the skillet seasons the bread slightly, and grilling it covered over low heat ensures a melty center.
2 slices Grand Central Bakery como bread
1-2 oz Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, sliced ¼” thick
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
Layer cheese on one piece of bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and add a pat of butter (approx. ½ tbl, enough to coat bottom of pan). Sprinkle a small amount of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper into the pan and let sizzle for a few moments. Place sandwich in pan and cover. Let cook for a few minutes, turning when the underside is golden brown and the cheese has started to melt. Continue cooking until both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melted and sizzling.
OPEN-FACED GRILLED [GOAT] CHEESE WITH SPRING VEGETABLES AND HERBS
This fancified grilled cheese is a simple, yet satisfying way to get the most out of seasonal produce. Herb-coated chevre is available at most grocery stores, most cheaply at Trader Joe’s.
3 asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, roughly diced
¼ cup thinly sliced leeks
1 slice rosemary bread
2 tbl chevre with herbs
Finely-grated parmesan and black pepper, for garnish
Place asparagus in a small skillet with 2 tbl water. Cover and steam over medium heat until slightly softened, approx. 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low, drain water, and add leeks and ½ tbl butter. Saute for a few minutes, until leeks are translucent and fragrant. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Melt an additional ½ tbl butter in pan and add rosemary bread. Toast until golden brown on either side. Remove from pan and let cool until just cool enough to handle. Spread with chevre and top with vegetables, then a sprinkling of parmesan and some black pepper. Return to pan and cover. Let cook for a few minutes until parmesan has
FRENCH ONION GRILLED CHEESE
This grilled cheese recasts the iconic French onion soup in sandwich form. A melty lid of gruyere is the classic finish for the soup, but if your wallet can’t handle the spendy French cheese, regular old Swiss works well too. One sliced yellow onion is enough for a single sandwich, but since caramelizing onions is a slow process, it makes sense to make a big batch and save the leftovers.
3 small yellow onions, sliced
2 slices French bread
1-2 oz gruyere or Swiss cheese
Beef stock or jus, for dipping (optional)
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and toss to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with a sprinkling of kosher salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and lowering heat if necessary to prevent burning, until onions are very brown and caramelized. Remove from pan. Place a generous spoonful of caramelized onions on a slice of French bread and top with cheese. Top with another piece of French bread. Heat a pat of butter over medium-low heat and add sandwich. Grill on both sides until golden brown and melted. Serve with a small bowl of beef stock or jus for dipping.
CAMEMBERT AND FIG GRILLED CHEESE
Pleasantly funky camembert cheese is the centerpiece of this sweet-and-salty creation. Look for fig preserves in the jam section of the grocery store or at Trader Joe’s, where it’s sold as fig butter. Essential Baking Company, headquartered in Georgetown, makes a tasty raisin pecan bread that’s widely available at Seattle grocery stores.
2 slices raisin pecan bread
1-2 tbl fig jam
1-2 oz room-temperature camembert, sliced
Spread fig jam on one slice of bread. Top with slices of camembert, another layer of fig jam if desired, and another piece of bread. Melt a pat of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Place sandwich in pan and fry until golden brown on both sides.
SPICED TOMATO BASIL SOUP
What’s a grilled cheese without a tomato soup? This is a great standard recipe to keep in your arsenal. The bit of sriracha that gets added at the end adds a subtle heat, making this the perfect dipping soup. This soup can easily be made vegan by omitting the half-and-half.
1 tbl olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups plain tomato juice
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tbl sriracha
1 ½ cups half-and-half
¼ cup roughly chopped basil
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add canned tomatoes and tomato juice, stir and cook until bubbling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sriracha, half-and-half and basil. Cook for another few minutes so flavors can meld. Serve hot, topped with more basil and pepper. Makes 8 cups of soup.