A friend of mine recently told me about a restaurant in San Francisco that only serves grilled cheese sandwiches. Apparently customers are lined up out the door. In fact, there are a number of these gooey enterprises popping up all across the country. We’re talkin’ food carts to gourmet panini shops. Build your own, to crazy creative concoctions. I’ve seen everything from the classic American cheese version, to brie, raspberry and chocolate chip "Sweetest Things." There’s even an annual Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles.
It seems fitting doesn’t it? We’re all stressed out about the economy and we just want to return to a simpler time when mom made grilled cheese on white bread and served it with a cup of tomato soup. Heidi Gibson, Commander-in-Cheese of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco, affirms that it’s more than just the food, they are trying to create "a feeling of relief [like] you are back in your mom’s kitchen..."
I was inspired to come up with my own grilled cheese opus - Sharp Cheddar and Apple Butter. Old timers will tell you that you should always serve apple pie with a wedge of cheddar cheese. The sharpness of the cheddar compliments the apple-y cinnamon-spiced tang of the apple butter.
Here’s how to make it: Start with slices of French bread, butter the outside of each slice. Then, spread apple butter on the inside of each slice. Top the apple butter with sharp cheddar and grill to perfection. You can throw a little bacon on it if you are feeling more adventurous.
Imagine the combination -- the salty, sweet-smoked bacon melted into the tangy sharp cheese with the sweet spice of apple butter tying it all together. Tastes like fall, doesn’t it?
What’s your favorite grilled cheese sandwich? Do you stick to tradition or experiment?
1SwtWrld - Have you seen the pre-made frozen PB&J sandwiches by Smuckers? Now that's crazy! Thanks for your comment! ~ Chef Erin
It's pretty crazy when there is a grilled cheese and company restaurant around where I live, so it is become that lazy..lol...people are opening up grilled cheese rest.
I love, apple, ham & cheddar cheese, one of my winter favs.
Oh! jlindseyc - I love brie grilled cheese. I make mine with prosciutto. Same, same really. That's a good one! ~ Chef Erin
Since you wrote this article, I have had grilled cheese (two different ways) and tomato soup twice! Thanks for reminding me how much I LOVE it.
i recently had a grilled cheese made with brie, ham and granny smith apples - yum!
Psychocow - What a lovely memory. Thanks for sharing - and your grilled cheese concoction sounds tasty. It reminds me of a Muffuletta sandwich because of the tapenade and provolone. So good! ~ Chef Erin
Grilled cheese is the very embodiment of American comfort food. My dad had his own recipe, as did my mom but the end result was the same, a big smile on my face! My sons grew up knowing the joy of grilled cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup on a cold winter's night. And now I look forward to teaching my grandson about the crusty, gooey sampling of love that the grilled cheese sandwich embraces. My favorite grownup version of the sandwich is on grilled sourdough with mozzarella and provolone cheeses topped with fresh basil and an olive tapanade. I look forward to trying a few of the suggestions to kick my sandwiches up a notch.
I've tried a variety, from grilled onions, to fresh basil, to tomato slices, to cowhorn peppers... it's all good! I'll continue to experiment with new ideas. Some good ones here. Plus it's a great way to clean out the pantry and fridge. It's a great idea for a party when the girls come over next time, leave out the press and ingredients and let them have at it. Maybe give a prize for the best invention.
Melodyw - Smokey cheese and apple - delicious! Let me know if you ever try the apple butter, instead. Thanks - Chef Erin
heatmn - You know, I have never used pepper jack on a grilled cheese! Isn't that funny? You just inspired a new idea though. How about a whole roasted green chili or diced green chili with tomato and cheese? My stomach is growling already. Thanks for the comment. ~ Chef Erin
Cherylie - I love grilled cheese and tomato too. Yum ~ Chef Erin
i love a smokey cheese with thin slices of apple it is so good this is how i fix my grilled cheese
I love the old-fashioned buttered bread with a piece of cheese in the middle cooked crispy on both sides. Always a treat for me.
I love a fresh slice of tomato & muenster cheese! Sometimes I'll pair the tomato w/ pepperjack.