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Serving grilled cheese sandwiches with a twist – News |

Serving grilled cheese sandwiches with a twist – News


We all know what it is! We put it in macaroni. We put it in pizza! We make it into sandwiches! We put it in a  casserole! Fritters, pastries, pastas and on!

But we really don’t know what cheese is, do we?

I have a friend who makes cheese, not much, but she has three cows, they all have names. It is not an easy job, making cheese, and when she takes an order to a cafe she has it labeled by the cow whose milk made the cheese. The cafe owner, in her menus, names each cow whose milk is making the cheese for that dish.

I take us to my food dictionary (you should know it by now) “Barron’s Cooking Guide: Food Lover’s Companion: Comprehensive definitions of over 3,000 Food, Wine and Culinary Terms.”

“Author Clifton Fadiman said it best when he described cheese as “milk’s leap toward immortality.” Almost everyone loves one type of cheese or another, whether it’s delectably mild, creamy and soft or pungent, hard and crumbly. To begin with, cheese can be broken down into two very broad categories — fresh and ripened. Within these basis categories, however, are a multitude of subdivisions, usually classified according to the texture of the cheese and how it is made. Naturally, many of these categories overlap because a cheese can have an entirely different character when young than it does when aged. Most cheese begins as milk (usually cow’s goat’s or sheep’s) that is allowed to thicken (sometimes with the addition of rennet or special bacteria) until it separates into a liquid (whey) and semisolids (curd).  The whey is drained off and the curds are either allowed to drain or pressed  into different shapes, depending on the variety.”

Well, it goes on for three pages: Fresh or unripened cheese. Ripened or aged cheese, firm cheeses, semifirm cheese, semisoft cheeses, soft ripened surface ripened blue-veined, pasta filata, whey cheeses and it goes on for two more pages.

Looking through the shelves of cookbooks, finding (and looking at) stacks of books, some I had even forgotten, and near the middle of the night I found this book: “Hot Cheesy,” by Clifford A. Wright.

Clifford A. Wright is the award winning author of 12 cookbooks, a writer for cook magazines and a food teacher.

So in the 404 pages of “Hot Cheesy,” he must know cheese.

I will give you his methods of the dish that we all know and don’t need a recipe to make, but you might want to try his seven methods. He opens the chapter:

Sandwiches with Cheese

One cannot write a chapter about cheese sandwiches and not have a grilled cheese sandwich. But here you’ll find a twist that takes advantage of all the real cheese being produced in the country today. All kinds of sandwiches are here that you may not have encountered before.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 “This was my favorite sandwich as a kid. But think about it: It’s bread and cheese, so why did we stick with Wonder Bread and American Cheese slices when the sandwich begs for only the best.”

“Here are some tips: Use the best loaf of bread you can get; grated cheese rather than using slices; make sure your butter is at room temperature for easy spreading; use lots of cheese (after all, it’s called a grilled cheese sandwich, not a diet sandwich); press down with a spatula while it cooks; cook the sandwich covered; and try some of the variations listed below. In my mind, a grilled cheese sandwich should be only melted cheese and bread. When one starts adding other ingredients, such as ham or tomatoes you’ve got a different sandwich.’

1. Butter one side of each of the eight slices of bread. Place four slices butter side down on a tray and divide the cheese among the slices. Cover the cheese with the four remaining slices, butter side up.

2. Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat for two minutes. Put two sandwiches in each skillet, cover and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about two minutes. Uncover, turn over with a spatula and cook, pressing with the spatula, until golden brown and the cheese is melted completely. Serve immediately.

Variation 1: Use Gruyere, Saint-Nectaire and Swiss cheese.

Variation 2: Use Edam, cheddar and Muenster.

Variation 3: Use cheddar, Monterey Jack and Muenster.

Variation 4:Use only orange-colored shredded cheddar for a traditional sandwich.

Variation 5: Put a layer of cooked ham on top of the cheese. (You can also spread some honey mustard on the ham.)

Variation6: Put a layer of cooked ham, a drizzle of truffle oil and some thick tomato slices on top of the cheese. Dip the whole sandwich in beaten egg before cooking. (Remember that truffle oil is a chemical additive and is not made from truffles.)

Here is your own way of doing a grilled cheese sandwich:

Variation 7: Use only one cheese of your choice.

Each method makes four servings.

And so… sandwiches are only beginning.

Remember hot and cheesy.

Joe Rhinehart can be reached by  e-mail at

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