Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Grilled Cheese, Please!

Grilled Cheese Please!
50 Scrumptiously Cheesy Recipes

by Laura Werlin
Hardcover, 184 pages

When I told my husband we were reviewing a grilled cheese book he got very excited. Like 8-year old excited. That's the reaction grilled cheese can incite. There's something about melty cheese and toasty bread that brings out the kid in all of us, but as adults we also have the desire and ability to kick it up a notch, add a little sumpin sumpin. That's what Laura Werlin has done for us in this cute little book, taken grilled cheese to a whole new level.

There are 50 recipes for grilled cheese sammies that you will definitely want to try, as well as tips on how to get the most out of your breads and cheeses (including a guide to the different types of breads and cheeses and their properties as pertains to grilled cheese!) and, most importantly, how to grill the best grilled cheese sandwiches. There are tips for pan, outside grill, and sandwich press grilled cheese. So you have no excuse, get grilling!

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we made the Mozzarella with Crispy Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe first. I think that this was the first time I had even crisped up prosciutto, what a revelation! The broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) is tender and slightly bitter and a great complement to the crispy, salty prosciutto and the cheese gets all lovely and melty in the folds of the greens.

Mozzarella with Crispy Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe
From- Grilled Cheese, Please!

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a bitter green often used in Italian cooking. When nestled in the folds of the gooey mozzarella, the greens along with the crispy prosciutto create a sandwich almost as soulful as
Italy itself.

8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces)
¼ cup olive oil
12 ounces broccoli rabe (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed and coarsely chopped (or use Swiss chard or Tuscan kale)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¹⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¹⁄8 teaspoon salt
8 sandwich-size slices Italian bread (or use pain au levain or sourdough)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced if water-packed; otherwise coarsely grated

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and line a plate with paper towels. Add the prosciutto slices to the skillet (you may need to do this in batches) and cook until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side.

Transfer to the paper towels to drain. The prosciutto will become crisper as it cools.

Add enough oil to make 2 tablespoons fat in the pan. Heat over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, tender, and bright green yet caramelized around a few of the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. (Add water to the pan if it seems dry.) Add the lemon 24 juice, red pepper flakes, and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a plate. Wipe out the skillet but don’t wash it.

To assemble: Brush the remaining oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread, oil side down, on your work surface. Distribute the broccoli rabe and follow with the prosciutto. Pile the cheese on top, compressing it with your hand if necessary, and top with the remaining bread slices, oil side up.

For stovetop method: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the undersides are well browned. Remove the cover, turn the sandwiches once more, and press firmly with the spatula once again. Cook for 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted completely.

Remove from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

For sandwich maker method: Preheat the sandwich maker. Follow directions for assembly above. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Mozzarella with Crispy Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe, done in the sandwich press
And next we tried the Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese. One of the selling factors for me? The chips are ground up and combined with the butter to make a super-crunchy exterior to your sandwich. Wild! We loved it. I did these ones in the pan, and didn't press down much on them so as not to smush the tender guac. Absolutely delicious and so much fun to eat!

Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese
From- Grilled Cheese, Please!

In this recipe, tortilla chips are on the outside of the bread to give the sandwich its corn-like flavor and to give you the ability to enjoy all the flavors—guacamole, bacon, cheeses, and corn chips—all at once.

8 slices bacon
8 large tortilla chips (about 2 ounces)
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
8 slices sourdough bread
½ cup guacamole (recipe follows; or use purchased, preferably one with tomato in it)
2 tablespoons peeled, seeded, diced Roma tomato (see Note)
4 ounces Colby cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces goat cheese

Line a plate with paper towels. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until very crisp. Drain the bacon on the paper towels.

Remove the bacon fat from the pan and wipe the pan with a paper towel, but do not wash it. Set aside.

To make the tortilla chip butter, put the chips in the bowl of a food processor and process until the texture is very fine, similar to sand. Alternatively, place the chips in a sturdy plastic bag. Using a meat mallet or other heavy object, pound the chips until they are the texture of sand.

Put the butter in a medium bowl and add the ground chips. Using a fork, work the chip “sand” and butter together until well mixed. The mixture will be somewhat stiff.

To assemble: Spread the butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, butter-chip mixture side down, on your work surface. Spread 2 tablespoons of the guacamole on each slice of bread. Sprinkle the tomato on top of the guacamole. Follow with the colby and Monterey Jack cheeses. Dot with small pieces of the goat cheese. Finish by placing 2 bacon pieces on each sandwich. Top with the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

For stovetop method: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Watch carefully because the chips in the butter can burn easily. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to compress the filling slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the undersides are well browned. Turn the sandwiches once more, press firmly with the spatula again, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the pan. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

For sandwich maker method: Use your sandwich maker for this sandwich only if it has variable heat settings. Otherwise, it will cook too hot and burn the chips on the bread without melting the cheese.

To use your sandwich maker, follow directions for assembly above. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: There’s no need to use the tomato if your guacamole already has tomato in it.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese, done in the pan
Grilled Cheese, Please! is tons of fun and yummy at that! This is Werlin's second book on grilled cheese, her first book, Great Grilled Cheese, was a huge hit and she gets even more inventive in this one. Just in time for National Grilled Cheese Month!