November 18, 2008

Cheese Sandwiches

It’s time to play catch up.

I haven’t been very good lately at letting you know how the whole Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone cook-a-meal-a-day thing has been going. And seeing how that’s one of the main reasons I started this blog, I really should be doing better.

Well, I hate to admit it…but we are still in the sandwiches chapter. I know, I know, people. It’s been – what? Two and a half months? Is that really possible?

Yes, yes it is. BUT. We are very nearly done sandwiches, and about to move into the exciting lands of salads and soups! Yes! You can’t even imagine how thrilled I will be to eat something for supper that doesn’t involve two slices of bread.

Not that I’m complaining. The sandwiches have mostly been delicious, and I’ve definitely tried some combinations that I never would have before that I am keeping in my repertoire. Like, for example, some of these:

Cheese Sandwiches


I'm clearly not a very good blog editor. J was scrolling through my posts and pointed out that I already talked about cheese sandwiches - last month. And shared these photos with you. Heh. Sorry for the lack of memory, and I hope you enjoy hearing about these. Again.

There are three definite keepers here. One of them I had had before – cheese and apple. I remember we had this kids’ cookbook at my house and one of the recipes was for a Happle Bagel Sandwich of something like that – a bagel with cheese and apple. But Deborah Madison shakes it up a bit and adds watercress to make it tart and strong. You could use arugula too, or any other kind of salad greens.

These next two are very grown-up sandwiches. The first is Smoked Mozzarella with Olive Paste and Roasted Peppers. I couldn’t find smoked mozzarella when I made this (of course I saw it at a different grocery store later) so I just used regular, but the sandwich was still delicious. Cover a slice of toasted bread with olive paste* and thin overlapping slices of mozzarella. Broil just long enough to soften the cheese, then crisscross with strips of roasted peppers (you can make these yourself – see how here – or buy them in a jar). Spoon a little pesto or salsa verde over the top (if you don’t have any, I think it would still be good) and shower with freshly milled pepper. The different flavour combinations going on here are delightful and very hearty.

Next we have an Open-Faced Sandwich with Blue Cheese, Pears, and Roasted Nuts. I ate this one at home alone one night when J was out because he is not a fan of blue cheese (although he says he’s determined to like it…eventually.) But this combo is just perfect on a sandwich. Not hard to make, in fact just like it sounds. I have to admit, however: I like blue cheese but the flavour is so strong I can only eat it every once in a while. In fact when I think back to this sandwich I can still almost taste it in my mouth. In a love-hate kinda way.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It’s a classic. And so obvious that you might wonder what it’s doing in this book. But think about it: making and eating a good grilled cheese sandwich has its own pure pleasure. Especially for my husband, who had a habit a few years back of making them for breakfast, and still loves them.

Since your basic grilled cheese only has a few ingredients – bread, butter and cheese – the important thing is to make sure all three are of high quality. (Unless of course, your idea of grilled cheese goes back to your childhood and is Ben’s white bread with Kraft singles. Well, I’m trying my best not to judge you. Such things did not exist in my house when I was a kid, for better of for worse.)

I’m not going to give you Deborah Madison’s “recipe”, cause this is just too easy. You can use any cheese you want, and I don’t even remember what kind I used when I made this. I really like cheddar or jack. Put slices of your cheese between two slices of any sturdy bread. If you really want it to be brilliant, use lots of butter. Enough to cover the bottom of your pan when it melts. When the butter foams, add the sandwich and fry until golden brown. Pick it up and add MORE butter! to your pan. Then fry it on the other side. The cheese will be melty and oozing and the golden crust will be fragrant and crisp. Devour.

Deborah also introduced me to a couple new ways of eating grilled cheese. You can spoon some salsa between the slices after you’ve grilled it, which adds a nice fresh snap of flavour. Or you can make grilled cream cheese sandwiches – subtle, and surprisingly tasty.

It seems I neglected to take any pictures of the grilled cheese sandwiches. Clearly I thought they looked too boring. I’m sure you can imagine them, and then you can go and make your own.

* If you like olives, olive paste is a good thing to have in the fridge, and it adds a bite to many a good sandwich. Deborah’s recipe is one cup olives, ¼ cup capers, 2 small garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh), 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. You whir it all in a blender or food processor until smooth, or keep it kind of chunky if you prefer.


Anonymous said...

I like to put tomato slices or avocado (YUMM) in my "cheese" sandwiches before I grill them. avocado really takes it over the top.

HAPPLE BAGEL SANDWICH!! I think it involved PB too? and the H was because it was a half a bagel, i think. The bagel has returned to my life these days - there are vegan ones here!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to message you on facebook soon and let you know about some of the very awesome grocery stores/markets here... including my secret cheese store.

Anne said...

Yes, I thought the Happle Bagel included PB, too. and possibly not cheese...

Of course Ben's white bread and Kraft singles not being part of your childhood was for BETTER, wasn't it? I remember having that kind of grilled cheese in a restaurant when I was a kid (and liking it) but we didn't have that stuff at home, either.

The blue cheese, pears and nuts sounds awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Isabelle, I love your blog! Had a delicious pear and blue cheese salad recently and am intrigued by your sandwich of the same combination. Were there any other ingredients in it I should know about before making it?
Hope all is well in Edmonton!

Isabelle said...

Gina - thanks! The only instructions for that sandwich are to lightly toast some bread, cover with thinly sliced blue cheese, sprinkle roasted hazelnuts or walnuts over top and then add sliced pears. Season with pepper and a little chopped chervil, tarragon or parsley (I didn't do that and it was still great). Enjoy!