Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt Paperback – Aug 1 2004
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A really great grilled cheese sandwich is hard to find. Too often a thin, square slice of American cheese, released from its plastic case, is slapped on wimpy white bread, slathered with butter and toasted. Within minutes, it becomes limp and greasy. But a really great grilled cheese is not hard to make, and its secrets have been disclosed in a tempting new book, "Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt" by Marlena Spieler). A quick browse though the book may first hook you with its gorgeous color photos and hip design. But a further look reveals recipes created with inspired combinations. For instance, supple slices of fresh mozzarella and salty proscuitto are spread with sweet fig jam and enclosed within crisply toasted bread, making a union that's simply perfect. And roasted red pepper, sweet onion and a hearty dose of paprika are innovative twists on the standard tuna melt. But aside from the terrific recipes, Spieler has written a book that's packed with useful tips and information about her subject. A brief glossary of cheeses, suggestions for pairing cheese with the perfect bread partner, and ideas for dressing up Dijon mustard are just some of the finds. A bonus is a nice recipe for tomato soup, the classic partner of the grilled cheese sandwich. This one, however, is finished with an aromatic spoonful of basil pesto and a swirl of cr me fraiche. Try Spieler's technique for pressing sandwiches. The bread is lightly brushed with olive oil or butter and set into a heavy, hot skillet. Another heavy pan is placed on top and lightly pressed, compacting the ingredients so they meld as one. The bread becomes perfectly crisp and browned, the cheese melting and luscious. It's a heavenly match if there ever was one. -Seattle Times
About the Author
Marlena Spieler is the author of over 50 cookbooks published worldwide and has written for Bon Appetit and Saveur . She writes the award-winning food column 'The Roving Feast,' and is a three-time James Beard nominee. Born in Sacramento, California, she currently lives in Hampshire, England.
Sheri Giblin is a food and lifestyle photographer. She lives in San Francisco.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I know what I'm having for lunch, grilled American cheese on white bread with tomato soup. Although, that may disappoint the author, as she says, "American cheese is probably the most famous processed cheese. Don't expect to find it in this book. Why choose processed cheese when there are so many fabulous cheeses to choose from?" (p. 17) Well, first off, I'm in a reminiscent mood. Second, I have the ingredients in the house. But I promise, next time I hit my local cheese shop, I'll have to get some Telleggio and make the "Austin Powers' Shag-a-delic 1970s Grilled Ham, Cheese and Pineapple" or some Gruyere for a classic "Croque Monsieur."
I always thought I was creative when I took spinach, pears, and brie and made a very classy little grilled cheese pressed between some heavy skillets. However, Marlena Spieler - a long time writer for Bon Appetit and author of many cookbooks - has brought grilled cheese to a new level. Her book Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt is just the thing to bring a creative comfort to your kitchen during the cold season.
The book starts out with a comprehensive review and introduction. She begins by covering various types of cheeses (blue viened, soft, cow, goat, semi-hard, spiced, bloomy rind, smoked and so on in extremely specifc subcategories) and how each can be perfectly utilized and paired for your own creative uses. All are accompanied by a short description describing their general flavors and properties. Since one may not be able to eat a whole wedge of cheese, Spieler also considers the proper storage and handling of cheeses. To further aide the grilled cheese selection process, a section covering breads, meats, fuits, chutneys and so on are all covered so that your experience with her recipes and your own home concoctions! At the back is even a resource guide on where to find good cheese stores or markets, and suggestions on finding local cheeses.
But how do the recipes stand up? Perfectly. Rob and I have already found a few favorites, ensuring that we now keep a few select cheeses on hand, and nudging us to always experiment with a new piece of stinky goodness. Rob's current favorite is the Mediterranean Meltdown; tomatoes, Mahon cheese, and fresh thyme on olive bread. We threw in some sauteed red onions as well for a truly filling and rustic sammich!
I've become partial to the fresh mozarella, fig jam, and prosciutto for it's sweet and salty sensations. The raddicchio, Roquefort and toasted pecans on pain au levain is another delectible tid-bit that goes well next to a blazing heater or roaring fire place.
Breaking out the heavy skillet is definetly part of the charm, but don't think that some of these don't mix it up. Classics such as the tuna melt are revamped. Recipes calling for home made chili aioli, and fruity chutneys make for a flavorful and fun experience and a perfect excuse to visit local farmer's markets. Desserts, salads, and a classic accompaniments also adorn the book, and well as a small section for a few homemade mustards to keep things spicy!
The book is filled to the brim with gorgeous photos any photographer would envy. Sheri Giblin, a local San Francisco food photographer, has done an excellent job bring each and every recipe to life. Luckilly with grilled cheese being such a simple fare, many times yours will look much like the photo. Mine have to my total surprise.
[...] I highly suggest you go order a bargain book copy. Mine has one or two stickers on it, but really, who cares? The book has tons of great ideas, and will fill you with inspiration for simple meals, and fun lunches with friends.
Overall, the book is shibby, affordable, and truly cheesy.
As the author, Marlena Spieler, says at the outset: "Crisply toasted in the pan or broiled open-face to a melty sizzle, there are few things more enticing than a grilled cheese sandwich."
An early part of the book focuses on "A Guide to the Grilled." Such hot topics as the following are addressed: What kind of cheese to use? What kind of bread to use? What extras might work? For instance, with a standard grilled cheese sandwich, I find that a tomato inserted into the sandwich adds a nice touch. And so on. . . .
I'll begin with my favorite--Croque monsieur. The recipe in this book is quite a bit different than the simple version I make. I put some Swiss cheese (I like to use gruyere) and boiled ham inside of bread, slather the outside with butter, and fry it up. This version, instead, broils the sandwich. It really sounds tasty, so I suspect that I'll soon be experimenting.
Another recipe in this book that caught my fancy: Panini Inglese. This tidbit features rare roast beef, blue cheese, and watercress. Using a panini press (I simply must acquire one of these!) or skillet, you heat this up and enjoy the result. The picture of the resulting sandwich is awfully tempting.
And then there is the New Orleans version--Muffaletta. I've enjoyed these over time (although I haven't consumed as many as I'd like!). With this recipe, I think I'll create a few of these treats at home.
And so many more (about 50 in all). At the close, the author adds "accompaniments," salads, side dishes, mustards, and so on.
If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, this is a nice resource. I look forward to expanding my repertoire of recipes!
Trust me, this book oozes with great content. The recipes include the relatively simple- putting together a special grilled cheese with one of the many well-thought out selections of breads, cheeses, seasonings and accompaniments (like chutney, spicy greens or pickles). Even the simple ones are not combos that I would have thought of, like the tasty Panini Inglese, built from classically English treats like Stilton, watercress, and roast beef.
The book also includes some recipes that are a bit more involved, like the Hot Muffaletta or the Sage, Sausage and Jack Cheese Sandwich with preserved lemons. It's a wonderful exploration of grilled cheese, and I think you will be impressed. I'm certainly enjoying it.
If you think you know grilled cheese sandwiches, you don't, at least not these prepared by Marlena Spieler with photography by Sheri Giblin. The photos make you want to reach in and grab that yummy sandwich; the recipe titles alone are just divine! On the same page with the fig jam/cheese on panini is Rare Roast Beef with Blue Cheese and Watercress grilled on sourdough rolls.
That is one of the unusual aspects of the cookbook: all kinds of cheese are described, types of breads, and that "little extra something" that goes inside, as well as cooking techniques. In the back, accompaniments are included with their recipes. Things like Tomato soup, various salads, side dishes, and sweeties.
How about some Fresh Ginger Mustard or Sun-Drenched Mustard with a Whiff of Citrus (recipes included) to go with a sandwich, but not simultaneously! Would you like to try Crisp Little Roquefort Sandwiches with Gingered Beet Marmalade? Or from the South of France Blue Cheese and Gruyere on Banquette bread and broiled. Or sliced tomatoes, toasted walnuts and goat cheese on panini bread, then toasted.
The book is a veritable walk through cheese and bread land. If you love both and are willing to delight your taste buds with exotic combinations and flavors, then this is the book to take to the kitchen!