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Grilled Cheese To Please


Chef Terrance Brennan, owner of Artisinal Bistro, and me at the 2012 Grilled Cheese contest.

Chef Terrance Brennan, owner of Artisanal Bistro, and me at the 2012 Grilled Cheese contest.

April is National Grilled Cheese month. Who knew? Well actually I did. In 2012 I was a finalist in Artisanal Bistro’s Best Grilled Cheese contest in New York City. Although my entry — The Three Cheese Crisp, wasn’t the ultimate victor, two judges said they loved it and gave it perfect scores. After all, what’s not to love about sourdough bread slathered with rosemary-infused butter, filled with Gruyere and Fontina cheeses with two Parmesan crisps tucked in between and grilled to gooey perfection?

Hungry yet? If so, great, because I’m sharing my recipe with you as well as one for Andalusian Gazpacho, which I think makes the perfect Grilled Cheese/Tomato Soup combo.

I will be doing a cooking demo of the Three Cheese Crisp and my new creation “The Weston,” (featuring fresh tomato jam) at the Farmers Market at Norfield Grange in Weston, Conn, later this month. But more about that another day.

It’s April, so smile, and say “Yes please to Grilled Cheese!” (Photos and recipes to follow)

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Three Cheese Crisp
Makes one super grilled cheese sandwich.
Ingredients:
2 slices sourdough bread, ½ inch thick
2 ounces Fontina cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 Parmesan Crisps (See recipe below)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1.  In a small bowl combine butter and rosemary.
2.  Spread half the rosemary butter on outside of one slice of bread.
3.  On the unbuttered side, sprinkle with the grated Fontina cheese. Cover with two Parmesan Crisps, then sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese.
4.  Top with second slice of bread, spread the top with the remaining rosemary butter.
5.  Place sandwich in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Place a 9-ounce cook’s press weight (or something similar such as a brick warpped in foil) on top and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bottom is golden brown.  Remove weight and flip, place weight on top again, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until that side is golden brown.
6.  Remove from pan, cut sandwich in half and serve with a shooter or cup of cold Andalusian Gazpacho.

Parmesan Crisps

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Parmesan Crisps
You gotta like a recipe with ONE ingredient! These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container until ready to use. This recipe will make more crisps than needed for a sandwich. Great on their own as a cracker alternative. Very low carbs!

Ingredients:
8 tablespoons fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater.
(Use an imported Italian cheese, it’s expensive yes, but inferior domestic cheeses do not work. And NEVER use pre-grated cheese, especially the stuff in the “green can,” it especially won’t work.

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Line a rectangular baking pan with parchment paper.
3.  Place a 2-inch biscuit/cookie-cutter at least one inch from the top and side of the pan, and sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese evenly into the mold. Remove mold and repeat with remaining cheese, spacing cheese mounds at least one-inch apart from each other and the sides of the pan.
4.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cheese crisps start to turn golden brown.
5. Remove from oven and let set a minute, then remove crisps and place on cooling rack until cool. Yield 8 crisps.

A shooter of Andalusian Gazpacho

A shooter of Andalusian Gazpacho

Andalusian Gazpacho (I’m not a fan of hot tomato soups. This cold Gazpacho made with fresh tomatoes sings my song.)

Ingredients:
1 (2-inch-long) piece French bread, crust discarded
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 to 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. Soak bread in 1/2 cup water 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.
2. In a food processor, blend bread, garlic, salt, vinegar, sugar, cumin, and half of the tomatoes until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add remaining tomatoes with motor running and, when finely chopped, gradually add the oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.
3. Strain by forcing soup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing firmly on solids. Discard solids. Transfer to a glass container and chill, covered, until cold, about 3 hours. Season with additional salt and vinegar if desired before serving.

Articles about the 2012 Grilled Cheese contest in the Danbury News Times:

New Fairfield woman makes grilled cheese to please – NewsTimes

UPDATE New Fairfield woman wows Manhattan food critic – NewsTimes

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2 thoughts on “Grilled Cheese To Please

  1. bubblesncups on said:

    I can’t wait to try this again! I have made the parmesan crisps, and I will try the signature grilled cheese crisp after I watch the demo live again =)

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