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The Art of the Cheese Grille.
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Spice-Up Grilled Cheese
8 ounces extra-sharp NY cheddar–thinly sliced
6 tbs butter
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies* available at fine grocery shops
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 3/4-inch-thick slices sourdough bread
Blend tomato paste, chilies, and molasses in processor until smooth. Spread 1 tablespoon chipotle mixture over 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange 6 bread slices, chipotle side up,
on work surface. Divide half of cheese among bread slices. Top with tomatoes, then onion, cilantro, and remaining cheese. Top sandwiches with remaining bread, chipotle side down. Spread butter on outside of sandwich tops and bottoms. Heat 2 large griddles over medium heat. Place 3 sandwiches on each griddle; cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side.
Two-Cheese Croque Monsieurs
6 ounces thinly sliced Gruyère cheese
1 pound thinly sliced baked smoked ham
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon water
12 arugula leaves, stemmed
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices dense peasant or sour dough bread
Top half of the bread slices with the Gruyère and ham. Trim the overhang and add to the sandwiches. Top with the arugula and Cheddar. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Dip 1 side of the remaining bread slices into the egg; top the sandwiches with the bread, egg side up, and sprinkle with the parsley, tarragon and thyme. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter on a cast-iron griddle.
Add the sandwiches, egg side up, and cook over moderately low heat until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes; transfer to a work surface. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Return the sandwiches to the griddle, egg side down. Cook, pressing lightly with a spatula, until golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve with mustard.
Triple Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches
1 pound Fontina Cheese coarsely shredded (about 5 1/2 cups )
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 white Pullman loaves—ends discarded, each loaf cut into twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices
Preheat the oven to 325°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the halved tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the tomatoes cut side up for 1 1/2 hours, until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the tomatoes are very tender and slightly shriveled but still juicy.
Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 375°. Brush 16 bread slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil–arrange 8 of the slices oiled side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with the provolone and the unbrushed bread slices. Cover with the tomatoes, 4 cups of the Fontina and the remaining
8 bread slices, oiled side up. Press gently on the sandwiches and bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Preheat the broiler. Toss the remaining Fontina with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle on the sandwiches. Broil 3 inches from the heat for about 1 minute, until the cheese is melted. Transfer the sandwiches to plates and serve.
Grilled Blue Cheese Sandwiches with Walnuts and Watercress
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
16 small watercress sprigs
16 slices whole wheat bread, trimmed into crustless 3-inch squares
Divide cheese and walnuts equally among 8 bread squares. Top each with 2 watercress sprigs. Sprinkle with pepper and top with remaining bread squares, making 8 sandwiches total. Press together gently to adhere. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.) Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Cook 4 sandwiches on griddle until golden brown and cheese melts, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board. Repeat with remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 4 sandwiches.
Cut sandwiches diagonally in half. Transfer to plates and serve.
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