For my edition of the learning to cook Blog, I am going to start with something super simple: Grilled cheese sandwiches, one the key staple foods of a child growing up in the Midwest.
But these culinary treats should not just be for moms and kids. Playing around with the recipe some can turn this classic into a work of art, and I would like to show you how.
(Photo taken by Dan Tentler)
Now this is not the first time the guilty pleasures of grilled cheese have been toted on this site. Kelly Best-Oliver spells out her enjoyment of grilled cheese and tomatoe shallot soup. Robin Shreeves also encourages grilled cheese and tomato soup in her Thrifty Thursday Blog from September 2008.
However, both these Blogs do not improve the process of making grilled cheese to improve taste. I like to think that Grilled Cheese sandwiches can be a real meal, an almost delicacy if you will. That is where I, Jason Karnosky–the working food journalist come in.
What I suggest is a mix and match involving the food’s main ingredients–bread and cheese. Sounds simple enough, but this can really improve the meal.
Instead of cooking with plain old white or wheat bread, try a rye or sourdough. Using a grainier bread can really change up the taste. Or try toasting the bread on a slower, weaker setting for a little more flavor. Adding different seasonings to the butter can have the desired effect as well.
Where you can really be creative is in the CHEESE (this is where knowledge from my adopted home state of Wisconsin really helps). Get rid of those staple, processed American cheese slices. Try some delicious, soothing provolone or sharp cheddar for a little extra bite to really jazz up your sandwiches. I would even take this a step farther and try grating quality cheese blocks or picking up shredded cheese varieties of colby/marble jack or mozzarella. And as I said before, mix and match to optimize whatever taste you are looking for. I swear after you switch to different varieties, you will never go back to plain old processed American, at least on its own!
For a complimentary food to go with try a few different choices of soup, but not just that staple tomato soup. I suggest Cream of Broccoli or Cream of Chicken, any good cream based soup. Or if soup does not float your boat, I would say try steamed veggies, with melted cheese on top for a true Cheese lovers meal (Again stay away from classic cheese spreads, and try different varieties of blocks of cheese).
Good Luck and Good Eating.