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Back to the Kitchen: The Perfect Couple — Grilled Cheese and Soup Recipes to Savor

Posted By Karen Young On April 9, 2013 @ 12:22 am In Eat,Food,My Daily Find,Recipes,Recipes,Sandwiches,Soups | No Comments

gwenapronBY GWEN KENNEALLY

grilledcheese

April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and I couldn’t be more excited to pay homage to the classic American sandwich. Often paired with a piping hot bowl of soup, this kiddie’s favorite has grown up beautifully. With the adult addition of designer cheese, bacon, grilled onions, prosciutto, pears, and almost anything else you can dream up, you really can take a culinary adventure back to your childhood and beyond.

The perfect grilled cheese sandwich  can have as few as three ingredients, so strive to find the best of what you have on hand. (I got so hungry while I was compiling these recipes that I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich using Tuscan-style butter with olive oil, garlic, herbs, sprouted Ezekiel bread and Kerry gold reserved Irish cheddar. For butter  (yes, you must use real butter —  not sprays).  And duly note — salted butter works best.

Cheese is the most important part of the sandwich and the big rule is that it must melt easily or else you’ll burn the outside of the bread while waiting for melty goodness.  It’s best to bring your cheese to room temperature before cooking your sandwich. Also, grating or shredding the cheese will help ensure that it melts faster and more evenly.

The finished sandwich should have bread that is light, crispy, and golden brown outside with a moist and tender inside that has soaked up all of the buttery goodness while still retaining the ability to hold in all of the ingredients and melted cheese. Keep in mind that the thicker the bread, the longer you will need to cook to allow the cheese in the middle to melt, so thinner is generally better.

I love sourdough bread and if I can plan ahead or make sandwiches for an event, I’ll order sfv sourdough from PR BREAD. For a lovely assortment of cheese I visit  the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.

Pair your sandwich with a favorite soup for a hearty  meal.  I like a soup with a little heat on a windy spring day, while a chilled heirloom tomato soup with a grilled cheese makes for a perfect summer afternoon.

What ever your favorite combo, please enjoy these recipes and create some new favorites as we celebrate all things grilled cheese.

Perfect Grilled Cheese for 1

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 slices sourdough bread, day old

3 ounces cheese, grated/shredded, room temperature

Heat a pan over medium heat. Completely butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread in the pan, buttered side down, sprinkle on the cheese and top with the remaining slice of bread, buttered side up. Turn the heat down a notch and cook until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2-4 minutes.

Grilled BLT Cheese

8 slices sourdough bread

16 slices cheddar cheese

16 slices Gruyère cheese

16 slices cooked bacon

8 slices tomato

4-tablespoon butter

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, and then stack buttered sides together. Layer 2 slices cheddar on top of each bread stack, then bacon slices, Gruyere cheese, then tomatoes and finally the remaining slices of cheese. Place bread buttered side down in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Cover with lid and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Reduce heat to medium and flip sandwich to other side and cook for 2-3 minutes or until bread is toasty golden and cheese has melted. Serves 4.

Grilled Caprese Sandwich

8 slices sliced Italian bread, French bread, or sourdough bread

8 slices of a fresh mozzarella cheese, about 1/4 inch thick

8 slices of tomato, about 1/4 inch thick

8 basil leaves

8 teaspoons basil pesto

Butter

Salt and pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Heat your skillet to medium high heat or heat your panini press. Brush the outside of your bread with butter. Flip over and spread about 1 teaspoon of basil pesto on the inside of each slice of bread. Place your mozzarella slices on top of the pesto on the bottom pieces of bread. Next, layer your tomato slices and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Top with the basil leaves and your top pieces of bread. Cook sandwiches in a pan or Panini press for 3- 5 minutes per side until golden brown and the mozzarella has melted. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the side or over the top. Serves 4.

Bacon and Apple Grilled Cheese

1-tablespoon butter

8 Slices multi-grain bread

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced.

8 strips cooked bacon

Heat the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Slather 4 slices of bread with the mustard, and then divide the cheese, apples and bacon among them. Top with the other bread slices and add to the hot pan. Cook until deep brown and crunchy about 10 to 12 minutes total. Serves 4.

Three Cheese and Fig Melt

2 tablespoons butter

8 slices of sourdough bread

16 dried figs, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons toasted pecans, chopped

12 tablespoons goat cheese

12 slices Brie, about three inches long

4 slices havarti cheese

4 tablespoons honey

Heat the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Divide the figs, toasted pecans and cheeses into four and place on four slices of sourdough. Drizzle with honey and place the other 4 pieces of bread on top. Gently push together. Add to the hot pan. Cook until deep brown and crunchy about 10 to 12 minutes total. Serves 4.

Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Chili Cream

3 red peppers

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic

3/4 cup sherry or sherry vinaigrette

8 tomatoes peeled and seeded

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs thyme, chopped

1 bunch basil, chopped

1-tablespoon fresh black pepper

1-cup heavy cream

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste. Cut red pepper and roast on 350 oven for 45 minutes. (You can also place directly on a gas flame). In a large soup pan sauté olive oil, garlic and onion. Add the sherry and stir until it evaporates.vStir in the tomatoes and stock.vAdd the herbs and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and red peppers. Simmer 15 minutes. In small batches blend or process the soup until smooth serve with a dollop of chili cream.

Chili Cream

1 green chili

2 cloves garlic

1 cup spinach leaves, blanched in hot water

1/2-cup heavy cream

Juice of one lime

Salt and pepper

In a small food processor place the chili, garlic, spinach and process until smooth. Add the lime and salt. Dollop over the soup.

Curried Red Pepper Soup

4 large red bell peppers, chopped

2 medium onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cups sour cream

1-teaspoon curry powder

Pepper to taste

Sauté onion and pepper in butter over medium heat 
When peppers are soft, add the curry powder and stock and cover 
Once the peppers are soft, add cream, and puree 
Return to low heat and simmer uncovered until a rich soupy consistency is attained. 
Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp curry powder

¼- cup tomato paste

2 (15 ounce can) crushed tomatoes

6 cups vegetable stock

½- cup red lentils

Heat oil in large pan, add onions, garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until onions are soft Add the rest of the ingredients and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

6 large heirloom tomatoes, all varieties and colors, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes

1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

4 Parisian cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced into1/4 inch cubes

2 purple bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

In a blender or food processor combine tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and peppers. Add cilantro, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and jalapeno. Add a few pinches of salt and black pepper. Process vegetables into a juicy soup, leaving it nice and chunky. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.  Check out her websites www.Backtothekitchen.net and  http://magpieminipie.vpweb.com.  Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON

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