One would think after devoting an entire column to grilled cheese sandwiches some time ago, I wouldn’t have anything else to say about it. One would be wrong. Also, one would have to factor in the release of a new cookbook by Laura Werlin called “Grilled cheese, please.”
When this landed on my desk this week, I had to struggle to focus on the zillion items on my to-do list, none of which had anything to do with sitting, hunched, over this book and ruining its pages with drool. Also, I thought I might have to arm wrestle my colleague, book page editor Nona Nelson, for ownership of this book. I commend her for bringing it back to the Features department. She could easily have secreted it away and I would have been none the wiser.
Now it’s MINE ALL MINE.
I have a split grilled cheese personality. One part says it’s sacrilege to dress up a grilled cheese. For goodness sake, it contains three of the most amazing foods on earth – bread, butter and cheese. Why gild the lily? But the other part wants to look at it like a pizza, with the basic cheese version being both delicious on its own AND a foundation for gobs of amazing creations.
Werlin apparently is in the same camp as my second personality. She’s come up with 50 different recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches, switching up the breads and cheeses and adding everything from pickles to butternut squash or jalapeno relish.
The Wisconsonite features cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard, colby and blue cheese on rye. The Milk Truck Market has salsa verde and beefsteak tomato. Then there’s Brie’s Company featuring the namesake cheese, as well as three other varieties, caramelized onions and Granny Smith apples.
The Alpine has pickled shallots and watercress. And then there is the Havarti with Balsamic-Glazed Carrots, the Camembert and Comte with Mushrooms and the Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Gouda.
I think I need to lie down now. My head is spinning and my stomach is rumbling, and I’ve lost track of grilled cheese reality. I may need to ground myself this evening by frying up some grilled cheese sandwiches to go with tomato soup.
But I wouldn’t mind trying some of Werlin’s creations, either. Seems to me you could throw all kinds of leftovers on bread, blanket them with cheese and call it a sandwich.
Are you a grilled cheese purist or a grilled cheese Picasso?