4 Easy ways to dress up your grilled cheese

Admit it: Even the most beloved staple of your diet can use a little makeover now and then, or life can get pretty boring, no? We consulted with Laura Werlin, author of "The Great Grilled Cheese" and all-round cheez wiz (sorry, couldn't resist), about ways to jazz up the classic sammie and she didn't disappoint. Check out these four mouth-watering recipes:










Apples, Ham, and Cheddar
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 slices sourdough, (or use 4 large round-loaf slices - about 1 ounce each-and cut in half crosswise
1/4 pound smoky ham, such as Virginia country ham, cut into 4 slices (or buy pre-sliced ham)
1 small green apple, (about 5 ounces), such as Granny Smith, cut into1/8-inch thick slices
6 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down, Place a slice of ham on each bread slice, folding it to fit if necessary. Top with 4 to 5 slices per sandwich, followed by the cheese. Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up. (If the sandwich seems quite thick, simply press it down to compress the ingredients slightly).

To make the sandwich: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet, (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches

Dutch Grilled Cheese
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 medium red onion (about 1/2 pound), thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 ounces best quality medium-aged gouda cheese, coarsely grated
8 slices rye bread with caraway seeds (1/4 inch thick)
In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over low heat. Add the onions and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, until they turn a dark golden color, about 30 to 40 minutes. If the onions begin to scorch, add about 1 tablespoon of water. Remove the onions from pan and set aside. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel, but do not wash it. (The onions can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and kept covered at room temperature.)
Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast just until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Watch carefully, they burn easily). Remove the seeds and let cool briefly. Do not wash the skillet. When the seeds are cool, crush them using a mortar and pestle. Or, place them in a re-sealable plastic bag and lightly pound with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. In a medium bowl, toss the crushed seeds with the cheese.
To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down. Distribute the cheese evenly over the 4 slices, followed by the onions. Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.

To make the sandwich: Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.
Makes 4 sandwiches

Havarti and Dilled Cucumbers on Rye
For the cucumbers:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or use 2 teaspoons fresh dill)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices

6 ounces Havarti cheese, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices rye bread

To prepare the cucumbers: In a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and dill. Add the cucumbers and stir to coat. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. (The cucumbers can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using).

To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down, Using a slotted spoon, drain the cucumbers slightly and distribute them evenly over the 4 slices, followed by the cheese. . Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.

To make the sandwich: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet, (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches

French-style Grilled Ham and Cheese

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon or 3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 1/4-inch thick slices egg bread
4 1-ounce slices of Black Forest ham
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, plus extra for serving

In a small bowl, mix together the cheese and tarragon. Set aside.
To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down, Distribute the cheese mixture evenly over the 4 slices. Cover the cheese with the ham, folding it to fit if necessary. Spread mustard on the remaining 4 bread slices and place them on top of the ham, mustard side down.

To make the sandwich: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet, (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately, with extra mustard on the side.
Makes 4 sandwiches

For more grilled cheese recipes and to learn how to use different methods for these recipes (grilling, sandwich maker, etc - check out Laura's book)














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