Monday, February 11, 2013

Grilled Cheese


It's funny how there are many lessons our parents teach us without trying.  Growing up around a man who blasted opera in the house every Sunday so loud the neighbors had to shut their windows was  desperately embarrassing.  He always had a song, either whistling or singing in public.  I remember how much this annoyed me as a teenager.  However, these things have a way of rubbing off on a person.  Now singing is a tool I use to calm my nerves or lighten my mood.  It costs absolutely nothing and if I really get into it, I might even get someone to join in.

He also exposed me to the art of making great grilled cheese sandwiches.  It involves a good amount of resourcefulness, finding flavorful treasures, objets trouvés to tuck inside the sandwich.   You need some zing in the way of a spicy mustard, or something pickled.  Sometimes the best sandwiches, (soups too) come from found objects.  No recipe, no planning, just bits and pieces pulled from the refrigerator. It's about versatility as much as flexibility.

Sometimes it's the unintentional lessons that prove most valuable.

Here is one of my own recent creations.
Here is what I used to make 2 extraordinary sandwiches:

4 slices of the best sourdough bread you can find (or make)
1 zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
4 shallots, sliced thinly
6 slices smoked turkey or ham (substitute extra vegetables if you don't eat deli meats.)
2 cheeses -  I suggest Parano, Gouda or Emmentaler for one and a harder cheese like parmesan for the second cheese.

Red pepper relish  (takes about 25 minutes to make, or you could use store bought) Alternately you could use a pesto or mustard.

Grill the zucchini slices on a grill pan, under the broiler or on an outdoor grill if you have access to one.
Saute the sliced shallots in olive oil until very soft.  Stir them frequently for about ten minutes.
Build your sandwiches by layering the ingredients on one side of the bread- relish, zucchini, turkey, shallots, one of the cheeses.  Grill the sandwiches on a grill pan or a frying pan (add butter to one side of the bread) and then transfer them to a baking sheet.  Grate the second cheese on top of the sandwich and finish in the oven at 375 for a few minutes to melt the cheese.


  1. OMG. YUM! that's all I'm going to say.

  2. you are making me hungry! love that combo.

  3. So, so true Nicole. Children do not learn what you are saying but what you are doing. And yes, I love soups and sandwiches (that I don't make as much as I should, I noticed after looking at your photograph) because they allow you to invent something extraordinary without too much planning ahead.

  4. That is one gorgeous sandwich! Enjoy. I, too,had a father who loved to sing--too bad it didn't rub off on me.

  5. Wow. This looks crazy delicious. I need that red pepper relish. Thanks, Nicole.

  6. Thank you for reminding Robert and I of the good ole days of loud opera and singing out loud!
    Glad we still have those yummy sandwiches, now just have to remember the music! Love you!

  7. Your objets trouvés far surpass anything I've found in our refrigerator :) - I'm so happy that my unintentional lessons including "blasted opera in the house every Sunday so loud the neighbors had to shut their windows" rubbed off to your polished cooking and spirited singing. Also thanks for the reminder to keep the live saturday opera performances blasting.

  8. Today I made a grilled cheese with kimchi and cheddar, super satisfying but a bit unusual. I need to keep sandwich fixings around more often.

  9. to call this a grilled cheese is waaay underselling it. now that's a grilled cheese art form! yes to the red pepper relish. and yes to singing around the house. the kids and cats love it.

  10. Nicole: your father sounds like a lovely man, and similar in nature to my father... my father's specialty sandwich was a club type, so more similarities!
    (p.s. i am playing catch-up: sorry i have not stopped by lately, nor blogged at all, i have been utterly occupied on many fronts, but i think of you often)


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