When I opened my mail the other day, I was beyond excited to find, not yetÂ another Land’s End catalog, but thisÂ new, beautiful cookbook from Chronicle Books:
If the artful stack of grilled cheese sandwiches oozing deliciousness doesn’t hook you, then the recipes will; which include not only recipes for classic and less traditional grilled cheese sandwiches (likeÂ open-faced tuna melts,Â avocado-grilled cheese on sourdough bread, Moroccan chickenÂ pita grilled cheese,Â and a green egg and ham grilled cheese),but also soups, salads, pickles, and even a grilled cheese inspired macaroni and cheese recipe. Heaven, right?
The book was written by the husband and wife behind the book’s namesake restaurant in San Francisco (side note: people who live in San Francisco are just completelyÂ spoiled in the food department). Â They clearly have a gift for grilled cheese because they’ve apparently won a gazillion awards at the Grilled Cheese Invitational (yes, there is a contest for best grilled cheese…why have I not yet been invited?)
The lovely people at Chronicle have been kind enough to let me share one ofÂ my favorite recipes so far: JalapeÃ±o Popper Grilled Cheese served with an Apricot-JalapeÃ±o Relish. JalapeÃ±o poppers are a guilty pleasure of mine (I can’t pass them up if I see them on a menu and I once made so many for a party that I had to sleep with my hands inside of two ice-cold washcloths because they burned for hours from handling all theÂ peppers), and so this version satisfies everything that makes that dish irresistible–spicy, gooey, tangy, crunchy.
See below for the recipe and make sure you check out the book (it would make a terrific college graduation gift for the youngsterÂ who’s destined to subsist on melted cheese and bread for the next few years).
JalapeÃ±o Popper Grilled Cheese
The JalapeÃ±o Popper Grilled Cheese really should be called âThe Scout.â One night while recipe testing, Nate and I fed our friend Scoutâwho was also the very first customer at our restaurantâa goat cheese and Jack grilled cheese. Scoutâs response: âThis is good, but can I put some jalapeÃ±os on it?â Thus it dawned on us that the jalapeÃ±o popper, that mainstay of sports bars everywhere, was a perfect candidate for grilled cheesification.
1Â½ tsp salted butter, room temperature
2 slices rustic artisan bread such as levain, sourdough, or white
1 Tbsp fresh chÃ¨vre (goat cheese), at room temperature
1 slice Monterey Jack cheese
Â¼ cup [55 g] Apricot-JalapeÃ±o Relish
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, cooked until crisp and drained
1) Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
2) Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice, dividing it evenly. Place both slices, buttered-side down, on a clean cutting board. Spread the chÃ¨vre on one slice and place the Jack on the other. Carefully spread the relish on top of the Jack and place the bacon on top of the relish. Finish with the second slice of bread, chÃ¨vre-side down.
3) Using a wide spatula, place the sandwich in the pan, cover, and cook until the bottom is nicely browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until the second side is browned and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer.
4) Cut the sandwich in half, if desired, and serve immediately.
Makes about 2Â½ cups[455 g]
Everyone loves this relish so much in our JalapeÃ±o Popper Grilled Cheese and Breakfast Popper Grilled Cheese (page 25), we started selling it by the jar in our shops. The chunky texture and sweet-hot flavor is just right for burgers, roast pork loin, or grilled chicken. Make an easy canapÃ© by topping crackers with a dollop of chÃ¨vre and a spoonful of relish. To make it extra spicy, add a finely chopped habanero chile to the mix.
4 medium jalapeÃ±o chiles, seeded and cut into Â¼in [6mm] dice
2 small serrano chiles, seeded and cut into Â¼in [6mm] dice
Â½ small white onion, cut into Â¼in [6mm] dice
2 cups [240 g] dried apricots, cut into Â¼in [6mm] dice
1Â½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger, or 1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp kosher salt
1Â½ tsp dry mustard powder
1) In a medium glass or plastic bowl, combine all the chiles, the onion, apricots, vinegar, lime juice, ginger, salt, and mustard powder and stir to mix thoroughly. Pack the relish into glass canning jars or plastic storage containers and cover tightly.
2) Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend before serving. Consume within 3 weeks.