Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Grilled Cheese Heaven

~WRD000 Grilled Cheese Kitchen_Cov

When I opened my mail the other day, I was beyond excited to find, not yet another Land’s End catalog, but this new, beautiful cookbook from Chronicle Books:

Grilled Cheese Kitchen by Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollack 

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 (like open-faced tuna melts, avocado-grilled cheese on sourdough bread, Moroccan chicken pita grilled cheese, 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 completely spoiled in the food department).  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 of my favorite recipes so far: Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese served with an Apricot-Jalapeño Relish. Jalapeño 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 the 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 youngster who’s destined to subsist on melted cheese and bread for the next few years).



Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

Serves 1

The Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese really should be called “The Scout.” One night while recipe testing, Nate and I fed our friend Scout—who was also the very first customer at our restaurant—a goat cheese and Jack grilled cheese. Scout’s response: “This is good, but can I put some jalapeños on it?” Thus it dawned on us that the jalapeño popper, that mainstay of sports bars everywhere, was a perfect candidate for grilled cheesification.

1½ tsp salted butter, room temperature

2 slices rustic artisan bread such as levain, sourdough, or white

1 Tbsp fresh chèvre (goat cheese), at room temperature

1 slice Monterey Jack cheese

¼ cup [55 g] Apricot-Jalapeño 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 chèvre 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, chèvre-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.


Apricot-Jalapeño Relish

Makes about 2½ cups[455 g]

Everyone loves this relish so much in our Jalapeño 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 canapé by topping crackers with a dollop of chèvre and a spoonful of relish. To make it extra spicy, add a finely chopped habanero chile to the mix.

4 medium jalapeño chiles, seeded and cut into ¼in [6mm] dice

2 small serrano chiles, seeded and cut into ¼in [6mm] dice

½ small white onion, cut into ¼in [6mm] dice

2 cups [240 g] dried apricots, cut into ¼in [6mm] dice

1½ 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

1½ 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.