National Grilled Cheese Month

National Grilled Cheese Month

New Bern, NC – Sandwich number 1

I'm not big on specialized equipment; why have three things that smash garlic when the back of the knife I already own does the same thing? But one day I decided I just had to buy a panini machine and boy, am I glad I did! It's a great way to make delicious hot sandwiches for lunch. You can also make dessert sandwiches with slices of brioche bread and good chocolate melted in the middle. Yum!

You can assemble the sandwiches in advance and grill them before serving. If you don't have a panini grill, you can use a stove top grill or black iron skillet commonly called a "black spider" and weight the sandwiches with a plate or a common brick that has been cleaned and wrapped in aluminum foil.

This grilled cheese sandwich is ideal in the summer when your tomato plants are in full bloom and loaded with flavor. This recipe makes six delicious sandwiches,

2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes; 1 (16-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella; 12 slices bakery white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick; about 1 cup prepared pesto; kosher salt; unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Preheat a panini grill machine.
Core the tomatoes and slice the tomatoes and mozzarella 1/4-inch thick.
Place the brad slices on a work surface. Spread each slice evenly with pesto. Place a layer of mozzarella (about 2 slices) on half of the bread and cover with a layer of tomato. (If the tomatoes are large, it will only be one slice.) Sprinkle the tomato with salt. Place the remaining slices of bread, pesto side down, on top. Spread the top and bottom of each sandwich with softened butter. Grill the sandwiches in batches on the panini grill for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mozzarella starts to ooze. Cut each sandwich in half, and serve warm.

Sandwich number 2

I always thought roasting peppers over an open gas flame and them peeling them was an annoying job until a good friend showed me how to roast them in the oven. It's so much easier. Now I keep a container of roasted peppers in the refrigerator ready to make this delicious grilled cheese sandwich any time.

4 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers; 2 tablespoons good olive oil; 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 2 teaspoons kosher salt; 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 2 tablespoons drained capers.
For assembling:

1 large ciabatta bread, halved horizontally; 1 (11-ounce) garlic-and-herb Montrachet or plain goat cheese, at room temperature; 8 to 10 large basil leaves; 3 thin slices red onion; kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper I a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the peppers. Stir in the capers. Cove with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and them a layer of basil leaves. Separate the onions into rings and spread out on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.

Sandwich Number 3

The Perfect, most delicious and ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

These gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, subtly seasoned with garlic, taste great for lunch with sliced apples and/or cup of tomato soup. And they're really fast to whip up, too. To save seconds, I soften the cream cheese in the microwave, then blend it with the rest of the ingredients in the same bowl That makes cleanup a breeze!

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened; cup mayonnaise;1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese; 1 cup (4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese; teaspoon garlic powder; 1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt; 10 slices Italian bread ( inch thick) 2 tablespoons butter, softened.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the cheeses, garlic powder and seasoned salt. Spread five slices of bread with the cheese mixture, about 1/3 cup of each. Top with remaining bread.

Butter the outsides of sandwiches. In a skillet over medium heat, toast sandwiches for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until bread is lightly browned and cheese is melted. Yield: 5 servings.