Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Grilled Cheese Month!

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So, I hear April is Grilled Cheese Month. How exciting! I love a good grilled cheese sandwich. I mean, who doesn't?! But somehow, I felt that a whole blog post for a grilled cheese sandwich seemed a little... over the top. I changed my mind after I took one bite of this sandwich. I think there can be books written about the grilled cheese sandwich. And what do you know - there are!

I digress. So here I was, telling myself that just putting a piece of cheese between two slices of bread and toasting it to perfection was not worth a whole blog post. Therefore, I would have to bake my own bread. (I guess I just needed an excuse to bake bread.)

Nod with me if you agree - there's nothing like the aroma of home baked bread! Even my dog goes crazy when he smells it in the air. I am always looking for good bread recipes and this time I found a winner! This loaf was soft & light, with a crisp but thin crust. Very kid friendly and very good for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sandwich Bread Dough
Recipe adapted from The I Love to Cook Book - Lauren Groveman

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 c milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup shortening
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, or more if needed

Egg wash and topping
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp oatmeal

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the 1/4 cup of warm water and allow to prove.
2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter and shortening, until the fats are almost dissolved. Take off the heat and swirl until the butter and shortening are completely dissolved. Set aside to cool down to lukewarm temperature.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the honey and the salt. Add the warm milk mixture to this. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Be sure your milk mixture is not too hot or you'll have scrambled eggs!
4. Add the whole wheat flour and stir well for about 3 minutes or until smooth.
5. Add the all purpose flour, half cup at a time, mixing well after each addition to make sure the flour is completely incorporated. You are aiming for a soft, pliable, elastic dough.
6. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl and cover it with greased clingfilm. Set it aside for 2 hours in a warm place. The dough will more than double in volume.
7. Knock back the dough and form into a loaf. Put it in the bread loaf tin and allow to rise again for one hour.
8. For the egg wash - mix the egg, milk and salt well and use this to brush the top of the loaf. Allow the glaze to dry before applying another coating. Sprinkle the oatmeal over the top of the loaf.
9. Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until the base of the bread sounds hollow when you 'knock' it.
10. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

This bread really smells heavenly! When it was cool, I cut two thick slices of bread for my Grilled cheese sandwich. Here is how I made it.

Grilled Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Sandwich

2 slices bread
2 tsp cream cheese, or more
1/4 tsp mustard
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 sugar
1/4-1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1. Saute the onion in the butter & vegetable oil, along with the salt and sugar until the onion is caramelized. This takes about 5-8 minutes. Keep moving the onion around to avoid burning. The onion should be golden brown with some darker flecks. Don't stop too early either or you'll miss out on that lovely caramel-ly onion flavor.Some bits will go crunchy and those pieces taste like heaven - as long as they haven't turned black.
2. Spread the cream cheese over both slices of bread. Only on one slice (we'll call it the top slice), spread the mustard over the cream cheese.
3. Sprinkle half the Gruyere cheese over the cream cheese on the bottom slice. Add the sauteed onion and top with the remaining Gruyere. Cover this with the top slice of bread.
4. Toast the sandwich on a griddle on low heat. When one side is golden and toasted, flip over and continue toasting. Keep pressing down on the sandwich with your spatula to encourage adherence. :)
5. Serve warm with your accompaniment of choice!

I absolutely loved this sandwich. The nuttiness of the Gruyere, the sweetness (and crunch, if you've done it right!) of the caramelized onion and the tang of the cream cheese & the mustard are a perfect marriage of flavors! And this bread is really excellent toasted. Incidentally, another grilled cheese sandwich I love is cream cheese & cherry jam. Yum!

I must mention that I had a ball of dough leftover after making the loaf of bread. I had a little fun playing with that dough. I will post pictures & write about it in my next post! :)
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Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Wow, your grilled cheese looks spectacular! I'm sure it was extra good made with your lovely bread :)

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

Believe it or not, some people can screw up a grilled cheese sandwich! Yours is absolutely gorgeous and if I hadn't just finsihed breakfast, I'd be wanting one. I'm one of those people with a fear of yeast, though; I've only conquered pizza dough. You've inspired me to try again, though. The bread looks beautiful!

Kristen said...

I adore grilled cheese, especially on thick slices of homemade bread. What a wonderful sandwich!

Unknown said...

I just might do crazy things for this sandwich! Wow! Wow!! Thanks for stopping by my blog :) I'm following - and tweeting you :)

Erin said...

Oh my gosh! I need to NOT look at this when I am this hungry. It's killing me! Looks amazing!!!!

The Harried Cook said...

Lizzy, Rosemary, Kristen, Katrina & Erin - Thank you so much for your kind words! I feel so encouraged :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't know it was a grilled cheese month :) but your grilled cheese looks amazing :)

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I love the idea of using sourdough bread for grilled cheese. Must cut through all that richness nicely!

The Harried Cook said...

@Firefly - thank you so much!

@Xiaolu - I wish that was sourdough! I haven't worked up the nerve yet to try making sourdough bread! But this bread was pretty good too :) Thank you for your comment!

Unknown said...

I am happy to be back from mallu-land and see so many new posts here!
I am NOT happy to be back from mallu-land and see so many new posts here of yummies that I missed.
I must have all of it. The sandwich, the wings, and the brownies, the monkey bread muffins and the apple tart - all in one sitting.

The Harried Cook said...

Well, you should not have left town then! :) haha... Drop in sometime - I will make something just for you...

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