When my girl friends come over I like to get them in on the action by having them help to create their own meals. It’s a casual low stress way to host friends, plus, there is a built in activity. In the past we have made avocado toast, decorated candy apples, and made personalized salads. Two weeks ago, one of my friends said that she needed a girls night and some wine, so I offered up my place since I had a fridge full of wine, and since it happened to be the first day of fall, making grilled cheese seemed fitting.
Before my friends arrived I laid out two different types of bread, four different cheeses, and a variety of other add ins. My friends could stick with classic cheddar with tomato slices, or choose to make something a bit more sophisticated. Since I was leaving town the day after the party, I didn’t go nuts with the number of ingredients, but you could add spinach, figs, roasted peppers, sliced meat, bacon, mustard, nuts, or pears to the lineup; the possibilities are endless.
I loosely followed the rules for creating a cheese board when I picked the cheeses. I chose a sharp cheddar, a semi soft blend of cow and cheese milk cheese that melted well, a goat cheese, and some finely grated Parmesan. The Parmesan was added because adding Parmesan on top of the butter on the outside of a grilled cheese is my favorite grilled cheese trick. It both adds an extra cheese and makes the crust crispier.
To compliment the cheeses, I prepared sautéed mushrooms, sautéed shallots, and a crisped up some prosciutto. I also set out avocado, tomato, and some savory Quince & Apple preserves.
You could make cheddar, tomato, avocado grilled cheese. Or use the rich earthy cow/sheep blend to make a grilled cheese with crispy prosciutto and sautéed shallots. There are no wrong answers here.
I combined goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and the Quince & Apple shallot confit and red wine preserves to make a grilled cheese with a Parmesan crust.
The sweet shallot and red wine preserves paired well with the sautéed mushrooms and the creamy goat cheese. The crispy Parmesan crust added a sharper, saltier flavor.
The fun thing about letting guests build their own sandwich is that everyone gets exactly what they want. Once the sandwiches are assembled, they take just a few minutes to grill.
What is your favorite grilled cheese combination? Have I inspired you to try adding some new ingredients to your grilled cheeses?