Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, January 6, 1999

American Dairy Association
Grilled Blue and Brie sandwich is made
with pumpernickel or rye bread.

Ooze and ahhs
over grilled cheese

No matter how you slice it, the
grilled cheese sandwich is a
classic that scores points with
kids from ages 2 to 92

By Betty Shimabukuro


KIDS who won't eat their vegetables and won't drink their milk will still eat a grilled cheese sandwich. It seems to occupy a place on their food pyramid next to french fries.

And adults -- adults often fall back on grilled cheese as comfort food. "It's the sandwich that our mothers always made us as kids, and often it's the first sandwich we learn to make for ourselves," says Ira Freehof, owner of Manhattan's Comfort Diner.

The American Dairy Association collected comments from Freehof and others to prove a point: the grilled cheese sandwich is not only traditional American grub, it is also being dressed up for the new millennium.

At Freehof's Comfort Diner, they're serving havarti with roasted garlic on ciabatta bread, as well as brie with toasted almonds on whole-grain. At Seattle's Broadway Grill, they've got grilled brie and chicken, topped with caramelized onions and mustard aioli on a toasted baguette. At Sun Dog Diner in Atlantic Beach, Fla.: provolone grilled with vegetables.

American Dairy Association
A Southwestern Cheddar Melt.

All of this, of course, is sacrilege to the grilled-cheese purist, for whom the nutritionally suspicious white bread and American cheese slice are the only true ingredients.

"The wholesome goodness included in this nutritious, bleached bread really adds to the sandwich," the Grilled Cheese Factory proclaims from its Internet site pages/cheese/grilled.html.

It's a basically anonymous posting, made possible by Arizona State University's Web site, which allows students and staff to broadcast their own homepages.

The grilled-cheese fan page also calls for slices of yellow cheese (pre-sliced or Velveeta) and any "buttery substance" to grease the grill. (As for the grill: "Fire good. Fire melt cheese. Fire make white squares brown.")

This is basic, the way grilled cheese is basic and has been since it was introduced as "Cheese Dreams" back in the 1930s.

But seeking as always to build a better mousetrap, Americans continue to build on the concept. The aforementioned American Dairy Association, in fact, drew more than 4,000 entries in a national contest searching for the best in grilled cheese.

The entries were judged for taste, visual appeal and use of domestic cheeses.

The grand-prize winner used blue and brie cheeses along with macadamia nuts for a luscious sandwich. Not for calorie-counters, though; 630 calories and 42 grams of fat.

If you have no fear of fat, though, try this sandwich, or one of the other winners in categories of dessert, midnight snack or dinner sandwich.


Grilled Blue and Brie

Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, Mo. grand-prize winner

8 slices pumpernickel or rye bread
4 tablespoons hot pepper jelly
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
6 ounces brie, in 8 slices
4 tablespoons butter, softened

Spread 1 tablespoon jelly over four slices of bread. Top each with 2 tablespoons blue cheese, 2 tablespoons nuts and 2 slices brie. Place the remaining slices of bread on top and spread butter over the top and bottom of each sandwich.

Cook on a preheated griddle skillet, 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned and cheese is melted. Serves 4.

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 630 calories, 42 g fat.*


Grilled Cranapple Cheddar Croissants

Mary Louise Lever, Rome, Ga., dessert category winner

1 21-ounce can apple pie filling
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 large croissants, cut in half
8 slices cheddar (1 ounce each)
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Combine pie filling, cranberries and cinnamon. Spread filling on bottom half of each croissant. Top each with 2 slices cheese and top with other croissant half. Brush top and bottom with butter. Grill in skillet over medium heat until filling is hot, about 3 minutes per side. Serves 4.

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 700 calories, 37 g fat.*


Salmon-Havarti Pesto Melt

Roxanne Garland, Charlotte, N.C., dinner category winner

1 medium zucchini
1 7-1/2 ounce can salmon or 6 ounces fresh salmon, poached
1-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pesto
1/2 loaf (8 ounces) Italian bread, in 8 slices
4 slices havarti
2 tablespoons butter

Cut zucchini in half crosswise, then slice each piece lengthwise into 4 pieces. Divide salmon into 4 portions.

Combine mayonnaise and pesto and spread over four slices of bread. Top each with two slices zucchini, salmon and cheese.

Top with remaining 4 slices of bread. Melt butter in a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, or cheese is melted. Serves 4.

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 590 calories, 37 g fat.*


Southwestern Cheddar Melt

Danya Berman, Los Angeles, midnight-snack category winner

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 slices sourdough bread
8 slices cheddar (1 ounce each)
4 large tomatillos, thinly sliced (see note)
1 4-1/2 ounce can diced green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons butter

Combine mayonnaise, lemon and cumin and spread over 1 side of four slices of bread. Top each with 2 slices cheddar, 1 sliced tomatillo, 1 tablespoon chiles and remaining bread.

Melt the butter in a skillet or griddle over low heat. Cook sandwiches 3-4 minutes per side, until golden and cheese is melted.

Tomatillos can be found in the specialty vegetable section of most supermarkets. If they are unavailable, substitute with a slice of tomato in each sandwich.

bullet Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 640 calories, 48 g fat.*

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