If ever there was a match meant to be, it’s tax crunch time and crunchy comfort food. In two days, it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so if you haven’t got the taxes done yet, consider this an excuse to indulge in crunchy-creamy, ooey-gooey, cheese-and-bread creations to calm your frayed nerves and ease the stress. While the classic grilled cheese never fails to satisfy, here are a few creative variations. Disclaimer: this is not meant to inspire you to get “creative” with your taxes!
(Castanhas do Caju e Queijo)
Here’s an easy pupu or quick meal that provides protein, fiber, and rich taste. Recipe adapted from “Tasting Brazil” by Jessica B. Harris; makes 4 servings.
1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons minced onion
8 slices whole grain bread
3 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts
Preheat broiler. Mix cheeses, paprika and onion together in a small bowl. Spread mixture on bread slices. Place bread slices on an ungreased cookie sheet; broil until cheese melts and is golden brown on top (watch carefully). Remove from oven, cut sandwiches into quarters, and sprinkle the cashews over each piece. Serve hot.
Grilled Brie with Mushrooms &Tarragon
This French-inspired sandwich is best with a rustic French bread that can be sliced. Makes 4 sandwiches.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large mushrooms, sliced
2 medium shallots, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 ounces cold Brie, cut into 1/8 inch-thick slices
8 slices firm textured French bread
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
In a heavy medium skillet, melt butter over high heat. When butter begins to brown, add mushrooms, toss to coat, and saute, stirring occasionally, until browned around edges (2 to 3 minutes) Add shallots; cook one minute longer. Transfer mixture to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Divide cheese among 4 slices of bread; top each with mushrooms, leaving about 1/4inch margin around edges. Add a tarragon sprig and cover with remaining 4 slices bread. Preheat a cast iron grill pan or skillet for 10 minutes over medium heat. Grill sandwiches for 4 minutes per side or until bread is lightly browned and cheese has melted. Serve halved as a first course or quartered as an appetizer.
Cheese Sandwich Soufflé
This is a simple sandwich that works well with ham or other pork product. You assemble, refrigerate for an hour, then bake. Recipe from “Sara Moulton Cooks at Home;” makes 4 servings.
8 slices homemade-style white bread, crusts removed
1/4 pound thinly sliced cheese (Muenster, provolone, fontina or Gruyere)
2 ounces prosciutto or boiled ham, thinly sliced (optional)
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish; arrange 4 slices of the bread flat on the bottom of dish. Cover each with equal amounts of cheese; add ham if desired. Top with remaining bread. In a small bowl, beat eggs lightly; pour in the milk. Season with salt and blend well. Pour egg mixture over sandwiches, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake sandwiches, uncovered, until lightly browned around the edges and set in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot.
Skillet-Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato-Chili Jelly
Intriguing flavors add pizazz. You can make the jelly up to three months in advance and keep on hand in the refrigerator. Recipe adapted from “Brunch” by Jennifer Donovan; makes 2 servings.
Tomato Chili Jelly:
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Heat oil in a medium pan over low heat; cook diced onion for 5 minutes, or until soft but not brown. Add diced bell pepper and red pepper flakes; cook another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar and sugar; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to a jelly consistency. Cool, cover, then refrigerate until ready to use.
4 slices fontina or cheddar cheese
4 slices bread
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 handfuls Arugula leaves
Divide cheese between 2 slices of bread. Spread each with a tablespoon of tomato chili jelly, then cover with another slice of bread. Beat egg with salt and pepper in a wide dish. Dip one side of each sandwich into egg mixture; let stand for 1 minute. Repeat with other side. Heat butter in a small nonstick skillet over low heat; add one sandwich at a time. Cook 2 minutes or until golden brown and cheese starts to melt, then turn and cook an additional 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining sandwich. Serve each with a handful of fresh arugula leaves and more tomato chili jelly on the side.