Grab the ketchup bottle! We’re taking a joy ride on the Toasted Cheese Express!
We’re not only going to look at new things to put in them, but new ways to cook them. And I guarantee everything we make today will be great with our beloved Red stuff!
More than just Cheese
Okay… Your basic Toasted Cheese is two slices of Daily (plain, white, store-bought, “sandwich”) Bread, a slice of Processed Cheese-like substance and enough Butter or Margarine to coat the outside surfaces of the bread. Stick it in a medium-hot frying pan and brown the bread until the “Cheese” inside melts and welds the whole thing together.
Yes. The Ketchup truly makes it. And gives the dish something superficially similar to a “daily dietary serving” of vegetables.
Now, tell me there isn’t room to ramp that up big-time!
For a start…
Give your “healthy” fetish a rest and use only real Butter for your Toasted Cheese. It really makes a difference.Or, if your “healthy” fetish won’t be subdued, try brushing the bread with Olive Oil. It browns up real good, too. Just don’t use Margarine.
And use real cheese, rather than the Processed or “American” facsimile. Processed or “American” Cheese is actually the ends and trimmings of real cheese blocks – sometimes second-rate cheese that the packagers wouldn’t sell under their own labels or packaged Cheese that’s been sent back to the labeler when it gets too close to the best-before date – melted, cooked, augmented with added colours and vegetable oils (for texture), and blended all together to ensure that every slice of “American” you get looks and tastes exactly like all the others. Mediocre. ‘Nuff said?
Cheddar Cheese may be traditional for Toasted Cheese, but try Fontina, Gruyere, Swiss, Edam, or any flavourful, medium hard cheese that melts gracefully. Or come up with your own signature combination!
Change-up the Bread. I like Toasted Cheese on Sourdough or Light Rye. See where your imagination takes you!
Who says you can only have Cheese?
Who, indeed? The classic Monte Cristo is the original souped-up Toasted Cheese! It has not only Cheese, but Ham and Turkey, and it’s not only toasted, but French Toasted, dipped in Egg Wash before frying.
How about Bacon instead of Ham? Or Chicken or Pulled Pork? Or how about adding a slice of Red Onion, Tomato or Sweet Pickles? Or buttery Avocado Slices? Or an Elvis Special (Bacon, Peanut Butter and Banana – with lotz o’ Mozz!)
I could go on and on. In fact, I have.
Over the top!
Get ready for crazy!
How about building a Monte Cristo, dipping it in Beer Batter and deep frying it? Try cutting it in quarters, first, before battering. Use a toothpick, if you must, to keep it together.
How about a Vegetarian Version, using a nice slice each of grilled Eggplant, grilled Sweet Red Pepper and grilled medium-firm Tofu? Use lots of Mediterranean Herbs while grilling. Use the old olive Oil trick to “butter” the bread. Even meat-eaters will love this one!
See where we’re going with this?
Answer: Anywhere you want!
~ Maggie J.