Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seasonal Non-Grilled Cheese



Last week I helped my friend Frank out with an event he was doing at St Philips Academy in Newark. He developed their seed to table program and last week was the big inaugural party to celebrate two years of work in their newly finished kitchen!

One of the ideas I had for this cocktail party was to have a cheddar cheese fondue with a selection of different local apples to dip in it.

This year at Union Square one of my favorite vendors, Cheerful Cheery, is selling an heirloom apple I've never seen before called Keepsake. It looks like a mini Macintosh, only harder and smaller. Also this year I see several people selling crab apples, which I am tempted to buy and preserve some how, but given I still have 24 pint Ball jars waiting to be filled with Corn Relish and Tomato Sauce in my pantry pickled Crab Apples may be for another year.

Meanwhile, Grilled Cheese or some variant thereof is the perfect Autumn/Winter sandwich, toasted and filled with gooey melting cheese, what could be bad?

The cheddar cheese fondue recipe we used for the cocktail party and a newsletter from Cookstr.com about grilled cheese sandwiches got me thinking about my idea of a perfect grilled cheese and this is what I came up with.

Open Face Non-Grilled Cheese

Make the cheddar cheese fondue below, then...

Thickly slice a piece of brioche (Challah or even Sally Lunn would work too) try and get it in a loaf shape so it will fit in a toaster easier. Or you can always toast it under your broiler, I just like the shape of a traditional loaf slice...

Core and thinly slice your favorite local apple (no need to peel it unless you want).

Place the apple slices on the brioche toast and cover generously with the cheddar cheese fondue.
And there you have it. No grill needed!

I like the contrast between the hot, sharp, melted cheddar sauce with the tangy, sweet, crunch of the apple, but a variation that occurs to me is to bake the apple slices with just a light sprinkling of sugar until they are soft (10 minutes in a 375F oven). Or if you have some not to sweet chunky homemade apple sauce that would work in a pinch as well. Or if it is sweet you could think of it as a version of apple pie with cheddar cheese. Go ahead, conceptualize your heart out.

Cheddar Cheese Fondue

Open a bottle of good amber bear like Peak Organics and measure out about a cup. Let it sit out while you make the fondue to get a little flat. You need about 2/3 - 1 cup.

In a medium sized heavy bottomed sauce pan mix: 1 pound of grated white extra sharp cheddar cheese (Grafton is a good choice, use what ever is your local favorite) 2 T unsalted butter, 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne mustard (adjust seasoning to your liking or omit altogether).

Over medium low heat, stir constantly until the cheese has melt and all the ingredients are well combined.

In a small bowl lightly beat two large eggs. Carefully add a tablespoon of the hot cheese mixture and quickly whisk so as not to cook the eggs, whisk in a few more tablespoons, then pour the egg/cheese mixture back into the sauce pan and stir together, adding enough beer until you get the thickness you like - I like it fairly thick - (whole organic milk can be substituted if you don't want to use beer). Add salt to taste (cheddar cheese is pretty salty to start with so taste it first).

If you are going to serve this as a fondue you are best to heat it until bubbling on the stove where you can stir it vigorously then place it on your fondue pot stand, but don't light the flame/butane under it.

If you are serving this to 4-6 people with bread and apples by the time it's cooled down it's gone.

If not take back to the stove for a minute to reheat, add a little more beer and milk if it's gotten really thick and bring it back out for round two when it's hot again.

1 comment:

Kim-Nora said...

YUM! Sharpety sharp cheddar cheese. The more pungent the better. Thanks for sharing. YUM!

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