Old-Fashioned Steak and Potatoes

Do you remember when pan-frying or roasting was the only way people cooked meat? I could probably count on one hand the number of times we grilled meat in my childhood.

But grilling has become a favorite pastime — even during the winter — of many Americans, so rarely do I come across a recipe for preparing meat any other way. But when I do, it’s usually worth a second look.

This past week, I took a peak at an recipe for pan-fried steak with an earthy mushroom-pesto sauce. An accompanying recipe for hot pepper potatoes made the meal even more interesting. The nice thing about the two recipes — a good old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes meal — is that they can be made in the same pan and on the table is less than an hour. Along with a salad, it’s a complete meal.

Mushroom Pesto Steak
Olive oil spray
¾ pound beef tenderloin
¼ pound sliced Portobello mushrooms (about 1 2/3 cups)
2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Several sprigs watercress (optional)
Cut tenderloin into 2-inch slices. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Saute mushrooms 1 minute, turn and saute 1 minute more. Transfer to a food processor, add pesto and ¼ cup water, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Add the steak to the same skillet. Sear over high heat for 2 minutes; turn and sear 2 more minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 6 to 7 minutes for medium (160 degrees.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide steak between dinner plates, spoon sauce on top and garnish with watercress.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 346 calories, 46 percent of calories from fat, 17.8 grams fat (5.6 grams saturated, 9.3 grams monounsaturated), 119 milligrams cholesterol, 41.2 grams protein, 4.2 grams carbohydrates, 1.1 grams fiber, 239 milligrams sodium.

Hot Pepper Potatoes
1 pound yellow potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
Several drops hot pepper sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Wash potatoes (don’t peel) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 5 minutes. Test with a fork; if not soft, microwave 2 more minutes. (Or boil potatoes in water to cover for about 10 minutes.)
Add olive oil and hot pepper sauce to skillet in which steak was cooked. Raise the heat to high. Add the potatoes and toss until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the steak.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 199 calories, 22 percent of calories from fat, 4.8 grams fat (0.7 grams saturated, 3.3 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 4.3 grams protein, 36.1 grams carbohydrates, 3.9 grams fiber, 21 milligrams sodium.

Memorial Day Kebabs

Steak and burgers are what usually come to mind first when people think about grilling. But if you really want to mix things up a bit for the Memorial Day weekend barbecue, give kebabs a try. Not only are they easy to put together, it looks like you have been preparing your meal all day.

My co-worker and friend, Brad Dokken, the Herald’s outdoor editor, passed along this recipe for venison kebabs that he was sent by the folks at www.winkelman.com. The Winkelmans, in case you don’t know it, are outdoor experts who started out with fishing and have expanded into hunting.

And as you hunters know, one of the reasons people hunt and fish is because they like the taste of the game when it’s prepared right.

Venison Kebabs
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup honey
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup ketchup
Pepper to taste
5 garlic cloves, minced
1½ to 2 pounds venison steak, cubed
10 to cherry tomatoes
10 to 15 fresh mushrooms
½ medium green pepper, cut into pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
8 to 12 small new potatoes parboiled
In a large zip-top bag, add vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, pepper, garlic
and set aside a ¼ cup for marinade for vegetables. Set aside ½ cup for
basting. Place meat in bag and seal refrigerate for 4 or more hours. One
hour before grilling toss vegetables with ¼ cup reserved marinade. Drain and
discard marinade from meat.
Thread meat and vegetables on skewers. Grill over medium to medium high for
15 to 20 minutes or until done. Baste with remaining marinade during grilling.
Serve with a pasta salad.

Burger Bonanza

It’s not shaping up to be a very nice Memorial Day weekend, but I don’t imagine that will stop a lot of people from firing up the grill. And you can bet there will be a ton of burgers being flipped.

If you’re interested in some fresh ideas for burgers, head on over to the Cheese & Burger Society website (www.cheeseandburger.com/) from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which is rolling out a virtual cheeseburger buffet that stretches across the U.S. Cheeseburgers Across America is the website’s tribute to 10 great American cities and the flavors that make them famous.

Visitors to the newly updated site will get a entertaining voice-over narration that will guide them through the burger choices with humor and panache. Among the choices, you’ll discover The Atlanta, which showcases its Southern charm, overflowing with two kinds of Wisconsin Cheese, fried macaroni and cheese, picked jalapenos, and thick peppered bacon. The New York is fit for a black tie affair with an extravagant medley of creamy Wisconsin Camembert, braised beef short ribs, pickled red onions, and sautéed shitake mushrooms. The San Francisco is a wholesome and farmers’-market-fresh cheeseburger that pleases the taste buds with Wisconsin Fontina, sliced heirloom tomatoes, red onions and guacamole.

The new cheeseburgers build on the already popular website that has garnered nearly 2 million visits since its inception with its inaugural 30 cheeseburgers.

Visitors to the site also can enter the Cheeseburgers Across America sweepstakes to win one of 10 Weber charcoal grills or be one of 100 to win one of the acclaimed Cheese & Burger T-shirts. Also new to the site this year is a Cheese & Burger Society store, where cheeseburger aficionados can buy their very own grilling-wear such as Dickies work shirts, ball caps, aprons, can koozies and T-shirts.

Here’s a list of the ingredients for The New York, which looks like something I’d like to sink my teeth into sometime this weekend.

The New York
Wisconsin Camembert cheese
Beef patty
Braised beef short ribs
Black truffle mayonnaise
Pickled red onions
Sauteed shitake mushrooms
Salad greens/red sorrel
Kaiser Roll

Espresso-Powered Barbecue Brisket

I like coffee a lot. I also savor a good piece of grilled meat. But the idea of combining the two never crossed my mind until I read about a recipe from David Joachim, co-author of “Fire It Up! More than 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything” published by Chronicle, with Andrew Schloss, a fellow Pennsylvanian, food writer and cookbook author.

The recipe for Espresso-Powered Barbecue Brisket, along with some grilling tips from Joachim, were contained in a story by Chicago Tribune writer Bill Daley. I found the recipe interesting not only because of the unique coffee rub and grilling sauce that are used but also for the cut of meat — beef brisket.

I’ve cooked a lot of meat on the grill over the years but never a brisket. Joachim says that when it comes to larger cuts, such as beef brisket, you should let them cook until they’re fork-tender.

In the article, Joachim says little or no special equipment is needed, just disposable aluminum pans to capture juices released while cooking (boil down to make a sauce) and a brush or baster with which to apply a flavorful mop (or grilling sauce) while the meat cooks.

Espresso-Powered Barbecue Brisket
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cups strong brewed coffee, preferably espresso roast
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
¾ cup espresso rub, see recipe
1 flat or center-cut beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed, with ¼-inch fat on one side
1 cup espresso grilling sauce (recipe follows)
Mix lemon juice, coffee, molasses, balsamic vinegar, salt and 1 tablespoon espresso rub in a small bowl. Set this espresso mop aside. Rub the remaining espresso rub all over the brisket. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Rest the meat at room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour. Prepare grill for indirect medium-low heat, about 250 degrees. Coat grate with oil.
Put the brisket, fatty-side up, on the grill away from the heat; cover the grill. Cook until severely browned and blackened in spots or very well-done (about 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer), 4 to 6 hours total. Mop or drizzle the brisket with the espresso mop on both sides whenever the surface looks dry, every 45 minutes during the entire cooking time.
After 2 hours of cooking, put the brisket in an aluminum foil pan, fatty side up; return brisket to the grill away from the heat. Cover the grill; continue cooking. You only need to mop the top, fatty side of the brisket once the meat is in the pan. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay about 250 degrees during the entire cooking time. If using charcoal, add fresh coals about once an hour.
Remove the pan from the heat; let rest 20 minutes. Trim any excess fat; slice brisket across the grain. Serve with the grilling sauce.
Yield: Serve 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 368 calories, 25 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 97 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 47 grams protein, 1,467 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Espresso Rub
In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons each finely ground dark-roast coffee, smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, coarse salt and ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon each ground ancho chili and finely grated lemon zest. Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
Yield: ¾ cup.

Espresso Grilling Sauce
In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup each brewed dark-roast coffee and ketchup; ¼ cup dark brown mustard; 1/3 cup honey; 2 tablespoons citrus juice (lemon, orange or lime); 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce; 2 teaspoons each ground black pepper and coarse salt. Heat to a boil. Lower heat; simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate in a tightly closed container up to 1 month.
Yield: 2 1/3 cups.

Wings and Things

It used to be that chicken wings weren’t as desirable as some of the other parts of the popular fowl such as the breast, legs and thighs. But things have changed. These days, one of the most popular entrees is cooked chicken wings that have been basted in a spicy sauce.

Just the other night, I was out eating at the Italian Moon in Grand Forks and sampled the wings at the buffet. They were quite tasty and made me think about doing something along that line at home.

Coincidentally, the next day, I received an email from the National Chicken Council (www.chickeneverymonth.com) that contained four recipes, one of which was for Chicken Wings with Grilled Ginger Plum Coulis. The Chicken Council bills the recipe as one that works as an appetizer or an entree, which can be paired with rice and a summer vegetable.

You start by grilling chicken wings and firm summer plums that have been cut in half.  While the chicken finishes cooking, you combine the grilled plums in a food processor with balsamic vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger, soy sauce and scallions. The wings then are basted  with a portion of the sauce during the last few minutes of grilling and then served with additional coulis on the side. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, most of which is grilling.

Chicken Wings with Grilled Ginger Coulis
4 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and cut at the joint
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon plus ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 plums, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup sliced scallions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Season wings with salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat grill to medium high.
Place seasoned chicken wings and plum halves, cut side down, on grill.  Reduce heat to medium and close grill cover.  Grill plums for about 4 minutes on each side until soft but not falling apart.  Remove plums to the bowl of a blender of food processor.
Increase heat on grill to medium high.  Continue to cook wings for about 8 to10 minutes.  Turn and grill for 10 to 15 minutes. Wings should register 170 degrees when tested with an instant read thermometer.  Remove to a serving platter.
While wings are grilling, to the plums add vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger, soy, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and scallions.  Process until smooth.  Measure out ¼ cup plum coulis and reserve remaining sauce.
During the last 3 to 4 minutes of grilling, baste wings with ¼ cup plum coulis.
Drizzle wings with remaining coulis or serve coulis in a bowl on the side for dipping.  Sprinkle wings with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 550 calories, 34 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 11 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber, 8 grams sugars, 48 grams protein.

Grilled Asian Salmon

I’m a big fan of walleye. Anyone who lives in this neck of the woods knows exactly what I mean. But if you’ve never cooked salmon on the grill, you don’t know what you’re missing.

The best grilled salmon that I’ve eaten was prepared by a friend and co-worker, Eric Hylden. Eric is pretty lucky to have a brother-in-law who is a commercial fisherman in Alaska, so his access to seafood such as salmon, halibut and the like is a little better than the rest of us. One of Eric’s favorite ways to cook salmon is on a plank. It’s a technique that I’ve yet to try but hope to do soon.

But there a lot of other ways to fix salmon on the grill, including a recipe that was in an e-mail I received recently from Elizabeth Edelman, co-founder and resident culinary expert at www.DiabetesDaily.com. Besides the salmon recipe, which looks mighty tasty, Edelman included several other of her favorite healthy and diabetes-friendly summer grilling recipes, which are available at diabetes website.

After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005, Edelman (her parents were both professional chefs) was faced with the need to develop an entirely new lifestyle. Disappointed with a lack of local resources, Elizabeth turned to the Internet. She started blogging about her experience and the support was so overwhelming she and her husband, David, created Diabetes Daily, a leading online support network that helps people with diabetes live a better life.

But if you think the recipes you can find at Diabetes Daily are just for diabetics, you’re mistaken. They are the kind of healthy alternatives that all of us should incorporate into our lifestyle.

Grilled Asian Copper River Salmon
3 pounds Copper River salmon, skin on (if Copper River salmon is not available, any regular salmon will do)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good quality soy sauce (can be low-sodium)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon grated, fresh ginger
Heat a grill over medium-high heat.  While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be rare in the center, but don’t worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
Transfer the fish to a plate, skin side down. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 399 calories, 1 gram carbohydrates, no fiber, no sugar, 13 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 236 milligrams sodium, 50 grams protein.

Firecracker Burgers

What’s your favorite meat to cook on the grill? I’d say without a doubt hamburgers are the No. 1 choice of most Americans. I’m not saying that because it’s the favorite at our house but because statistics bear it out.

In Weber’s 2011GrillWatch Survey, an annual nationwide study, hamburgers (69 percent) easily tops the list of most grilled food. Coming in second was steak at 46 percent, followed by chicken (42 percent), hot dogs (39 percent) and ribs (17 percent).

I can’t say that the results surprise me. In our house, burgers are also the hands-down favorite. Our choice of meat usually is either venison or buffalo burger, since they contain less fat than hamburger. But we’re in the minority. Americans’ favorite is the beef burger (93 percent), with turkey burgers a distant second at 14 percent.

With grilling season just about ready to kick in, here’s a recipe from McCormick, the spice people, for hamburgers that are served with an assortment of grilled bell peppers, which sounds pretty good to me. And with a dozen or so pepper plants at my disposal this summer, this recipe could become a favorite.

Firecracker Burgers
1 pound ground beef
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
¼ teaspoon red pepper, ground
2 medium assorted colors bell peppers, seeded and quartered
Vegetable oil
4 slices Cheddar, Monterey Jack or American cheese
4 Kaiser or hamburger rolls
Lettuce, tomato and condiments (optional)
Mix ground beef, onion and seasonings in medium bowl until well blended. Shape into 4 patties. Brush bell peppers with oil.
Grill patties and bell peppers over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes per side or until burgers are cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees). Add cheese slices to burgers 1 minute before cooking is completed. Toast rolls on the grill, open-side down, about 30 seconds.
Cut bell peppers into thin strips. Serve burgers on toasted rolls topped with bell peppers. Garnish with desired condiments and toppings.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 524 calories, 28 grams fat, 35 grams carbohydrates, 100 milligrams cholesterol, 790 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber, 33 grams protein.

Chicken Chive and Spinach Burgers

 

I just finished a strenuous day planting my garden, and it sure feels good to be finished. While it will be one to two months before there will be things such as beans, tomatoes and cucumbers to eat, I already have some other options from the garden that are ripe for the picking.

I’m talking about chives and multiplier onions, which get a head-start on the rest of the vegetables since they are perennials. Both are good in salads.

Earlier today, I came across a recipe that calls for chives and baby spinach, which should be one of the first seeds to germinate in my garden. The recipe is for grilled ground chicken burgers, which are a lighter option than hamburger. The snipped chives and cooked spinach are added to the chicken along with some honey Dijon mustard, bread crumbs and seasoning so the burgers don’t dry out so quickly when they’re grilled.

I can’t wait to try these with some fresh spinach and chives from my garden.

Chicken Chive and Spinach Burgers
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
16 ounces ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
1 small bunch fresh chives, snipped (about 1/3 cup snipped)
1 teaspoon Morton’s Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend (or favorite all-purpose seasoning)
¼ cup panko (or regular) bread crumbs
FOR SERVING:
3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
Lettuce, cheese slices, tomato slices
4 thin sandwich buns such as Aunt Millie’s 90-calorie Slimwiches
Preheat or prepare the grill. Rinse the spinach leaves. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves with water still clinging to the leaves. Saute the spinach until wilted.
In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, honey Dijon, cooked spinach, chives, seasoning blend and bread crumbs. Mix well. Shape into 4 patties about ½-inch thick.
Oil the grill grates and grill the burgers about 6 to 8 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked. An instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and chives.
To assemble burgers, toast the buns, if desired. Spread a dollop of the mayonnaise mixture on the inside of each bun. Place lettuce on the bottom. Top with the burger, cheese slice and tomato. Place the other bun half on top and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: You also can broil or pan-fry these burgers.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 393 calories, 24 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 35 grams carbohydrates, 37 grams protein, 894 milligrams sodium, 84 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Almond Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

I’m a big fan of rhubarb desserts. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been one that’s crossed my palate over the years that was a disappointment. My all-time favorites are rhubarb pie and crunch. The recipe for the latter, I recently shared with readers in this space.

But I’m always looking for new recipes, and I’ve found that the annual Rhubarb Festival at University Lutheran is a good place to find them. (This year’s takes place June 11.) Another good source for me is Ann Bailey, a longtime friend and co-worker, who has shared a few rhubarb recipes with me that have been quite tasty.

And now, I’ve come across the adaptation of another from journalist, Lee Svitak Dean, a food writer for the Star and Tribune of the Twin Cities. The Almond Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce recipe was adapted from one in “Come One, Come All/ Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Menus.”

In the recipe, the rhubarb is paired with strawberries, which seem to go well together. I still enjoy the strawberry-rhubarb jam that my mom makes every spring and summer. There’s nothing better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the jam. Heck, I even like to eat the jam all by itself. (For more about strawberries, go to www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/203722/.)

Almond Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
7 ounces almond paste (see note)
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon. almond extract
Powdered sugar
Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and almond paste thoroughly. Add sugar slowly and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder thoroughly.
In a cup or small bowl, combine milk and almond extract.
Add one-third of flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir gently but thoroughly; add one-third of milk mixture and stir gently but thoroughly. Continue to add flour mixture and milk alternately until all has been incorporated into the batter.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; gently fold into batter thoroughly.
Spoon into well-greased, 10-cup tube pan (an angel food cake pan or Bundt pan) or in 2 loaf pans. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes (slightly less for loaf pans), or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Loosen cake gently around rim and tube. Cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce.
Yield: Serves 20.
Note: Almond paste comes in a tube, in the baking section of supermarkets. It’s not critical to the recipe and can be omitted, but it will add an extra layer of almond flavor (if you don’t use it, lessen the milk by 2 tablespoons). The cake can be made up to a day in advance, or longer if frozen.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 267 calories, 13 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 195 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 60 milligrams calcium, 4 grams protein, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
2 cups. chopped rhubarb (2 large stalks), fresh or frozen
Juice and zest from 1 orange (about ¼ cup orange juice and
1 tablespoon orange zest
In a medium bowl, toss sliced strawberries with sugar; set aside. In a medium pot, combine rhubarb and orange juice and, over low heat, bring to a simmer. Cook rhubarb until barely soft, about 5 minutes — do not overcook or the color turns gray. (Or cook in a microwave.) Set aside to cool slightly. Add cooled rhubarb to strawberries and toss with orange zest. Serve over cake or ice cream.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Note: Make this the same day it is served for the best color and texture. Zest is the colored part of the skin on citrus fruit (not the white pith, which is bitter).

Grilled Cheese Comfort

Chances are if you ask a dozen people what their favorite comfort food is you might get 12 different answers. I know my answer could be different, depending on my tastes on that particular day.

But one that surely rates high on my list is the grilled cheese sandwich. Some of my fondest childhood memories are those cold winter days when my mom would serve up grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. Of course, the sandwiches made perfect dunking fare for a hot bowl of soup.

There are probably as many variations of the tasty sandwich as there are varieties of cheese. I discovered another today while watching Claire Robinson’s “Five Ingredient Fix”  on the Food Network. One of the recipes Robinson featured was for Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich. She did something that I’d never seen before. Both sides of her sandwiches were slathered with mayonnaise before they were grilled.

That was news too me, but apparently, not so much for everyone else. My friend, Bob Sullivan, who enjoys talking food with me while we exercise, said he and his wife, Shirley, always coat their grilled cheese sandwiches with mayo. I’ve coated grilled salmon with mayo to keep the fish from drying out but never have done so with grilled cheese. But it’s something that I’ll likely give a try.

Here’s the recipe, along with several others. Take you pick. You may have a new favorite when all is said and done.

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich
1½ cups shredded best-quality sharp Cheddar
½ cup real mayonnaise, plus more for grilling
1 4-ounce jar chopped pimentos, drained
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
12 slices brioche bread, lightly toasted
Pulse the cheese, mayo, pimentos and cayenne in the food processor until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
Spread some additional mayo on 1 side of each slice of toasted bread. Arrange 6 slices, mayo-side down, on a clean work surface. Place 2 heaping tablespoons pimento cheese evenly on the 6 slices of bread and top with the remaining 6 slices of bread, mayo-side facing up.
In a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat, cook 3 sandwiches until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is starting to melt, about 3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Wipe the pan clean and repeat with the remaining 3 sandwiches.
Yield: Serves 6.
What To Toss In: If you like your pimento really spicy, you can always add some chipotle in adobe sauce to give it a smoky flavor. This also can be used as an entertaining dip. Just arrange some baby carrots and cut up some celery sticks around the cheese.

The Blue Tomato
1 cup (about 4 ounces) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
½ stick butter, room temperature (divided)
8 slices crusty seeded Italian bread (or other hearty bread such as sourdough)
2 large ripe tomatoes (about 12 ounces) cut into 8 slices
½ large bunch of basil, leaves only
In small bowl, place cheese and 2 tablespoons butter. Mix well. Butter one side of bread slices with remaining butter. Place 4 bread slices on work surface, buttered side down. Divide cheese mixture evenly over bread slices. Top with tomato and basil. Top with other 4 slices of bread, buttered side up.
Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat 2 minutes. Place sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary), cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and cheese has begun to soften. Uncover and turn sandwiches with spatula, pressing firmly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is softened and heated through. Turn once more and cook 30 seconds. Remove from skillet and let cool 3 to 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.

The Caribbean Grill
½ mango, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 tablespoons red onion, diced)
¼ red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon curry powder
8 slices fresh Italian bread
8 slices (1 ounce each) Swiss cheese
¼ cup honey mustard
In small bowl, prepare salsa: mix together mango, red onion, bell pepper, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside. (This can be made one day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.) Makes about 1 ½ cups.
In small bowl, mix butter and curry. Spread 2 tablespoons butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread on your work surface, buttered side down. Spread mustard on bread. Place about 2 tablespoons mango salsa on bread, followed by the cheese. (You may need to fold cheese slices to fit bread.) Place remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.
Add remaining curry butter to nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat 2 minutes. Put sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary), cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and cheese has begun to melt. Uncover and turn sandwiches with spatula, pressing very firmly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted. Turn once more, press with spatula and cook 30 seconds. Remove from pan and let cool 3 to 5 minutes. Cut diagonally and serve with extra salsa on the side.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.

Smoky Southwestern Grill
2 pasilla or Anaheim chilies (or use canned chilies)
8 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half (or 1 loaf ciabatta cut into 3-inch-wide sections, or use any type Italian bread)
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces mozzarella, coarsely grated (if watery, drain slightly and cut into thin slices rather than grate it)
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled or pinched into pea-size pieces
4 large slices tomato, ¼-inch thick
Roast peppers by preheating broiler, or turning on one burner of gas stove. Place chilies under the broiler, or hold one chili with tongs over gas burner flame. Cook, turning frequently, until skin is charred all over. Repeat with remaining chili.
Place chilies in resealable plastic bag and set aside 20 minutes. Using small sharp knife, scrape off charred skin, cut off stems, then cut chilies into ½-inch-wide strips. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet with a paper towel, but do not wash it.
To assemble, pull out some of the center of each roll to create a well. Brush the outside of each roll with the oil. Place bottom 4 pieces on work surface, oiled side down. Distribute mozzarella evenly over these pieces, followed by bacon, chilies, tomatoes and goat cheese. Place remaining 4 pieces of rolls on top, oiled side up.
Using same skillet as before, heat skillet over medium heat 2 minutes. Place sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary) and press firmly with spatula to flatten them slightly. Cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown in places and mozzarella has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn sandwiches with spatula, pressing very firmly. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown in places (the shape of the roll prevents uniform browning). Turn sandwiches again, press with spatula, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until mozzarella has melted completely.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.

Two-Cheese Mediterranean
2 ounces feta cheese
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 slices sourdough bread (¼-inch thick)
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (or use Emmentaler or Monterey jack)
4 whole roasted red peppers (from a jar), drained and cut in half
½ cup baby spinach leaves
In small bowl, mix together feta, olives, capers, lemon peel and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To assemble, butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on work surface, buttered side down. Spread feta mixture evenly over 4 slices. Press Gruyere into feta mixture and top each slice with 2 pepper halves and spinach. Press again to compress filling. Place remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat 2 minutes. Place sandwiches in skillet (in batches if necessary), cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn sandwiches with spatula, pressing very firmly to flatten slightly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden brown and spinach has wilted. Turn sandwiches again, press with spatula, and cook 30 seconds, or until Gruyere has melted completely.
Yield: 4 sandwiches.

Grilled Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
1 French-bread baguette (16 ounces)
2/3 cup olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as tarragon, thyme, and rosemary)
¾ cup soft fresh goat cheese (plain, peppered, or herbed)
4 large plum tomatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
2 cups coarsely chopped pitted Mediterranean olives
Prepare grill (medium heat). Cut baguette crosswise in half. Cut each half lengthwise in half to form 4 pieces total.
In small bowl, combine oil, garlic and herbs. Brush all cut sides of bread with half of oil mixture.
Grill bread, cut sides down, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Remove from grill. Quickly spread cut sides of toast with goat cheese. Top with tomatoes and olives, dividing equally. Drizzle remaining oil mixture on top.
Return open-face sandwiches to grill. Cook until bottom sides are toasted, cheese melts, and tomatoes begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Cut each sandwich diagonally in half and serve.
Yield: Makes 4 sandwiches.