THE PERFECT GRILLED CHEESE
By Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Agatha Award-winning author of the national bestselling
Cheese Shop Mystery and Cookbook Nook Mystery series
“Life is good; cheese makes it better.” ~ Avery Aames
Do you love grilled cheese sandwiches? I do. They bring back memories of simpler times. When I was a kid, I used to go to Lake Tahoe in the summer with my family, and my mother would make a really cheese-y grilled cheese. She would also fix tomato soup. Comfort food extraordinaire. We would take a midday break—if we didn’t, we’d be sunburned prunes; my sisters and I loved swimming in the ice cold lake. We would sit on the porch eating our grilled cheese and look out at the water and count seagulls. Fun. Easy.
While writing the next book in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I did a lot of research for grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Because the story revolves around a grilled cheese competition. I wanted to know my stuff. [Don’t I have it rough? LOL] I’ve always been a good grilled cheese maker, but I wanted to be great. As a result, I’ve changed three aspects of my grilled cheese cooking techniques.
One: My cheese maven [a real person] wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that said, and I’m paraphrasing: “It’s called a cheese sandwich, not a bread sandwich, so make sure you use lots of cheese.” Ever since, I’ve doubled up on the cheese I put in a sandwich.
Two: Thanks to a suggestion in another article, in addition to buttering the outside of the bread, I now add a swath of cream cheese to the inside of the bread. As it turns out, cream cheese heats up fast and encourages the other cheese to melt. Brilliant tip.
Three: Lastly, I invested in a Panini grill. Have you ever handled one? They’re quite big and clumsy. They’re sort of like a waffle iron, but the back side is a little more flexible so that a cook can put in a grilled sandwich that is extra-wide, and it will still fit. Using a Panini grill has made all the difference in my grilled cheese results. Here’s why. I now have to eat gluten-free [I didn’t as a girl…long story…]. Gluten-free bread isn’t the easiest to grill. It’s, um, not very flexible unless you’ve just pulled it fresh out of the oven (which is great!). In fact, it’s stiff and hard. But if you put a gluten-free sandwich in a Panini grill, something about the weight of the two sides of the grill help the gluten-free bread get soft again. It also helps the cheese melt evenly throughout. Perfection.
By the way, while writing INHERIT THE WORD [The Word is a diner in town, short for Mum’s the Word Diner], I did a lot of taste-testing. I made one sandwich based on an appetizer my mother used to make for her bridge club. I’ve included the recipe in the book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
What’s your favorite grilled cheese combination? Have you ever participated in or watched a grilling competition?
(Learn more about Daryl at darylwoodgerber.com or penguin.com).
**GWN’s Review of “Inherit the Word”**
A Cookbook Nook Mystery
By Daryl Wood Gerber
Berkley Prime Crime
Mass Paperback, 294 pages
The Cookbook Nook might not be able to fill a void from the death of her husband, but it and Aunt Vera keep Jenna Hart pretty busy. When Jenna isn’t ordering cookbooks, she’s planning activities to bring in customers of all ages.
This year, the Nook was invited to host the town’s annual Grill Fest, the one event everyone is dying to win. In no time at all, things get heated up even before the competition gets underway. Before the cheese melts on the indoor grills set up in The Cookbook Nook, the fire alarm rings and everyone is asked to leave the building. No sooner do things simmer down do they find a contestant dead outside. The weapon, a bit unusual, but deadly.
Topping the list of suspects is Bailey’s mom, Lola. Bailey is one of Jenna’s closest friends. Lola was observed before the grill fest having a shout out with the person who was murdered. There’s no way she can deny it with so many witnesses.
Unwilling to see Lola behind bars, Jenna, Bailey and friends do a little investigating of their own. Who can the killer be? Does the grill fest turn even more deadly or down right competitive before the winner is chosen? Does Jenna find out the mystery of her husband’s death? Buy the book and find out.
I loved “Inherit the Word” and that’s because I loved the characters. I could see them in action. They seemed dimensional with their great personalities, their interest in cookbooks and experimenting with new recipes. The suspects were great with their fits of jealousy, controlling behavior and inflated egos.
Five melted cheese sandwiches out of five
March 5, 2014