Friday, January 27, 2012

The Toasted Cheese Sandwich: Gourmet or Not? You Be The Judge

When I first started dating my wife, we invited her sister over to her house to meet me and I wanted to prepare a nice luncheon for us.  If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I'm a big fan of hearty home-style food but I like to turn-up the volume when entertaining so that something quite ordinary turns into something fancy with very little extra work (sometimes by simply using premium ingredients).

"What are we having?" my wife asked.  Her sister wanted to know.

"Hearty Turkey Stew and Toasted Cheese Sandwiches," I replied, making-up a fancy name for what was essentially soup and grilled cheese.

The truth is, pretty much everyone loves a good toasted sandwich.  Call it grilled cheese, call it a panini...  If it's two slices of bread with your favorite ingredients, toasted and held together with cheese, it's perfectly elegant in my humble opinion.  It just depends on how you present it.

Take for example, the humble tuna melt (bread, tuna salad, cheese).  Upgrade from white bread to a heartier Italian or sliced artisan bread and you get this:

Throw it on a ciabatta roll, bake it in the oven open-faced, and add some lettuce, and you get this:

 And since I can't just leave you with your mouth watering, staring at the photos of warm cheesy crusty goodness, here's a recipe:

Justin's Tuna Melt (or Anything melt)

4 slices Italian or artisan bread
1 can of Chunk White Albacore Tuna, drained
2-3 tablepoons mayonnaise (to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles
celery salt
3 tablespoons butter

1) Mix the tuna, mayo, and pickles.  Add celery salt to taste.

2) Spread the tuna evenly onto two pieces of bread and use the other two pieces to top each sandwich.

3) Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high.  Melt the butter and wait until the foam subsides.  Place both sandwiches into the skillet and leave on one side until they are golden brown (use a spatula to peek).

4) Gently turn the sandwiches and brown the other side, moving them slightly to make sure they come into contact with butter.

5) Remove from the pan, slice in half, serve with chips, pickles, and a tall glass of chocolate milk (or Coffee Milk if you're from Rhode Island).

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