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Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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Although you don't need a panini maker to make these sandwiches, it makes the whole process a lot easier and keeps your kitchen cooler. If you're still resisting the impulse to go out and buy one right now, just fry up your sandwiches in a pan and place a somewhat smaller cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich to enhance the crusty flatness of the outside of the sandwich, then flip and fry in a similar manner on the other side.



Grilled American Cheese on White Bread (or, the Classic Grilled Cheese)

1 or 2 slices of American cheese

2 slices white sandwich bread

1 tablespoon butter

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with cheese, and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Cheddar with Bacon and Tomatoes

1 or 2 slices of cheddar cheese

2 slices of bread (a white artisan loaf is best)

3 slices of bacon

2 slices of tomato

1 tablespoon butter

Fry bacon until crispy. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with cheese, bacon, tomato, and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Cheddar and Potato Chips

1 or 2 slices of cheddar cheese

handful of potato chips (salt and vinegar is great)

2 slices of bread (a white artisan loaf is best)

1 tablespoon butter

For this one, you need a frying pan, not a panini maker. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place both slices butter-side down in pan and top with cheese. Fry until bottom is golden brown and cheddar is melted. Carefully place handful of chips in center of one piece of bread and top with the other, butter side up. Smash down gently with a spatula. Remove and slice.



Grilled cheddar and sliced hot dogs

1 or 2 slices of cheddar cheese

1 hot dog

2 slices of bread (a white artisan loaf is best)

1 tablespoon butter

Slice hot dogs length-wise and fry in panini maker. Remove and wipe clean. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with hot dog, and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled extra sharp white cheddar with chopped, sautéed broccoli and garlic

1 or 2 slices of extra sharp, white cheddar cheese

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 slices of bread (a white artisan loaf is best)

1 tablespoon butter

salt and pepper

Steam broccoli for 10 minutes. Chop finely. Saute garlic in a small skillet until fragrant; add broccoli and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with sautéed broccoli and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled fresh mozzarella with basil and tomatoes

2 or 3 thick slices of fresh mozzarella

2 slices of tomato

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves

2 slices of bread (a white artisan loaf is best)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil-side down in panini maker, top with cheese, basil, and tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled pepper Jack with avocado slices

1 or 2 slices of pepper Jack cheese

3 slices of avocado

2 slices whole wheat bread

1 tablespoon butter

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with cheese, avocado slices, and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled pimento cheese and Smithfield ham

2 tablespoons of pimento cheese

2-3 slices of thinly sliced Smithfield ham

2 slices white sandwich bread

1 tablespoon butter

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Spread the other slice of one piece of bread thickly with pimento cheese (this is tricky—good luck). Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with ham, and place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry for about one minute, watching carefully, because this one gets gooey. Very gooey. Remove and slice.



Grilled Taleggio , prosciutto and fresh sage

3 slices of Taleggio

2 slices of prosciutto

4 fresh sage leaves

2 slices sesame-topped white artisan bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil side down in panini maker, top with cheese, proscitto, and sage leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Manchego with red peppers and thinly sliced chorizo

3 slices of Manchego

1/2 roasted red pepper, sliced

4-5 dry-cured, thin Spanish chorizo slices

2 slices white artisan bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil side down in panini maker, top with Manchego, red pepper, and chorizo. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Fontina with black olives, artichokes, and pesto

2 slices Fontina

6 black Kalamata olives, slices

2 canned artichoke hearts, quartered

1 tablespoon prepared pesto

2 slices roasted garlic bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil-side down in panini maker, dot with pesto, top with Fontina, olives, artichoke hearts. Place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Gruyere with roasted vegetables

2 slices Gruyere

1/4 chopped roasted vegetables (either leftover or purchased from the prepared food counter of your favorite grocery store)

1/4 baguette, sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon olive oil

Brush the outside of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil-side down in panini maker, top with Gruyere and roasted vegetables. Place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about three or four minutes. Remove and slice.



Grilled Emmentaler with scallions and Dijon mustard

2 slices of Emmentaler

2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 slices white artisan bread

1 tablespoon butter

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, carefully spread with Dijon, top with Emmentaler, sprinkle with scallion and place second slice on top butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Remove and slice.



Croque Monsieur

2 slices ham

2 slices Gruyere

2 slices white sourdough bread

1tablespoon butter

Bechamel sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup grated Gruyere

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with Gruyere and ham. Place second slice on top butter-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes.

For Bechamel sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour cook, stirring constantly, until golden. Pour in the milk, a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add bay leaf and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and cook gently for another 2-3 minutes; remove the bay leaf.

Place sandwich in a 8" x8" pan, top with béchamel and remaining Gruyere. Broil until bubbly.



Croque Madame

See above. Omit béchamel and top with a fried egg.



Cuban pork and grilled cheese

2 slices Swiss cheese

yellow mustard

1/4 pound roast pork, thinly sliced

4 thin dill pickle slices

1/4 French bread loaf (batard), slice lengthwise

Spread a thin layer of mustard on top and bottom halves of bread. Top bottom with Swiss cheese, pork, and pickle slices. Close bread and fry in panini maker for 3-4 minutes. Slice and serve.



Grilled Brie with brown butter-sautéed pears

1/2 sliced ripe pear

1 tablespoon butter

3 slices of Brie

2 slices white artisan bread

1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in small saucepan; add pears and sauté for 3-4 minutes until golden. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with Brie and pears. Place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry carefully for about two minutes. Watch closely; this gets very gooey.



Grilled croissant with cream cheese and black raspberry preserves

1 butter croissant

2 tablespoons cream cheese

2 teaspoons seedless, black raspberry preserves

1 tablespoon softened butter

Slice croissant in half lengthwise. Butter outside of each croissant slice. Spread cream cheese on inside of bottom slice (this is tricky). Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with dollops of black raspberry preserves. Place second slice on top, butter-side up. Close and fry carefully for about one to two minutes. Watch closely; this gets very gooey.



Grilled cinnamon raisin bread and marscapone

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread

2 tablespoons marscapone

1 tablespoon butter

Butter outside of each slice. Spread marscapone on inside of bottom slice (this is tricky). Place first slice butter-side down in panini maker, top with second slice butter-side up. Close and fry carefully for about one to two minutes. Watch closely; this gets very gooey.



Grilled baguette with Cabrales and honey

2 tablespoons Cabrales (or other strong blue cheese)

honey

1/4 French baguette, sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon olive oil

Brush outside of each piece of bread with olive oil. Place first slice olive oil-side down in panini maker, dot with Cabrales and drizzle with honey. Place second slice on top, olive oil-side up. Close and fry for about two minutes. Watch closely; this gets gooey.





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