This might be my favorite appetizer I have ever served. Sure, we think of Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup for a rainy-day comfort meal, but how about an elegant presentation at a dinner party with two little fingers of Grilled Cheese to dunk in a shot of Roasted Tomato Soup! I served this as a passed appetizer for my Valentine’s Dinner and my guests LOVED it.
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES
It’s literally my favorite food… of ALL foods, if I had to pick just one it would be Grilled Cheese aka Toasted Cheese, Cheese Toast, Cheese Toastie, Jaffles, etc. By any name in any country I have never met a grilled cheese I didn’t like. Cafeteria style on white bread with gooey American cheese – how happy was I when the school menu was grilled cheese!!!! All the way up to the crustiest artisanal bread with Fontina, Bleu, Brie…. IF YOU TOAST IT AND MELT CHEESE ON IT, I WILL BE THERE.
Here is one version of our beloved Grilled Cheese, made with a combination of 5 cheeses selected for meltability and creaminess (Fontina, Baby Swiss, Gouda), sharpness (sharp white cheddar), and a punch of salt (Pecorino). (Or course you can always opt for American cheese singles, but get a good quality organic variety if you go this route.) I slather the bread with real butter. Some will argue for using mayonnaise instead of butter for better browning. Mayo is a midwestern tradition on grilled cheese, and while I honor the browning note, I prefer the taste of butter. Also, err on the side of well-done – the crusty buttery bread with the melty, gooey cheese. Simply sublime. I also add a tiny sprinkle of good sea salt before slicing, because it just does a final little thing that makes it sing.
Dave’s Seed Bread (2 slices per sandwich)
Butter (2 tablespoons per sandwich)
5-Cheese Blend (about ½ cup per sandwich)
Sharp white cheddar
Fleur de Sel (or good quality sea salt)
Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees or medium high (or use a heavy-bottomed saute pan on medium-high heat). Grate the five cheeses in equal amounts and combine in a bowl (roughly ½ cup per sandwich). Slather the outside of two pieces of bread with butter, covering every bit to the corners. Place the buttered side of the bread onto a buttered hot griddle (or a pan on medium-high heat with melted butter). Add a generous amount of grated cheese and spread evenly all the way to the corners. Place the other piece of bread on top. Let the bread get nice and crispy on the bottom side, while the cheese begins to melt. (If your pan is too hot, the bread will burn and the cheese will not have enough time to melt, so check the heat and adjust as needed.) When the bottom bread is a deep golden brown and the edges of the bread are crispy, flip and repeat the other side. Transfer to a cutting board. Give the top a tiny sprinkle of sea salt. Slice on the diagonal into 1 inch strips. Criss-cross the slices and serve immediately. Great with a cup of Roasted Tomato Soup!
ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
This is my mother-in-law Suzanne Somers’ recipe and there is no need to alter it one bit. Suzanne has taught me so many things in my life. What a mentor she has been for me… however, of all the enrichment she was shared with me, perhaps the most notable is SOUP. Suzanne makes the best soup of anyone I know! The key is her homemade broth, her ability to season with just the right amount of salt, and the garnishes she adds that give it that extra special something. This is her Roasted Tomato Soup that can be found in her recipe compilation, Sexy Forever Recipe Bible, on page 51. The only alteration I made is that I used cherry tomatoes and then served it in a little espresso cup with Grilled Cheese!
8 pints of the ripest reddest organic cherry tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch basil, leaves only
2 cups chicken broth
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
Pinch red chili flakes
Crème fraiche, for garnish
Caramelized shallots, for garnish
Place cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and thyme over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until tomatoes are blistered and browning. Scrape all tomatoes and stuff stuck on bottom of the pan into a soup pot.
Add basil leaves (save a few for garnish) and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add broth, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Season with sea salt, cracked pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes. Taste soup and if it’s too acidic, add a small spoonful of organic sugar to balance. Check salt again and add as needed until the balance is correct.
Puree with a hand mixer until smooth and serve. Garnish with crème fraiche, caramelized shallots, and sprig of basil.
For the appetizer version, serve in a small demitasse or espresso cup with a slice of Grilled Cheese - perfect as a passed appetizer for an elegant way to dunk!
This was my passed appetizer at my Valentine’s dinner with a few of the loveliest friends a girl could ever wish for!!! Happy Valentine’s Day!