In Seattle it has been HOT! The temperatures are closer to what we're used to having in Baltimore, without the humidity, but also without the air conditioning! There is just no escaping it. People keep assuring us that it isn't typically like this, but this heat wave has lasted over two weeks, and I am starting to wonder if this is the new normal.
Luckily, the extended forecast shows the temperature dipping at the end of the week, but I hope that doesn't change by the time we actually get there. Anyway, it is too warm to turn on the oven when we would normally cook dinner, so we've been going with alternate cooking means. We could just eat salads, but that gets boring after awhile, and I still miss the hot meal feeling, even it I'm feeling very warm myself. One of those options is to cook something quick on the stovetop, it goes on, cooks, and turns off in a few minutes, avoiding the preheating and literal box of hot air, that cooking with the oven would prescribe.
Based on the need to use the stovetop, I declare this week, GRILLED CHEESE WEEK!
So I am sharing a sandwich today that I loooove!!!! And I'll share another on Thursday! I could eat this one almost every day; the flavors in it play off of each other so well, and they dress up a plain grilled cheese to be something pretty spectacular. There is some heat mixed with the sweetness of the jam that leaves me craving the flavors of this sandwich. I based this combo off of something I picked up at a shop in Philadelphia and changed around so that Ben would eat it (the original had ham and that isn’t Ben’s thing).
We made this in Baltimore before we left with smoked turkey breast from Neopol, and if you live in Baltimore, or near a meat smoker—THAT IS THE WAY TO GO! For all of us living far away from that beautiful specialty market, sliced turkey or chicken breast will do just fine. You can also add some smoky flavor by choosing smoked cheese.
Let’s talk jam:
I started with fig preserves, which is what the original sandwich used, but they’re a little hard to find. My mom finally found it at Harry and David, but we left it in Baltimore. When we were trying to find a replacement I picked up aprium jam and pluot pepper jam at the farmers market, and they both seem to taste great. I think the most important thing is the sweet note, not necessarily the flavor of the jam so you can customize it. I prefer the pluot pepper jam, since it adds a little more heat to the sandwich.
You can use whatever pan you would use for grilled cheese, just give it a go, and be careful to keep all the loose parts inside your sandwich when you flip.
We use the grill pan from Le Cruset and their panini press, I find that it holds everything together a little better and cooks a bit more evenly, but really, just use the tools that you have.
For Each Sandwich you need:
- 2 slices of crusty bread that is fairly dense, and will trap your cheese in the sandwich and not cover your grill pan in cheese (so, not ciabatta)
- Provolone Cheese
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Scant TB of jam (enough to smear on one piece of bread).
- Sliced oven roasted turkey (smoked if available)
- Room temperature butter
- Heat your pan to medium high, and lightly grease. There is a lot of psychology that goes into how you heat up your pan. Are you a frequent grilled cheese burner? You may want to go low and slow. Are you really hungry, and you aren’t going to take your eyes off of the sandwich while it is cooking? A high temp may be just fine with you. Really, I try to find the balance so that it cooks pretty quick on the outside but not so fast that the outside of your sandwich is hot and the inside is full of cold ingredients and solid cheese. Experiment with your desired temperature and results.
- Smear one side of each slice of bread with butter.
- Flip the bread, butter down on your work surface, and start building your sandwich.
- Spread jam on one face of your sandwich (I’ve tried both sides, and it’s a little heavy on the jam for me).
- On top of that add a slice of cheese.
- Now sprinkle the cayenne pepper.
- Layer your turkey.
- Top with a piece of cheese, and your other piece of bread (butter out).
- Carefully transfer your sandwich stack from work surface to the grill pan.
- Cook until golden brown on one side and flip.
- Cook until the second side is done and enjoy!
What is your favorite thing to heat during a heat wave?