Grilled Cheese for Breakfast? Of Course!
Family Meal Traditions
My siblings and I grew up on grilled cheese served with a steaming bowl of tomato soup. It was a hot meal in the fall and winter when we were in a hurry and wanted something warm and satisfying.
I have to admit when we were growing up, most people didn't think a lot about "eating healthy," so our grilled cheese sandwiches were made with white bread and processed American cheese, a little mayo on the inside and a little butter on the outside so the sandwich would brown well. I just remembered, and you might want to try this, I always had a dill pickle, a Polish dill pickle along with my sandwich. Probably any sour or dill pickle would be good.
From Martha Stewart to Rachel Ray
In my thirties, and with the availability of round the clock television cooking shows, I learned that my grandmother, mother, and I had been making our Grilled Cheese sandwiches incorrectly. Grilled Cheese snobbery had arrived in full force and with flags waving. First, we should have been using thick hearty, preferably homemade, whole-wheat bread. Second, using mayonnaise was unthinkable -- maybe a smear of artisanal mustard, or perhaps a bit of organic cream cheese with chives.
Third, the cheese should be sharp sheep's milk Cheddar or an aged Gouda, or perhaps a European Havarti. Never, never, never stoop so low as to put American cheese on a Grilled Cheese sandwich. Oh, I almost forgot, a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black peppercorns is necessary. Finally, the bread should be lightly brushed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, before being toasted over an open (but whimsical and rustic) fire made with the finest maple or cedar logs.
Well I never had a Grilled Cheese like that (although some of those combinations sound appealing), and I will never make sandwiches like that for company, even if I happen to have all the ingredients on hand. A Grilled Cheese is supposed to be quick, homey, comfort food. Pair it with soup or a salad and you have made a reasonable effort at meeting the food pyramid requirements. I know the food pyramid is now passe and has been replaced, but it wasn't in my thirties and it certainly wasn't during my childhood.
What the cooking shows consistently provided was a rigorous process that took way too long and they trumpeted guiding principle which were a strange amalgamation of "healthy for you" and "out of the ordinary ingredients." So when and how did Grilled Cheese become breakfast fare?
Lack of Ingredients Equals a New Dish
In my opinion, wonderful food combinations and new recipes often emerge synergistically when a severe lack of time and paucity of ingredients collide -- this frequently happens at my house. If you can't relate to this, then you probably don't want to read any further. Save yourself - you will want to pick up a copy of Fine Dining or some such publication.
So the magic moment came yesterday morning. I was running late, had no time for breakfast, and had a full eight hours of classes and student appointments ahead of me before I could stop for a meal. I opened the refrigerator. Eggs, but I didn't think I could safely eat scrambled eggs while driving. Some cheese, but what to do with it?
Then I looked at my counter top, which was orderly and clean of course, just like the pictures in Better Homes and Gardens, and I shouted Eureka! Yes, I actually shouted Eureka, and if you don't know the wonderful story about an Ancient Greek (I think he lived and worked in Syracuse) the word Eureka, look it up. Great story. :)
On the counter-top sat half a loaf of raisin bread. I grabbed two slices, turned on the gas, sprayed a skillet with Pam, well, generic olive oil Pam, unwrapped a slice of Swiss cheese, threw the sandwich into the pan, and generic Pammed the top slice of bread. Three minutes later I walked out of the house with my grilled cheese and a tangerine, but it could have been a pear or a plum, or some sliced melon, or a handful of grapes.
It was quick, satisfying and healthy. Raisin bread, Swiss cheese, generic Pam. I liked it so much I did a variation for dinner this evening - I had a Grilled Raisin Bread and Peanut Butter Sandwich (no jelly, jam, or preserves - that would just be so wrong). Instinctively I knew not to go with a tangerine or orange. Instead the perfect accompaniment was a big juicy apple.
What kind of apple did I have that morning?
Well, what kind of apple do you like? That is the kind I had. :)
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