The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic (Ten Speed Press), chef Eric Greenspan presents more than 40 fun variations on the timeless grilled cheese sandwich. Greenspan earned his culinary chops at restaurants on both coasts, has appeared on the Food Network, and has hosted “Eric Greenspan Is Hungry” on National Geographic; what inspired this book was a lifelong love of the comfort-food classic and his decision to serve “an elevated grilled cheese” at The Foundry in LA rather than presenting diners with yet another “highfalutin” cheese plate. That became his signature, The Champ, a flavor extravaganza wherein raisin-walnut bread is filled with Taleggio, apricot-caper purée, sun-dried tomatoes, and short-rib meat.
The book is divided into sections according to type of cheese; each section offers combinations both wild and mild as well as recipes for the pickles, spreads, and jams included therein. Greenspan instructs the more intrepid in the making of their own American cheese and also provides methods for infusions (with things such as beer, sriracha, and maple syrup).
Naturally, you’ll find The Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and goat cheese) in these pages, along with the seasonally appropriate Bad Moon Rising (srirachainfused American, fried eggs, arugula, and bacon), Ichabod Crane (Camembert and pumpkin chutney), and Gobbler (Gouda, turkey, green beans, fried shallots, and cranberry-olive tapenade). Greenspan makes nods to Southern and soul food, with combos involving pimento cheese, greens, pickles, fried chicken, and waffles. And he interprets other iconic dishes in sandwich form: Buffalo wings become blue cheese, fried chicken, hot sauce, and a carrot-celery slaw on rye; a Chicago dog becomes giardiniera, peppers, sweet relish, tomato, Swiss, and, yes, two sliced hot dogs on poppyseed bread; and a Melt, Stretch, & Sizzle: The Art of Cooking Cheese by Tia Keenan (Universe) offers seven wildly differing variations on the grilled cheese and then ups the ante, with recipes illustrating the global appeal of fromage. There’s allAmerican mac and cheese, of course, and the Midwest’s beloved fried cheese curds, but also fondue, paneer, frico, pão de queijo, and variations on traditional raclette. In addition to tips about which cheeses to choose (depending on your cooking method, the flavor you’re aiming for, and how many mouths you need to feed) and beer and wine pairings, Keenan serves up recipes for sauces, pastas, baked dishes like gratinée, soufflés, French onion soup, and aligot, many with recommendations for both an ideal “traditional” cheese and a suitable substitute. Noah Fecks’ photos and Victoria Granof’s styling are some of the most outlandish I’ve seen in a while — weird but fun, with a surreal vibe that brings to mind the TimeLife “Foods of the World” cookbook series of the 1960s and ‘70s. They feel retro, to be sure, but try to resist the temptation to call them cheesy. — L.G.
fully loaded bagel becomes smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, red onion, caper-dill spread, and goat cheese on rye. (At least he had the good sense to avoid nationwide foodie scorn and not choose cinnamon-raisin.)