Pasatiempo - - AMUSE-BOUCHE -

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.)

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