Show of hands—who loves cheese? If you didn’t raise your hand, you should probably quit reading, because the three recipes I am offering today do nothing, if not provide in-your-face cheesiness. How could you not love cheese? Your loyalties are now in question….
If you did raise your hand, you are my friend, and I love you.
When I was kid, however, I only ate two kinds of cheese. American, and that powdered fake Parmesan stuff that was referred to in my house as Stinky Cheese. It went best on Spaghettios.
Once when I was four, I opened my blue Mickey Mouse in Space lunchbox to find, to my horror, a swiss cheese sandwich. Despite the fact that my name was on this blue Mickey Mouse in Space lunchbox, I knew instantly that my lunch had been stolen. There was no way on God’s green earth that my sweet mother would have done that to me. Put not-american cheese on my sandwich. There was clearly a great conspiracy at play. Obviously, someone had surreptitiously purchased a blue Mickey Mouse in Space lunchbox, put MY name on it, with the same red tape label maker, and placed in it a swiss cheese sandwich. Then they took my lunchbox, and ate my cheese american cheese sandwich. It was so obvious. The teacher called my mother at work to explain the subterfuge to which I had fallen victim. My mother presented in about 15 minutes with a sack from Whataburger, explaining that she had indeed placed a swiss cheese sandwich in my blue Mickey Mouse in Space lunchbox, as we had run out of american cheese. Imagine the inconceivable betrayal I felt in my little heart. My own mother giving me a swiss cheese sandwich! That is an honest to God true story. I am surprised I lived through it. The What-a-meal toy made the boo boo in my heart go away fairly quickly, and I would go on to love cheese. All cheese. Well, except for American cheese and powdered fake Parmesan.
To make these recipes easy to recreate at home, I am using cheeses commonly found in most grocery stores. Even if you live in Far East Nowhere, you should be able to make these with no substitutions.
Food snobs will cringe at this, but I am even using a brick of “pasteurized processed cheese food” , which I am pretty sure means “not actually cheese” in one of these recipes. Let me be clear. I understand that this is not cheese. It is oil, salt and yellow, and some other stuff, shaped into a soft brick, sealed in foil, and placed in a box on the store shelf. It is shelf stable, which is really, really creepy for something that masquerades as cheese. BUT, this product is a mainstay in southern homes, so I have to give a nod to my Daisy Duke side. Also, it just really helps bring a lovely smooth melt to the cheese dip.
When I go to the gourmet market, I have to steer clear of the cheese counter, lest I wind up spending way too much time and money there. They are all my favorites. I love a nice mild, creamy Havarti for snacking, and sandwiches, and nothing adds spark to mac and cheese like a bit of strong Double Gloucester. For salads, and with fruit, I love Stilton with Apricots, Gorgonzola, Wesleydale Cranberry, and Danish Blue. Pecorino Romano and Parmesan Reggiano always stand ready for rapid deployment onto pasta, salad, and toasted bread—I can whip out a microplane zester faster than Dirty Harry with his 45.
Go ahead, Cheese. Make my day!
Jalapeno Cheese Bread
- 1 1/2 tablespoons quick acting yeast granules
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup pickled jalapeno slices
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs
- 10 oz pepper jack cheese cubes
- 10 oz mild cheddar cheese cubes
- Wash: 1 egg, 2 teaspoons water, ½ cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese.
In a small bowl, mix yeast, water, and sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Place milk in a saucepan over medium high heat…Bring to scalding, but do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, milk, yeast mixture, jalapenos, salt and eggs. Turn on and knead until a sticky dough is formed. Add additional flour if necessary to form a smooth dough, and knead for 10 minutes. Add in the cheese at the last-minute.
Remove bowl from mixer, cover with a clean towel and let sit for 15 minutes. Knead on a lightly floured board for 1 minute. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let rise again for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.. Punch down the dough and shape into two loaves. Place into 2 lightly oiled loaf pans. Cover and let rise for another hour, or until double in size.
Brush with egg and water mix. Sprinkle sharp cheddar on top. Bake in lower 1/3 of your oven, at 375* for 30 minutes, or until nicely browned, and hollow-sounding when tapped.
Allow to cool for ten minutes before removing from pan, and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwich With Pickled Red Onions and Guacamole
Not the grilled cheese from your school years. This sandwich has incredible flavor, texture, and grown up appeal, and it’s not bad to look at either.
Pickled Red onions:
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, separated
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup hot water
- 3 t salt
- 3 T sugar
Mix hot water with sugar and salt, and stir until dissolved. Place in a bowl with the red onions, and allow to sit for thirty minutes.
- 2 slices (1” thick) of Jalapeno Cheese Bread
- Scant amount of olive oil (or butter, if you’re a rebel)
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked until crispy
- 2 slices mild cheddar cheese
- Several slices red onion pickle
- ¼ cup guacamole
- (use your favorite recipe, or you can find my recipe here: Avocado Lover’s Guacamole
Heat a large skillet to medium high. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Place both slices in the skillet, and toast until the bottom is brown and toasty, about 1 minute. Turn over, and place one cheese slice on each piece. Toast for 2 minutes, until cheese is melted, and bottom of bread is toasted. Remove to plate. Place bacon on top of the cheese on one side of the bread. Put guacamole on top of the bacon, and red onions on top of the guacamole. Top with remaining bread, cheese side down. Cut in half diagonally, so you can admire the colorful and delicious masterpiece you have created.
Green Chili Cheese Dip
–this will be the best Chili Con Queso dip you have ever had. Period. The asadero and quesadilla cheeses are available in the Mexican cheese section at most large grocers.
- 20 oz Queso Quesadilla
- 20 oz Queso Asadero
- 2 pound loaf of Velveeta
- 2 medium white onions, very finely chopped
- 3 cloves minced garlic (fresh, not from a jar)
- 1 stick butter
- 4 cans (7 oz each) chopped green chilies, including juice
- 1 can (4 oz) jalapenos, finely chopped, including juice
- 2 cups whole milk
Cube or shred the cheeses. Place all ingredients in a crock pot or dutch oven on low heat. Stir periodically to help melt the cheese and mix everything together. (if you are using a dutch oven, stir more frequently to ensure the cheese does not burn on the bottom). When all the cheese is melted, the mixture will not look smooth at first. Using a heavy spoon, stir the mixture vigorously for several minutes until it becomes smooth. Add more milk if desired for a thinner consistency. Serve with thin style tortilla chips…..