Here’s a recipe for grilled cheese sandwich that my daughter Pia developed in her kitchen in California.
To the usual ingredients of grilled cheese sandwich, she adds strawberry jam. The sweetness of the jam balances the savory, somewhat salty flavor of the cheeses (she uses two kinds of cheese). She also sprinkles panko bread crumbs over the cheese to make the sandwich extra crispy.
I’ve tried the recipe in my kitchen and, I must say, it’s a winner. The strawberry jam and the panko add new dimensions of taste and texture to what would otherwise be a plain grilled cheese sandwich.
Gruyère and mozzarella are the ideal cheeses to use for this recipe because they melt easily in a pan. However, a good kind of cheddar cheese can be used as substitute.
Crispy Grilled Cheese Sandwich
1 pc ciabatta (Italian bread)
2-4 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp strawberry jam or blueberry jam
1-2 slices gruyère cheese (enough to fill the bread’s surface)
1-2 slices mozzarella cheese (enough to fill the bread’s surface)
2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
Slice open the ciabatta and separate into two halves. Spread butter evenly on both sides of the two halves. Then spread jam on one side of one half of the ciabatta.
Arrange gruyère cheese over the jam, then top with the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the cheese. Top with the other half of the ciabatta to form a sandwich.
Heat a grill pan to medium. Place the sandwich on the grill and press lightly with a heat-proof spatula to flatten the sandwich slightly. Cook until the underside is golden brown, then turn over and cook the other side similarly.
Transfer to a serving plate. Slice the sandwich in half crosswise to make two slices. Makes one to two servings.
Be sure to butter all sides of the bread generously. Not only does this make the sandwich taste richer, it also prevents the bread from sticking to the pan.
Ciabatta is an Italian bread that’s somewhat oval in size. It’s available in loaf sizes and single-serve sizes in specialty bake shops such as French Baker and Bizu. For this recipe, choose the single-serve sizes.
You can substitute Cheddar cheese for the Gruyère cheese.
If you don’t have a grill pan, you can use a nonstick skillet to cook the sandwich.