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Grilled Cheese Sandwich ideas?

I'm thinking of putting together a "build your own grilled cheese sandwich" party and wondered what you might offer in terms of breads, cheeses, other things that people might want to put in/on their sandwich like butter spreads, bacon, herbs, etc....

They build 'em, I grill 'em.

What would you like? I welcome your thoughts. Thanks!

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  1. tomato? Grilled chicken?

    1. sourdough, rye, wheat, white breads. Various fillings in addition to cheese, such as, tuna, lunch meats, sliced peppers, olives, etc.

      1. A variety of breads (multi-grain, rye, foccacio, old-fashioned thick-cut white), really good tomatoes, avocado, grilled eggplant, sprouts, cheeses (Vermont sharp white cheddar, fontina, port salute, brie, Swiss, gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella -- okay ALL cheeses), thinly sliced vidalia onion, fried green tomatoes, grilled asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, fresh baby spinach, pork products (rendered pancetta, prociutto, applewood-smoked bacon, Taylor ham), basil pesto (or roasted red pepper pesto or any kind of pesto at all, really), olive paste, grainy mustard, some kind of hot sauce (sriracha is my preferred one), shredded cooked chicken, cooked shrimp and/or crab, and some dry spice blends (southwestern sweet, Thai curry blend, Cajun -- blech, but there are some who have little imagination -- herbes de Provence and seasoning salt.)

        Amy, this is one heck of an idea! Mind if I steal it? What a fantastic concept for an upscale lunch or a casual dinner. I'd have a broiler handy in case there are some who would prefer an "open face" presentation.

        Seriously, though, if you offer more than eight choices and have more than ten guests, I'd give guests a menu, or map, of ingredients so that they can figure out what they want to do before they approach the line-up. That'll cut down on the potential confusion -- and the wait.

        I am so stealing this idea (with your permission, of course.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefbeth

          Please -- take the idea and run with it! Your suggestions -- everyone's ideas -- are most helpful! I love the folks here at the Home Cooking board.

          I thought to do this because the weather is going to be kind of iffy. Grilling cheese sandwiches could be done inside or out and I can stop worrying about what Mother Nature will do. I'm hoping to offer some upscale ingredients while still embracing the casual comfort that is always to be found in a yummy grilled cheese sandwich.

          I look forward to hearing what you do with the idea! Amy

        2. artichoke hearts
          tomatoes
          sauteed mushrooms
          grilled onions
          green onions
          green chilies
          jalapenos

          1. What a fun idea!

            Lots of great things have already been mentioned, but I'll add that preserves can be really good addition to a grilled cheese. Just think of normal cheese and fruit/preserve pairings, then put 'em between bread and grill 'em.

            Mango Chutney and Havarti on Oatnut. Mmmmmm

            5 Replies
              1. re: ArikaDawn

                That sounds so good!

                One of my faves is sharp cheddar on whole-grain raisin bread with bacon.

                1. re: weezycom

                  I love sharp cheddar and raisin bread grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm going to have to try it with bacon next time. Sounds amazing.

                  1. re: weezycom

                    Preserves on grilled cheese - I thought I was the only one who did that! I also like to do a breakfast version with raisin bread, preserves and cream cheese.

                  2. re: ArikaDawn

                    How about Manchego cheese and quince jelly?

                  3. sourdough or rye with sharp cheddar, mayonnaise, bacon and pickle

                    1 Reply
                    1. The only suggestion I have is that the cheeses be shredded. They melt better than sliced.

                      1. Salsa...a grilled cheese with good quality cheese and any good salsa is killer good.

                        1. what if you made INVERTED grilled cheese sandwiches with haloumi on the outside and a thin bread soaked in something yummy on the inside?? like herbed olive oil? or berry sauce? i have no idea. or, heck, put more cheese between the cheese.

                          1. I recently made grilled cheese sandwichs from a recipe in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook which was suggested to me by a few of the home cooks here on this fab HC board. Nothing more than a good quality country white bread, sliced Gruyere cheese and minced fresh sage leaves heated in some EVOO. The infused oil is brushed on the outside of both slices of bread then grilled. Nothing on the inside but the cheese. You cannot imagine what a incredible taste such a simple sandwich has.

                            1. my fave is homemade pimento cheese, grilled in truffle butter. with a thin layer of jack or fontina in the middle, for the goo factor.

                              i'm also a big fan of sharp white cheddar and spinach.

                              1. Don't forget the tomato soup!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: nosey

                                  You're so right -- what's grilled cheese without creme of tomato soup?! But it's so dang hot in NYC right now. I'm thinking that we may opt for a cold pitcher of Bloody Marys for the inaugural grilled cheese building party.

                                  I'm LOVIN' the ideas!

                                  1. re: amyleechen

                                    I make homemade tomato soup, it is the bomb and easy. I will be happy to share my recipe....you're right its perfect for this weather and with these types of sandwiches.

                                    OH AmyL, I got a feeling that there are so many people that are going to be having grilled sammys for dinner soon.... I know I am!
                                    Please if you can take pictures to show off your creations....

                                    1. re: amyleechen

                                      You could serve a chilled gazpacho. Or make your tomato soup in a crock pot. I, too, will be copying your idea soon!

                                  2. Love this idea!

                                    You seem to have breads and fillings covered, so I'll add something I've used on fancy grilled cheese sandwiches - herb or flavored butters. I've done the truffle butter mentioned above, and you can offer your guests a variety. You can mix softened butter with Dijon and minced herbs, finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes and scallions, or make a spicy chipotle butter. Also, I've made that sage-infused oil grilled cheese from Zuni that Gio mentions - it's delicious. Pic:

                                    http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47b8d...

                                    1. I wonder if you want to go to the trouble of an egg bath. That would put grilled cheese on another level.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        That makes a wonderful sandwich.... with a filling of sliced mozzarella.... not the buffalo, but the fresh mozz.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Yeah baby! Mozzarella en Carozza (skip the soup and make marinara for dipping) - you could layer some meat in there if you want, I just make them with the best fresh mutz I can find and cook low and slow to be sure the golden, melty, buttery beauties don't burn.

                                      2. I had a feeling this thread would make me hungry and boy I was not wrong.

                                        I love good maple syrup in a grilled cheddar, the syrup seeps into the bread and makes it kind of crisp.

                                        Also, my standard grilled cheese as a kid was just cheddar, buttered wheat bread and ketchup. So much better for some reason than regular sliced tomato.

                                        1. I haven't noticed it mentioned; pepper jack cheese.

                                          1. So there were 5 of us and we had a small scale grilled cheese party. The biggest challenge is not to go crazy with the fixin's. I had to exercise a great deal of restraint! I ended up putting together a spread of Vermont white cheddar, asiago, gorgonzola, smoked mozzarella, and American cheeses, fresh basil and dill, sundried tomato pesto, fig/pear/ginger chutney, bacon slices, and genoa salami. I sliced a loaf of Pullman white bread and an herbed olive semolina loaf. Everyone assembled their selections and I then buttered the slices and sprinkled them with garlic powder (for me, GC sandwiches seem to blossom with garlic powder rather than fresh) before grilling. When they were done, I cut them in half and everyone decided to keep half for themselves and pass the other half around for everyone else to sample. There's just something about a sandwich that someone else makes for you with love.

                                            I also made a cool and crunchy cucumber, dill, and red onion salad to counterbalance the warm creamy cheesiness of the sandwiches. And because it was so warm that evening, I did decide to go with cold Bloody Marys instead of creme of tomato soup. We agreed it worked very well and a good time was had by all.

                                            Thank you all for your inspired suggestions! We're already planning the cold weather version of this party. I look forward to hearing what you do with the idea! Have fun and treat yourself to a yummy grilled cheese sandwich this week.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: amyleechen

                                              Thanks for the good entertainment idea.

                                              I just discovered a good spicy roasted pepper tomato soup at Costco after never eating it. That dislike came from canned soup when I was a kid.

                                              1. re: amyleechen

                                                Soooo, if you sampled everybody's...any standouts?

                                                1. re: amyleechen

                                                  What a nice report! I was looking forward to reading what you decided on. Many thanks. Now I can't wait for your Winter version. Fondue variants, perhaps?

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Oh yes! When I saw this thread I thought "Fromage Fort!" but figured it didn't fit in with the summer feel. For a winter party though, perfect. Truth be told, we eat fondue year round because I am an addict.

                                                    like everyone else, I love this party idea! Brilliant, amyleechen!

                                                2. don't forget the spreads..mayo, mustard, bbq sauce, pesto, hummus, ...etc. these take the sandwich to another taste level as well.

                                                  1. I had posted but it didn't take... anyway. My suggestions for cheese,
                                                    Fontina, Montery jack, cheddar, swiss, provolone. Mozzerella is good too.
                                                    If I were to do this, I would use thinly cut meats, procuitto, black forest ham, peppered turkey, chicken, or even tuna - for tuna melts
                                                    You have nice bread selections, but in addition to the tomatoes.I would add avocado, sprouts, spinach or arugula. Marinated roasted red peppers, and even pear especially on a thinly sliced ham, arugula and pear with a smear of bbq sauce.
                                                    The crab as long as you use fresh would be nice, adding a creole sauce and chopped lettuce and eggs.
                                                    Oh don't forget the grilled pimento cheese!!! Add pineapple for extra zip.
                                                    Really amyl, this is a wonderful wonderful idea for a party, But how will you finalize this? By choosing many meat and cheeses like a buffet? Please take pictures, I love this idea for a party. I might make this m next Friday night happy hour for the neighbors... what cocktails are you thinking?

                                                    1. If you don't have enough suggestions...on crusty bread (I like paninis):

                                                      caramelized onions, brie, thinly sliced apples
                                                      tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil

                                                      I also make a baked croque monsieur where I make ham and gruyere sandwiches, put in a casserole pan. Pour egg mixture similar to a strata over it and let it sit. Pour bechamel sauce over it and bake. It's easy to do ahead of time but it's not make your own.

                                                      You could just have bechamel cheese sauce on the side for the sandwiches. I love this idea, btw.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        Chowser, Would you post a recipe for your baked croque monsieur? I am not good at "winging it," especially when it comes to custard-like things. Amounts and baking temp would be great.

                                                        1. re: MazDee

                                                          I'm more of a wing it person... I've used different types of bread and it always works out, but older, slightly dry bread works best. I make the sandwiches, place in a buttered casserole dish. Squeeze them in if you have to but less space between the sandwiches is better than more. I'd use something like this strata egg mixture below. I've also added a little maple syrup (maybe 2 Tablespoons?) which is nice w/ the salty ham, if we're having it for breakfast.

                                                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                          Pour it over and refrigerate, overnight is best. Top with mornay sauce, or bechamel, depending on what you want. Again, I don't use a recipe but this one looks pretty standard.

                                                          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

                                                          Bake 350 for about 40 minutes and check. You want it to be slightly jiggly in the center but only slightly.

                                                      2. I love a nice sourdough rye, emmenthaler cheese, and dipped in HP steak sauce. One of my favorite foods ever.