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of chlorine and grilled cheese

I can’t think of a more American staple than a grilled cheese sandwich. Ok, maybe a hamburger, with special sauce sandwiched between a sesame seed bun… But I’d like to think that grilled cheeses are more appropriate for everyday living. Strangely enough, every ethnicity has one version of this classics, give or take some specially additions. I personally love the French take of a grilled cheese, Croque Monsieur.

I admit, my history with grilled cheese sandwiches has been fairly abysmal. I remember my dad making a rather humble grilled cheese consisting of two thin slices of Wonder Bread, two slices of Kraft American Cheese, and pickle on the side. Why the pickle? Who knows, I hated pickles growing up. That should give you an idea of my dad’s involvement in my childhood…

It wasn’t until I got to high school till I knew the wonder of a perfect grilled cheese. Coincidentally, this was the same time that I befriended my trusty gal pal, Julia. I’ve mentioned her before, the lover of toast, Diet Pepsi, and cookies. She’s one class act and I owe her many thanks for introducing me to the fine world of grilled cheese.

After boring days in school, we’d run to her house, hop in the pool, and after a couple of hours soaking up the rays, we’d wander in to the kitchen, starving. She’d quickly assemble our saving grace: the grilled cheese. Two long slices of sourdough bread, slathered in butter, with three slices of hearty sharp Tillamook Cheddar Cheese. A couple of minutes on each side, with a pan slammed on top (this was pre-pannini grill days) and our dinner would be served.

I don’t know if it was the chlorine in our hair, the impending sunburn on my nose, or the smell of the buttered friend bread, but I can’t remember a more perfect way to spend my afternoons. Julia is also responsible for the many grilled cheese tasting parties we had in college. We’d make three different kinds of grilled cheeses and cut them up into little pieces and taste. The combinations we ended up loving were the ones with sharp cheeses with sweet jams. I still prefer the sharp Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, but I’d slather some Strawberry jam or grape jelly in between. The sweet fruit brings out the flavor of the sourdough bread and tasty cheese. I’d consider this version a more grown-up grilled cheese. Reminiscent of your carefree childhood days, it’s perfect for long days out in the sun when you need a quick, hearty meal.

Grilled Cheese and Jam Sandwich
Printable Recipe
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

● 4 slices Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, American
● 4 slices sourdough wheat bread
● 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
● 2 tbsp strawberry preserves

Spread butter on one side of each bread slice and turn slices over. Divide and spread jam on 2 slices of bread. Divide cheese between remaining 2 slices. Season with salt and pepper, then assemble sandwiches.

Heat a dry heavy skillet over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Cook sandwiches, pressing down with a spatula so the cheese and jam melt together. Flip the sandwiches over Once the sides are golden, flip the sandwiches over and cook the other side until bread is golden and cheese is completely melted.

Remove from the pan and slice in half. Enjoy sandwich warm.

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July 12, 2009 - 12:36 pm

whitneyinchicago - I don’t think I have ever though to add jam to a grilled cheese. Brilliant. I bought a loaf of bread at the market today and now I know where two of the slices are going.

July 12, 2009 - 12:50 pm

Jennifer @ Maple n' Cornbread - Growing up my dad always made grilled cheese with jams.. I thought it was the strangest thing until my tastebuds matured in my teens and I had a new found love of this creation! YUM indeed!

July 12, 2009 - 4:04 pm

rad - that sounds lovely and simple!! too bad i can’t anything that’s not part of the BRAT diet for awhile :( stupid stomach flu.

July 12, 2009 - 5:50 pm

Rachel - YUM this looks like something I would love! (I usually do brie and granny smith apple). Thanks for such a great idea!

July 13, 2009 - 2:36 am

Kaitlyn - Grilled cheese is my favorite! The jam is such a unique idea, I would have never thought to do that on my own. Thanks for the great idea!

July 13, 2009 - 5:45 am

stephchows - mmmmmmmm chlorine and grilling… such good memory smells hehe :) I was a fish from a very early age so chlorine brings back the best memories :D

July 13, 2009 - 8:22 am

PhillyGirl - I grew up with grilled cheese sandwiches made with white bread, American cheese (Kraft, of course), then fried in butter. My mom also “smashed” them with the spatula and put grape jelly on them. We would have them for breakfast (with grits on the side) or lunch. I still make them the same way but with wheat bread and upgraded cheese. :)

July 14, 2009 - 5:30 am

Tanis - That is an interesting idea – I might just have to give that a go! Thanks =)

July 14, 2009 - 6:51 am

Christina - Any kind of grilled cheese is sheer comfort for me. This looks so yummy.
; )

July 15, 2009 - 4:07 pm

cindy - i love grilled cheese with jam and sometimes with an egg on top. yum!

July 26, 2009 - 3:43 pm

Katherine - This sounds absolutely divine… I don’t know if there is any items I love more than bread, cheese and jam. And together? That just sounds like a winning combo! Will be trying in the next few weeks – thank you! :)

July 29, 2009 - 3:21 pm

Elisa - Sounds delicious! One of my favourites is mozz–especially fresh mozz–with fig jam. I’m always delighted at how good the combination is!

October 20, 2009 - 12:44 pm

Isaac - its good with honey too

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