The things that you can do with bread and cheese.

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Murali

Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Matty says:

    You freeze cheese?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Matty says:

      Sure. I’ve got a two-pound block of English white cheddar in my freezer right now; I’ll thaw it out when the two-pound block I’m using now is gone. That’ll be some time early next week, after trying out (buttered rather than margarined) versions of Murali’s sandwiches.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Does freezing it change the texture? That has always been my fear.

        You can freeze bread. It makes a slight difference in the texture, but if you’re toasting it anyway, you won’t notice. You can defrost slices one or two at a time by simply taking them out an hour or so ahead or popping them in the microwave. Good way to save money, especially as a bachelorReport

        • Avatar Matty in reply to Kazzy says:

          Oh I freeze bread, it certainly tastes better frozen then toasted than it does refrigerated. It would just never occur to me to freeze cheese, it lasts long enough that I’ve eaten it long before it goes off and by then I’m probably going to the shop for something else anyway.

          As for the rather bizarre debate going on about grated versus ready sliced, has no one considered getting a kitchen knife and cutting a slice? Seriously if you cannot slice your own cheese you probably shouldn’t be allowed near kitchen implements.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Matty says:

            Well, if you are looking for the types of slices ideal for a sandwich, you’d need a large block of cheese AND it could prove difficult to get the uniform thickness. Deli slicers really are a great tool, though are impractical for most home chefs. At the Italian restaurant I used to work at, we cut almost all our pizza toppings on it, plus the fresh mozzarella (which can be a real bitch to cut).

            If we’re just talking about cheese and crackers, you don’t even need a fancy knife to appropriately cut that. But if you want sandwich cheese? That’s another story.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

          I wouldn’t freeze cheese unless I was going to cook with it. Moister cheeses don’t do well frozen.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Matty says:

      Yeah. It keeps way past its use date. I also keep bread in the refrigerator.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’ve two issues with this.

    First of all, margarine. You generously allow for use of either/or but your pro-margarine bias is evident. I’ll return the gesture from the other side of the aisle: if you want to use partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil instead of actual butter for whatever reason, vive l’difference. But I say, butter. Yes, you get cholesterol in butter. But margarine brings trans fats and unsaturated fats. IANAD, but my impression is that trans fats and unsaturated fats are relatively worse for cardiac health than cholesterol — both will kill you, but unsaturated fats will kill you faster. And butter unquestionably tastes better and at least where I’m at, pound for pound it’s less expensive.

    Second, your eye is on the correct prize: a nice crispy browned outside with a moist, warm, melty inside. But this isn’t a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a toasted cheese sandwich. Perfectly fine to make a toasted cheese sandwich. Call it what it is, is what I’m saying.

    Now, a suggestion for a change-up. Havarti cheese. You can get it sliced at the deli counter of most supermarkets and some manufacturers are selling sliced havarti in packages. You’ve never had a cheese that combines creaminess with tanginess like this. Three cheers for the Dutch, that they have given world cuisine this velvety marvel that makes the perfect cheese sandwich.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Burt Likko says:

      You can get it sliced at the deli counter of most supermarkets and some manufacturers are selling sliced havarti in packages

      Deli counters which slice cheese for you is still a bit of a rare good in Singapore. You tend to find it in places where a lot of white people tend to live. (Probably because that’s where the demand is) but I’ll look out for pre-packaged kinds.

      Regarding butter vs margarine,, I am not wedded to any particular version. I just use margarine (olive oil not cottonseed. It contains fewer transfats) just because I always have. As far as my experience goes, butter is difficult to spread especially when you take it straight out of the fridge. So basically, it’s ease of use and habit.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Actually, the general consensus is that unsaturated fats are good for you, and that the problem with butter is the saturated fat, not the cholesterol. That said, the anti-saturated fat consensus is weakening a bit at the seams, and there’s some evidence that n6 polyunsaturated fats are bad for you on the margin because they overwhelm the limited amounts of n3 fats in the typical American diet.

      All that said, most mid- to high-end modern margarines, including the brand in Murali’s picture, are made with a process that does not produce trans fatty acids, and many incorporate n3 fats to balance out the n6 fats.

      Still, anything that pretends to be butter but isn’t is an abomination unto God.Report

  3. Avatar damon says:

    While I love a good grilled cheese–generally velvetta on rye-I do prefer me some BLT love over that. Or perhaps one of each.Report

  4. So given that Singapore has gotten a reputation in the States over the last few years as something of a Hipster Foodie Paradise, the fact that we have a post from a Singaporean proudly proclaiming the virtues of plastic-wrapped cheese melted on toast made in a toaster oven…..well, that’s nothing short of spectacular.Report

  5. Avatar Kimmi says:

    You put dill-flavored potato chips on your sammich?
    (swear, that’s honestly what I read it it as. I blinked and reread)Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Lots of things to love about this post.

    First off, I think you capture the essence of basic comfort food. I am of mixed feelings on the trend toward making gourmet comfort food. I’ve had some fantastic renditions of traditional dishes. But there also seems to be a disdain for going old school. Sometimes I don’t want 19 types of goat cheese, herbs I’ve never heard of, and a bread made within 12 feet. I want something that tastes the way it tasted growing up. That is often where the comfort comes from… harkening back to fond memories. So I appreciate your willingness to start at the foundation and to build from there.

    Secondly, toasters… YES! My first ever “foodie” memory was when I saw my mom make grilled cheese by toasted bread and then putting cheese on it and popping it into the microwave. CHEESE SHOULD NEVER BE MICROWAVED! NOTHING YOU WANT CRISPY SHOULD EVER BE MICROWAVED! I threw down right then and there and told her my grilled cheeses would always be made in the toaster… NEVER the microwave. Again, you are bringing me back… hmmmm…

    Third, I personally find that the improvement that grated cheese offers is not worth the effort and the cleanup. There are plenty of quality pre-sliced cheeses (Cabot and, as much as I hate to admit it, Cracker Barrel make high quality pre-packaged cheese… only basic ingredients). I will usually opt for the deli slicer if I want a basic American, but if I’m going for cheddar, these brands are often better than what the deli man has.

    Fourth… well, I’ll save the fourth for a separate comment… it deserves its own space…Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    So, there are a couple of local New Jersey food items that I think I should share with the world.

    The first is a diner stable (probably native to the entire NY Metropolitan area): a Happy Waitress. A Happy Waitress is grilled cheese with tomato and bacon. It seems so simply. But it is amazing. It is perfect drunk food and perfect hangover food, which tend to be the only times one would find himself in a NJ diner.

    The second are the “Fat Sandwiches”, made famous by the Rutgers University food trucks. These guys sell there wares late at night to drunk kids and have made a fortune by throwing whatever you can throw into a deep fryer onto a hero loaf and serving it. They all have obscure names (Fat Moon, Fat Darrel) and the specific combinations sometimes vary from vendor to vendor. But an example of one would be a hero roll with chicken parm, mozzarella sticks, and french fries. They’re amazing. And they’re the reason that the terrorists hate us.

    Anyway, one summer I was living at home waiting for my new apartment to be ready and I regularly hit the bar and then the diner. Two friends would travel with me and we embarked upon a plan to somehow mash-up these two things. Each night we visited the diner, we’d add one more element to the Happy Waitress. First it was simply grilled cheese with tomato, bacon, and ham. Then we added sausage. Then we upgraded the base from grilled cheese to a patty melt. Soon chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks found their way on. French fries rounded the sandwich out and after 8 long weeks, the monstrosity was complete. It became an official unofficial off-menu item at the diner and was dubbed the “Horny Waitress” by the staff. It was amazing.

    A few weeks later, some friends came to town for my birthday. We hit the bar, hard, and then hit the diner. Horny Waitresses all around. One guy puked at the sight of it. Two more couldn’t believe such a thing existed (they were Massholes who had no concept of late night food). All of us gobbled them down and immediately regretted ever having meet each other.

    The point of the story, I suppose, is there there is no wrong way to make grilled cheese. If you have crispy bread and warm melty cheese and you like the taste, ya done good, kid.Report

  8. Avatar Citizen says:

    In a shallow dish I pour equal parts malt vinegar and olive oil, dip the cheese bread for a little extra flavor. One of those guilty pleasure things that happens twice a year.Report

  9. Avatar Kazzy says:

    By the way, when do we start talking about tomato soup? The former chefs at my job made the best tomato soup I ever had. They were supposed to teach me the recipe but got replaced over the summer before doing so. ARGH!Report

  10. Avatar Mary G says:

    This brings back some fond memories. Before microwaves came along, I spent seven years in an apartment that didn’t have a stove. I managed quite well with a toaster oven, hotplate, and electric frying pan. The electrical system was a 15-amp job from 1923, so only one appliance could be used at a time unless I unplugged the refrigerator. Making dinner for company was a major league operation.Report

  11. I like the basic grilled cheese sandwich but, I’d try its alternatives too.Report

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