Grilled Cheese DELUXE

You’re gonna need a bib for these beautiful messes.

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First people turned everything into charcuterie boards. Then those four section tortilla wraps dominated our Instagram and TikTok feeds. So what’s next? I say now is the time to channel that same level of imagination and wild card energy into the good old fashioned grilled cheese.

Yes! Gone are the days of Kraft Singles and Wonder Bread. We are entering the age of artisanal grilled cheeses. This week I’ve been bending the rules of the grilled cheese, using this tried and true sandwich as a blank canvas to feed all of my fancies, whims, and cravings — or rather, a blank canvas on which I could use the rest of the fancy cheese I had left over from my holiday cheese boards.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my grilled cheese exploits.

  • They can be sweet or savory and can be made for any meal of the day, including desserts.

  • Making deluxe grilled cheeses are a great way to use up any extra cheeses you may have from cheese boards. Over the summer, we subscribed to the Collective Creamery Cheese Share (if you’re in the Philadelphia or South Jersey area, I highly recommend it), and we loved trying new cheese and celebrating our local cheesemakers, but it was a lot of cheese for two people. In order to really take advantage of the glorious, cheesy bounty they give you every month, you need to incorporate the cheese into your cooking. Collective Creamery has some great recommendations for recipes and tasting notes, but nothing beats a deluxe grilled cheese!

  • You don’t have to use just cheese. If you’ve got left over fruits, vegetables, or other jams and spreads — anything that would accompany cheese on a charcuterie board can be used to make an absolutely decadent grilled cheese.

  • Grilled cheese are very quick and easy to make. It’s an easy way to incorporate variety into your workday lunches.

Earlier this week, I baked a loaf of sourdough that was so gorgeous I actually got dressed and put on makeup to take a photo with it!

A post shared by Kae Lani Palmisano (@kaelanisays)

I teased that I had big plans for this sourdough bread, and, as you may have guessed by now, this lovely loaf was destined for a series of deluxe grilled cheeses I played with this week. Here are four grilled sandwiches I made this week.

But before we begin, what’s your dream grilled cheese sandwich? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ham and Blue Cheese Grilled Cheese

It takes a bit of heat to get the blue cheese to melt, but once it does, it’s sharp pungency spreading through the nooks and crannies of the sourdough bread is heavenly. Paired with a salty, smoky deli ham, it’s a super savory sandwich, perfect for lunch and dinner, that will keep you satiated for hours.

Blue Cheese, Fig and Honey

I couldn’t get my hands on fresh figs this time of year, but I did have a nice fig jam in my refrigerator from the holiday charcuterie board my in laws gave Jon and I (a little Christmas Eve treat that has become quite the tradition in our household). This grilled cheese is basically my favorite cheeseboard combo served in sandwich form. Blue cheese goes amazing with mellow figs and with a sweet drizzle of honey — magic!

Brie and Blueberry Jam

Felt good to use the blueberry jam I preserved over the summer, made from Jersey Fresh blueberries Jon and I picked at my childhood U-Pick farm in the Jersey Pine Barrens. (I love canning, and if you’d like to learn how to make blueberry jam, I shared a recipe on my Instagram) Brie is such a creamy, smooth and mild cheese so it’s a perfect pair for anything sweet like fruits. This grilled cheese would be great for breakfast or even as a dessert. It kind of reminded me of a blueberry and cheese danish, or like a fancy French toast, only in grilled cheese form.

Maple Bacon Jam, Brie and Apples

I am going to start putting more thinly sliced apples on my sandwiches. The juicy crispness brought a delightful texture to this grilled cheese and went well with the maple bacon jam we had in the pantry. And of course, you can never go wrong with the fruit and cheese combo. My only regret is that I didn’t use more maple bacon jam. I only spread it on one side — next time, I’ll double up.


Publishing:

For KitchenAid Stories, I explored the history of one of my childhood favorites: snapper soup. It’s a dish that I think best illustrates Philadelphia’s seaport history and it’s symbiotic relationship between land and sea.

Watching:

Search Party is back for a 4th season! If you haven’t seen it, the show is amazing especially if you’re into the murder mystery genre and love being super stressed out while rooting for an antihero. It has subtle Breaking Bad vibes only it’s not about cooking meth, it’s about covering up murder. It’s fun — if that’s fun for you.

Listening:

Part of what makes me love Conan O’Brien so much is his nerdy humor. He is so fluent in weaving old timey humor and historical anecdotes into his comedy. You can see this in the earlier seasons of the Simpsons. When he was a writer there he jammed so many random historical references into the show, one of the most famous being the iconic way Mr. Burns answers the phone with “Ahoy Hoy”. Apparently, when Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the patent for the telephone (mind you, he was not the telephone’s first inventor) he also wanted to create telephone etiquette and tried to coin “Ahoy Hoy” as the official telephone greeting.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to Conan O’Brien’s podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and it is seriously the only podcast that gives me deep belly laughs. I must look like a maniac on my walks because I laugh so hard. Every episode he brings on a guest and the conversations they have are always so poignant, relatable, down right funny and I always end up learning some random historic tidbit.


Kae Lani Palmisano is the Emmy® Award-Winning TV host of WHYY's Check, Please! Philly, a show that spotlights restaurants throughout the Philadelphia region. She also hosts and helps write Delishtory on WHYY, a digital series that dives into the history of foods we love. Kae Lani is also a food and travel writer who enjoys exploring the history and culture of cuisine.