“INSIDE-OUT” GRILLED CHEESE
WITH RED ONION JAM
Todd Downs, Chef/Owner
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Yield: 12 servings
12 slices seeded whole-grain bread,
such as sunflower seed, 2x2-inch
square, 1/8-inch thick, crusts removed
6 T. butter, melted
24 slices queso blanco cheese,
2x2-inch square, ¼-inch thick
Red Onion Jam (recipe follows)
The most popular cheese in India, paneer,
is made this way. “Paneer always comes
from whole milk in tradition,” Smythe says.
“You wouldn’t fiddle with the gift from God.
It would be audacious.”
candied orange rind, syrup or orange juice
concentrate. Then, mix and press. For a
savory application, fold in fire-roasted red
and green jalapeño, mint and cilantro stems,
and serve it with pita bread. Flatbread is
common in India and in the Mediterranean.
Method: Brush bread slices on both
sides with melted butter. Toast until
golden-brown. Heat large nonstick
skillet over medium-high heat; lightly
grill cheese squares until golden-brown on both sides. On cutting
board, layer each of 12 cheese
squares with 1 t. red onion jam, slice
of toasted bread, 1 t. jam, cheese
square. Press sandwich together. If
preparing ahead, warm sandwiches in
350ºF oven before service.
Paneer can be bland, and, therefore, salt
is often added. In India, paneer is often
cubed and mixed with vegetables and
spices. Because it is non-melting, it can
be fried, grilled, skewered, breaded and
put into all kinds of cooking preparations,
including the Indian one-pot cooking
method using the karahi pot for stews,
Kristine Subido, executive chef at Wave at
the W hotel in Chicago, says she likes to
use paneer cheese in some of her small-plate dishes because it easily absorbs
different flavors and seasonings. She has
breaded, fried and served it with harissa,
a hot red-pepper sauce typically used in
North African cooking. It turns out golden-brown and crunchy on the outside and soft
on the inside.
Red Onion Jam
2 red onions, peeled, cut in very thin,
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup grenadine syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup golden raisins
1 T. fresh thyme leaves or ½ t. dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
It’s a natural cheese to use in vegetarian
applications, but otherwise, because
paneer is simple to make, Smythe notes
that chefs take their own creative liberties
with it. Once it coagulates, some purée it
with various fruits to make a dessert, which
could be a pudding or custard. “Mostly,
today, people use it as a sweet savory or in
plain form and highlight what it is. It could
be used to make a blintz filling,” he says.
The traditional Indian saag dish made with
spinach, spices and paneer also works on
her menu. Or, she has marinated paneer in
olive oil and citrus, grilled it and served it
sizzling on a platter.
For example, for an orange paneer, after
coagulating and before pressing add
Middle Eastern flavors and cheeses are
another source Subido draws on at Wave.
She makes some of her own cheese,
including Turkish-inspired farmer’s cheese,
Method: Sauté onion in oil about 20
minutes (do not brown). Add vinegar,
grenadine syrup, lemon juice, raisins,
thyme and pepper. Cook until thickened,
about 20 minutes.
Among the most popular Mexican cheeses are queso
fresco (left) and queso blanco. The cheese on the right is
queso blanco with chilies and epazote. All three are made
by Mozzarella Company, Dallas.
Recipe is courtesy of Wisconsin Milk