The Top Chef Masters grilled cheese challenge proved tempting for me and K. A gourmet sandwich made with butter grilled bread and melty cheese? Sign me up. And while the offerings from all the chefs looked good, we went with the feta cheese on raisin nut bread from Houston chef Monica Pope (recipe here).
As I’ve mentioned before, I am convinced Bravo uses an unpaid intern I call “Chad” to frantically write down recipes as he sees the chefs making them on the show then post his version on their website. This results in many frustrating omissions and errors. Chad the Bravo intern was at it again with this recipe.
First, the recipe contains no measurements. The ingredient list reads: Cinnamon, cumin, orange zest. The instruction is: Make cinnamon-cumin-orange zest butter. Okaayyyy… Is it supposed to taste more orangey? More cinnamon? Lots of cumin? Light on the cumin? In any case, I ended up mixing in small amounts of each and tasting a lot of butter. Actually, now I’m not sure why I’d be complaining about that.
We couldn’t find raisin nut bread that didn’t have cinnamon in it, so K bought a lovely, crusty goat cheese sourdough and we added raisins and toasted pine nuts to the filling. The photo on the Bravo website shows a grilled cheese sandwich with melted cheese oozing out the sides, but the recipe calls for feta and farmer cheese. I thought farmer cheese was a hard cheese. The only farmer cheese I could find was a little sour (like yogurt) and had the consistency of ricotta. That and the feta chunks do not make for a melty, oozy cheese sandwich.
It was a good grilled cheese sandwich, but it was a breakfast sandwich. The orange zest-cumin-cinnamon butter on the outside of the bread was citrusy and distinctly “breakfast.” The raisins and dates inside of the sandwich were sweet. The farmer cheese was more about a kind of gloppy texture (and falling-out-of-the-bread mess) than any particular taste, but the feta provided some much-needed salt and distinction. The pine nuts were completely lost. Even the herb salad (made from just basil and cilantro since “Chad” forgot to put mint on the ingredient list) was sweetened by the honey, orange and olive oil dressing. But it also provided a much appreciated freshness to the sweet, heavy concoction.
This was a good breakfast sandwich and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a unique brunch item. However, it was not the creamy, gooey, melty buttery grilled cheese I was looking for. Maybe grilled cheese shouldn’t be gourmet. It should just be two slices of bread, grilled in butter with some good melting cheese in between. Or, perhaps, made “gourmet” by the addition of a few slices of bacon.