Ahhh, melted cheese. We humans, it seems, are enchanted by it. Feeling blue? A grilled cheese sandwich will often perk you right up.
In this week’s Seasonal Pantry, which you can read here, I explore the tradition of “rabbit” or “rarebit,” a dish with a long history in Great Britain that involves, at its simplest, cheese on bread melted under a broiler, a sort of open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. It has nearly endless variations that share the name and countless variations from around the world, wherever cheese is eaten.
As always, use the best cheeses you can find. The North Bay has an abundance of superior farmstead cheeses to choose from. If you’re not sure what to use for a specific dish or if you want to explore new cheeses, post your question in the comment selection below or ask a local cheesemonger for assistance. You’ll find experts at Oliver’s Markets, Pacific Market, Freestone Artisan Cheese and at The Cheese Shop of Healdsburg.
Here are some of my favorite melted cheese recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives. You’ll notice that one large category–pizza!–is not included here. Stay tuned; it warrants its own separate post.
Formaggio All’Argentiera Silversmith’s Cheese
The Steiner Sandwich Rye bread with butter, onions, mustard and Swiss Cheese
In Mexican cuisine, there’s a tradition of “queso fundido,” which is simply grated cheese melted in the oven with an array of seasonings and garnishes, as few or as many as you’d like. I find it makes a better main course than appetizer as it is so delicious and so filling that you don’t necessarily want to move on to other foods. Instead, begin your meal with a few simple appetizers–chips and salsa, guacamole and ceviche, for example–and serve either a big green salad and very simple dessert after and you have a feast.
Summer Queso Fundido Wait until tomatoes are in season to enjoy this dish or, to enjoy this dish now, simply omit them.