Monday, August 5, 2013

A Great Midwest Cheese Feast: Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Granny Smith Apple & Dijon Mustard and a Pancetta Quesadilla with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Morel & Leek Jack, Plus a Giveaway!



Sometimes when the stress of the world gets to be too much, you just want to curl up with a nice hunk of cheese on the sofa and spend an hour watching Frasier to thaw out your brain...That's exactly what I've been doing the past few weeks, and now that I'm almost out of cheese I don't know what to do to cope. For months people have been telling me about how the last few weeks before their weddings were crazy and how stressful it gets towards the end, but I felt like I had a solid grasp on the event since I've been planning it for 17 months now, and all that I had left to do were tiny minute details. However, until the end of this past month, I don't think I really realized just how many tiny minute details I have left to do. I know that most of it is my own doing (for example, having a seating chart made entirely out of seed packets for each guest = ridiculously tedious) but I want things to be nice and I want it to be worth everyone coming all the way to northern central Oregon for the festivities. Maybe I just need to take a breather from thinking about it all the time, or maybe I need to enlist some help with the minutia of the tasks left at hand. I don't really know what to do to make it less stressful other than to just get it all done. What did you do to cope with the stress of planning your wedding? So far, what's been most soothing has been making various delicious grilled cheeses and pairing them with flavorful homemade soups, but that's definitely not a long-term solution.


On the bright side, it's at least provided me with a large amount of tasty dinners. So tasty, in fact, that I wanted to share some of my favorite combinations here today! And I wanted to tell you a bit about the Great Midwest Cheese flavors behind these creations, along with an awesome 'I Love Grilled Cheese' recipe contest they're hosting that could result in you winning a trip to a Midwestern city of your choice! For the recipes posted here, I paired their smoked cheddar with slices of granny smith apples on a buttered sourdough loaf smeared with grainy dijon mustard for a creamy, spicy, tart, and toasted grilled cheese. I loved the textural crunch from the apple slices, and the mustard grains played nicely against the smoky creaminess of the melted cheddar. I also made a quesadilla with their morel and leek jack (yes, it is as flavorful as it sounds), some sun dried tomatoes, and some pancetta bits that I pan fried beforehand until they were nice and crispy. The savory richness of the leek and morel jack was a great compliment to the tangy sun dried tomatoes, and the crispy panchetta pieces made for a nice textural component. If you're unfamiliar with pancetta, it's cured pork that's made from the same cut of meat as bacon, but unlike bacon, pancetta is not smoked and retains more of the natural flavor of the meat. Very flavorful stuff.


These two dishes do not even begin to cover the variety of cheeses that Great Midwest offers, though. The mango fire cheddar was a favorite of mine, and I loved having the blueberry cobbler cheddar on toast with a bit of blueberry jam. You can see the full list of flavors here. If you're interested in making a little something special with one of their cheeses, definitely submit your recipe to the Great Midwest I Love Grilled Cheese recipe contest and share your recipes and the contest with friends to garner more points for your entry. And it's for home-chefs only, so people of all cooking abilities should feel confident entering! I wish you the best of luck with your cheese endeavors, and would appreciate any bits of wedding-planning wisdom you feel inclined to share.

Also, the generous folks at Great Midwest are giving away an entire collection of their various cheese flavors right here! To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget below. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm PST August 20th.



a Rafflecopter giveaway




Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Granny Smith Apple & Dijon Mustard


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices sourdough bread
1/2 of a granny smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
4 ounces Great Midwest smoked cheddar, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard


Butter both sides of the bread slices, then spread the grainy dijon mustard on one side of each slice. Layer the cheese slices on top of the mustard side of each slice of bread, and then layer the apple slices on top of the cheese slices on one of the slices of bread. Take the slice without the apples and flip it over on top of the apple slice so that the apple slices are sandwiches between the cheese slices. Cook on a very lightly greased skillet or wide frying pan over medium-high heat until the bread slices are a toasty brown and the cheese is melted, about 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

~~~~~~~


Pancetta Quesadilla with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Morel & Leek Jack


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup diced pancetta
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 quality tortillas (I recommend Mission brand, they are slightly thicker than other varieties and toast up nicely on the outside while staying fluffy inside)
4 ounces Great Midwest morel & leek jack, grated
3 tablespoons julienned (thinly sliced) sun dried tomatoes


First, prepare the pancetta. Heat the olive oil up in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and pan fry until crispy about 6-10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain out the excess oil, and set aside.

Sprinkle the salt over a clean ungreased cast iron tortilla pan or wide frying pan. Begin to warm it up over medium heat while assembling the tortilla.

Lay one of the tortillas flat on a large flat plate and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Then evenly distribute the pancetta bits and sun dried tomatoes over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover with the other tortilla.

Place the plate right next to the pan and use your fingertips to slide the quesadilla off the plate and onto the pan. Cook until the outside of the tortilla begins to show toasty golden parts and the cheese is melted through, about 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.


112 comments:

  1. Beautiful cheese! The grilled cheese sandwich with all that melted cheese and sliced apples is so-so delicious looking. And don't even get me started on how much I crave that Pancetta Quesadilla!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is basically my dream dinner and I feel like it would be the most perfect "stress dinner" ever. Good luck with everything... the last few weeks before my wedding were definitely crazy, but it was all worth it!! :)

    Sues

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sues! I am glad I am not the only one who felt like they were going a bit nuts beforehand, there's just so many little things to do and the time to get them done is slowly decreasing. But I know I'll be able to get it all finished in time, I just need to take a deep breath about it all :)

      Delete
  3. I love the look of that cheese! Oh my. Plus, this quesadilla looks perfect too. Lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Katrina! :) I really enjoyed the tasty cheese spread, so many crazy flavors to experiment with.

      Delete
  4. My favorite cheese is in Vermont - Orb Weaver Farmhouse cheese.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will have to try and find some the next time I'm on the East coast! Actually I just went to their site and it looks like I could have a large wheel of cheese delivered to my house...this may have to happen. Their cheese looks amazing!!!

      Delete
  5. oh man any cheese that goes in a quesadilla :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Leslie:
    In a warm dish, I like Swiss cheese.
    leslieannstevenson@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing like a good swiss! Love it in a hot pastrami :)

      Delete
  7. Love the ooey gooey goodness. The quesadilla looks so good.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The sharper the cheddar, the better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm a big fan of tillamook's extra sharp cheddar, also cabot and kerrigold make some awesome ones, too.

      Delete
  9. I love nearly all kinds of cheese...brie, sharp cheddar, smoked cheddar, chevre, bleu cheese, feta, provolone...I'd love to try some of those wonderful flavors Great Midwest offers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh there are so many tasty varieties of cheese! It's so fascinating to think that they're all made from such similar ingredients and its just the bacteria and aging process that make them so different.

      Delete
  10. Cheddar makes it better! Love it right off the block.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! My favorite cheddars are the ones with the little salt crystals inside. SO good.

      Delete
  11. Nothing better than a grilled cheese sandwich!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed!! I love dipping mine in soups, particularly cheddar grilled cheese in a creamy tomato one :)

      Delete
  12. I would love to try the natural cheddar!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love cheddar but certainly don't say no to other types.

    fruitcrmble AT Comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  14. Depends on the application but lately I have been loving Cabot Horseradish Cheddar for snacking. Buffalo Mozz? Extra Sharp Cheddar? That goat cheese with the creamy brie like ring around it? All contenders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yesss, I tried the Cabot Horseradish cheddar for the first time when I was in Vermont in April and it immediately became a favorite. So nice and creamy with juuuust the right amount of kick to it.

      Delete
  15. This week my favorite cheese is Manchego!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes! Such a tasty Spanish cheese :)

      Delete
  16. Um, you had me at cheese feast. We had brie, homemade fig jam, and apple paninis for dinner last night.
    And there is no way in a thousand years that I could pick a favorite cheese.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhhhhhhh my lordy, that panini sounds crazy good Mindy!!! I actually have some fresh figs in my fridge right now. That sandwich is TOTALLY happening tonight.

      Delete
  17. Oh man, I think you were reading my mind when you created this recipe! I pretty much love every type of cheese out there...but then throw them into a quesadilla with pancetta?? Delicious!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. i've always preferred pepper jack--the little kick is nice.
    by the way, you win the award for longest post title ever. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, yep!! I was scratching my head trying to think of how to fit it all in without getting too wordy, but then decided "the hell with it! I'm puttin' it all in there" haha. There's just too many tasty ingredients not to list them all out :)

      Delete
  19. Oh man, I used to live on cheddar + apple + mustard sandwiches many years ago. (Basically when I actually started planning ahead and making lunch for work, and thought to myself, "hmmmmm...why don't I take all these things I like to snack on together [which is also how I deal with stress!] and put them onto a sandwich?") I bet the pan-frying and the smokiness of the cheddar takes it to the next level! And that quesadilla sounds insane. Morel & leek jack?! Yummm. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! The apple cheddar dijon combo is just amaze. And I am pretty sure I won't be able to live without the morel and leek jack now that I've had it introduced into my life. Such an insanely good combination.

      Delete
  20. I loooooooove cheese. Colby is my favorite, especially freshly shredded. For that matter, I love any cheese freshly grated, or melted over bread... YUM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhhh I haven't had colby in a while, I used to have it all the time on my turkey clubs. I think I see one in my not-too-distant future :)

      Delete
  21. What a delicious idea for a quesadilla! I am going to try this very soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know how you like it if you do! :)

      Delete
  22. Hang in there girl, pre wedding stress can be terribly overwhelming. Mine had quite a few issues with actually happening, but that's the price to pay when arranging logistics between four countries...I'd suggest to employ the most trustworthy friends and start to delegate tasks. The last thing you want is to be exhausted on your day and believe me all the precious details won't matter so much then anyway. Good luck to you with all the preparations and don't forget it's your day! :)
    p.s. the feast is mouthwatering!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holy moly, you arranged it between four countries?? I could not be more blown away!! I am having a hard time arranging it in Oregon while I'm in California, but international weddings...that is a whole different ballgame. Your advice is so helpful, I am definitely going to get my trustworthy ladyfriends to give me a hand. And you make an excellent point, when it IS the big day I won't be worried about the little bee stamp on the wedding program, I'll be out there enjoying the ceremony with Jeremy and all our family and friends. Thanks for the advice & perspective lady :)

      Delete
  23. In all honesty, I admire the fact that you even had the motivation and discipline to keep your blog running so smoothly during this crazy hectic time in your life. I could hardly keep up with weekly posts during the time that I've been traveling for LEISURE this summer! Really Eva, so much respect and admiration from me and all the rest of your many readers :) I wish I could give you some useful advice, but getting married is one thing I am completely clueless about. Hang in there, and I can't wait to hear/see the follow-up to what will surely be a mind-blowingly beautiful wedding that you'll remember forever.
    P.S. Cubing up leftover grilled cheese sandwiches and pan-frying them until crispy always makes for the perfect crouton-style topping on a comforting bowl of tomato soup.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love all cheese! I think my favorite is probably swiss but with sharp cheddar a close second :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Cheese and Frasier are the answer to all of life's problems. Good luck with the wedding planning,you'll forget all the stress once the big day arrives!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love dill havarti - creamy and delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am a major CHEESAHOLIC. I have NEVER seen a cheese I didn't devour in a heartbeat!
    OMG!!! I'm craving some now :P Please Please Please!!! lol myamurphy@mail.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. We LOVE cheese in this house. Just found an Italian sweet provolone that is our current fave!
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  29. In the 70's, I had a wonderful cheese from a farm outside Appleton, WI. It was called Mossholders, it's essentially a brick cheese and damn delicious. I found them on the internet and now they're an artisinal farm. Good for them.

    ky2here at msn dot com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Colby Jack and I love Bleu on salads!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love Cheddar and swiss.
    Thanks so much.
    rickpeggysmith(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I enjoy all types of cheese. Sharp cheddar is my favorite, but blue cheese and brie are right up there too.

    ReplyDelete
  33. i love crumbled bleu cheese

    cathycasper@hughes.net

    ReplyDelete
  34. I like extra sharp cheese on crackers. YUM!
    Susan Chester

    ReplyDelete
  35. My favorite cheese is chocolate cheese fudge. It's delicious and different from any other cheese or fudge.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mmmmmm, I love bleu cheese. Especially on burgers! (juanitas_cocina@yahoo.com)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love bleu cheese. I can't get enough of the stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I love most cheeses but my favorite is cheddar. I would love to try the Great Midwest Cranberry Cheddar and the Mango Fire Cheddar.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I don't think I have a favorite... But I certainly have soft spot for sharp cheddar served with fig jam!

    -TC
    counting_shipwrecks at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  40. These all look fantastic.....and I would love to win all of that cheese. I would be set for a really long time!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love Roquefort. On a baguette, pizza, mixed with celery and walnuts, LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I love cheddar and gouda! Love them all!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love smoked Gouda. It makes a great grilled cheese!

    ReplyDelete
  44. My favorite is probably Colby jack or smoked gouda.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love all cheese! Really really love Humboldt Fog.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I love Feta Cheese.
    Thanks for the chance
    mogrill12@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  47. My favorites are extra sharp cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I love a good extra sharp cheddar

    ReplyDelete
  49. I love sharp white cheddar and smokey gouda!!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Cheese... it should be its very own food group! Love it. Probably couldn't pick just one favorite... Extra Sharp Cheddar, Brie, Swiss, Bleu... pretty much all of them. Mmmm!!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I am addicted to cheese. I love them all. I think a very sharp cheddar is my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Fruit + cheese is one of my favorite food combos. I really love cheddar and cranberry together. Looking forward to making the granny smith grilled cheese!

    ReplyDelete
  53. It's so very difficult to pick a favorite cheese, but I'd probably have to say an aged, sharp cheddar is right up there!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I like Pepper Jack Cheese the most.

    rtrexel@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  55. Monterey Jack cheese is my favorite. I would love to try the morel&leek jack.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I love Swiss best because it is so versatile.

    Eileen Burke

    ReplyDelete
  57. My favorite cheese is Cheddar, the sharper the better. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Mmmh! These photos are making me hungry!

    ReplyDelete
  59. I love cheddar cheese because it brings out every dish!
    Brittney House bbrittbrat1398@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  60. My favorite type of cheese is either cheddar are a colby mix.

    jweezie43[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  61. I love a great sharp cheddar cheese.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I learned to love Parmigiano Reggiano when I lived in Italy.

    ReplyDelete
  63. My favorite cheese is Sharp Cheddar!!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Both of these cheesy dishes look delicious! My favorite cheese is goat cheese - yummmmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  65. we try new cheeses every month this month is blue cheese wow its so good

    ReplyDelete
  66. Goat cheese. I use it in everything! :)

    ReplyDelete
  67. Between my husband and I...we go thru a lot of cheese and like a variety of kinds

    ReplyDelete
  68. i love mozzarella

    joseph gersch

    ReplyDelete
  69. My favorite cheese is New York Extra Sharp Cheddar!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Smoked Gouda is one of my favorites. (Roxann)

    ReplyDelete
  71. I love all cheeses! I love baking a wheel of brie in pastry and putting jalapeno jelly on top, I love making gorgonzola sauces and I love making salad dressing with blue cheese.

    mosaic317 at gmail dot com
    Claire McKeon

    ReplyDelete
  72. My favorite cheese is feta but, I love cheese period!

    ReplyDelete
  73. My favorite cheese is colby, I know not to exciting....
    vikki.billings@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  74. I love Tillamook Sharp Aged Cheddar.
    lorenalke@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete