Small Measures: Autumn Grilled Cheese, 3 Ways


My husband, Glenn, and I are always throwing parties. Well, “gatherings” is probably a more appropriate term, as our shindigs more closely resemble low-key, casual, intimate affairs than full-throttle keggers. Whether it’s an impromptu dinner with friends, or a southern foods potluck for 30, we love to entertain, and do so regularly.

A few years back, I hosted what I think was one of my favorite parties yet. One October afternoon, back in ’06, about 8 friends came over for a autumn-centric grilled cheese party. I provided the sandwiches and pickles while my buddies brought hard cider, pear cider, and pumpkin ale. We munched and swilled and enjoyed the sight of leaves falling and the scent of fires burning from wood stoves and leaf piles. It was glorious.

I’ve been thinking about that party a good deal lately, and figured a Small Measures post on the topic would be a great kick-off to the new season. Today I’m sharing with you my grown-up take on the much loved melted cheese sandwich. Showcasing the flavors of autumn with apples, pears, and figs, these three recipes might just prompt you to pick up some provisions, tell your friends to bring over the hooch, and host a grilled cheese autumn fête of your own. -Ashley English

The full post continues after the jump!

All that’s really needed to make these three grilled cheeses is some good bread (pre-sliced or whole is entirely up to you), quality cheese, ripe produce, and flavorings like fresh herbs and spreads. You’ll need a bit of room temperature butter, too, to spread on the bread slices before toasting. I like to cook my grilled cheese in a square-shaped cast iron skillet, so as to maximize surface area when grilling multiple sandwiches, but any heavy-bottomed pan will work.

Apple Butter, Rosemary & Cheddar on Multigrain
The Goods:
-2 slices multigrain bread
-1/4 quarter of an apple, sliced thinly
-1 Tablespoon apple butter
– 1/2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
-Cheddar cheese slices
-1-2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature

The Deal:
1) Warm a griddle, cast iron skillet, or heavy-bottom pan to medium heat.
2) Spread about 1/2-1 Tablespoons of butter one of the bread slices.
3) Spread the apple butter on the other bread slice.
4) Place cheddar cheese slices in an amount to your liking on top of the apple butter.
5) Sprinkle the minced rosemary over the cheddar slices.
6) Top with the apple slices.
7) Place the buttered bread slice on top.
8) Place the sandwich buttered side down onto the griddle.
9) Spread the remaining butter onto the top of the sandwich.
10) Cook for several minutes on one side, then flip with a spatula.
11) Press down on the sandwich to help the cheese melt, then flip it again.
12) Plate with fresh apple slices and serve.

 

Pear, Cranberry Spread & Havarti on Rye
The Goods:
-2 slices rye bread
-1/4 quarter of a pear, sliced thinly
-1 Tablespoon cranberry spread or conserve
-Havarti cheese slices
-1-2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature

The Deal:
1) Warm a griddle, cast iron skillet, or heavy-bottom pan to medium heat.
2) Spread about 1/2-1 Tablespoons of butter one of the bread slices.
3) Spread the cranberry spread on the other bread slice.
4) Place Havarti slices in an amount to your liking on top of the cranberry spread.
5) Top with the pear slices.
6) Place the buttered bread slice on top.
7) Place the sandwich buttered side down onto the griddle.
8) Spread the remaining butter onto the top of the sandwich.
9) Cook for several minutes on one side, then flip with a spatula.
10) Press down on the sandwich to help the cheese melt, then flip it again.
11) Plate with fresh pear slices and serve.

 

Fig Jam, Thyme & Brie on Sourdough
The Goods:
-2 slices sourdough bread
-2 fresh figs, sliced thinly
-1 Tablespoon fig jam or preserves
-1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stem
-Brie slices
-1-2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature

The Deal:
1) Warm a griddle, cast iron skillet, or heavy-bottom pan to medium heat.
2) Spread about 1/2-1 Tablespoons of butter one of the bread slices.
3) Spread the fig jam on the other bread slice.
4) Place brie slices in an amount to your liking on top of the fig jam.
5) Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the brie slices.
6) Top with the fig slices.
7) Place the buttered bread slice on top.
8) Place the sandwich buttered side down onto the griddle.
9) Spread the remaining butter onto the top of the sandwich.
10) Cook for several minutes on one side, then flip with a spatula.
11) Press down on the sandwich to help the cheese melt, then flip it again.
12) Plate with fresh figs and serve.

The first day of autumn begins tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but I think a seasonal grilled cheese sounds like the perfect way to welcome the days of colorful leaves, wool sweaters, and pumpkins. What about you? Have any beloved grilled cheese pairings you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them. Otherwise, happy Equinox!

*Photos and styling by Jen Altman.

  1. These look amazing. Cheeeeeeeeese.
    Grilled mature cheddar with a sprinkling of Worcester sauce on whole grain is delicious, and I love apple slices under toasted cheese…

    We had friends over for fondue last night (tongue in cheek fondue set wedding gift from a Swiss friend that is unironically amazing – we have it once every couple of weeks at the moment) and it was awesome.

  2. A grilled cheese party sounds fantastic! All the sandwiches look delicious, but that fig and brie version is my fav. My husband grew up in Ireland where he tells me (and I have experienced this firsthand) that every pub serves a grilled ham, cheese, and onion sandwich. It doesn’t sound like much, but the combination is a favorite in our house.

  3. Bailey Amon says:

    Ashley, these look delish! What a fabulous idea for entertaining. Thanks for sharing!

  4. sylvia says:

    You were reading my mind; these look delicious!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I love this idea! I’m totally going to have a “Welcome Autumn” party of my own!

  6. Rachel says:

    Finally! I am so ready to do something other than having people over for bbq’s! This is such a great idea – everyone can get behind grilled cheese!

  7. cheyenne says:

    these sound delicious, i love grilled cheese!

  8. YUM YUM YUM. All of these sound equally amazing. How delicious!!

  9. Roxanne pearce says:

    Great ideas! May want to think about adding carrot or squash soup served in small ceramic mugs. I often leave soup in a slow cooker on counter for family parties in the fall and people love the warmth, heartiness and portability to still wander to the front porch or back to the outdoor fire.

  10. Sophie says:

    These look amazing! What a great idea for autumn too.

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