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Best Grilled Cheeses: 8 Great Recipes From Dairy Farmers of Canada's Competition

08/30/2012 05:52 EDT | Updated 08/31/2012 03:31 EDT
Dairy Farmers Of Canada

It ain't easy being cheesy.

Just ask Toronto's Jason Bangerter, who went head-to-head against three other chefs to take top honours at the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off on Wednesday morning.

The event, hosted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, brought together four chefs across the Great White North to Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in order to showcase the best of the best of Canadian cheese cuisine.

While the art of pressing cheese between two slices of bread may have seemed a slightly underwhelming task for the four restaurant-calibre chefs, grilled cheese fans could rest assured that these weren't your run-of-the-mill sandwiches. Well, that's assuming enthusiasts aren't making Bangerter's signature 'Niagara Gold Crunch' grilled cheese on a daily basis.

Bangerter's medley of Niagara Gold cheese, strips of prosciutto and pickled grapes on sour dough was enough to prove a winning combination among the four cheese experts judging the competition.

"The one thing that's clear after today's competition," said the executive chef of Toronto's O&B Luma and Canteen restaurants, "everyone loves grilled cheese sandwiches. I am so thrilled my Niagara Gold Crunch ... won the hearts and tastebuds of the judges."

While it wasn't mandatory to use ingredients from a chef's home province, that seemed to be the trend based on the eight submissions. Liana Robberecht, executive chef of the Calgary Petroleum Club in Calgary, combined pulled Alberta beef with Canadian provolone and blue cheese for her 'Stampede Centennial'.

Nova Scotia's Michael Howell of Tempestuous Culinary fame poured East Coast influence into his 'Crabby Dipper' with a crab-meat-dip grilled cheese, while Ned Bell from Vancouver's Yew Restaurant kept things local by using British Columbia's Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait and Cheddar Red Hot Pepper cheeses.

To make any one of the grilled cheese submissions at home, check out the recipe gallery below and be sure to let HuffPost Canada Living know which one is your favourite in the comment section. You can also tweet us your own recipes @HuffPostCaLiv:

The 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off

Sweet Summer Night

Mascarpone is one of the most versatile cheeses. Its flavour is delicate and works well in both savoury and sweet applications. Chef Jason Bangerter from Toronto, Ontario created a sweet grilled cheese: Sweet Summer Night. The texture of pan- fried brioche is crispy on the outside and buttery in the inside. The creamy cheese pressed against ripe strawberries flavoured with fine herbs is an instant brunch winner! Serve it with some aged vinegar or vincotto as a finishing touch.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Standing time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 4 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

½ cup (125 mL) thinly sliced local strawberries

Splash of raspberry liqueur (optional)

Pinch of grated lemon rind

Pinch each, salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup (75 mL) Canadian Mascarpone cheese

Two 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick slices brioche bread, about 5-inch (12.5 cm) square *

4 large basil leaves

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter, divided

Garnish

Strawberries

Edible flowers (daisy, lavender, day lily, hyssop or nasturtium) and fine herbs (perilla, lemon balm, tarragon or verbena)

¼ cup (60 mL) toasted macadamia nuts

2 tbsp (30 mL) aged balsamic vinegar or vincotto

In a small bowl, toss the berries with liqueur (if using), lemon rind, salt and pepper; let marinate 5 minutes.

Spread the mascarpone cheese on one slice of the bread. Top with basil leaves to cover, then with strawberries. Top with remaining slice of bread.

In a small skillet, heat half of the butter on medium heat. When the butter is melted and starting to brown, add the sandwich. Cook, 2 minutes, turn over and add remaining butter. Cook 2 minutes or until golden brown. Slice in half. Garnish with strawberries, flowers, herbs, nuts and a small dish of vinegar for dipping.

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 5-inch (12.5 cm) square. Slice crosswise into ¾-inch (2 cm) thick slices

Cooking Tips: You could also use Canadian Brie, Fior di Latte or cream cheese. This sandwich would pair perfectly with strawberry flavoured Canadian Fruli beer or your favourite sparkling wine.

This is a grilled cheese that does not require heating through to melt the cheese. The cool buttery mascarpone and marinated berries are a wonderful contrast to the warm toasted brioche. This sandwich makes for a great summer brunch item or just a sweet garden harvest treat.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 1147 Calories

Protein: 22 g

Carbohydrates: 81 g

Fat: 85 g

Fibre: 6.8 g

Sodium: 2092 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 26% / 284 mg

Selenium: 88%

Vitamin C: 85%

Folate: 71%

Thiamine: 62%

The Simple

This grilled cheese sandwich, developed by chef Ned Bell of British Columbia, is absolutely fantastic in its simplicity. Made with local BC cheese such as Island Brie and Courtenay Cheddar, this grilled cheese is simple but yet, unique and satisfying. The Simple is prepared with wonderful, luxurious brioche and served with homemade fruit chutney, which adds a nice, sweet and tangy compliment to the whole meal.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Chilling time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

2 oz (60 g) Island Brie, cut into thin slices

2 oz (60 g) Courtenay Cheddar, cut into thin slices

Two ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices Brioche or white artisan bread, about 5-inch (12.5 cm)

square*

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter, softened

Fruit Chutney

1 cup (250 mL) blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup (250 mL) cranberries, fresh or frozen

½ cup (125 mL) diced canned tomatoes, drained

½ cup (125 mL) apple juice

¼ cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar

2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey (or more to taste)

½ tsp (2 mL) kosher salt

Fruit Chutney: In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, apple juice, vinegar, honey and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate to cool. Taste and adjust sweetness, if necessary.

Butter one side of each bread slice and place buttered side down on a work surface. Layer the Brie followed by the Cheddar cheese on one bread slice. Top with the remaining slice of bread (butter side out).

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Cook sandwich, turning once, for 5 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning. Serve immediately with the chutney on the side. Enjoy!

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 5-inch (12.5 cm) square. Slice crosswise into 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick slices.

Cooking Tips: If desired, in a blender or with a hand held immersion blender, puree chutney until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

If unable to find Island Brie or Courtenay Cheddar from British Columbia in your region, use any Canadian Brie or Canadian medium Cheddar.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 861 Calories

Protein: 36 g

Carbohydrates: 66 g

Fat: 51 g

Fibre: 3.5 g

Sodium: 1427 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 51% / 565 mg

Selenium: 86%

Vitamin B12: 85%

Riboflavin: 63%

Folate: 60%

Stampede Centennial

Comfort food at its finest! This robust grilled cheese sandwich, created by chef Liana Robberecht, pays homage to one of Canada's greatest outdoor shows and truly celebrates our nation's farmers. Canadian Provolone and Blue cheeses perfectly complement the Alberta BBQ Beef Pulled Short Ribs in this sandwich. Served on fresh, homemade sourdough bread with local vine-ripened tomatoes and a sweet and savoury onion jam, the Stampede Centennial takes 100 years of agricultural passion and turns it into one unforgettable grilled cheese sandwich.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes stove top and Low 6 to 8 hours

Yield: 2 servings

Four ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices sourdough bread, about 4-1/2 inch (11 cm) square*

2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, softened

6 slices Canadian Provolone cheese (each 1 oz/30 g)

1 oz (30 g) Canadian Blue cheese, crumbled (about ¼ cup/60 mL)

6 oz (175 g) cooked BBQ Beef Pulled Short Ribs (about 1 cup/250 mL) (recipe follows)

1 vine ripened tomato, cut into wedges

2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil

Maldon salt

2 tbsp (30 mL) Onion Jam (recipe follows)

Place bread slices on a work surface; butter one side and turn over butter side down. Place one and half slices of Provolone cheese on two bread slices; top evenly with Blue cheese, BBQ beef pulled short ribs, remaining Provolone cheese and bread, butter side up.

Heat a large skillet or electric griddle, over medium heat. Place sandwiches butter side down and cook, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss tomato wedges with oil and a sprinkle of salt; divide among plates. Cut grilled cheese in half diagonally and spoon onion jam on top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 4-1/2 inch (11 cm) square. Slice crosswise into 1/2- inch (1 cm) thick slices.

BBQ Beef Pulled Short Ribs

1 pound (454 g) beef short ribs

¼ cup (60 mL) chopped onion

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup (250 mL) barbecue sauce

½ cup (125 mL) water

2 tbsp (30 mL) Bourbon

1 tsp (5 mL) grainy mustard

Pinch salt and pepper

In a 5 to 6-½ quart (5 to 6.5 L) slow cooker, place ribs; top with onion, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. In a bowl, stir together, barbecue sauce, water, Bourbon, mustard, salt and pepper; pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low until meat is very tender, 6 to 8 hours.

Discard rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Remove ribs and discard bones. With 2 forks, pull apart meat. Skim fat from liquid, and stir in about ¼ cup (60 mL) of the liquid into the meat to moisten.

Onion Jam

1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil

1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced red onion (about 4 oz/125 g)

2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar

2 tbsp (30 mL) Cassis liqueur

1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sugar; cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add liqueur and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. Add vinegar and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until it reaches jam consistency. Remove from heat immediately. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooking Tips: Need to save time? Here are some alternatives: instead of making onion jam, purchase your favourite sweet onion chutney and use shaved deli roast beef for the braising beef short ribs.

For a non-alcoholic version, replace Bourbon with apple juice and Cassis liqueur with black currant syrup.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 1169 Calories

Protein: 51 g

Carbohydrates: 68 g

Fat: 75 g

Fibre: 2.9 g

Sodium: 1877 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 71% / 781 mg

Vitamin B12: 185%

Selenium: 105%

Zinc: 98%

Niacin: 74%

Crabby Dipper

"I think all of us have, at some point, been to a party where "Crab Dip" has been served as an hors d'oeuvre," says chef Michael Howell from the Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Gooey, rich and delicious, this grilled cheese is simply 'melty yumminess'. With this recipe, Michael Howell created that great taste profile and made a delicious filling for an easy grilled cheese sandwich.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Standing time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 8 minutes

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Lemon Mayonnaise

1/3 cup (75 mL) mayonnaise

1 tbsp (15 mL) each, grated lemon rind and juice

Crab Dip

¾ cup (175 mL) crabmeat

1/3 cup (75 mL) Canadian Cream cheese, softened

1 jar (6.5oz/ 150 mL) marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Pepper

Hot sauce, optional

4 oz (120 g) smoked Canadian Gouda, cut into thin slices

4 slices thick cut soft Italian whole wheat sandwich bread*

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter

Lemon Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice; mix well. Allow flavors to blend about 20 minutes.

Crab Dip: In a medium bowl, combine crab, cream cheese, artichokes, parsley and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the lemon mayonnaise. Taste and season with pepper. Add a dash of hot sauce if you dare!

To assemble the sandwiches, divide half of the cheese slices on two slices of bread and spread the crab mixture on top. Top with remaining cheese and bread. Spread the remaining mayonnaise on the outside of each sandwich.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium low heat. Cook sandwiches, turning once for 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned and cheese is melted.

*Bread: Place bread slices on a cooling rack and air dry for one hour.

Cooking Tips: Serve with some "peel and eat" crab legs and some cocktail sauce.

Prepare the lemon mayonnaise up to three days ahead and the crab dip up to 24 hours; cover and refrigerate. Check crabmeat thoroughly for shells and remove any cartilage. If using frozen crab, thaw and press firmly in a sieve to remove any liquid.

For a zesty twist, use any left-over lemon mayonnaise on other grilled cheese sandwiches.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 895 Calories

Protein: 36 g

Carbohydrates: 40 g

Fat: 67 g

Fibre: 8 g

Sodium: 1808 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 52% / 569 mg

Selenium: 76%

Vitamin B12: 60%

Phosphorus: 58%

Magnesium: 49%

Cherry Bomb

This cheeky grilled cheese, developed by chef Liana Robberecht from Calgary, gets its name from the delightfully bright pop of flavour of the candied cherry tomatoes prepared for the recipe. Fresh local cherry tomatoes are soaked overnight in a tangy marinade before being expertly paired with smooth, rich Canadian Triple Cream Brie and thick sizzling bacon. Fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt are all that's needed to finish off this explosion of flavour.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Chilling time: about 25 hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Four ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices French bread, about 4-1/2 inches (11 cm) square

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, softened

1 Canadian Triple Cream Brie wheel, about 4 oz (125 g), rind cut off, sliced into 4

equal slices

Candied Tomatoes (recipe follows)

6 slices of cooked bacon

¼ tsp (1 mL) fresh cracked black pepper

½ tsp (2 mL) Maldon sea salt

Candied Tomato-Lemon Vinaigrette

2 tbsp (30 mL) reserved candied tomato liquid

1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon rind

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

1 tsp (5 mL) apple cider vinegar

Pinch each of salt and pepper

¼ cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil

2 cups (500 mL) favourite mixed salad

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place bread slices on a work surface; butter one side and turn over butter side down. Place one slice of Brie on each bread slice. Top two slices evenly with the candied tomatoes and bacon. Sprinkle each slice of bread with pepper. Cover tomato side with the Brie side, leaving butter side out.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Cook sandwiches for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place skillet in oven, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, prepare Candied Tomato-Lemon Vinaigrette. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk candied tomato liquid, lemon rind and juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place salad in a bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among plates.

Let sandwich rest for 1 minute; cut in half and place on plates; sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Candied Tomatoes

2 cups (500 mL) cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half and seeded (approx. 24)

1-½ cup (375 mL) granulated sugar

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme

½ sprig of rosemary

2 slices each lemon and orange

1 tbsp (15 mL) vermouth or white wine

In a glass bowl, combine tomatoes, sugar, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Squeeze juice from lemon and orange slices and add along with the rind; toss making sure the tomatoes are covered with the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, add tomato mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Strain through sieve into a bowl, reserving the liquid. Discard stems and rinds. Refrigerate candied tomatoes and liquid to cool.

Cooking Tips: For easy slicing, place Brie in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Want to save time and calories? Here's what you can do: instead of marinating cherry tomatoes overnight, slice cherry tomatoes and drizzle with 4 tbsp (60 mL) of honey, add rind of ¼ of a lemon and orange; sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Replace Triple Cream Brie cheese with a single regular Canadian Brie cheese.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 899 Calories

Protein: 28 g

Carbohydrates: 100 g

Fat: 42 g

Fibre: 3.5 g

Sodium: 2248 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 18% / 193 mg

Selenium: 101%

Folate: 89%

Vitamin B12: 65%

Niacin: 61%

Apulia Panini

Inspired by his travels in the beautiful region of Apulia (the "Heel of the Boot") in Southern Italy, chef Michael Howell from the Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, created this flavour-packed grilled Panini which will make you dream of La Dolce Vita. Serve with a side of mixed olives and a glass of Limonata (sparkling Italian lemonade).

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Standing time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5 to 7 minutes

Yield: 1 sandwich

Sundried Tomato Compote

½ cup (125 mL) oil packed sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

4 tsp (20 mL) sundried tomato oil (from the jar)

1 clove garlic, chopped

Tapenade

¾ cup (175 mL) dry-cured black olives, pitted

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp (20 mL) cold water

Pesto

3 cups (750 mL) packed arugula (4 oz/125 g)

½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped walnuts

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped garlic

3 tbsp (45 mL) grated Canadian Parmesan cheese

Sandwich

Two ¾-inch (2 cm) thick slices olive bread, about 5-inch (12.5 cm) square*

3 oz (90 g) Canadian Asiago Cheese, cut into thin slices

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter, softened

Sundried Tomato Compote: In a bowl, combine tomatoes and enough hot water to cover; let sit for 30 minutes; drain, reserving 4 tsp (20 ml) of the soaking water. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, tomato oil, reserved soaking water and garlic; process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

Tapenade: In a food processor, puree olives, oil and water, until smooth; transfer to a bowl.

Pesto: In a clean food processor bowl, combine arugula, walnuts, oil and garlic; process until smooth. Add Parmesan; pulse to combine.

Preheat Panini press to medium.

Sandwich: Spread both slices of the bread to taste with sundried tomato compote and olive tapenade. Top evenly with cheese slices and spoon generous dollops of pesto. Press the slices together and butter the outside.

Place sandwich on Panini press and grill 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is crispy.

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 5-inch (12.5 cm) square. Slice crosswise into ¾-inch (2 cm) thick slices.

Cooking Tips: Make the tapenade, sundried tomato compote and pesto up to three days ahead; store covered in the refrigerator.

Toss remaining pesto with hot cooked pasta and top with shaved Canadian Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 1618 Calories

Protein: 47 g

Carbohydrates: 75 g

Fat: 131 g

Fibre: 10.7 g

Sodium: 2454 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 98% / 1077 mg

Vitamin C: 110%

Vitamin E: 100%

Phosphorus: 74%

Niacin: 74%

Ned 'Bell Pepper' Sweet & Spicy

"When I make it spicy, I like to make it sweet!" says chef Ned Bell from British Columbia. The Ned 'Bell Pepper' Sweet & Spicy sandwich is prepared with local BC cheese, namely Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait and Cheddar Red Hot Pepper. Chef Bell describes this grilled cheese as "rustic, chewy, crunchy and cheesy - it doesn't get any better." It is served with a wonderful homemade jam, which adds a nice sweetness to the sandwich.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Chilling time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Two ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices of artisan country loaf bread (such as, Calabrese, rustic Italian, ciabatta), about 5-inch (12.5 cm) square

2 oz (60 g) Canadian Red Hot Pepper Cheddar, cut into thin slices

2 oz (60 g) thinly sliced Canadian Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait, cut into thin slices

Two ¼-inch (0.5 cm) thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter, softened

Jam

1 cup (250 mL) diced sweet red bell peppers

1 cup (250 mL) diced sweet yellow bell peppers

1 cup (250 mL) grape tomatoes

½ cup (125 mL) liquid honey

¼ cup (60 mL) white wine vinegar

½ tsp (2 mL) kosher salt

Jam: In a medium saucepan, combine red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, honey, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Cover and refrigerate to cool.

Butter one side of each bread slice and place buttered side down on work surface. Layer the Cheddar cheese followed by Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait cheese and tomato slices on one bread slice. Top with remaining slice of bread (butter side out).

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Cook sandwich, turning once, for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Serve immediately with the' jam' on the side. Enjoy!

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 5-inch (12.5 cm) square. Slice crosswise into ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices.

Cooking Tips: If desired, in a blender or with a hand held immersion blender, puree the jam until smooth. Refrigerate covered for up to two weeks -- a great make ahead recipe.

Canadian Red Hot Pepper Monterey Jack cheese is a great substitute for British Columbia's Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait. A flavoured Gouda can be a substitute for British Columbia's Canadian Red Hot Pepper Cheddar.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 897 Calories

Protein: 36 g

Carbohydrates: 77 g

Fat: 51 g

Fibre: 3.5 g

Sodium: 1422 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 81% / 892 mg

Vitamin C: 223%

Vitamin A: 54%

Phosphorus: 40%

Niacin: 35%

Niagara Gold Crunch

The Niagara region brings together some of chef Jason Bangerter's favourite things... grapes and cheese. They are the perfect pair. Niagara Gold is a delicious cheese with nutty notes and a lovely texture. The saltiness of the prosciutto and the sweet and sour pop of the pickled grapes make for a very satisfying cheesy treat.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

2 oz (60 g) Niagara Gold cheese, cut into thin slices

¼ cup (60 mL) mayonnaise

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

Pinch of fresh chopped thyme leaves

Pinch of fresh cracked black pepper

Two ¼-inch (5 mm) thick slices sour dough or country style bread, about 5-inch

(12.5 cm) square*

1 oz (30 g) shaved prosciutto

½ cup (125 mL) packed baby arugula (about 1/2 oz/15 g)

1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter, softened

Garnish

Pickled Grapes, optional (recipe follows)

Mild sweet grainy mustard or grape must

Potato chips or creamy summer slaw

Fresh pressed grape juice

Bring the cheese to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, garlic, thyme and pepper; spread mixture on one side of each bread slice. Place half of the cheese on one bread slice; top with prosciutto, arugula and remaining cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, mayonnaise side down. Butter both sides of the sandwich.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Cook sandwich, turning once, for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning. Cut the sandwich in half and serve with pickled grapes, sweet grainy mustard, potato chips and fresh pressed grape juice. Enjoy and happy cooking.

*Bread: Trim ends of unsliced bread to make approximately a 5-inch (12.5 cm) square. Slice crosswise into ¼- inch (5 mm) thick slices.

Pickled Grapes

½ lb (250 g) seedless green grapes (about 1-1/2 cups/375 mL)

4 sprigs tarragon

1 cup (250 mL) good quality white wine or champagne vinegar

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

Wash and dry the grapes well; place in a 2-cup (500 mL) sterilized canning jar and add the tarragon.

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil; add a pinch of salt. Pour liquid over grapes to cover. Seal the jar and refrigerate. The grapes will be ready in 3 weeks.

Cooking Tips: This is a classic combination of ham and cheese that works well in many applications. Use Canadian Alfred Le Fermier, La Tomme de Grosse Île, Provolone, aged Gouda, or aged Cheddar.

Prepare this sandwich in a Panini maker. Preheat Panini maker and grill sandwich until cheese is melted and bread is lightly marked - no need to butter the sandwich.

If unable to find Niagara Gold in your region, use Canadian Raclette.

Nutritional Information

Per sandwich

Energy: 917 Calories

Protein: 26 g

Carbohydrates: 32 g

Fat: 76 g

Fibre: 1.9 g

Sodium: 1605 mg

Here are the key nutrients provided by a serving:

Nutrient (% DV)

Calcium: 43% / 473 mg

Selenium: 63%

Vitamin B12: 60%

Thiamine: 46%

Niacin: 43%