In a tribute to Valentine’s Day, I had to create a grilled cheese sandwich with strawberries, a main ingredient of the holiday. Last year, I went with a strawberry/mango grilled cheese, so this year I had to switch it up just a bit. I kept with the strawberry theme and instead of mangoes went with oranges. I figured the strawberries and oranges would go well together and I was correct.
- Orange Vinaigrette
the cheese: brie
Brie is often paired with sweet foods so it was a no-brainer to include it in a strawberry and orange vinaigrette grilled cheese sandwich. This Brie was pretty standard and very yummy. As you will see, it worked well with the sandwich.
How did “real” Brie cheese come about in the first place? Well, according to cheese experts, producing Brie cheese started in the French province called, not surprisingly, Brie – a town 60 miles from Paris!The oldest recorded evidence of its existence was found in the chronicles of Charlemagne. The Emperor at the time, tasted the cheese in the city of Brie around the year 774 BC. And here’s another interesting tidbit about Brie cheese… Louis XVI’s last and dying wish was supposedly to have a final taste of Brie.
It is sometimes called Brie de Meaux and is considered one of the most popular of the 400+ cheeses from France. Brie de Meaux’s popularity can be attributed to a competition that took place around 1814. During a Vienna Congress, an argument broke out regarding which country made the best and finest cheese.
As a result, a Frenchman by the name of Talleyrand, suggested a competition between the different countries and their national cheeses, as he was convinced that France would win. And of course, they did! Brie de Meaux was the winner and became known as the “King of Cheeses” and as you can imagine, instantly became an overnight success that swept Europe and has retained that distinction ever since. (ezinearticles.com)
Last week when I was staging, I was treated to a grilled cheese that included portobello mushrooms tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. I began to think why not toss strawberries in an orange vinaigrette?
With that idea tossing around in my head, I needed to find a recipe since I have never made a vinaigrette let alone an orange one. Google of course helped me out and I stumbled upon a blood orange vinaigrette recipe.
Since I only had some ingredients and did not need 4 servings worth, I edited this particular recipe just a bit. This is what I ended up with:
- fresh squeezed orange juice (continued adding OJ until it had the perfect amount, flavor)
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- ½ clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- finely chopped fresh chives (I used dried and did not measure)
Instead of using store bought orange juice, I went ahead, with the assistance of the sous chef and her tools, and made fresh squeezed orange juice. I believe this really enhanced the recipe and allowed more control over the flavors. In the future, I may even try different oranges in this recipe. I tried a blood orange at Whole Foods but did not think it was anything special so I stuck with a standard orange. (Are you a fan of blood oranges? If so, let me know in the comments.)
The choice for bread was between ciabatta (above) and a sourdough boule from Whole Foods. I was leaning towards the sourdough (the sous chef was leaning towards the ciabatta) since I thought it would be heartier and hold up more to the cheese and strawberries. The cheese monger told me to go with the ciabatta. He though the flavors of the ciabatta would work perfectly without overpowering the sandwich, which the sourdough might have done. Although the bread started out soft and “weak” it cooked perfectly, becoming crunchy and a great pocket for the grilled cheese sandwiches ingredients.
Yes, this sandwich could have used more strawberries. Yes, this sandwich could have used more orange vinaigrette. Yes, this sandwich was great regardless of those faults. The flavor was still there although it could have been slightly more apparent. I of course went with less as I did not want to totally overpower the sandwich. While eating, I did drizzle some more vinaigrette over a part of the sandwich and that turned out to be a bit much. There is definitely a fine line when it comes to flavors, especially fruity flavors. I will have to work on this in future sandwiches.
I am a big fan of texture, especially a crunchy texture, when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches and this sandwich definitely had it. As already stated, the ciabatta really was a perfect bread for this sandwich. It was crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside. It really did grill very well.
P.S. Happy belated Valentine’s Day to everyone out there. Hope everyone had a great day and weekend!
- Cheesiness: A-. Wasn’t overly cheesy but the Brie did definitely melt.
- Combined Fillings: A-. As said, if there was just a bit more strawberry and orange vinaigrette it would have been perfect. However, it was still pretty darn good the way it was.