Do rainy days put you in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich? Does looking at a casserole dish of macaroni and cheese take you back to your grandmother’s kitchen? If the smell of a fresh-baked pizza reminds you of board game nights when you were a kid, you aren’t alone.
Cooking with cheese often sparks nostalgia with us, because it makes us reminisce about our favorite foods from childhood. These dishes are classic because they stand the test of time. Many of us spent more time cooking during the pandemic and we found ourselves returning to some of these classic dishes for comfort.
As we continued to rediscover grandma’s macaroni and cheese and mom’s grilled cheese recipes, we began to think about how we can add a modern, grown-up twist to these classics and still get the same delicious results. While looking back invokes a sense of safety and satisfaction, this feels like the right time to begin to build new food memories we can look back on. Here are a few of our favorite updated recipes.
Cooking With Cheese: How to Update Your Favorite Childhood Recipes
Rainy Day Grilled Cheese
There’s something about rainy weather that results in a grilled cheese craving every time. It’s the warm gooey goodness of melted cheese and crisp grilled bread that feels like a warm blanket wrapped around you. Chances are, the grilled cheese of your childhood was made with a processed cheese (you know, the kind that comes sliced and in plastic wrap) and white bread. Maybe you have adapted that recipe since, but there are a variety of ways to make this classic more modern — and delicious —with some of our specialty cheeses.
The easiest way to switch up a grilled cheese is to try different combinations of cheeses. Your grown-up taste buds will revel at the union of Fontal and a grated cheese like, Grana Padano, on a toasted baguette. Or, try incorporating veggies in your sandwich like in this Three Italian Grilled Cheese. Another easy option is to add some sprinkled cheese to the buttered side of the bread before it hits the pan. The result will be a lightly cheese crusted grilled cheese, plus we all know that more cheese means even more cozy comfort on that rainy day.
Even though drizzly weather is usually what sparks the craving for a grilled cheese, expanding the occasions for when you reach for those two pieces of bread can open up a whole new, cheesy world. A lazy Sunday brunch featuring grilled cheese with a delightful Mayan Cocoa and Coffee cheese pairs perfectly with scrambled eggs and mimosas. Another sweet option is to pair a flavored bread, like cinnamon raisin bread, with creamy Mascarpone and Copper Kettle.
Grilled cheese for dessert? The child and the grown-up in you will say yes to this Parmesan and Chocolate Grilled Cheese.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
If you have a macaroni and cheese dish that’s a crowd favorite, you may think you don’t want to mess with the classic, secret recipe — whether it’s grandma’s or your own creation. In either case, adding a new cheese to the dish can result in a layered taste guaranteed to surprise and delight.
Most macaroni and cheese recipes use cheddar as the main cheese ingredient, so substituting a portion of the cheese with another cheese is an easy way to explore a new taste. Consider substituting Fontal for a portion of the cheddar cheese. You may already love this buttery cheese on a cheese board or sliced thinly on a sandwich, but Fontal is a cheese that melts flawlessly and can complement a variety of dishes.
Looking for something bolder? Flavored cheeses that melt well are a great option to add to your macaroni and cheese. If this is your main dish, you can be adventurous and try a bold cheese like Dijon and Herb. If the macaroni and cheese is a side for smoky ribs or barbecue chicken, try adding a milder taste, like Creamy Dill. If the main dish is an Italian entree, consider adding a cheese with an Italian inspired taste, like Fontal Tuscan flavored cheese.
If you don’t want to adjust your cheese ratio and are looking for a more subtle switch-up, consider sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese upon serving the dish and adding a garnish or fresh parsley, dill, or chopped basil.
Pizza from the local pizza shop is a delicious treat, and many trips to the pizza shop also double as a fun family outing. But, making homemade pizza with your family or having friends over for a make-your-own pizza party takes this favorite food to the next level. The standard mozzarella cheese pizza is an all around hit, but substituting mozzarella with a completely different cheese can result in a gourmet pizza sensation.
If you want to keep mozzarella as your main star, use a vegetable peeler and shave some Parmesan on the crust and bake for just a few minutes. Then remove the pizza crust and complete by adding sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of Romano cheese before returning to the hot oven to finish your gourmet pizza creation.
As with any dish, the easiest way to add a touch of flavor is to sprinkle with grated cheese upon serving. Try a sprinkle of Romano cheese, Grana Padano or the standard Italian Blend on a hot pizza and you will be more than happy with the results.
Discovering new taste combinations can be a fun way to spend time preparing meals your friends and family can enjoy. Knowing when and how to substitute cheese will mean you can cheese confidently while putting a grown-up twist on your favorite childhood classics.
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