Apple Bread and Grilled Blue Cheese Sandwiches

Flip through just about any foodie glossy these days, and in addition to gorgeously styled and shot images in articles, you’ll find equally splendid looking advertising, ever so subtly marked somewhere along the edge of the page with “special advertising section” or some such disclaimer. In many magazines, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the adverecipes and the magazine’s actual articles. Have you seen Nestlé’s latest in the Australian magazines? You’d swear Donna Hay whipped up the molten chocolate cake herself.

I haven’t decided whether I like the trend. On one hand, there are more sumptuous photos for me to drool over or be inspired by. I never could figure out why advertising photos always were so cold and uninviting, or even just down right ugly in the past. I certainly welcome the softer editorial style focused on making the food look beautiful and delicious, particularly since this is pretty much the business that I’m entering. On the other hand, it’s advertising. And I feel a bit tricked as I start digging in to what looks like a fascinating article on Arizona or arugala, that turns out to just be a bunch of marketing spiel with pretty pictures. Maybe I’d feel better about it if the quality of the product lived up to the glory of the photo. So often, you know it just won’t.

I recently found myself caught up in one last month that took me a few looks before I realized that it was too was a recipomercial. I had even dog-eared the page to come back and make it at a later date. Even after I realized it was an ad, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, mainly because the ad was for Bramley apples and that seemed a bit less slick than many of the other ads-in-disguise. Plus, Sam had given the apples such high praise last fall, I figured they had to be good. The recipe, which I stumbled upon in the UK version of Delicious, was for a hearty looking apple bread. The photo showed a gorgeous chunk removed, so you could see the little piece of apple poking through the chewy crumb, sitting atop a perfectly distressed chopping board with a little sampling of cheese and fruit softly resting in the background. I couldn’t help but want to reach out for a hunk of my own.

Of course, it’s not Bramley apple season, so ironically, while the ad actually made me get excited and cook the bread, I used locally grown Washington apples (winesap to be exact). I also wasn’t sure what “strong wheat flour” was, but given that all I had was whole wheat pastry flour, I decided to rustic-it-up a bit by adding sunflower seeds and oat bran to the mix, and go a bit easier on the white flour, and both were good additions.

I cooked the loaves as directed, and the crust and crumb were both well developed… although I think next time I’ll take a page from the no-knead bread baking style and cook the loaves in a covered pot on higher heat. As it is though, it makes fantastic toast, or, something I’m a bit more excited about, grilled blue cheese sandwiches.

I’m sure grilled blue cheese on a hearty bread has been done many times before, but my first experience, being still fairly new to the loves-blue-cheese world, was last Sunday as part of the cheese course at dinner at The Herbfarm just outside of Seattle. The Herbfarm is one of those legendary Seattle restaurants. The meal is over 4 hours of course after course (9 to be exact) of a set seasonal menu that changes monthly and revolves around a theme… next month, for example, is all about beef. My meal was was root-vegetable inspired. The individual courses are small enough that you don’t leave stuffed at the end of the night, and each dish is exquisitely prepared. I quite enjoyed my entire meal, but the one course that I found myself pining for was the cheese course of a knock your socks off Oregon Blue Cheese oozing from perfectly grilled whole grain bread. Between the bites of the almost smokey cheesy goo, were little nibbles of a tart cherry to round out the palate. So simple and good.

So, without a doubt, I knew what I’d be making with the apple bread. I wasn’t disappointed. As the buttered bread grilled, the sugars from the apples caramelized just a touch more to bring out just a little edge of sweetness, and the nuttiness of the seeds was warmed and deepened. The Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue I used was strong, but not overwhelming. For the contrasting flavor, I made a little tangy rhubarb puree which I might even have liked better than the tart cherry compote, because I could dip the corder of the sandwich in to all the flavors in one bite.

I have a feeling, there will be more grilled cheese sandwiches coming into my life over the next little while. There are so many other cheese that will be tempting me… goat cheese, feta, manchego, not to mention the rest of the blue cheese spectrum.

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  • http://petitechefs.com UWSParent

    Because I know you really want to know all you can about this fake editorial they are called “advertorials” and are paid for by the advertiser but usually written by a copywriter (either someone on the magazine’s business staff or a freelancer). The American Society of Magazine Editors places restrictions on these sections (hence the “Special Advertising Section” label) but many magazines push the limit. Being a jaded magazine publishing wonk I never give them a second look. Aren’t you glad you know this now?

  • jess

    Just so you know, strong white flour = bread flour.

  • http://www.jumboempanadas.blogspot.com Brilynn

    I think that is one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve EVER seen!

  • Kathleen

    WOW!!! That’s stunning & now I want to grab it right off the monitor & take a bite!!! I’ll have to work on my own. I notice you didn’t post the bread (or rhubarb compote) recipe here like you usually do. Pretty pleeeeeeez?

    Also, I meant to thank you weeks ago, L., when you replied to my query about how to make the “no knead bread” into little rolls/loaves. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to do that for me — I really appreciate it. Now to get me some of those little crocks ;-)

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Thanks UWSParent!

    Jess – Thanks for the clarification.

    Thanks Brilynn!

    Kathleen – I put a link to the original bread recipe since I didn’t really change it much, other than to reduce the white flour a bit and add oat bran and some sunflower seeds. The rhubarb compote was pretty straight forward too… I just julienned a stalk of rhubarb, and simmered it for about 40 minutes with some cranberry/pomm juice, a T of sugar and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Just let it stew until it reduces.

    Hope the crocks work out for you. You can sometimes find the mini Staubs on a very good sale, so keep your eyes out for them.

    -L

  • http://noemiecuisine.canalblog.com Noémie

    hi! i didn’t look at other blogs for a long time but what my surprise when I have checked yours! Still amazing me! I just love your idea to combine blue-cheese with an apple bread!! I usually combine it with figs (dry or fresh) and proscuitto, but I’ll definetly try your recipe: gorgeous! I also enjoyed your post. I don’t read that much magazines but Marketing is always there to follow the trend and leave us with mouthwatering pictures…we’re still good consumers!

  • http://www.cuisinequotidienne.blogspot.com Betty C.

    I am the proud owner of a croque-monsieur sandwich machine and this is something I’ll have to try.

    I think I’ve left a comment here before — I love your blog layout — didn’t realize you were from Seattle, though, or at least didn’t remember that.
    (This is an Olympia native writing…)

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com Susan from Food “Blogga”

    Winesap apples are so tart and crunchy–they must have been perfect for this sandwich.

    BTW-Congratulations on your winning entry for DMBLGIT! It’s certainly no surprise; all of your photos are are inspired.

  • http://www.cookingdebauchery.com Kitarra

    OMG! I loe the combination of blue cheese and apples. And I am a total cherry fiend. I am really going to have to try this! Yumm!

  • http://feistyfoodie.blogspot.com Yvo

    Apples, bread, cheese, fantastic combination so why not combine the first two even further? Great idea… looks delish. I love that tri-section dish you have (I think you used it for a post on honey, as well). Is it from Crate and Barrel? Lovely pictures as usual…

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Betty – sounds like a fun machine! I can imagine you cook up all kinds of cool sandwiches… and thanks on the congrats! I hadn’t even seen it yet :-)

    Kitarra – It is a great combination. The bread is only very subtley apple-like though, so you might find an extra slice or two thrown in while grilling may suit you better.

    Yvo – Thanks! On the dish, I think so, although I don’t quite remember. It might have come from Cost Plus.

    -L

  • http://thevillagevegetable.blogspot.com Linda, The Village Vegetable

    i have been craving this sandwich since the moment i saw it — i’ve just been too lazy to make the bread. i almost went and BOUGHT apple bread just so I could have this but then I was able to control myself. fantastic. I just finished reading your “about” bit and its fantastic. I also thoroughly enjoyed both your other blgos AND your husband’s. you two are quite the active and talented couple. i hope my boyfriend live a similar life in the future, though his photography is far superior to mine — maybe someday it will be the opposite ;)

  • http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/ peabody

    Swoon. I just love this. I want to curl up with this sandwich and some butternut squash soup.

  • http://mygastronomicadventure.blogspot.com passionfordecor

    You take such lovely photos and your recipes are refreshingly different. Your blog is a feast for the eyes. Is it okay if I add you to my list of food bloggers??

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  • http://gilly.ca gilly

    I love the idea of combining the taste of apples from the bread with blue cheese… then grilling it! Sounds wonderful!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Helen

    Absolutely the best looking grilled cheese I have ever seen. How sophisticated! The possibilities for great snadwiches seem endless with that kind of bread. Keeping the recipe in mind.

  • http://food-fan.blogspot.com MissyZ

    Just for your information, ‘Strong’ flours are basically the breadmaking flours that have a higher gluten content – making the dough stretchier and better for the bread ‘bubbles’. :)

    I miss bread since going gluten free, but this does sound amazing – will have to try making a GF version…

  • http://www.aminglingoftastes.com Julie O’Hara

    Those sandwiches are ridiculously divine. I love blue cheese (currently partial to Danish blue). It’s great that you let your meal at Herbfarm inspire this dish. I love when I can do that with success. My husband and I keep meaning to do some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, so thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jessica

    That looks really really really really GOOD I WANT IT my mom is makeing it for me tonight or sometime soon and bannana bread
    cooleo
    lol

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  • http://www.kaeseplatte.com willi

    never heard from these kind of cheese sandwich but i think i must taste it, it looks very nice ! thanks