THE PERFECT GRILLED CHEESE
By Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Agatha Award-winning author of the national bestselling
Cheese Shop Mystery and Cookbook Nook Mystery series
“Life is good; cheese makes it better.” ~ Avery Aames
Do you love grilled cheese sandwiches? I do. They bring back memories of simpler times. When I was a kid, I used to go to Lake Tahoe in the summer with my family, and my mother would make a really cheese-y grilled cheese. She would also fix tomato soup. Comfort food extraordinaire. We would take a midday break—if we didn’t, we’d be sunburned prunes; my sisters and I loved swimming in the ice cold lake. We would sit on the porch eating our grilled cheese and look out at the water and count seagulls. Fun. Easy.
While writing the next book in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I did a lot of research for grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Because the story revolves around a grilled cheese competition. I wanted to know my stuff. [Don’t I have it rough? LOL] I’ve always been a good grilled cheese maker, but I wanted to be great. As a result, I’ve changed three aspects of my grilled cheese cooking techniques.
One: My cheese maven [a real person] wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that said, and I’m paraphrasing: “It’s called a cheese sandwich, not a bread sandwich, so make sure you use lots of cheese.” Ever since, I’ve doubled up on the cheese I put in a sandwich.
Two: Thanks to a suggestion in another article, in addition to buttering the outside of the bread, I now add a swath of cream cheese to the inside of the bread. As it turns out, cream cheese heats up fast and encourages the other cheese to melt. Brilliant tip.
Three: Lastly, I invested in a Panini grill. Have you ever handled one? They’re quite big and clumsy. They’re sort of like a waffle iron, but the back side is a little more flexible so that a cook can put in a grilled sandwich that is extra-wide, and it will still fit. Using a Panini grill has made all the difference in my grilled cheese results. Here’s why. I now have to eat gluten-free [I didn’t as a girl…long story…]. Gluten-free bread isn’t the easiest to grill. It’s, um, not very flexible unless you’ve just pulled it fresh out of the oven (which is great!). In fact, it’s stiff and hard. But if you put a gluten-free sandwich in a Panini grill, something about the weight of the two sides of the grill help the gluten-free bread get soft again. It also helps the cheese melt evenly throughout. Perfection.
By the way, while writing INHERIT THE WORD [The Word is a diner in town, short for Mum’s the Word Diner], I did a lot of taste-testing. I made one sandwich based on an appetizer my mother used to make for her bridge club. I’ve included the recipe in the book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
What’s your favorite grilled cheese combination? Have you ever participated in or watched a grilling competition?
Inherit the Word (Cookbook Nook Mystery - Book 2) by Daryl Wood Gerber
Publication Date: 03/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Daryl Wood Gerber on the WEB: website, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Final Sentence (2013), Inherit the Word (2014)
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, Inherit the Word, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.
Jenna Hart moved back to Crystal Cove, California, to recapture her joie de vivre and to help her aunt Vera run the local culinary bookshop and café. But it's hard to follow a simple recipe for relaxation when murder gets thrown in the mix...
The Cookbook Nook is set to host the town's upcoming Grill Fest, a tasty tradition which pits local amateur chefs against one another to concoct the most delicious dishes. This year's challenge: grilled cheese. But with competing chefs bearing grudges from past years, more mouths are running off than savoring the fare.
The expression "too many cooks" proves all too true when the eight-time champ is found murdered in the alley behind the café. Soon a local diner owner (and Jenna's "second mother") is suspected of bumping off the competition, and Jenna has to douse the flames before the wrong person gets burned...
Daryl Wood Gerber brings readers the second book in her Cookbook Nook mystery series, Inherit the Word. This is a fast paced mystery filled with plenty of surprises for readers to figure out. The whodunit is well plotted and keeps the reader interested while well drawn characters captivate and engage the reader. Gerber has a knack for cooking as well as writing and centers this book around a grilled cheese cookoff that gets a little out of hand when the winner of eight years running, ends up dead.
What I liked:
Daryl Wood Gerber never disappoints whether it's this series or the Cheese Shop Mysteries she writes under the name Avery Aames. She always has a food related element in her books and I love that about her writing. It's one thing for a million other writers to use food as a catalyst for the plots of their books, but it's another thing when the writer is actually a good cook. It gives this book a ring of authenticity that shows on every page. Especially the recipe section in the back of the book. I'm trying that Brie, Apple, and Turkey Grilled cheese, very sooon!
Jenna and her crystal ball toting Aunt Vera are at it again in this book. Jenna is a great protagonist for a lot of reasons. She never goes off haphazardly. She always has a reason to investigate and she doesn't try to do the job of the police. She is also caring and kind and that goes a long way in my book. I think the author wants her main character to be responsible, yet interesting to the reader. So she is a mix of those traits. I love reading about her personal life as much as the mystery itself.
Aunt Vera once again provides a lot of comic relief to the dark subject of murder. That's one of the things I like about cozies in general. They don't go into all the gory details. This book has a lightness about it even though murder is definitely afoot. I think Aunt Vera's character is meant to be eccentric and a little out there just for the reason of adding a smile to the readers face.
I liked the whole grilled cheese competition angle. I have had some good grilled cheeses in my day and I could totally buy into the idea of this kind of food competition. They have them for just about every thing now, from Chili cook offs to pit master barbeque cook offs, so this was an interesting surprise. I could definitely believe that amateur cooks could get so wrapped up in the heat of competition that a murder is possible. I thought the plot was engaging, and plausible, this could happen. Well done!
What I didn't like:
There was a bit of a mystery within a mystery going on in this one, and that was a little unnecessary. The main plot was definitely enough to keep the reader engaged. It wasn't a critical error, just something that didn't need to be included, though it did change some things on a personal level for the lead character.
This is shaping up to be quite a good series. Daryl Wood Gerber was on to something with the cookbook nook idea and I think readers are buying into it and liking it more with each new book to the series.
Inherit the Word is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Daryl Wood Gerber writes the critically acclaimed, nationally bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERY series, which is published by Penguin Random (Berkley Prime Crime). Daryl is the real name of nationally bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Avery Aames, who writes A CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY series.
Daryl also writes short stories. Her short story, "Palace by the Lake" from Fish Tales, has been nominated for numerous awards, including Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity. You can read the story on Daryl's website: http://www.darylwoodgerber.com. Daryl also created the format for the popular TV sit-com, "Out of this World," and she has won awards for her screenplays.
Both Avery and Daryl like to read, cook, and garden.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Inherit the Word by Daryl Wood Gerber.
~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
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~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, March 18th.
1. Please leave a comment describing your favorite kinds of cooking competitions, or answer one of Daryl's questions from above.
2. Please fill out the FORM.