Oscar Snacks!

Deb Brown's Grilled Cheese Tartines 2After much movie-going in 2012, I’m betting that these will be Oscar winners (in the top five categories) on Sunday night!

Best Picture—Argo
Best Actor—Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Best Actress—Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actor—Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actress—Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)

I’d love to hear about your favorites! You can find a ballot here

Regardless of whom you’re rooting for, everyone loves to nibble while watching this mother of all awards shows. Decadently good cheese tartines served with a balsamic dipping sauce would be perfect to put on the menu for the big night.

These miniature grilled cheese sandwiches are the creation of Deborah Snow, the talented chef of Blue Heron Restaurant and Catering in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Deb willingly shared the recipe, explaining that these addictive little morsels were one of her catering firm’s most requested dishes.

Prepared with grated Gruyère and Grafton cheddar (a white cheddar from Vermont) that is mounded between slices of good white bread, these sandwiches are coated with melted butter, quickly sautéed, then placed in the oven for several minutes. Deb cuts the sandwiches into squares or triangles, and serves them with a simple balsamic sauce and some pear puree. I followed her directions, but used only the balsamic sauce as a garnish.

There’s minimal last-minute work involved with this recipe since the sauce can be prepared a day ahead and warmed at serving time, and the sandwiches can be browned several hours in advance, then popped in the oven for a few minutes. These little gems would add sparkle to any Oscar party, whether your favorites win or not!

Deb Snow’s Grilled Cheese Tartines with Balsamic Sauce

Balsamic sauce
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

8 slices best quality white bread such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed
1/2 cup (about 2ounces) Gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) Grafton cheddar cheese, grated (See note.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. For balsamic sauce, reduce the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat to 1/2 cup. This should take 4 to 5 minutes, but can vary depending on pan used so watch carefully. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the diced butter until mixture is smooth. (Glaze can be made 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat just to warm over medium heat.)

2. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Have a baking sheet ready.

3. Place 4 bread slices on a work surface. Toss the Gruyère and cheddar together. Then divide the mixture evenly and spread on top of each slice. Top with remaining bread slices. With a pastry brush, coat the top of each sandwich generously using half of the melted butter.

4. Place a large skillet (or griddle) over medium high heat. When hot, place the sandwiches, buttered sides down, in the pan. Brush the tops of the sandwiches generously with the remaining butter. Cook until the bottoms of the sandwiches are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes depending on how hot your skillet is. Watch carefully so that the sandwiches don’t get too brown. Turn and brown on the other side, only 1 to 2 minutes. (Sandwiches can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cool, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, finish baking sandwiches in the oven according to the following directions.)

5. When sandwiches are browned on both sides, transfer them to the baking sheet and place in the oven to heat through and melt cheese completely, 6 to 8 minutes.

6. Cut each sandwich into 4 equal triangles or squares. Arrange tartines on a serving plate along with a small bowl of balsamic sauce. To eat, dip tartines into the balsamic glaze. Makes 16 tartines or enough to serve 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

Note: Grafton cheddar, produced in Grafton, Vermont, is a superb aged cheddar sold in many parts of the country. If it is not available substitute a sharp white cheddar.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013

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