Up in your grill (Spinach bread grilled cheese)

28 09 2011

Being from Malaysia, there’s a lot of stuff I know about food. Malaysians are obsessed with food; ask any of my relatives a simple question like “What’s in this?” and be prepared to listen to a sonnet about the art of food preparation. (My husband still chuckles about the time my Uncle Tony rhapsodized about how the different durian breeds are akin to the many pungent varieties of cheese.)

When I came to North America, though, I found out there were a few things I still had to learn. This post is about two of those things, married together in one afternoon when The Husband and I were having trouble coming up with something to eat for lunch.

Grilled cheese on spinach bread

I would have tried to take more and better pictures of these, but The Husband was hungry.

One of the things this Malaysian girl learned about is that a grilled cheese sandwich is NOT “two slices of bread put into a toaster oven, face up with cheese slices on them, and then slapped together.” No joke, this is what I did while I was growing up. Still awesome, especially when the cheese bubbles up, browns and crisps, revealing a totally different flavour, but definitely not the same thing.

Second, I learned how to make bread. More specifically, how to make Emeril Lagasse’s spinach bread, since I’ve never tried making any other kind. 

My first experience making bread was for our first Christmas together as a married couple, in 2010. It was pretty terrible; the bread was really dense because it didn’t rise properly, and it had a weird, chewy, sticky texture. Our lovely, too-polite guests ate it anyway, along with my failed homemade spinach linguine (I guess I’m a big fan of spinach) and the first turkey my husband’s ever cooked.

Several conversations later with my domestic hero Mrs. Dunwell and my pastor’s wife, and one of them provided the brilliant solution for perfectly risen bread: pop it into a cold oven and turn the oven light on. Et voila! It’s not hot enough to start baking the bread, but it fits the “warm, draft-free” conditions for allowing bread to rise.

Anyway, I got a hankering to make spinach bread again the other day. This time it was much less difficult, since I made a few modifications to the technique specified in the recipe. I used a box of pre-chopped frozen spinach instead of the fresh stuff, and since it’s pretty hard to figure out if chopped spinach is “wilted,” I just basically waited until the water was essentially boiling and the spinach was bright green.

A handy tip for squeezing out as much water as you can from the spinach (since you need the water to melt the butter and dissolve the yeast) is to use a potato masher to press the spinach hard against a sieve. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.

I ended up using one envelope of instant yeast instead of active dry yeast, because that was what I had in the house, although I used the traditional dissolving method anyway instead of the “quick one-rise” method. Also, while the recipe says to use “2 envelopes,” it didn’t seem clear because 1/4 ounce = 1 envelope, so I don’t know if they meant 2 envelopes totalling 1/4 ounce, or 2 envelopes each containing 1/4 ounce yeast. Anyway, the one envelope seemed fine to me.

As well, I used whole wheat flour, sea salt and romano cheese instead of all-purpose, kosher and Parmesan, respectively. I also decided that I’d try out my food processor, which is kind of gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard, and it worked like a dream to mix the dough up. No wooden spoon for me!

The recipe yields two 9×5″ loaf pans’ worth, so we had loads of bread to work through, and when we needed something to eat, both The Husband and I thought grilled cheese sandwiches on the spinach bread would be a neat experiment. I think we were right (although grilled cheese purists may want to avert their eyes).

Spinach bread grilled cheese

That ooze of good ol’ Kraft Singles sure looks yummy.

As the loaves are somewhat smaller than the sandwich bread you buy at the store, these are more like snacks/appetizers.

Next stop: revisiting that spinach linguine…

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4 responses

1 10 2011
Kelly

MMMM. I love grilled cheese, and I truly feel the best grilled cheese is made with Kraft Singles. Maybe because I’m such a slow eater that if I used real cheddar, it would get cold and hard and greasy. The Kraft Singles stay gooey for longer 😉

2 12 2011
giana

looksssss sooo yummmmyyyyyy

3 12 2011
Dave

I’m not the biggest fan of spinach but even I think that looks good.

7 12 2011
Krystle C.

Thanks Kels, GN and Dave! Spinach is one of those great things that taste totally different when put into things – I’m hoping to make this bread again, except maybe with all-purpose flour this time.

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