For years, when we thought about grilled cheese we thought only about two pieces of white toast slathered with butter, with a slice of processed cheese in between them. This would get fried in a non-stick pan and served, usually with a cold glass of milk. A thin, crispy, but at the same time kind of soggy, sandwich…and we loved it. It was one of the first things we learned to make ourselves when we were young, and we felt that we were teaching our parents a thing or two…grilled cheese was not something they grew up on. Now that we are older, and more culinary (we have a blog after all!), we still occasionally enjoy this classic…but we’ve also learned that there is more than one way to grill a cheese sandwich.
Tsoureki is a traditional Greek Easter bread which is sweet and uniquely flavoured with mahlepi and masticha. Almost like a Jewish challah bread, it is typically braided and the crumb is a lovely, scented yellow colour. It is such a delicious bread, which is so plentiful during Easter time, that it only seemed logical to use it in order to take a North American classic and give it a Greek twist.
If you don’t have any tsoureki left because you’ve been busy making tsoureki french toast and tsoureki bread pudding, don’t panic. Ask around, there may be someone you know who has a tsoureki they are willing to part with (unlikely, but try). Otherwise, you can always bake a fresh batch yourself. If you are looking for a tried and true tsoureki recipe, you can find our’s here.
You’ll have to use your judgement with the measurements listed below, because much will depend on the actual size of your tsoureki slices. We know that some people make their tsourekia larger than others. The important part is to ensure that you use enough of each ingredient; so, use enough mayonnaise to completely cover one side of each piece of tsoureki, enough grated cheese to cover the mayonnaise, and well…you get the picture. And speaking of which…here are some pictures to guide you along 🙂
The mayonnaise slathered on your tsoureki may seem odd, but trust us, it’s essential. First of all, it is a great way to get the grated mizithra to stick onto the tsoureki, and finding ways to incorporate more cheese is always a smart idea. But also, the mayonnaise helps to create a nice crust on your bread, much nicer than using butter alone.
If you can’t find dry mizithra, then you can use grated parmesan or romano cheese (or a combination of both) for this recipe. Your sandwich will still be delicious!
The feta you use should preferably be Greek feta as it is a superior product, never incorporating cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is fine for other types of cheese, but not feta. It is important to slice your feta rather thinly (about 1/2 centimeter thick) so that you can be sure it will melt at the same time that your tsoureki is nice and grilled.
As always, try to use the best quality honey that you can find and afford. Given the fact that much supermarket honey is not pure honey at all, we tend to purchase our honey from local beekeepers, and other sources that we trust. It makes all the difference, both in taste and health benefits.
This grilled cheese sandwich should be served immediately after it is cooked, to ensure that the cheese stays warm and melty, and the tsoureki maintains its crisp exterior.
Mia Kouppa: Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese
- 2 slices of tsoureki, each about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 – 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
- 1 – 2 teaspoons grated dry mizithra, or grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup feta, sliced thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Spread a layer of mayonnaise over one side of each piece of tsoureki. Then, sprinkle the mizithra evenly over the mayonnaise and press down firmly with your hands so that the cheese adheres to the mayonnaise.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan. Place one piece of tsoureki into the frying pan, mayonnaise side down (in contact with the pan). Arrange your slices of feta evenly over the tsoureki. Drizzle with the honey.
- Place the second piece of tsoureki over the cheese, this time keeping the mayonnaise side facing up.
- Cook over medium heat, flipping carefully so that both sides are a nice golden brown. It helps to use a spatula to also press down on the sandwich while it is cooking in order to help everything stay together.
- When both sides of the sandwich are golden brown, remove from the pan. Cut your sandwich in half and serve. Enjoy!