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Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010 12:18 pm

Switzerland cheese toast


I first had Switzerland cheese toast decades ago in the most perfect setting imaginable: an outdoor restaurant in Zermatt, Switzerland, overlooking the Matterhorn. I hadn’t ordered it: cheese toast sounded mundane, like grilled cheese sandwiches at home. Much as I loved those, I wanted to try something new. Fortunately my friend ordered the cheese toast for exactly the reason I hadn’t – she only wanted to eat familiar foods. We ended up switching dishes: my ravioli were boringly bland, which was perfect for her; while her cheese toast was a deliciously different experience for me.

A few years later I found a recipe for Switzerland cheese toast and I’ve been making it ever since. I mostly pair it with a salad and/or soup to make a complete meal. But the cheese mixture is also good as a topping for baked potatoes, stuffed mushrooms (especially with some crabmeat underneath), grilled eggplant, or roasted halves of sweet peppers as an appetizer, not to mention using leftover mixture on a piece of breakfast toast.

  • 1/4 c. dry white wine or vermouth
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 T. flour
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. minced garlic, or more or less to taste, 1/2 c. warm milk
  • 1 c. grated Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyere. Other good choices:
  • Swiss Emmentaler, French Comté, or a flavorful domestic equivalent
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 baguette, cut into diagonal slices one-half-inch thick and toasted on one side, or halved horizontally
Put the wine into a microwavable bowl, cover and microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until the wine just comes to a boil. Remove and let come to room temperature.

Heat the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and garlic, and stir until the flour just barely begins to turn golden.

Whisk in the milk and stir constantly until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.

Mix in the wine, cheese, egg, salt, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. The mixture can be used immediately, or refrigerated until needed. (Either is fine, but it’s easier to spread if it’s chilled first.)

Heat a broiler to medium high.

Spread a thick layer on the untoasted sides of the bread slices or halved baguette. Broil until the cheese is puffed, bubbly and lightly browned. It’s OK if it drips down the sides. Serve immediately.
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