Pretzel Baked Beans, Ultimate Cheesy Fries and Cook Bookery

Friday 15 February 2013

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As you know from time to time I am sent cookbooks to trial.  I love that part of my job . . . you can never have too many cookbooks.  Todd would beg to differ, but I have noticed he never complains at being able to test the fruits of my labours.

The latest book I was sent was  for the Grilled Cheese Lover in each of us!   "Melt," by Shane (Sanford) Kearns, creator,   Over 100 recipes, each one accompanied with a beautiful colour photograph.   I just love cookbooks which have lots of photos.   It's nice to be able to see what you're cooking is supposed to look like.

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The book is basically divided into two parts.  Part 1 is "Seriously Savory Sandwiches."  It compromises of  chapters ( Gastronomically and Living on the Edge.)  Here is just about any savory combination the brain can think of . . . and then some . . .  like:

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Basil Peppercorn - Caramelized Vidalia onions, Chaumes and Havarti Cheeses, and with hints of basil and pepper corn, grilled between two slices of Italian bread.   What's not to like?

And that's just one of the taste tempters on offer.   There are other delicious delights such as Sweet and Spicy Popcorn, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cheddar (how is that for inventiveness!), the Sunflower Gouda Griller, . . . and even the simple . . . such as The Fried Egg, but even that has an inventive twist to it.

Part Two is entitled Surprisingly Sweet Stacks, again comprised of two chapters . . . Epicurean Adventures and Experimental Territory.

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Anyone up for "The Cinnamon Roll?"  A rich mix of refrigerator cinnamon rolls and Philadelphia Milk chocolate Cheese Spread and caramelized pecans . . .

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The Candy Cane . . . Refrigerator Biscuits layerd with crushed peppermint candies/candy canes/ ricotta cheese and crushed gingersnaps.   Now, that is called pushing the envelope I think!  It does look incredibly tasty though . . .

and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

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Scattered throughout are "Tips from the Stovetop." Handy little tips and bits of advice to help you make the most of your "Grilled Sandwich" experience.

I chose two recipes to test out . . . first up was the Baked Pretzel Beans.  We really like baked beans in this house and we love beans on toast.

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It looked and sounded very appealing to say the least . . .

I adapted it very easily to what I had in the house to use and this is how mine turned out.  Looks delicious eh?   It was!   A new favourite twist on beans on toast.  I had to switch a few things around as we don't have the ingredients were not readily available over here, but it worked out fine.

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*Pretzel Baked Beans*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

A rather upscale Beans on Toast!

1 cup Vegetarian baked beans
(I used one tin of Heinz baked beans)
2 TBS Barbecue sauce
(I used Jack Daniels)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 TBS soft light brown sugar
1/8 cup mushrooms, chopped
(I left these out as I did not have any)
1/8 cup onions, chopped (about 2 TBS)
pinch dried dill tops
2 round pretzel rolls, scooped (see tips)
(I used two round Bavarian rye rolls as I didn't have pretzel rolls)
1/2 cup Jarlsberg cheese
(I used strong cheddar, about 2 TBS)

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Combing the beans, barbeque sauce, garlic powder, brown sugar, mushrooms, onions, and dried dill in a saucepan.   Simmer on medium high heat for 5 to 8 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180&C/350*F/ gas mark 5.  Place the scooped rolls on a baking tray.   Fill them with the bean mixture.  Top with the cheese.   Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.   Serve hot with a spoon.

Tips:  A pretzel roll is exactly that, a roll made out of soft pretzel dough.  Scooping a pretzel roll is different from scooping a normal roll.  You want to keep the flaps intact whilst removing the bread inside.  I cut a cross into the top and then used a fork to  scrape and pull out the insides.  It worked really well.

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The next recipe I tried was an upscale version of what we call a "Chip Butty" over here in the UK.  Our version is not elaborate . . . simply fried chips (french fries) salted and vinegar-ed with malt vinegar and slapped between two buttered sliced of cheap white bread.   This is delicious folks.  Simply delicious.  There's many a kid in this country that was brought up on chip butties!

Shane's version is really upscale though . . . no salt and vinegar here, just a nice mix of spices, crisp potatoes laid out onto a ciabatta roll, slathered with cheese and onion and grilled.  What's not to like about this??

I cheated a bit and used the low fat Skin on Baked Oven Chips, chunky cut and that worked fine.  It was not as tasty probably as the fried version . . . but with all that cheese on top, who cared?   Certainly not me!  It really soothed this carb lover's heart!   I love, LOVED it!

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 *Ultimate Cheesy Fries*
Serves 1
Printable Recipe

Half a ciabatta roll topped with fries and cheese.   Don't knock it until you try it!

1/2 a large (12 inch) ciabatta, approximately 4
inches in length
(I used half of a small cheese ciabatta roll)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced like thick cut French Fries
(I used  a handful of skin on, low fat thick cut oven chips)
1/4 tsp dried dill, divided
1/4 tsp paprika
sea salt to taste
1 TBS vegetable oil, for frying
(I didn't need this as I didn't fry my chips, only baked them)
2/3 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
(I used cheddar)
1 TBS red onion, diced
(I used spring onions)
ketchup for side

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Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5.   Slice the bread horizontally.  Save top for another use.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced potatoes, 1/8 tsp dried dill, 1/8 tsp of paprika and sea salt to taste.  Toss until the fries are covered.  (I did this to my oven chips before I put them in the oven on a tray and baked them.)

Cook the seasoned fries in 1 TBS oil on medium heat, continually tossing/stirring.  As fries cook, add the remainder of the dried dill, paprika and sea salt to taste.  Cook until they begin to crisp and brown.

Place the cooked fries on top of the ciabatta, followed by the cheese and red onion.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, to melt the cheese.   Serve warm with a side of ketchup if desired.

All in all the recipes are quite taste tempting and easy to execute from what I can see.  The only hardship might be the lack of American Ingredients here in the UK, but that is hot a hurdle which you couldn't cope with.   I think any inventive cook could cross that hurdle quite easily and may-hap even come up with something tastier than the original.

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If you're a fan of the Grilled Cheese (or Cheese Toastie as it is known over here in the UK) you will love this book.   I think it's a real winner.   I can't wait to try out the Chocolate Brownie Indulgence and the Candied Baconator . . . I just have to lose about ten pounds first!

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Published by Aadamsmedia.   You can get a copy here in the UK via Amazon for £13 and a bit of change, a 15% saving off the cover price.

Many thanks to FWmedia International and Aadamsmedia for sending me this review copy.

I give it two thumbs up,  a high five and a ten out of ten!  


  1. I have never heard of a Chip Butty before, but it sounds delicious and I think I'm going to try then out today! My husband would probably really love the Pretzel Rolls with the baked beans.

  2. I have never heard of a Chip Butty before but they sound delicious, and I think I might try making them today! My husband would really like the Pretzel Rolls with baked beans.

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