Grilled-Cheese Monte Cristo with Homemade Tomato Strawberry Jam

Meat and cheese and jam between two slices of bread, cooked in butter: grilled-cheese sandwich; with semi-salty ham, tender sweet turkey, and a worthy spread of sweet, thick tomato strawberry jam, homemade. This delectable sandwich is finished with a shower of powdered sugar and a light speckle of cinnamon and chocolate. Talk about indulging your taste-buds and in one bite having your salt n’ sweet together.... Drool! There is nothing that compares to such an experience in one mouthful. Yum! Double yum!!

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When very dear old friends from Seattle, Washington drop in for a visit, friends that have sampled over the years so many of our home creations, what could I possibly give them that is new under the moon and sun? Why, a grilled-cheese Monte Cristo sandwich, with homemade jam of homegrown heirloom tomatoes and the sweetest strawberries I could get my hands on at the market, that’s what!

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Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!

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This jam recipe makes about 6 cups after cooking.

Sandwich recipe is for 2 hearty sandwiches.

STEPS 1 (making jam):

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2½ pounds fresh [ripe but firm and meaty] tomatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks (do not seed tomatoes, they add character)

2½ pounds fresh [ripe] strawberries, husked and cut in half

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

Zest of 1 lemon

Peel from 1 orange, cut into thin strips

Juice from 1 orange

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup tawny port wine

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

Into a large and deep heavy-bottomed pot add all ingredients and bring to a quick boil.

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Reduce heat but keep an obvious simmer going (a light boil), and cook (stirring once-in-a-while to keep from burning/sticking) for about 2½ hours, more or less as needed, until it is thick and just begins to gather (makes a path when stirred). Turn off heat, take off the burner, and allow the jam to cool completely before putting away.

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Jam will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for 3-4 weeks (and sometimes longer).

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Note:  If you are into canning, follow your preferred instructions for this method.

STEPS 2 (putting sandwiches together):

4 slices egg-bread (such as Challah)

Dijon mustard

4 [thin] turkey slices

4 [thin] ham slices

2 slices Swiss cheese (we used Jarlsberg)

2 slices Muenster cheese

2 [thin] slices creamy Havarti cheese

Prepared tomato strawberry jam

Butter (about 1½ teaspoons of butter per side of bread)

Powdered sugar, sifted

Ground cinnamon (optional)

Chocolate powder (optional)

  • Spread mustard on two slices of bread
  • Begin layering each slice of bread with: 1 Swiss cheese, 2 ham slices, 1 Muenster slice, 2 turkey slices, 1 Havarti slice
  • Spread [already prepared] tomato strawberry jam on the 2 remaining bread slices and close sandwiches
  • Carefully and generously butter one side of each sandwich. Place buttered side down on a heated skillet (heated on medium-low) and slowly cook to a light crispy golden-brown
  • While you wait for the first side to brown, generously butter the other side of bread that is up
  • Very carefully flip the sandwich and cook the other side to a crispy golden-brown to match the first side, and making sure the cheeses have melted
  • Take off the griddle and sprinkle desired amount of powdered sugar and cinnamon and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

Serve these sandwiches immediately, and enjoy! I know that our friends of over 30 years, Steve and Libby, enjoyed them, and did manage to eat every bite and crumb. These kinds of friends are keepers for life!

Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!

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