Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini…and Scenes from Seattle

by on June 18, 2012

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You need the moody backdrop of a brisk, misty, gray Seattle day to truly appreciate an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, I’ve come to realize. Trudging through the bustling, crowded stalls of Pike Place Market during the Saturday afternoon rush last weekend with my new friend Christie from Pepper Lynn, I saw a beacon of light shining from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese across the street. Grilled cheese to the rescue.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Beecher’s and its award-winning Flagship aged cheddar cheese were familiar to me both through a reader’s recommendation in my Great American Sandwich Guide as well as from the episode of Oprah where Gayle King explored her favorite mac and cheese dishes around the country (yes, there was a time in my life when I watched a whole lot of Oprah). Their simplest grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup (with cheese croutons) sounded like the best thing in the world to me at that moment so I ordered them.

And loved them. So much so that within a day of returning home to San Diego I found a block of Beecher’s in my local grocery cheese department and grilled myself another sandwich so I could experience more of that incredibly sharp, tangy, nutty fabulousness. A few days later I dared to go one step further and gave the sandwich a sweet and crunchy honey walnut butter crust (and posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook – people loved it!). So I’m happy to share my Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini recipe with you today, along with a few more scenes from my recent escape to Seattle.

Scenes from Pike Place Market in Seattle There is so much more to see and do at Pike Place Market than I had time for on this trip – the fresh seafood, the produce and flowers, little eateries, you name it. It was absolutely packed on Saturday at lunchtime (especially with the extra 500 of us BlogHer Food conference attendees descending on the place) but I had a window of opportunity to sprint back down there early the next morning before heading to the airport. The atmosphere was much calmer at that hour. I stopped in to the original Starbucks store for a tall Pike Place blend (of course) and picked up an incredible, sticky sweet apple cinnamon roll from the Russian bakery everyone raved about that weekend, Piroshky Piroshky.

Catching up with chef Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station in LA
Another real highlight of the trip was the chance to chat at length with two chefs whom I admire. It made my day when chef Ben Ford from Ford’s Filling Station in Los Angeles remembered me from last year’s BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta! As we were catching up he mentioned that he’s in the process of writing his first cookbook, just like I am. He’s got a team of people working with him to produce it, it sounds like it’s going to be fabulous.

Cooking with Lark Restaurant's chef John Sundstrom and my friend Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen

Over at Lark Restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood I got to meet and cook with James Beard award-winning chef/owner John Sundstrom and blogging friends at an event sponsored by Windows Phone. We do plenty of eating at these conferences but we almost never get to cook together so this was a special treat. Chef Sundstrom was an incredibly gracious host (he’s in the process of publishing a cooking app and ebook, the funding for which has become a success story for the website Kickstarter).

It's always fun to catch up with old friends and meet new ones!

And finally…the most important reason I make the time to attend these conferences is for the chance to reconnect with so many of the bloggers I’ve gotten to know over the years as well as meet new friends face-to-face. We took the above photo with the photo booth at the Ziplist party – you may recognize these ladies and boy (thanks to Amanda for grabbing the pic out of the machine!): Back Row: Brooks (Recipe Boy), Tara (Unsophisticook), Lori (Recipe Girl); Middle Row: Jessica (How Sweet It Is), Maria (Two Peas and Their Pod), Amanda (Kevin & Amanda) Shaina (Food For My Family); Bottom Row: Me, Bev (Bev Cooks), Jaden (Steamy Kitchen).

All in all, it was a terrific trip but it’s always great to be back home. If you can find the Beecher’s cheese in your local grocery store you must make these panini, and if not you’re sure to love them with other aged cheddar brands as well. Enjoy!

Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini

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>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carolyn June 18, 2012 at 5:06 am

Oh, love the walnuts crusted on the outside. Someday I will make it to a BlogHer food conference!

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2 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 7:01 am

I’d love the chance to catch up with you in person one of these days, Carolyn!

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3 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. June 18, 2012 at 5:33 am

This looks so good! Love the pictures from Seattle! Bummed I had to miss it this year

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4 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

Hope to catch up with you again sometime soon, Alison!

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5 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective June 18, 2012 at 6:43 am

Such FUN!! Wish I could have been there with you sweet girls!

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6 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 7:02 am

I missed seeing you this time around, Sommer! Hope our paths will cross again soon. :-)

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7 JulieD June 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

It was so nice to meet you in person, Kathy, finally!!! I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year!

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8 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

It was so great to say hello to you too!

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9 Living The Sweet Life June 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

Looks like you had a GREAT trip!! After seeing all the pictures from BlogHer, I know a trip to Seattle is needed. Also, grilled cheese has a special place in my heart so, this one is totally calling my name <3

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10 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

Seattle is such an incredible city. :-)

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11 sweetsugarbelle June 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

I have been waiting on this! LOOKS like heaven!

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12 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

Best cheese I’ve had in a while, Callye!

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13 Rachel @ Bakerita June 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

Mm, Beecher’s is my favorite! Love it. Your grilled cheese looks entirely too good…I want to take a bite. Honey, walnuts and cheddar? Please give me some. Can’t wait to make this.

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14 JD June 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Yum! Honey Walnut + cheese + Panini…What a great combination, and agreed having it with a bowl of soup. This sounds like an fast, easy and wonderful power lunch.

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15 Jeanette June 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

It was great seeing you at BlogHer Food again Kathy! I loved Pike Place Market, although it was super crowded. Next time, I’ll have to go at an off-peak time.

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16 Kathy June 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Always fun to catch up, Jeanette! :-)

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17 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen June 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Love that photo of all of you, wish I could have been there!

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18 Kathy June 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Would love the chance to meet in person some day soon, Sylvie!

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