Childhood Favorites with a Twist: Comte Grilled Cheese and Queso Quesadillas with Papaya-Avocado Salsa

Last Sunday I stumbled upon a collection of recipes that I had clipped from the New York Times Dining & Wine section. The recipes were part of an article titled "Taking Back A Childhood Favorite" [printed on April 11, 2007] and included grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese quesadillas. But the recipes weren't standard or typical; they offered unique and delicious twists on the classics. And they were incredibly easy to make, with a prep time of about 10-15 minutes each.

Recipe No. 1:
Comtรฉ Grilled Cheese with Cornichon Spread (Adapted Slightly)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard 
2 tablespoons mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons or other pickles 
4 slices whole-grain bread or multigrain baguette
1/4 pound Comtรฉ cheese, sliced 
1 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Whisk together mustard, mayonnaise and cornichons. Spread on 4 slices of bread and divide cheese among bread slices, to make 2 sandwiches. 
2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Cook sandwiches until golden on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes a side, pressing down on sandwiches with spatula. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook until cheese melts completely, about 2 minutes more. Serve hot.

Note: You can also make this in a Panini press. 
Yield: 2 servings.  

Recipe No. 2:
Queso Quesadillas with Papaya-Avocado Salsa- I made it last night. The original recipe calls for queso fresco, but I opted for a really nice Monterey Jack at the suggestion of my local cheese monger.  The sweetness of the papaya mixed with the richness of the avocado, plus a bit of bite from the red onion, was perfection. You could probably use this as a party dip too!

Queso Quesadillas with Papaya-Avocado Salsa (Adapted)
For the salsa: 
1 cup cubed fresh peeled papaya 
1/2 avocado, peeled and cubed 
1/4 cup cubed, seeded cucumber 
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley (the original recipe has cilantro, use it if that's your preference)
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 

For the quesadillas: 
4 6-inch corn tortillas 
1/4 pound of a good Monterey Jack

The original recipe calls for broiler cooking (which I did last night), but I found that the cheese oozed out to quickly and the tortilla got a little burnt.  I made this recipe again for lunch today and used a fry pan, with medium heat, and the quesadillas were perfect. Use a tiny bit (not even a pat, but a rub) of butter and place the tortilla on the pan.  Add the cheese and top with another tortilla, cooking each side about a minute. Remove from heat and place salsa on top. Yum.  Serve immediately. 
Yield: 2 servings.