Although many people associat apples with sweet recipes, they actually can be put to work in other dishes that aren't necessarily served at dessert. In fact, apples are equally at home during other courses and can take a turn as an appetizer or as passed hors d'oeuvres at the next holiday party you're hosting.
To give guests something savory, try offering "Apple & Mustard Grilled Cheese Sandwiches" from Amy Traverso's "The Apple Lover's Cookbook" (W.W. Norton & Company). Grilled cheese is a comfort food staple for both children and adults. When made like a panini and cut into bite-sized pieces, this cheesy treat can make tasty appetizers for your next gathering.
Apple & Mustard Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Yields 2 sandwiches
With this technique, you'll have a perfect crispy-melty sandwich without a panini press. A number of different cheeses work equally well here, so feel free to experiment.
11/2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
4 slices sourdough bread
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1/3 large firm-tart apple (about 3 ounces; see "Apple notes," below), unpeeled, cored and sliced very thin
4 ounces sharp Cheddar, aged Gouda, Gruyere, or Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
You'll need one large skillet and one medium-size one, preferably cast-iron (the heavier the better). Set both skillets over medium heat and let them get hot.
Meanwhile, butter one side of each bread slice; then lay slices butter-side down on your cutting board. Spread equal portions of mustard on two slices; then divide apple slices into two portions and lay on top of mustard. Divide cheese slices and lay over apples. Top sandwiches with remaining bread slices, buttered-side up.
Lay sandwiches in the large skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned, 3-4 minutes; then flip. Set the preheated medium-size skillet on top of sandwiches as a press. (If your skillet isn't heavy, weigh it down with a water-filled kettle or a few large cans of tomatoes.) Cook until both sides are evenly browned, about 2 minutes more.
Apple notes: Use whatever variety you have on hand, but a firm-tart apple goes well with the mustard and cheese in the sandwich.