Cooking from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Grilled Cheese with Figgy Marmalade and a Giveaway

by Carol Sacks on November 10, 2014

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I’m so excited for my friend Cathy Barrow, who I’ve written about frequently over the years (most recently here). Her new book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, a comprehensive guide for year-round food preservation, is here. It’s content-rich and a feast for the eyes, full of lush, gorgeous photographs.

Cathy starts us out easy — canning seasonal jams, sauces and such that allow you to put spring and summer on your shelf. Her bonus recipes send you back to your burgeoning pantry so you can return those seasonal treats to your table after the first fall freeze — think Jam Tarts, award-winning Sour Cherry Pie at Thanksgiving and Inside-Out Samosas to go with Mango Chutney on a wintry Sunday evening.

You’ll move on to pressure-canning — stocks and soups, for example — and meat and fish preservation. Yes, you can make your own Pancetta, Gravlax and Canned Tuna. The book concludes with a chapter on cheese-making: homemade ricotta, sour cream, cream cheese and other dairy treats are within your grasp.

From the cover photo to the step-by-step photos that take you through making fruit preserves to the finished products put to perfect use, photographers Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton bring Cathy’s clever recipes and trusted techniques to life.

It was an honor and a treat for The Bug and me to test some of Cathy’s recipes, while they were in development. We jammed: Strawberry-Mango Jam, Apricot Jam with Ginger and Rosemary — we even made her Bacon-Onion Jam after taking a crack at making her divine Maple-Bourbon Bacon.

While the bonus recipes feature the basic recipes from each chapter, it’s easy to make the bonus dishes by substituting high-quality store-bought ingredients. Last week, after my book arrived, I didn’t wait to try my hand at Creme Fraiche. I bought a container of house-made Creme Fraiche from C’est Cheese and made Cathy’s Kale and Potato Galette with Duck-Fat Crust to comfort us when Daylight Savings came to an abrupt end. The lone slice that made it to the fridge that Sunday evening was warmed for breakfast, fueling The Bug’s Monday morning at school.

Over the weekend, I made Cathy’s perfect-for-fall Figgy Marmalade, starring Black Mission figs, honey and lemons from the Farmers Market. It’s as striking to look at as it is to eat, and the subtle vanilla scent and flavor take the spread to unmatched heights.

While it’s a stunner on a slice of toast, may I suggest Cathy’s Grilled Cheese with Figgy Marmalade? She pairs her ambrosial fig spread with Manchego and Fontina for an unforgettable and indulgent sandwich. I’ve included that recipe below.

I could go on, but why don’t I cut to the chase: You need this book and I’ve got one to give away. Leave me a comment below before this Friday, November 14 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern/2:00 p.m. Pacific. I’ll use to pick a winner. Good luck!

** Update ** Congratulations to Lisa Lyon, who won Cathy’s book!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Cooking from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry and a Giveaway
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
A comforting, savory grilled cheese sandwich that features Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Figgy Marmalade, Fontina and Manchego cheeses.
  • 4 thick slices dense, hearty bread
  • 1 4-oz jar Figgy Marmalade (recipe on page 99)
  • 2 oz (55 grams) Manchego cheese, sliced
  • 1 oz (30 grams) Fontina cheese, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons (1 oz, 20 grams) Cultured butter (recipe on page 369), softened (I used high-fat, European-style butter)
  1. Line up the bread slices side by side, like the Rockettes. Spread the marmalade from edge to edge on each piece of bread. Divide the sliced cheeses among 2 of the slices. Cover with the other slices of bread, jammy side down, to make 2 oozy sandwiches.
  2. Heat a griddle or a heavy cast-iron skillet over low heat. Generously butter the tops of the sandwiches. Place butter side down on the griddle and press gently. Slowly griddle the sandwiches until nice and brown on the bottom, about 6 minutes; if they are pressed, the sandwiches take on a brown butter flavor; so place a piece of parchment over the sandwiches (push them close together in the pan), then place a small baking sheet or skillet or whatever heat-proof object you have that best covers both sandwiches and weight it down with a couple of (filled) quart jars. (Admittedly, my Rube Goldberg setup usually falls at some point, so I never stray far from the stove.)
  3. Undo your weighted construction, butter the tops of the sandwiches, and turn them over. Griddle the other side until toasty (no need to weight them down again). When the smell drives you batty, they’re ready. Cool slightly so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth, like you know you will.


{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Miro November 10, 2014 at 5:10 am

ANYTHING with figs…and that gallette, well that is on the list to make this week.


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 5:12 am

Good morning, Sharon! I’m with you on figs and yes, that galette is something else. Have a great day ahead!


sharon November 10, 2014 at 7:13 am

The book sounds great, and so does “”


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 7:16 am

🙂 You’re in, Sharon!


Lizthechef November 10, 2014 at 7:39 am

I will finally get to meet Cathy this Saturday at Omnivore Books in San Francisco – can’t wait to get my copy at her book-signing event. Looks wonderful-


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 7:43 am

It’s a beauty of a book, Liz!


Gail November 10, 2014 at 11:05 am

That sandwich is haunting me. HAUNTING me, I tell you!!
Gorgeous job, Carol. The book is really something, isn’t it?


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

Gail, I have to make another batch of that marmalade. I used up a jar to make those amazing sandwiches:) It’s a fabulous book. Cathy did a tremendous job.


Beth (OMG! Yummy) November 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Carol I could just taste that sandwich from your picture and description. What a great jam that will be for holiday entertaining! So happy for Cathy (and for the rest of us to be able to learn from her well put together book!)


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

THanks so much, Beth! We loved that grilled cheese sandwich. I already need to make more of that figgy marmalade and there are so many other recipes to try, too.


Winifred Lender November 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

The sandwich looks divine as does Cathy’s book. I will put it on my holiday gift giving list.


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Thanks, Winifred! I know you’ll really enjoy this one!


Deb|EastofEdenCooking November 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I’ve followed Cathy’s blog and found her recipes and techniques to be stellar. Her book sounds fabulous, especially with treats like the wonderful Grilled Cheese with Figgy Marmalade to enjoy!


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Thank you, Deb! Now, we just need to stay tuned for a book of your wonderful recipes and photos from your beautiful neck of the woods:)


Meghan November 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm

This sounds amazing! I love a good gourmet grilled cheese.


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 5:44 pm

It’s a goodie, Meghan. Thanks for checking in!


Megan November 10, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Thie foggy grilled cheese sounds so interesting! My taste buds are intrigued.


Carol Sacks November 10, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Great! Thanks, Megan.


Megan November 10, 2014 at 6:18 pm

…the fig grilled cheese! Sounds delish!


Lisa November 11, 2014 at 4:53 am

I can’t wait to see Cathy’s book! I started canning by making her fig confiture after hearing the story on NPR and have been following her blog ever since.


Carol Sacks November 11, 2014 at 5:49 am

Great! Thanks, Lisa.


Joe Hatley November 11, 2014 at 6:43 am

This is my first time to visity your blog. It was a wonderful experience! Joe


Carol Sacks November 11, 2014 at 6:54 am

Thanks, Joe!


Adelia McFall November 11, 2014 at 11:12 am

Popped over from “Mrs Wheelbarrow’s”, cannot wait to make the figgy grilled cheese Manchego and figs is a favorite combination but had never thought of a GC!)

I’m equally delighted to discover your blog. It’s even local! (I’m in Solvang.)


Carol Sacks November 11, 2014 at 11:26 am

Hi Adelia — I mean neighbor! You’ll love the grilled cheese. We have figs right now at the Farmers market and C’est Cheese up the street has wonderful Fontina and Manchego!


manda November 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Love the recipes. Cookbook looks great.


Carol Sacks November 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Thanks, Manda!


Peppermint November 12, 2014 at 6:09 am

I don’t eat bread, but I bet the figgy marmalade would be wonderful served with warmed brie and apple slices.


Carol Sacks November 12, 2014 at 6:24 am

I like where you’re headed with that combination. Thank you!


Susan November 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Love all things FIG!! Thanks for sharing, as always!


Carol Sacks November 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Thanks, Susan! Couldn’t agree more:)


Jennie November 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Ooh, I love this book already! I don’t can much beyond jams and jellies, but I’d love to learn.


Carol Sacks November 14, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hi Jennie, thank you so much for checking in. I’m sorry but the giveaway is done now, but there are other giveaways. If you’re on Facebook, check out Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s page, where she has noted who is doing giveaways of her book. Good luck!


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