Pennsylvania Kitchen: How to Make PA Cheese Tartines

Little open-faced sandwiches can be found all over the world, from the uitsmijter in the Netherlands, to the Welsh rarebit in the UK, to smörgås in Sweden. A piece of good bread smeared with some combination of butter, jam, cheese and meats is, after all, possibly the perfect snack or light meal. But, with something so simple, the ingredients must be best-quality, to allow each bite to dance with flavor. For advice on how to make the tastiest tartines (the French name for open face snack-y sandwiches), we turned to Sue Miller and Stefanie Angstadt of Collective Creamery for advice. They brought their A-game (and a ton of delicious PA cheese and toppings) to the Pennsylvania Kitchen, and here are our top takeaways.

First, the bread must be good, like, really good stuff from your local bakery. If you can find a bakery that uses heritage grains that haven’t been modified or hybridized, all the better. Some good options include Philly Bread Co.Lost Bread Co.and High Street on Market in Philadelphia, Nord Bread in Doylestown and Allegro Hearth in Pittsburgh. If you prefer to bake bread yourself, flour from The Heritage Flour Baking Co. or Castle Valley Mill are great places to start. If you’re serving tartines as a party snack, a few different types of bread are a nice way to mix things up.

Then, the cheese: Miller and Angstadt brought along hunks and wedges of their own cheeses from Birchrun Hills Farm (Chester County) and Valley Milkhouse (Berks County), respectively. Birchrun Blue was paired with honey and fresh thyme on baguette, Birchrun Fat Cat with sauteed local mushrooms and onions on anadama bread, topped with Happy Cat Farm’s tomato jam, and Valley Milkhouse Witchgrass with watermelon radish and sea salt on rustic French sourdough. The real trick to making the tartines their best sandwich selves is to brush each bread slice with olive oil and give them a light toasting, then add the cheese and gently toast those until they get a little melty. Softening up the cheese releases bolder, richer flavors, and as Miller says, “the cheese shows its inner self to you.”

To learn more about how to make PA cheese tartines, check out our video. Then, head here for the full recipe!