Hands down, today is one of my favorite Food Days. It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day – hooray! While we have no firm evidence of how cheese making was first discovered, legend tells us that it was likely by chance. The first Cheesemaker did not set out to make cheese, but rather discovered it naturally.
Thousands of years ago, people transported milk and stored it in sheep stomachs. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment. When the milk was left to sit, the proteins naturally separated into curds and whey. From there, preserving the solids with salt seemed the next logical step. And so it was that cheese was born. The earliest record of intentionally making cheese dates back to 5500 BCE in what is now Poland. Today there are over 1,400 varieties of cheese.
Worldwide there are countless cheese festivals and celebrations dedicated to making, eating and just getting creative with cheese. On the National Day Calendar alone, there are 19 days specifically dedicated to cheese in some form or another. And the list continues to grow. The entire month of August is National Goat Cheese Month. Oh my – how wonderful!
In our house when Grilled Cheese is on the menu, it means making two completely different sandwiches. Hubby’s is easy to make – sliced bread, a little butter and a slice or two of American Processed Cheese. Now Kiddo and I will make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with every kind of cheese in the fridge at the time. We love to add things like mushrooms, red onions or Arugula and use breads such as Sourdough or Rye.
This simply over the top Grilled Cheese is one of our favorites.
Four Cheese Portobella Grilled Sandwiches
3 tablespoons Manchego or Parmesan Cheese
4 oz Goat Cheese
1/2 cup Irish White Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 cup Smoked Gouda Cheese
2 teaspoons fresh Thyme
4 large Portobello Mushroom Caps
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
8 tablespoons Butter, divided
Black Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
Onion Powder to taste
8 slices Sourdough Bread
Finely shred Manchego cheese, set aside. Slice goat cheese into rounds, set aside. Shred Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gouda Cheeses, set aside. Pluck thyme from the sprigs, finely mince and set aside.
Clean mushroom caps, remove gills and slice. In a large cast-iron, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms in a single layer for about 10 minutes, until golden and just beginning to crisp, turning halfway through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms; wipe out skillet.
Spread 3 tablespoons butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place bread, butter side down, in same skillet over medium-low heat; toast until golden brown, 2-3 minutes; remove.
In a small bowl, combine cheddar, Jack and Gouda . In another bowl, mix together remaining 3 tablespoons butter, mayonnaise, Manchego cheese and onion powder.
To assemble sandwiches, top toasted side of 4 bread slices with mushrooms; sprinkle with fresh thyme; add sliced goat cheese. Sprinkle cheddar cheese mixture evenly over goat cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, toasted side down. Spread the butter-mayonnaise mixture on the outsides of each sandwich. Place in same skillet and cook until golden brown and cheese is melted, 5-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.