Slowly over the past few years my approach to buying groceries has changed. Maybe it’s the Type A girl in me, but I always used to go shopping list in hand, dictated by the recipes I had chosen for the week. Now I’m just as likely to wander over the farmers’ market and let the treasures of the season serve as the inspiration for my plate.
Such has been the case recently as I’ve discovered the Green City Market here in Chicago. It’s only a few blocks from my apartment and I’d be lying if I said that was a coincidence. The truth is when I chose my place my only requirements were that I be in walking distance to my gym and the farmers’ market. I lucked out and got both.
When I went on a Saturday morning with a friend I had a glorious time sampling wares and scooping up little tomato seedlings to plant at home. And of course knowing me there was a lot of cheese sampling. I found myself surprisingly captivated by a Morel Mushroom with Onion and Chive Flavored Monterey Jack Cheese from Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin. I say surprisingly because next to Velveeta and Cheez Whiz flavored cheeses seem to be the red headed stepchildren of the cheese world. Connoisseurs preach cheese should impart plenty of flavor on its own and that added flavors can easily overwhelm. Over the years though I’ve made discoveries that have bucked this like a Cheddar flavored with Chocolate Ale. It’s true the staring flavor in the Brunkow Cheese were the mushrooms and onions, but I didn’t care. It was delightfully woodsy and savory and the moment it hit my lips I knew it was coming home. After also filling my shopping totes with an assortment of Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms from River Valley, another farmer at the market, I knew I had the makings of a good meal.
I was tempted to overcomplicate things, but in the end settled on a grilled cheese. Because really, when you start with amazing ingredients they pretty much shine on their own. I call this a Mushroom Lover’s Grilled Cheese because it shines with shroomy flavor. Should you not have access to the cheese I mention above you will lose a little mushroom flavor, but a similar melting cheese (i.e. Monterey Jack or a young Cheddar) is a good substitute. I like shredding the cheese because i find it marries best with the mushrooms so you get a bit of each in every bite.
-1/2 tablespoon butter
-2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
-1 cup assorted mushrooms, removed of woody stems and sliced into bite-sized pieces
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2 slices Brioche bread
-1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
-1/2 cup shredded Morel Mushroom with Onion and Chive Flavored Monterey Jack Cheese (or alternatively shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack)
Melt butter together with 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add mushrooms and saute 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and tender. Add paprika and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread one slice of bread with mustard and top with mushrooms and shredded cheese. Place remaining slice of bread on top.
Heat remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Once preheated, add sandwich and weight down using a panini press or large can set atop a plate. Cook until each side is golden and cheese has melted, about 3-5 minutes per side. Slice and serve immediately.