The grilled cheese sandwich has been having quite a renaissance lately, hasn't it? I've been quiet on the topic, as I think that it is being quite well covered. There is a grilled cheese truck delivering cheesy goodness to office workers and foodies all over Los Angeles, and the Grilled Cheese Invitational recently brought together over 200 cheese sandwich experts to compete for glory. One of my favorite cheese writers, Laura Werlin, has just put out her second book of grilled cheese goodness! Now, I love a grilled cheese sandwich as much as the next person, but I'm having trouble with all the hype. It's gotten to the point where I ignore any cheese stories about grilled cheese...what can I say, I'm a contrarian!
Recently, I found an amazing little book in my mother-in-law's library: Hints to Young Housekeepers by Mrs. Black. Written in Scotland in the 1880s, some of the recipes are kind of gross, and include boiling cabbage for hours. Others sound very practical and tasty. (I have started a separate blog, if you're interested. Check it out here.) Just this morning, I found the following recipe for cheese sandwiches, and found it a refreshing alternative to grilled cheese. Just in time for summer! I quote her recipe in it's entirety below.
"This is to my mind one of the most delightful things for a sandwich possible, and the season is approaching when sandwiches will be required. Have 1 egg boiled hard, which is for ten minutes, 1/4 lb. common cheese grated, 1/2 teaspoonful of salt, 1/2 teaspoonful of pepper, 1/2 teaspoonful of mustard, 1/2 teaspoonful of sugar, 1 table-spoonful of butter, 1 table-spoonful of vinegar or cold water. Take the yolk of the egg and put it in a small bowl and crumble it down, put among it the butter and mix it smooth with a spoon, then add the salt, pepper, sugar, mustard, and the cheese, mixing each well. Then put in the table-spoonful of vinegar, which will make it the proper thickness. If vinegar is not relished, then put cold water instead - give it a good mixing. Spread this between two biscuits or pieces of oatcake, and you could not desire a better sandwich."
Delightful, no? Mrs. Black was writing her helpful hints in the 1880s, from an office in Glasgow, Scotland. I can only imagine that "common cheese" at that time was incredibly delicious, made from local, organic milk, from cows munching on highland moor grasses. The cheese "mush" created from the blending 1/4 pound of cheese with egg yolk, butter, mustard and vinegar, mellowed with a little sugar sounds pretty tasty to me! You could add a little thyme or tarragon if you were looking to tart it up a little, but otherwise, this cheese spread sounds perfect for a picnic lunch!