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TIP OF THE DAY: Hispanic Cheeses With Hot Pepper Mango Salsa

Try slices of queso blanco with a hot mango
salsa as a first course or even for dessert
. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

 

You don’t have to wait for Cinco de Mayo to try Mexican cheeses, but it is one easy way to plan to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

There are fresh and aged Hispanic cheeses. The ones you may be most familiar with are the fresh cheeses:

  • Queso blanco, a snacking and cooking cheese.
  • Queso fresco, a cheese frequently crumbled as a topping or filling in cooked dishes.
  • Panela, a Mexican variation of mozzarella.
  •  
    Check out the different types of Hispanic cheeses. The terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican” are used interchangeably, but “Hispanic” more accurately conveys that the cheeses are used throughout Latin America.

    All cheeses can be made more glamorous with cheese condiments. Among all the different condiments that can be served with Mexican cheese, salsa, not surprisingly, pairs well. A fruit salsa—mango or peach, for example, with cheese—is a spicy alternative to the conventional European fruit-and-cheese plate.

     

    If you don’t want to serve fresh cheese with fruit salsa, put together an assorted plate of Hispanic cheeses and serve it with a variety of fruits, nuts, breads/crackers and cheese condiments.

    If you do want to go the salsa route, make this recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Wisconsin cheese makers create much of the Hispanic-style cheeses sold in the U.S. A large number of Hispanic cheese makers have moved from Mexico and other Latin American countries to produce the cheeses in Wisconsin.

    RECIPE: QUESO BLANCO WITH MANGO JALAPEÑO SALSA

    Ingredients

    Cool, sweet mango, contrasted with hot jalapeño, adds an exciting kick to Hispanic-style cheeses. During peach season, you can substitute fresh peaches. You can also use strawberries, which are available year-round; fresh blueberries in season; nectarines and plums; even apples and grapes.

  • 2 cups mango, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pounds queso blanco or other Hispanic cheese (allow two one-ounce slices per peson—although some people will beg for more)
  • Optional garnish: cilantro or other green herb
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.

    2. CHILL. Refrigerate covered for at least 3 hours before serving with cheese. Keep refrigerated for up to four days.

    3. SERVE. For each serving, plate two slices of queso blanco. Serve with a ramekin of salsa and garnish. If you don’t have small ramekins, you can be creative—for example, serve the salsa in hollowed-out lime halves after you’ve squeezed out the juice. The reason it’s better to use a container of some sort is because the liquids in the salsa will run over the plate.

      





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