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Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: Frittata For Dinner

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, make a frittata (frizz-TA-ta).

A frittata is an Italian-style omelet, set in the frying pan in the oven*—no folding required. We’ve been making them for years, because our omelets never looked neat enough and we had no patience to work on our technique.

  • With an omelet, the filling ingredients are placed on the beaten eggs that are setting in the pan. As the omelet continues to cook, it is folded with a spatula to envelop the ingredients (that’s the part that requires practice, practice, practice).
  • With a frittata—the name comes from the Italian friggere, to fry—the eggs and other ingredients are mixed together, then cooked more slowly than an omelet. The egg mixture completely fills a round skillet: no folding. The result looks like a crustless quiche. The name derives from the Italian friggere, to fry.
  • As with a quiche, a frittata can be served at room temperature
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    WHAT TO PUT IN A FRITTATA

    Sometimes we add so many vegetables that we end up with “veggies bound with some egg.” You can added anything else you have, from beans, to leftover grains and potatoes.

    There are countless frittata recipes online, with oven, stove top or stove top/broiler cooking techniques. We prefer the oven—it’s the easiest for us—but try them all to see which works best for you.

    Consider:

  • Cheese: any kind, crumbled, cubed or shredded as appropriate
  • Fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley or other favorite
  • Heat: fresh or dried chile, hot sauce
  • Meats: bacon, ham, sausage
  • Miscellany: canned artichoke hearts, capers, olives
  • Seafood: crab, scallops, shrimp (great when there aren’t enough left over for a main dish)
  • Vegetables: Anything goes (see list† below)—pre-steam as necessary
  •  
    National Farmers Market Week begins tomorrow, so head for yours and make a selection.

    RECIPE: KITCHEN SINK FRITTATA

    This “kitchen sink” frittata shows that you can take whatever you have in the fridge or pantry and toss it together for delicious results. We once had a “Surprise BYO” brunch with friends; everyone brought a favorite ingredient (we had extra ingredients in the fridge in case everyone brought the same thing).

    If you don’t have or like any of the ingredients, substitute what you do have.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch salt (more saltiness comes with the feta)
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels removed
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: a shake of red pepper flakes or other heat
  •  
    Plus

  • Side salad
  • Toast or bread and butter
  •  

    Potato & Sausage Frittata

    Avocado Arugula Frittata

    Frittata Recipe

    [1] Use boiled potatoes and sausage for this family favorite. Here’s the recipe from Applegate. [2] You can top a frittata with fresh ingredients (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [3] You can put anything into a frittata. This “kitchen sink” recipe is below (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

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    *You can also use the stove top and broiler, but in the oven no flipping is required.

    †Try any blend: avocado, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, chard, eggplant, kale, mushrooms, onion/leek/green onion, potatoes (boiled/roasted), spinach, zucchini and so on.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Beat together the eggs and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add the feta and whisk together.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a 6” cast iron pan. When hot, add the garlic and onions and cook until they start to color, about 3 mintues. Add the corn, tomatoes and basil. Lower the heat to medium and cook together for about 5 minutes until the onions are how you like them. Then scrape the contents into a bowl and let cool.

    3. REGREASE the bottom and sides of the pan. Mix the egg mixture with the corn and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake until the center of the frittata is just set and no longer jiggling, about 15 to 20 minutes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Build-Your-Own No-Cook Summer Dessert Bowl

    Easy Ricotta Summer Dessert

    Sheep's Milk Ricotta

    Wasa Sesame Sea Salt Thins

    Wasa Thins

    [1] Lay out the ingredients for the easiest DIY dessert. [2] Ricotta salata, made in a mold, is salted. It’s better for a DIY with savory toppings (photos courtesy Good Eggs). [3] and [4] Crunchy Wasa Thins in Sesame & Sea Salt, also available in Sea Salt & Rosemary (photos courtesy Wasa).

     

    You may know ricotta from cannoli and cheesecake. They’re delicious desserts, but require some preparation.

    For summer, there’s another option: The 5 Minute Ricotta Dessert Bowl, as created by Good Eggs, a top-quality online grocer in San Francisco.

    Yes, in just five minutes you can set ingredients on the table, DIY-style, and everyone can have fun (and good nutrition!) customizing their bowls.

  • In addition to dessert, you can set out the spread for breakfast, light lunch or a sophisticated snack.
  • You can make a savory version, for breakfast, light lunch, snack or a first course at dinner.
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    RECIPE: DIY RICOTTA BOWLS

    Ricotta is actually not a cheese but a by-product of cheese-making which uses the whey drained from other cheeses. Whey is the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of the curds. In fact, the name means “re-cooked.” Here’s more ricotta information.

    You can even make your own ricotta at home. Here’a a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.

    Turn it into a build-your-own dessert—no cooking, no heat, cool comfort food.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • Ricotta (the best you can find, 4 ounces per person)
  • Berries or other fruits
  • Nuts and seeds of choice; granola
  • Sweetness: agave or honey for drizzling
  • Optional: crème fraîche, yogurt, sour cream; for dessert, mascarpone
  • Bonus: chocolate chips, candied orange peel, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins)
  • Crackers: flatbread (we used the new Sesame Sea Salt Thins from WASA), or other cracker of choice.
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    Savory Ingredient Options

    Use the same nuts/seeds, yogurt/sour cream and crackers, plus:

  • Ricotta and/or ricotta salata (photo #2)
  • Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, green onions, radishes and/or other vegetables of choice, sliced
  • Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley)
  • Hot sauce
  • Shichimi togarashi or other spice blend
  • More: capers, sliced olives, roasted red peppers, etc.
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    HAVE A RICOTTA TASTING

    Set out different brands, from big commercial brands or the store brand, to freshly-made ricotta from the cheese department.

    Taste each type plain: just a spoonful.

     
    Sheep’s Milk Ricotta

    Good Eggs uses Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta in this recipe. In Italy, Sheep’s milk ricotta is preferred over any other for its delicate flavor and texture. If you can find it, grab it.
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE RICOTTA

    Use it both sweet and savory dishes, including stuffed pasta (lasagna, manicotti, ravioli, shells, etc.).

  • Ricotta For Breakfast
  • Ricotta For Lunch, Dinner & Dessert
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Cheeses

    Yellow Tomato Caprese Salad

    Arty Caprese Salad

    Watermelon Caprese Salad

    [1] Yellow tomato Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers | FB. [2] Artistic Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Great Performances | FB). [3] Watermelon Caprese Salad. You can also use mango and other stone fruits (photo courtesy Watermelon.org).

     

    On the hot days of summer, lighten up on your cheeses. Switch the heavier blues, cheddars and washed rind cheeses for delicate, creamy ones.

    Even fresh year-round cheeses like chèvre, feta, mozzarella and ricotta taste better in the summer.

    Here’s the 411 on cheese:

  • Cheeses are seasonal based on the feed and milk availability. Goats and sheep, for example, cease producing milk over the winter, when they have bred, until they give birth.in spring.
  • With modern freezing techniques to preserve the curds, goat’s and sheep’s milk curds, previously available only in spring when the animals give birth, are available year-round.
  • In the spring and summer, the animals from artisan cheesemakers graze in the field, eating grass and clover. The seasonal diet gives more dimension to their milk, with floral and grassy notes.
  • Fresh curds + richer milk = the best cheese of the year.
  •  
    No one will stop you from getting your fill of aged Gouda, Roquefort or Stilton, but we prefer to save them for the cooler months.

    There are many semisoft, semihard and hard cheeses at peak for summer. Your cheesemonger can guide you to the best semi-hard and hard summer cheeses in the store. On the soft, fresh side, here are our favorite widely-available cheeses:
     
    FOUR FAVORITE SUMMER CHEESES

    All pair with burgers, pizza, green salads and fruit salads.

    Mozzarella

    Pay a bit more for artisan mozzarella. As opposed to rubbery factory mozzarella, it’s freshly made, and has a delightfully different texture from the standard “pizza mozzarella.”

    Pair it with its soul mates, fresh basil and summer tomatoes; then:

  • Tuck it into omelets.
  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches or panini.
  • Toss with pasta and salads (ciliegine and perlini, bite-size mozzarella balls, work better here).
  • For appetizers and the summer “cheese course,” combine ciliegine with cherry tomatoes and other vegetables, cubed meats or rolled proscuitto. Use skewers or an artistic plating.
  • For dessert, do the same with fruit.
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    And get your fill of perhaps the most famous summer mozzarella dish, Caprese Salad.

  • You can substitute mango, stone fruit or watermelon for the the tomatoes.
  • You can substitute feta, goat cheese, ricotta, even tofu for the mozzarella.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil.

    Feta

    Feta—crumbled, cubed or sliced—pairs with almost every summer fruit and vegetable. Tip: Some feta is very salty. Go to the cheese counter and ask to taste it first, or get a recommendation for a packaged brand with less salt.

  • In omelets.
  • In Watermelon-Feta Salad or crumbled over green salad.
  • On skewers—appetizer and dessert.
  • With grilled lamb, pork or poultry (turn it into a side with good olive oil, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs).
  • On burgers: beef, turkey and especially lamb.
  • On pizza, anchovies, capers, olives and onion slices.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: cilantro or dill.

     

    Fresh Goat Cheese

    Fresh goat cheese is soft and creamy, with a bit of tang. Along with ricotta, it spreads easily on bread.

    As with mozzarella, fresh goat cheese loves summer tomatoes. Try it:

  • On crusty baguette, with tomatoes or grilled vegetables.
  • In omelets.
  • With green salads (slice a log into rounds and place on top of the greens.
  • Ditto with fruit salads or a fresh fruit plate.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil or mint.
     
    Ricotta

    Soft and creamy ricotta is can be called “Italian cottage cheese,” and can be used in the same ways.

    You can mix in any seasonings and use the flavored cheese in even more ways. Ricotta loves a drizzle of honey.

  • Spread on toast and bagels, with optional honey or berries.
  • DIY ricotta bowls for breakfast or dessert (see photo #4).
  • Substitute for mozzarella in a Caprese Salad.
  • Pair with fresh fruit and optional yogurt.
  • Sweeten for cookie sandwiches or dips.
  • Whip with sweetener and a touch of cinnamon for “cannoli cream.”
  • Use the cannoli cream instead of whipped cream to top fruit, puddings and other desserts.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: chives.
     
    HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHEESE?

    Test your knowledge—or build it up—with our Cheese Glossary: the different types of cheese, categories, techniques, etc.

     

    Ricotta Caprese Salad

    Ricotta Toppings

    [1] Top a salad with a spoonful or two of plain or flavored ricotta (photo courtesy Del Posto | NYC). [2] DIY ricotta bowls are customized to whatever you want: fruit, seeds, even chocolate (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
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    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
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    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  •    

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: SunGold Kiwi From Zespri

    You may think of kiwifruit as green, but in the wild they are found in red and yellow as well.

    In the late 1970s, New Zealand kiwifruit growers began experimenting with the breeding of a golden kiwifruit (in the U.S., we call it “kiwi” for short).

    In 1992, Zespri—the world leader in premium quality kiwifruit—selected one offspring plant from the breeding stock to create the the golden-fleshed berry* now known as Zespri© SunGold© Kiwifruit. It is available at supermarkets nationwide from May through October.

    SunGold is sweeter than a green kiwi, and tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry with just a hint of tanginess. We adore it.

    NOTE that SunGold is a proprietary strain from Zespri. You may find other golden kiwifruit; we can’t vouch for it. Look for the Zespri label.
     
    ENJOY KIWI ANYTIME

    Like regular kiwi, SunGold offers healthy ammounts of vitamins C and E, potassium. Its sunny yellow sweetness boosts the nutrition and color on the plate.

    You can simply scoop it and eat it with a spoon, or peel it for just about any fruit recipe. A few examples:

  • Breakfast: with cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt, smoothies
  • Lunch: green salad, garnish for egg, chicken or tuna salad, salsa, sliced on sandwiches (especially ham or turkey)
  • Dinner: cocktails and mocktails, fruit soup, garnishes, sides
  • Dessert: compote, fruit salad, garnishes, ice cream and sorbet, pies and tarts, pudding
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    HOW TO RIPEN KIWIFRUIT

    Golden kiwi is usually ready to eat when you buy it. It should feel slightly soft to the touch, like a ripe peach. Once ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator (the same for green kiwi).

    Green kiwi may be a bit firm when you buy it, and will usually ripen at in three to five days at room temperature. The firmer the fruit, the more tart it will taste.

       

    Sungold Kiwi

    SunGold Kiiwi

    [1] SunGold kiwifruit have a smooth skin, not fuzzy like green kiwi. [2] All you need is a spoon (photos courtesy Zespri).

     
    To speed up the ripening process, place kiwis (or any fruit) in a closed paper bag on the counter along with an apple or banana. Fruits like apples and bananas produce natural ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening.

    By the same token, any ripe fruit should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits—never in the same produce drawer. If you want to store the fruit for longer than a few days, keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
     
    _____________________
    *Yes, kiwi is a very large berry. It grows on a vine.

     

    Kiwi Cocktail

    Baked Brie With Kiwi

    [1] Kiwi-banana cocktail. [2] Baked Brie with kiwi compote (photos courtesy Zespri).

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: KIWI-BANANA—TINI

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and chopped
  • 1 ounce banana rum
  • 1 ounce Bärenjäger or other honey liqueur‡
  • 1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/2 ounce Licor 43 or other vanilla liqueur**
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: a kiwi wheel, lime wheel or other garnish of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the kiwi and rum in a shaker. Add the Bärenjäger and shake with ice. Strain into a Martini glass.

    2. PLACE the cream and Liquor 43 in a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds until frothy.

    3. PLACE a teaspoon (flatware) against the inside edge of a Martini glass, with the well facing the glass. Slowly pour the cream mixture over back of spoon onto the kiwi mixture, creating a layered effect. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
     
    _____________________
    †A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.

    ‡You can substitute another honey liqueur and can also easily make your own honey liqueur.

    **Licor 43 is made from citrus and other fruit juices, flavored with vanilla, herbs and spices. You can substitute another vanilla liqueur or a citrus liqueur.

     
    RECIPE #2: BAKED BRIE WITH SPICY KIWI COMPOTE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

  • 1 Brie cheese round, about 13 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper jelly (or other pepper jelly)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Zespri green kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • Assorted crackers or baguette slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350F. Unwrap the Brie; trim and discard the top rind. Place the Brie in a baking dish or pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until the Brie is softened and beginning to melt. Meanwhile…

    2. STIR together in a microwavable bowl the jelly, mustard and pepper. Fold in the kiwi and microwave on high power for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through heating, until hot.

    3. TRANSFER the Brie to a serving plate. Top with the kiwi compote and serve with crackers or breads.
     
     
    VISIT ZESPRIKIWI.COM FOR MANY MORE RECIPES

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Egg Molds Or Cookie Cutters For Pancakes

    Whether Dad likes pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast, make Father’s Day special: Shape his breakfast with egg/pancake molds.

    If you can’t pick up molds in time, you can use cookie cutters. Since they don’t have handles, you’ll need a spatula, kitchen tongs and dexterity to lift the cooked eggs.
     
    HOW ELSE CAN YOU USE THE MOLDS?

    We’ve molded:

  • Cheeses that fry without melting: halloumi (Greece), paneer (India), queso blanco or queso para frier (Mexico)
  • Chocolate, melted and shaped into a medallion for topping an iced cake
  • Dough (use the egg molds as cookie cutters in a pinch [the edge is not as sharp for cutting as a cookie cutter])
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Meat loaf
  • Rice or other grains
  •  
     
    WHAT WOULD YOU MOLD?

    We’d love to have a longer list of foods to shape with our egg/pancake molds.

     

    Chocolate Heart Pancakes

    Fried Egg Molds

    Top: I [heart] you, Dad (photo and recipe from The Baker Chick). Bottom: A set of molds from Neon, available on Amazon. The handles fold down for easy storage.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Soufflé Omelet With Balsamic Strawberries

    For Sunday brunch, try your hand at a fluffy Soufflé Omelet. This recipe, adapted from one by the California Strawberry Commission, has a filling of balsamic strawberries.

    Serve it with a bubbly Mimosa (recipe below).

    RECIPE: SOUFFLE OMELET WITH BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES

    Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (about 8 ounces) fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or mint
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar and/or mascarpone or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

       

    Soufflet Omelet

    A Souffle Omelet, stuffed with balsamic strawberries (photo courtesy California Strawberry Commission).

     
    1. COMBINE the strawberries, mint, vinegar and 1½ teaspoons of the granulated sugar in bowl; set aside.

    2. WHISK the egg yolks, vanilla and remaining ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar in a small bowl for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened.

    3. BEAT the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the whites until no streaks remain.

    4. MELT the butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter is sizzling add the egg mixture, spreading it into an even layer with the spatula. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the omelet is golden brown on the bottom and barely set on top.

    5. SPOON the strawberries down the center of omelet. Use the spatula to fold the omelet in half over filling.

    6. SLIDE the omelet onto a plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Add a dollop of sour cream or mascarpone as desired.

     

    Mimosa With Strawberry Recipe

    Mimosa Cocktail

    Top: You don’t need Champagne flutes to serve a Mimosa (photo courtesy DrinkSkinny.com. Bottom: Even better, a Blood Orange Mimosa (photo courtesy BakeholicMama.com).

     

    OMELETTE VS. OMELET?

    It’s the French versus British spelling. Both are correct: Omelette is is more elegant while omelet is easier to spell.

     
    RECIPE: MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    Use juice from a carton if you like, but the best Mimosa Cocktail is made from fresh-squeezed juice (juice is half the recipe, after all). Even better is fresh-squeezed blood orange juice!

    Unless you have an excess of Champagne to use up, save the money and buy a Cava or Prosecco, in the $12 to $15 range; or a Sparkling Rosé. If you don’t have Champagne flutes, use white wine glasses or a tall, slender stemless glass.

    Variations: Try a Grapefruit Mimosa substituting grapefruit juice, or a Grand Mimosa with a splash of Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.

    Ingredients

  • Dry sparkling wine, chilled
  • Orange juice, chilled (if squeezing, plan 1 orange per drink)
  • Optional: orange liqueur
  • Optional garnish: notched strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the sparkling wine into the flute. It should comprise half of the contents.

    2. TOP the sparkling wine with orange juice, then the optional orange liqueur. The heavier weights of the juice and liqueur will travel to the bottom and self-mix.

    If you feel that mixing is necessary, give the drink half a gentle stir with a swizzle stick so you don’t break the bubbles.

    3. CUT a notch in the strawberry and set it on the rim of the glass. Serve immediately.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented by bartender Frank Meier circa 1925 at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris.

    Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hispanic-Style Cheeses & How To Use Them

    In the past, Hispanic-style cheeses could be difficult to find in the U.S., often requiring a trip to a Mexican specialty food store. But as with Mexican food in general, Hispanic-style cheeses continue to grow in popularity, with many varieties now available in mainstream supermarkets across the country.

    California is the country’s leading producer of Hispanic-style cheeses, followed by Wisconsin. You don’t need to wait for Cinco De Mayo to try them, but they’ll make the celebration more authentic. Thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board for this guide to domestic-made, Hispanic-style cheeses.

    Note that the names given here are the most common names for these cheeses. However, it is not uncommon for a Hispanic-style cheese to be called by more than one name. Also, some cheesemakers sell their cheeses under a proprietary name. In most cases the names given here will be on the package.
     
    FRESH HISPANIC-STYLE CHEESES

    Fresh (unripened) cheeses are very young cheeses that have not been allowed to age. Typically, fresh cheeses are soft and moist, white or off-white in color. They have a shorter shelf life than aged cheeses and must be kept in the refrigerator.

    Many Hispanic-style cheeses soften but do not melt when cooked. Because they hold their shape when heated, they are often used as fillings or toppings in recipes. They also tend to have mild to pronounced saltiness, so require less salt added to recipes. You can find them in whole-milk or low-fat varieties.

  • Oaxaca (wa-HA-ka) is a mild, firm white cheese with a sweet milk flavor and slight saltiness. Its texture is similar to mozzarella and string cheese, and it is used the same way. The cheese is made either in a rolled ball or braided, the latter said to represent the braided silver crafted in the town of Oaxaca, Mexico, where the cheese originated. The cheese melts well and is often shredded into main dishes prior to cooking.
  • Panela (pah-NAY-la) is mild and moist with a sweet, fresh milk flavor and a firm texture similar to mozzarella. It doesn’t melt, but softens and holds its shape. It can be fried and is also used in sandwiches, salads and with fruit. Pamela has a distinctive basketweave texture from the round basket in which the cheese is drained.
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    Braided Oaxaca Cheese

    Queso Fresca With Salsa

    Top: Braided Oaxaca cheese (photo courtesy Cheese.com). Bottom: Queso fresco with mango salsa (photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com).

  • Queso Blanco (KAY-so BLAN-co) is a white, mild, creamy cheese similar to a mild Cheddar or Jack. It is used in much the same way.
  • Queso Blanco Fresco (KAY-so BLAN-co FRES-co) is also called Queso Para Freir (KAY-so PA-ra fray-EER), cheese for frying. It is a firm, moist cheese that is used in cooked dishes. As its name implies, it is often fried because it holds its shape under heat. It is also crumbled onto fruit, salads, beans and other dishes.
  • Queso Fresco (KAY-so FRES-co) is the most popular Hispanic-style cheese, soft and moist with a mild saltiness and slight acidity similar to farmers cheese. It crumbles easily and softens but does not melt. Queso Fresco is often used in enchiladas, and as a topping or filling in cooked dishes.
  • Requesón (ray-keh-SOHN) is similar to ricotta: It is made from whey and has a soft, grainy texture and fresh milk taste. It is used much the same as ricotta: in salads, spreads, fillings, in cooked foods and desserts.
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    Crumbled Cotija

    Enchilado Anejo Cheese

    Top: Crumbly Cotija cheese can be used like feta (photo courtesy BakeoffFlunkie. blogspot.com). Bottom: Enchilado Anejo is similar to Cotija, but is rubbed with mild red chili or paprika for added flavor (photo courtesy SpecialtyProduce.com).

     

    AGED HISPANIC-STYLE CHEESES

    Aged Hispanic cheeses are made in semi-firm and firm styles. Some will soften but not melt when heated; others are excellent melting cheeses that add richness and creaminess to cooked foods.

    Aged cheeses have a longer shelf life than fresh cheeses. Store them in the fridge and handle them as you would Cheddar or Jack. Most are available in whole-milk or low-fat varieties.

    Note that “añejo” (aged) means something different in Hispanic-style cheeses: It is not analogous to American and European aged cheeses. Hispanic-style cheeses are aged to some degree, but their dry texture and pungent, sharp flavor come from being salted, pressed and dried rather than being aged for a long time.

  • Asadero (ah-sah-DARE-oh) is a mild, firm cheese molded into a log and sold sliced. It is similar to Provolone in its slightly tangy taste and firm texture. It melts well and is used in such dishes as nachos and quesadillas, as well as on hamburgers and sandwiches. Note that Asadero comes in processed versions as well as natural cheese versions. Go for the natural.
  • Cotija (ko-TEE-hah) is named after the town of Cotija, Mexico, where it originated. This firm, very salty cheese is similar to a dry feta in many respects, and is used similarly in cooked foods. It is often crumbled and sprinkled as a garnish over soups, salads and bean dishes. The moisture content will vary by manufacturer, ranging from semi-firm to very firm, although all versions are quite crumbly. Cotija is also sold in grated form.
  • Cotija Añejo (ko-TEE-hah on-YAY-ho) is a version of Cotija that has been aged longer; it is typically made from low-fat milk. Some manufacturers call it Queso Añejo, or simply, Añejo. It is fairly hard and dry and is a mainstay of Mexican cooking, often crumbled over dishes. It has a salty flavor and can be grated or crumbled and used like Parmesan or Dry Jack on salads and cooked foods.
  • Enchilado (en-chee-LA-do), also called Enchilado Añejo, is a dry, crumbly white cheese similar to Cotija añejo. It is distinguished by its colorful reddish appearance, the result of a coating of mild red chili or paprika, which adds a slightly spicy flavor. Crumble or slice it onto Mexican foods, soups and salads. In cooked dishes, it softens but does not melt.
  • Manchego (mon-CHAY-go) is based on the famous Manchego cheese of La Mancha, Spain, where it is traditionally made from sheep’s milk. Here, it is made from low-fat cow’s milk, which gives it a different personality. This firm golden cheese has a mellow flavor similar to a slightly aged Jack, but more nutty. It is used as a snacking and sandwich cheese, and as a cheese course or snack with fruit and wine. It also melts well in cooking.
  • Menonita (meh-no-NEE-ta) is a mild, smooth white cheese that originated in the Mennonite community of Chihuahua, Mexico. Menonita is a good table cheese: Similar in flavor to Gouda, it can be used just like Gouda in recipes.
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    IN SUM…

    Latin cuisine can be spicy, but the cheeses are usually mild, providing a pleasant contrast. Dairy products also lessen the heat of fiery chile peppers*.

    When choosing a Hispanic-style cheese for cooking, keep these three categories in mind:

  • Fresh cheeses like Panela, Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco soften when heated but don’t melt. You can use them to make dishes with a soft, creamy filling that won’t run out onto the plate (like Chiles Rellenos).
  • Melting cheeses like Asadero, Oaxaca and Queso Quesadilla are creamy and mild: excellent for eating as a snack or on a cheese plate. They’re the preferred cheeses for quesadillas, queso fundido and tacos, but they’re also great for topping burgers and pizza. Sprinkle some pickled jalapeños and chopped cilantro on top for even more authentic Latin flavor.
  • Hard cheeses like Cotija can be crumbled or grated for a garnish, or mixed into a casserole or sauce for added flavor.
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    Delicioso!
     
    *The casein (a protein) in dairy binds with the capsaicin (the heat component of chiles) to help wash it out of your mouth.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jalapeño Compound Butter

    Ravioli With Hazelnut Butter

    Roquefort  Butter

    Top: Ravioli with walnut butter (photo courtesy David Venable | QVC). Bottom: Steak with Roquefort Butter (photo Recipes101.com).

     

    Whatever you’re cooking for Cinco de Mayo, spice it up with Jalapeño Compound Butter (recipe below). You can use it for cooking, as a garnish (a pat on the top of grilled meat, seafood, corn-on-the-cob), or as a bread spread.

    WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER?

    Compound butter (beurre composé), seasoned/flavored butter, is a staple of French cuisine. Almost any flavor can be blended into butter, which is then rolled into a log, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. When needed, just cut a slice from the log.

    For most of its life, compound butter was used as finishing butter: a pat to top hot proteins and vegetables, or blended with pan juices to make a sauce.

    Perhaps the best-known compound butter in the U.S. is garlic butter, known as beurre d’ail or beurre à la bourguignonne) in France. Italian-American garlic bread is an Americanized bruschetta, made with butter instead of olive oil.

    The great French chef Escoffier (1846-1935) published 35 combinations in 1903. They included such classic combinations as anchovy butter with steak and seafood, Roquefort butter on steaks, beurre à la maître d’hotel (lemon parsley butter) with escargots, various herb butters for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables; and numerous nut, spice and wine butters.

    As a truffle lover, we find truffle butter to be a transformational experience, whether used simply on pasta or in a more elaborate preparation. We can have a joyous meal of only a fresh baguette and a tub of D’Artagnan truffle butter.
     
    MODERN COMPOUND BUTTER

    You may not cook French cuisine, but if you like butter, you can incorporate compound butters into much of what you do make: grilled meats and seafood, pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains, eggs, anything that needs a butter sauce.

    Use your favorite flavors: the classics or more modern additions to American cuisine, such as curry, hot sauce, lavender, wasabi…you can think of dozens of great pairings.

    Consider combinations such as:

  • Blue cheese butter in the center of a burger.
  • Chipotle butter for corn-on-the-cob.
  • Chive butter for baked potatoes.
  • Cilantro butter for grilled fish.
  • Coffee butter for toast or steak.
  • Harissa-za’atar butter for lamb chops.
  • Herb butter for cooking eggs.
  • Radish butter on slices of baguette.
  • Seaweed butter for fish or noodles.
  • Sriracha-honey butter for biscuits and chicken.
  • Sweet butter for pancakes, waffles, muffins and toast (chocolate butter, cinnamon butter, maple butter, pecan butter, strawberry butter, vanilla butter).
  •  
    Any of these butters can also be used as spreads; on potatoes, rice and vegetables; and for basting and sautéing foods in butter, or making a quick butter sauce.
     

     

    RECIPE #1: JALAPEÑO COMPOUND BUTTER

    This recipe, from Gordy’s Pickle Jar, uses Gordy’s Thai Basil Pickled Jalapeños. Or, you can pickle your own (recipe below).

    This recipe is for a small batch: good for testing and then adjusting the ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • ½ (1 stick) cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons diced Gordy’s Thai Basil Jalapeños (about 8 pieces) or substitute (we minced the jalapeños for more even distribution of flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon brine from the pickled jalapeños
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    Preparation

    1. SLICE the stick of butter into eight pieces and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Let it soften to room temperature.

    2. ADD the diced jalapeños and the brine and blend with a wooden spoon until the jalapeños are evenly distributed. Using the back of the spoon, shape the butter into a ball and transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap.

    3. WRAP the butter in the plastic wrap and shape it into a log. Refrigerate the wrapped log and chill at least 1 hour to harden. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and slice into whatever size you need.
     
    RECIPE # 2: QUICK-PICKLED JALAPEÑOS

    This quick-pickling recipe is meant for short-term consumption and storing in the fridge. Do not use it to “put away” pickles. You may wish to cut the recipe in half if you won’t be using the pickled jalapeños for any other purpose (burgers, salads, jalapeño mayonnaise, etc.).

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound jalapeños (we used red for more color)
  • 2 cups white or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt (substitute kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon favorite spices (clove, coriander, cumin, oregano)
  • Optional: 2 cloves garlic
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar*
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    Jalapeno Compound Butter

    Compound Butter

    Top: Jalapeño butter (photo courtesy Gordy’s Pickle Jar). We minced our jalapeños finely for better distribution of flavor. Bottom: Different compound butter flavors (photo courtesy SheKnows.com).

     
    *You can add sugar to the brine, but make a batch without it first. It’s healthier, and it will let the flavor of the spices shine through.
     
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the jalapenos and place in a jar (for compound butter, mince). Cover with white or white wine vinegar (alternative: use half vinegar and half salted water). Add your favorite spices to the brine.

    2. ADD the jalapeños to the brine, making sure that the brine covers the jalapeños. Let sit overnight, although if you’re in a pinch, you can use them after an hour of marinating. They just won’t have a more complex flavor.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Eggs In Mini Flower Pots

    Last spring we published a tip on serving foods in mini flower pots—the size that can be used to pot small succulents.

    You can use them anytime: to serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks.

    You can find mini flower pots in terra cotta or terra cotta-colored plastic. Either can go into the dishwasher.

    For Mother’s Day or other special occasion, why not start the day by using them to serve scrambled or boiled eggs?

    Use wax paper, parchment or butterhead lettuce leaves (bibb, Boston, green leaf, red leaf) to plug the drainage hole on the bottom of the flower pot; then add the food.

    Garnish scrambled eggs or peeled boiled eggs with:

  • Minced chives or parsley
  • Salmon caviar (or other caviar or roe)
  • Truffles
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    Include a salt shaker (or flavored salt) and a peppermill.
     
    DON’T WANT TO BUY FLOWERPOTS?

    You can serve scrambled eggs in a Martini glass.

    Don’t like eggs? Serve berries in the flower pots.

     

    This variation tops scrambled eggs with bay scallops, and a chive stem for garnish. If the chives are flowering, great! Photo courtesy David Burke Fromagerie.

     

      

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