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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

PRODUCT: Petite Crème From Stonyfield

petite-creme-beauty-spoon-230

New Petite Crème, a creamy yogurt
alternative without the tang of yogurt. Photo
courtesy Stonyfield.

 

The category of Greek yogurt has exploded in the U.S. Is there anyone who isn’t eating it? The Greek category accounts for 47% of all U.S. yogurt sales.

Yes! A large enough number of people don’t care for the tang, such that Stonyfield, a subsidiary of French dairy giant Danone (of Dannon yogurt fame) that specializes in organic yogurt, has introduced a product to capture their business:

Called Petite Crème (PEH-tee CREHM), it’s a French dairy product called fromage frais (fresh cheese), known in Germany and elsewhere as quark.

Fromage frais is high-moisture-content, unaged cheese: drained, coagulated milk (simple lactic set curd) intended to be eaten within days of its production. It is most popularly eaten for breakfast or with fruit for dessert. In the U.S., it is waiting to step right in where the yogurt-averse fear to tread.

Fromage frais has a creamy, soft texture and fresh, sweet flavor, although the fromage frais cheeses of the U.S. are less flavorful than those made in other countries from unpasteurized milk (U.S. law requires all cheeses aged fewer than 60 days to be made of pasteurized milk to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria; pasteurization kills off friendly, tasty bacteria in the process).

 

Petite Crème has the consistency of yogurt without the tang and debuts in seven flavors:

  • Belle Blueberry
  • La Vie en Strawberry
  • Mon Cherry Amour
  • Ooh La La Peach
  • Plain & Simple
  • Strawberry-Banana Ménage
  • Vive la Vanilla!
  •  
    The Stonyfield line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    The all-organic ingredients include cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, sugar, cream, cornstarch, vanilla or other flavors and guar gum. What’s missing? Live and active cultures, like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

    In yogurt, the cultures ferment the milk, causing the thickening. With Petite Creme, cornstarch and guar gum (a bean-based powder) the job.

    The nutritional content is similar to Greek yogurt: 10g protein per 5.3 ounce cup.

  • For the plain variety, calories per 5.3 ounce serving are 100, 30 from fat, with 5g sugar that is the lactose in the milk.
  • A fruit flavor, such as Strawberry, has 30 calories, 25 from fat, and 15 g sugar.
  •  
    We recently had the opportunity to taste all the flavors and have two personal favorites: Mon Cherry Amour, with intense black cherry flavor, and Plain & Simple, the original fromage frais.

     

    Petite-Creme-plain-230

    Be sure to try the plain version as well as the fruit flavors. Photo courtesy Stonyfield.

     

    ABOUT CHEESE RECIPES

    Fromage frais, quark, yogurt: What’s the difference? Cheese and yogurt* are made from a common ingredient—milk. But depending on how that milk is handled, thousands of different recipes result.

    Cheese is produced from milk due to the activity of special dairy bacteria and the action of rennet. These act on the proteins in milk, causing them to coalesce into a gel-like curd which is the beginning of cheese.

  • Milk type and butterfat level
  • Amount and type of cultures (bacteria)
  • Amount of rennet
  • Added moisture (water)
  • Time and temperature at which the milk is heated
  • Brining time and additives (beer or wine, for example)
  • Size of the cut curds
  • Length of time stirred
  • How the whey is removed
  • How the rind is treated
  • Ripening time
  •  
    Minor changes in any of these areas can have a dramatic affect on the final product.
     
    *Yogurt is not a fresh cheese. The definition of cheese requires rennet. Even though yogurt has a texture very similar to fromage frais and quark, there is no rennet in yogurt. Rennet coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). Curds and whey exist separately even in fresh cheeses like fromais frais, where they are not visible to the naked eye.
      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Live & Active Cultures In Frozen Yogurt

    pinkberry-coffee-230

    Inside: 10 million or more live and active
    cultures. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    “What happens to the beneficial bacteria in frozen yogurt,” a reader writes. “Does freezing kill them?”

    No. Live culture frozen yogurt maintains the cultures’ benefits because the flash-freezing technique used in the production of frozen yogurt, unlike slow freezing in a freezer, only makes the organisms dormant. It does not kill them—or at least not all of them, as the number of bacteria in frozen yogurt is usually lower than that in the fresh yogurt from which it was made.

    Yogurt is made by culturing milk with bacterial cultures. The words “live and active cultures” refer to the living organisms, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus*, which convert pasteurized milk into yogurt during fermentation. (Note that the milk is pasteurized before culturing in order to remove any harmful bacteria.)

    This fermentation process is what creates yogurt, with its unique taste, texture, and healthful attributes. The yogurt cultures—all the strains of bacteria added to the product—make up about 1% of the ingredients.

     

    Not all yogurt has live and active cultures. Just as some manufacturers use different combinations of cultures, frozen yogurts are created with different processes. Some are heat-treated after culturing, which extends the shelf life of fresh yogurt but kills the cultures.

    Why should you care about the live organisms? There is preliminary scientific evidence suggesting that live cultures in regular and frozen yogurt can boost your immune system, prevent osteoporosis, and prevent gastrointestinal infections, ultimately helping your digestive system as a whole.

     
    *Other cultures may be added as well, but these are always the first two.

     

    Different yogurt brands, fresh and frozen alike, add probiotics, which aid with digestion. Red Mango is one frozen yogurt brand that adds probiotics. Yovation is a packaged brand found in some natural food stores.

    The levels that remain in frozen yogurt depend upon the numbers that were in the fresh yogurt from which it was made, and on the hardiness of the specific cultures that were used. Thus, Some frozen yogurts are better sources of live cultures and/or probiotics than others.

    In order to receive the National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures seal—a voluntary labeling program—frozen yogurt is required to contain at least 10 million cultures per gram at time of manufacture (for fresh yogurt, it is 100 million per gram). The amount was agreed upon by research scientists who participated in studies of the health benefits of live cultures in yogurt products.

    If you like a brand that doesn’t have the seal but want to know what’s inside, contact the manufacturer to ask what types of bacteria their product contains and how many live and active cultures are in the finished product.

     

    live-active-cultures-seal-natyogassn-230

    Look for the seal on boxes and containers. Image courtesy National Yogurt Association.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Burrata & Fruit Dessert

    We love burrata, and love it all the time since our local Trader Joe’s always has it in stock.

    In this recipe from EatWisconsinCheese.com, burrata provides a different take on a fruit and cheese dessert. It’s more special than simply putting out a platter of cheeses and fruits, but not much more difficult.

  • Using lush summer peaches or nectarines.
  • Instead of burrata, you can substitute fresh goat cheese, mascarpone or ricotta—or a bit of each!
  •  
    RECIPE: BURRATA & FRUIT

    Ingredients

  • Burrata
  • Granola
  • Sliced fresh fruit
  • Honey
  • Optional garnish: pistachio nuts
  •    

    burrata-peaches-eatwisconsincheese-230

    A simple dessert with delicious, fresh flavors. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SCOOP granola into an individual bowl or onto a dessert plate.

    2. SLICE fruit and arrange atop granola.

    3. TOP with two quarters of a burrata.

    4. DRIZZLE with honey and garnish with chopped pistachio nuts.

     

    sliced-whole-230

    Burrata: a shell of mozzarella with a
    creamy center. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHAT IS BURRATA

    Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, creamy and luscious, made in the Apulia region of Italy. The name means “buttery” in Italian. It’s a hollow ball of mozzarella di bufala, filled with panna, cream that contains scraps of mozzarella left over from mozzarella-making.

    How Burrata Is Made

    Small pieces of mozzarella curd are soaked in a bath of hot water and sea salt. The cheese is then cooked and stretched with a wooden spoon until the curds can be stretched to create a pouch. The pouch is filled with a combination of mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese and heavy cream, and tied off with a knot.

    Some cheese makers use different recipes, but the center is always a rich, oozing cream. When you cut into the ball, the cream oozes out.

    In Italy, the cheese is packed into plastic bags with a bit whey to keep it moist, and the bag is tied with a fronds of an Italian plant called asphodel, a relative of the leek. The cheese is highly perishable, and the leaf is an indicator of freshness. As long as the leaf is still fresh and green, the cheese within is still fresh. Dried-out leaves mean a cheese is past its prime.

    This addictively good cheese was created by a mother (or father) of invention, in the Puglia region of southern Italy. Cheesemakers had curds left over from making mozzarella.

     
    Who Invented Burrata

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds, and burrata was born. It was a local product, premium priced, and remained the delight of the townspeople only for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    It was love at first bite.

    Burrata Today

    When we first wrote about burrata seven years ago it was hard to come by, made only in Puglia and flown to the U.S. The limited amount that was imported went straight to top cheese stores; the minute it appeared on store shelves, it was snatched up by burrata lovers on the prowl. (We knew what day of the week the plane set down.)

    But that’s old news. Since then, American cheese makers have been making burrata, and much of it is just as delicious and creamy as the Apulian product.

    Burrata works with sweet or savory pairings. In addition to fruit (figs, pears…any fruit, really), serve it as a first course, cheese course, light lunch or snack:

  • With crusty bread and tomatoes
  • With prosciutto
  • In a “deluxe” Caprese salad
  • With a salad garnished with beets and toasted pecans or walnuts
  •  
    Once, at the end of a trade show, we were given several burratas to take home. We used three of them to top a pizza: a memorable luxury.

    For breakfast the next day, we married the burrata with pan-fried slices of herbed polenta and sundried tomatoes, but it could just as easily have been fruit and honey.

    The memories still resonate happily, whenever we pass a cheese case.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poached Egg As A Glamorous Ingredient

    poached-egg-frisee-dueforniLV-230

    Who could resist a frisée salad with pork
    belly, prosciutto and truffle vinaigrette? And
    how about that poached egg? Photo courtesy
    Due Forni | Las Vegas.

     

    People who don’t like to eat salad—and of course, those who do—may well be tempted by this creation from Due Forni in Las Vegas.

    To a bed of frisée, the chef adds:

  • Cubes of crisp pork belly (substitute bacon or Canadian bacon)
  • San Danielle prosciutto*
  • A poached egg
  • Truffle oil vinagrette (recipe)
  • Croutons
  • Shaved Grana Padano or other Italian grating cheese
  •  
    This recipe also includes a bundle of asparagus, creating a heartier salad course or vegetarian entrée.

    But the “big idea” ingredient is the poached egg. The humble breakfast food; when paired with other ingredients, adds a unique glamor.

    The smooth texture of the poached egg white contrasts nicely with the rough salad ingredients; the broken yoke adds a silky sauce on top of the delicious truffle vinaigrette. (For this reason, go lightly when you toss the frisée with the vinaigrette.)

     
    *You can use any prosciutto. San Daniele is a PDO-designated prosciutto made in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Food trivia: The ham’s name derives from the Latin words pro and exsuctus, which roughly mean “to remove the moisture.” The ham is hung in sheds and air-dried in pure mountain air to create the beloved Italian ham.
     
    HOW TO POACH EGGS

    1. FILL a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium.

    2. BREAK 1 egg into small dish. Carefully slide the egg into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken.

    3. CAREFULLY REMOVE the eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    If you’re not adept at poaching eggs, try these egg poaching pods. The uniform roundness they create isn’t as attractive as a naturally-poached egg, but it beats the frustration of trying to harness meandering egg whites.

     
    ASSEMBLE THE SALAD

    1. COOK the lardons; set aside. You’ll note in the photo above that the lardons are cut in large slices. You can cut them into smaller cubes, into julienne strips, or however you like. Plan for two or three lardons per plate.

    2. CUT the prosciutto as needed into smaller strips. If you cut a slice in half lengthwise, try rolling it into a “rose” or similar shape for aesthetic effect. One “rose” per plate is sufficient.

    3. TOSS the frisée with vinaigrette (you can first warm the vinaigrette in the microwave for 10 seconds) and distribute among individual salad plates. Top with the pork belly and prosciutto.

    4. NESTLE the poached egg atop the greens. Top with shaved grana padano and scatter the croutons. Serve with a pepper mill for fresh-ground pepper.

     

    LIKE FRISÉE SALAD?

    It’s a favorite of ours! Here are more ideas for frisée salad.

    But there’s more!

     
    POACHED EGG & GRILLED VEGGIES

    We “poached” this idea from the Facebook page of The Guilded Nut, which specializes in flavored pistachio nuts (Garlic, Habanero, Mediterranean Herb, Sea Salt & Pepper).

    Here, a poached egg is surrounded by grilled scallions and garnished with chopped pistachios.

    You can use any grilled vegetables, including leftovers. Heat them in a skillet or in the microwave and serve them with the egg(s). Grated Grana Padano or Parmesan works well here, too.

     

    poached-egg-grilled-scallions-pistachios-theguildednutFB-230sq

    Poached egg with grilled scallions. Photo courtesy The Guilded Nut | Facebook.

     

  • Serve with hearty toast for breakfast or brunch.
  • You can also build on this simple dish and turn it into a luncheon salad or light dinner entrée. Add lardons, Canadian bacon, sliced steak or other protein (lobster tail, anyone?).
  • You can use the poached egg to top an attractive dish of leftovers. Include grains and potatoes, too.
  •   

    Comments

    BOOK: Everyday Cheesemaking

    everyday-cheesemaking-230

    Are you ready to make cheese? Photo
    courtesy Microcosm Publishing.

     

    A copy of this small paperback arrived yesterday. We picked it up and read it straight through to the end. It’s a real page-turner, and we’ve never even thought about making cheese.

    (O.K., we did make mozzarella once, from a kit, and made butter with a tabletop butter churn).

    “Everyday Cheesemaking: How to Succeed at Making Dairy and Nut Cheese at Home,” by K. Ruby Blume, is a treasure for the knowledge that it imparts, and especially the teachings on why things go wrong and how to fix them.

    Ms. Blume had purchased cheese books to teach herself how to make cheese. The problem is, unlike baking brownies, many things can go wrong in the cheesemaking process, resulting in a lot of wasted time and milk.

    So after she learned, she shared her knowledge via cheesemaking classes, and now this book. It is targeted to “everyday people” who have other jobs, and want to make cheese easily for the joy of it (or perhaps more accurately, to impress their friends and family with delicious homemade cheese). It is very clear on what can go wrong and how to avoid it.

     
    Ready, Set, Make Cheese!

    As we thumbed through page after page of how-to, we, who have never thought of it, wanted to run right out for the milk to make feta and ricotta, two cheeses we love and the easiest recipes in the book.

    The book covers a wide rage of homemade cheeses, from fresh cheeses such as chevre, halloumi, queso fresco and mozzarella to aged classics such as blue cheese, Brie and Camembert.

    In addition to cheese, you can make buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt, as well as vegan cheese, made from ingredients like nuts or soy protein.

    The book is published by Microcosm Publishing, a small publisher in Portland, Oregon. We like the book so much that we forgive them the errata that should have been caught: many missing commas, typos like “feed” instead of “fed,” and a duplication of the same paragraph.

    But these don’t get in the way of the fine writing style and the wealth of information. This is a great gift for anyone who has thought of making cheese.

    Get yours on Amazon.com.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Gourmet Lassi From That Indian Drink

    We wish Ipshita Pall would invite us to dinner. Now that we’ve had her lassi yogurt drink, we’re dying to taste her food.

    Ms. Pall is a trained French culinary chef experienced in Indian-Latin fine dining.

    We enjoy all lassi, but so far, we like That Indian Drink’s products the best. Chef-crafted, they use fresh fruit instead of purchased concentrates and purées. And oh, the spices!

    The spices make a delightful difference—so much so that Chef Ipshita and her husband, Amrit Singh, were convinced to sell it commercially (their company is called The Indian Milk & Honey Co.). The result are three flavors, each more wonderful than the next:

  • Alphonse Mango Lassi
  • Blueberry Cardamom Lassi
  • Raspberry Cinnamon Lassi
  •  
    The ingredients include rBST-free lowfat milk, fruit, live active cultures, cane sugar and spices; 130 to 150 calories per eight-ounce serving. That Indian Drink isn’t just good, it’s good for you!

    Each bottle delivers more than a full serving of fruit, 7 grams of protein, dietary fiber, probiotics, antioxidants and addictive deliciousness.

       

    blueberry-cardamom-fruit-230

    Blueberry Cardamom is one of four delicious fruit flavors. Photo courtesy The Indian Milk & Honey Co.

     
    Look for That Indian Drink at Whole Foods Markets and other natural foods channels. Here’s the store locator.

    WHAT IS LASSI?

    Lassi is a traditional Indian-style yogurt-based drink blended with ripe fruits and spices—in essence, the original smoothie.

    The word “lassi” means “yogurt drink” in Hindi. The light, cool and creamy beverage originated in India around 1000 B.C.E. The probiotic cultures in the yogurt are believed to have healing properties in Ayurvedic medicine.

    As with kefir, another yogurt-based beverage that originated in the Middle East, lassi can often be tolerated by lactose-intolerant people. The probiotic bacteria compensate for the lack of an intolerant person’s production of lactase, the enzyme that digests milk proteins.

     

    strawberry-lassi-230

    Surprise friends and family with a refreshing
    glass of Lassi. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Lassi is a simpler recipe than kefir.

  • Kefir is made by adding a colony of bacteria and yeast to milk.
  • Lassi can be made simply by mixing milk or water into plain or flavored yogurt. Some historians believe that lassi may have been created as a way to stretch yogurt in the bowl, by stirring some liquid into it.
  •  
    You can find plain lassi, sweet lassi and savory lassi.

    Depending on the milk with which it is made—cow, goat, sheep, soy, water buffalo and yak—the taste and texture of the drink will vary widely.

    WHEN TO DRINK LASSI

    In India, lassi is served as an apéritif, drunk savory with meals, enjoyed sweet as a light dessert, or as a healthful sweet or savory refreshment at any time of day.

    Savory lassi is a perfect drink with spicy Indian food. Sweet lassi—yogurt and fruit often blended with ice cubes these days—is a smoothie, appropriate for a quick breakfast, a light lunch, rejuvenating snack or a light dessert.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto & Peaches

    prosciutto-peaches-charliepalmer-briscola-230sq

    Peaches with prosciutto and a drizzle of
    balsamic, from Briscola by Charlie Palmer in
    Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

     

    Juicy summer peaches beg to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible. For a delicious first course or a dessert, pair them with prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar—an update to the classic melon or figs with prosciutto.

    To amp up the first course, add fresh chèvre and some lightly dressed mesclun.

    You can also replace the prosciutto with serrano ham. Here’s the difference.

    Serve the dish with prosciutto-friendly Italian white wines such as Italian Moscato, Pinot Grigio or Prosecco; or look northward and grab an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer or Riesling.

    WHAT IS PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham; specifically a dry-cured, uncooked ham that is aged for 400 days or longer. It originated in the hills around Parma, Italy.

     

     

    The pigs are fed a special diet of whey and grains, and the hams are trimmed and massaged with natural sea salt before aging. Prosciutto is served in thin slices, showing off rosy-colored meat with a pearl-white marbling of fat.

    Prosciutto di Parma, called Parma ham in English, is made from only two ingredients—pork leg and sea salt. What makes a great prosciutto is the artisan curing that creates prosciutto crudo (raw prosciutto, distinguished from cooked ham, or prosciutto cotto).

    The pork leg is carefully hand-rubbed with salt. It then passes through a series of curing rooms of different temperatures and humidity levels.

    Prosciutto made in the Parma and Langhirano areas of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna province is D.O.P.-protected by the European Union (in English, it’s D.P.O. or Domaine of Protected Origin). Prosciutto from other cities is also D.O.P. protected, but Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous export.

    Prosciutto-style products are made elsewhere in the world. La Quercia, in Iowa, is a fine domestic producer.

     

    proscuitto-laquercia-murrays-230


    American-made prosciutto from LaQuercia in Iowa. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is served plain as part of an antipasto or appetizer plate. In Italy, restaurants serve prosciutto in overlapping folded-over slices with bread or bread sticks as an appetizer, or wrapped around melon slices, with dates, figs or pears.

    The ham is incorporated into many recipes: wrapped around chicken, rolled with veal scallopini and diced into pasta and risotto. Find recipes at ParmaHam.com.

    But if you want to enjoy it as an Italian ham sandwich—on crusty baguette-style bread with arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella or provolone and a sprinkle of vinagrette—we think it’s an improvement on the American version.

    A drizzle of honey or some honey mustard also works.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blue Cheese BLT Sandwich

    blt-blue-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Add blue cheese for a tangy twist to the BLT.
    Photo courtesy Castello.

     

    We’ve had chicken salad BLTs and turkey BLTs, but were only recently inspired by Castello USA to make this blue cheese BLT.

    It’s a lovely a new take on a BLT:

  • Blue Castello (or other rich, creamy blue cheese)
  • Sliced heirloom tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Bacon
  • Mayonnaise
  • On a toasted baguette
  •  
    You can make it vegetarian by substituting Baconnaise [a NIBBLE favorite] or Nasoya’s Nayonaise and optional vegan bacon, such as Smart Bacon from Lightlife.

    Enjoy it open face or not, with a cold beer.

     

    It may be the perfect sandwich to enjoy over July 4th holiday: It’s red (tomato), white (bread and blue cheese) and blue (blue cheese again).

    You can apply the same principle to the red, white and blue burger in the photo below, adding a slice of red onion.

     

    Other “patriotic” ways to serve blue cheese and tomatoes (you can subtsitute peppadews or red bell pepper):

  • Bagel with blue cheese/cream cheese spread (mix half and half), tomato and red onion
  • Blue cheese nachos (with red salsa)
  • Breakfast omelet or scrambled eggs (use halved cherry or grape/pear tomatoes—and add red onion)
  • Blue cheese-stuffed peppadews
  • Fruit and cheese plate, with red apples and grapes
  • Green salad with red onion, tomato and blue cheese garnish
  • Grilled cheese and red apple panini
  • Plain Greek yogurt with red onion, tomato and blue cheese toppings
  • Stuffed radicchio or red endive leaves (mash blue cheese with a bit of mayo or yogurt)
  •  

    blue-cheese-burger-castello-230

    Red, white and blue burger. Photo courtesy Castello.

     
    MORE RECIPES FROM CASTELLO

    Castello has a long heritage of making creatively crafted cheese in Denmark. Each type of cheese is made at a single dairy, which specializes in the production of that particular cheese.

    There are many more more delicious recipes with all of Castello’s cheeses at CastelloCheese.com.

    We especially earmarked:

  • Baked Apples With Blue Cheese (Recipe)
  • Blue Cheese-Pineapple Souffle (Recipe)
  • Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Sandwich (Recipe)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Plate With Bacon

    cheese-carpaccio-w-bacon-castello-230

    A cheese course with bacon. Photo courtesy
    Castello.

     

    Thanks to Castello, a Danish producer of classic cheeses, for this cheese plate inspiration. The cheese is sliced into thin, carpaccio*-like slivers.

    For the cheese course, Castello used its Castello Alps Selection Classic, an Alpine-style cheese (the category of semifirm cheeses that includes Appenzeller, Gruyère, Raclette and Vacherin Mont-d’Or, among others).

    It’s easy to make.

  • Fry up the bacon, ideally a specialty brand such as Edwards, Niman Ranch or Nueske.
  • If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the cheese into carpaccio-like pieces. Otherwise, slice cold cheese as thinly as you can.
  • You can turn it into the salad course by adding some lightly dressed mesclun or frisée.
     
    *Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin and typically served mainly as a first course.

  •  
    RECIPE: CHEESE PLATE “CARPACCIO” WITH BACON

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 ounces (100 g) semihard cheese, very thinly sliced
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ARRANGE cheese and optional salad on two plates. Add bacon.

    2. TOP with capers. Sprinkle cheese with olive oil and fresh-cracked pepper.

    3. ADD the lemon wedges and serve.

     

    WHAT IS SEMIHARD CHEESE?

    Semihard is a classification of cheese based upon the body of the cheese, based mainly on the moisture content. Most semihard (and hard) cheeses are pressed during production to remove moisture. As they age, they become firmer, more pungent and crumbly.

    What about semisoft cheeses? Semisoft cheese contains more than 45% water, while semihard cheese contains 30% to 45%. A cheese can start as semisoft, then move to semihard as it ages and moisture evaporates.

    Because semihard cheeses contain less moisture than the soft and soft-ripened types, they hold their shape much better and can be easily sliced—a requirement for the recipe above.

    The semihard category includes a broad range of textures and ages, from semifirm to very firm and from cheeses that are only weeks old to those aged for several months or more.

     

    castello_alps_classic-230

    Use Castello Classic or other Alpine-style or semihard cheese. Photo courtesy Castello.

     
    Examples include Abondance, Appenzeller, young Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheddar, Cheshire, Colby, Comté, Danbo, Derby, Edam, Emmental, Fontina, Fontinella, Gjetost, Gloucester, aged Gouda, Gruyère, Idiazabal, Jarlsberg, Lancashire, Leicester, Leyden, Manchego, Provolone, Raclette, Saint Nectaire, Tête de Moine, Queso Blanco and Wensleydale, among others. So you’ve got lots of choices for the cheese plate “carpaccio.”

    Find more of the different types of cheese in our Cheese Glossary.

    Learn more about Castello cheeses, and check out the delicious recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE SAY: Season Your Feta

    feta-beauty-eatwisconsincheese-230

    Feta, plain and seasoned. Photo courtesy
    EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    If you enjoy a homemade Greek salad or other recipes accented with feta cheese, here’s how to make them even better:

    Roll the feta cheese in dried or fresh herbs before cutting into cubes or strips, or crumbling. It adds instant flavor and dimension. For starters, consider basil, chives, cracked black pepper, dill, oregano and thyme. If you like heat, consider red chili flakes.

    While you’re at it, develop your own signature Greek salad recipe by adding complex flavors and textures beyond the classic six ingredients: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, feta, Kalamata olives and stuffed grape leaves.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC GREEK SALAD

    Ingredients

  • Romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
  • Tomatoes, cut into wedges (or cherry tomatoes)
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Red onion or sweet onion, sliced
  • Bell pepper, sliced into strips or diced into squares
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)
  • Anchovies/sardines
  • Feta, cut into cubes or crumbled
  • Kalamata olives
  • Peperoncini
  • Capers
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Oregano plus optional dill and/or flat-leaf parsley
  • Dressing: extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  •  
    The one thing you don’t need is salt: Feta, which is cured in brine (salt water), has enough on its own.

    In Greece, the dish is horiatiki, which translates into country, peasant salad or rustic salad.

    Serve it with crusty peasant bread and a dish of good olive oil for dipping.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOSS lettuce with bell pepper, black pepper, capers, cucumber, herbs olives, radishes and tomato.

    2. DRESS with oil and vinegar/lemon juice if desired (or serve dressing separately). Plate.

    2. TOP with anchovies/sardines, feta and peperoncini.
     
    WHAT IS FETA CHEESE

    Feta is Greece’s most famous cheese*, a pure white, aged curd cheese that crumbles easily. While the cheese has been made since antiquity, the modern name came into the Greek language in the 17th century, from the Italian word fetta, slice, referring to slicing the cheese from the brick.

    Authentic feta is a sheep’s milk cheese, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milks. Outside of the European Union, where it is protected designation of origin (PDO) product, it can also be made of cow’s milk. The cheese is semi-hard, with a flavor that can range from mild and milky to salty with a very tangy acidity.
     
    *Other Greek cheeses.

     

    greek-salad-its-all-greek-to-me-book-230

    Feta cheese with olives, a drizzle of olive oil and bread: a delicious mezze (appetizer). Photo by Frente | Wikimedia.

     

    Authentic feta is formed into bricks and salted and cured in a brine solution. It is aged in wood barrels for 60 days, creating a creamy, tangy cheese with citric notes.

    Only 2% of the feta consumed in the U.S. actually comes from Greece. Much of it is saltier feta from Bulgaria and other countries. Some feta is simply too salty. You can soak oversalted pieces it in water or milk to remove some of the saltiness.

    Find more favorite types of cheese in our Cheese Glossary.

      

    Comments

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