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Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

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.
  •    

    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.
  •  

    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.
  •  
    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.
  •  
    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
  •  
    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*
  •  

    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
  •  
    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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Bread, Old School & New School

    American-style garlic bread is a descendant of Italian bruschetta and crostini. The first recipe we found was published in 1940 in Edith Barber’s Cook Book, written by the editor of the New York Sun food column. [Source]

    The Americanized version used a baguette or narrow loaf of Italian bread, substituted butter for oil, mixed with garlic powder/salt instead of rubbed with cut fresh garlic cloves, and topped with dried oregano. It might also include grated Parmesan or other cheese.

    The loaf is sliced vertically or horizontally, topped with the butter spread and heated in a hot oven (400°F). Often, the loaf was sliced vertically and buttered between the slices before heating. Our Mom first lightly toasted the bread slices crostini-style, though she didn’t hear the word “crostini” for decades.

    THE HISTORY OF GARLIC BREAD

    American garlic bread began life as bruschetta, a peasant food. Some sources say in was made in ancient times, others cite medieval times as the origin. It was common for Italian peasants, who lacked costly ceramics plates, to eat their meals on slices of grilled bread. Charred, bread, rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, was grilled over the fire.

    In medieval cuisine, “sops” were common across Europe: stale bread soaked in broth, soup or wine and topped with other foods.

       

    Garlic Bread Recipe

    Classic American garlic bread. Photo courtesy La Panineria | Facebook.

     

    Over time, the recipe was refined into an antipasto (appetizer), on more easily handled small toasts. It became a popular bread basket freebie in Italian-American restaurants. By the 1990s, visitors to trendy restaurants were paying for bruschetta (grilled from a thinner loaf) or crostini (toasted from a wider loaf), with different toppings and the original olive oil and minced fresh garlic.

    These days, garlic bread is old school, and bruschetta and crostini are the rage. Here’s the old-school recipe, followed by an example of the new school.
     
    RECIPE #1: CLASSIC GARLIC BREAD (OLD SCHOOL)

    This recipe first slices the entire loaf in half, horizontally.

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 baguette (1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat)-leaf parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE butter and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the top of the slices and sprinkle with parsley (you can also blend the parsley into the butter).

    2. PLACE on a baking sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Broil for an additional 2 minutes or until golden brown, 4-6 inches. from the heat.

    3. CUT into 2-inch slices. Serve warm.

     

    Spring Pea Crostini

    Spring Peas

    Top: Creative crostini. Bottom: Fresh green peas. Recipe and photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    RECIPE #2: GARLIC CROSTINI WITH SPRING PEAS & BURRATA (NEW SCHOOL)

    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 3 thick slices of country bread or sourdough
  • 1 eight-ounce burrata
  • ½ pound English Peas, shelled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 12-14 castelvetrano olives, pitted and roughly chopped (substitute other green olives)
  • ¼ cup parsley or mint, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the whey from the burrata in a colander lined with a paper towel. Don’t pierce the skin of the burrata.

    2. TOAST the bread until golden brown—even with a bit of char around the edges. Rub the tops with the cut side of the garlic and drizzle with olive oil.

    3. USE clean hands (instead of slicing) to carefully divide the burrata among the three pieces of toast, including all the creamy drippings. Divide the peas, olives and herbs among the slices.

    4. FINISH with a hearty drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut in half or allow each dinner to do so.
     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD

    Check them out in our Bread Glossary.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Spreads, Cheese Condiments

    Fig Spread With Cheese

    Bonne Maman Fig Spread

    Top: Crostini with Brie, Serrano ham and Fig Spread (photo courtesy Favor The Moments). Bottom: Enjoy trying the different spreads with different cheeses (photo courtesy Bonne Maman).

     

    What’s a cheese condiment? What’s a cheese spread? you may ask. Here’s the food nerd explanation:

  • Cheese spread is one of the sweet cheese condiments.
  • A condiment is an auxiliary food product that adds flavor to another food.
  • “Condiment” is first found in print in French around 1420, and derives from the Latin condimentum, spice.
  • Mankind has been enjoying condiments for much longer, even before the dukkah of ancient Egypt the ancient Romans’ beloved fish sauce, garum.
  •  
    Chutney, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish are examples of condiments that enhance burgers and franks. Although you may not think of them as such, fudge sauce, marshmallow cream and whipped cream are ice cream condiments.

    Given America’s growing familiarity with fine cheeses, here’s an…

    INTRODUCTION TO CHEESE CONDIMENTS

    What is the difference between a mostarda and a mustard? Why would you put honey on cheese? Can you use the same condiments on a log of fresh goat cheese and an aged Gouda?

    Cheeses are wonderful on their own, but cheese condiments can bring out their nuances. Similar to wine pairings, the flavor and age of the cheese are taken into account when deciding on pairings.

    We have an elaborate chart of cheese condiment pairings, from aged balsamic and mustard to sweet condiments such as chutney, honey and preserves.

    Cheeses served with sweet condiments make delicious appetizers, desserts and snacks.

    Take a look at the newest cheese condiments in town: three fruit spreads from premium jam, jelly and preserves company, Bonne Maman. They are all natural, non-GMO and certified kosher by OU.

     
    MEET THE NEW CHEESE SPREADS FROM BONNE MAMAN

    First, a word about “spreads.”

    There are different types of fruit spreads, including chutney, jam, jelly, preserve and others.

    Aside from the jam and jelly group, some people hear “cheese spread” and think of like Port Wine Cheddar. Not here.

    As regards jam, in the U.S., “fruit spread” is generally a reduced-calorie product, replacing all or part of the sugar with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners. Not the case with Bonne Maman.

    The new spreads from Bonne Mamam are very thick and concentrated preserves that don’t run or dribble: They stand firm, enabling you to use them in more ways. The flavor, too, is more intense—glorious, in fact. It was all we could do not to eat them directly from the jar. (Well, maybe we did.)

    The best pairings are the ones you like. We’ve made some suggestions, but let your palate be your guide.

     

    Black Cherry Spread Cheese Pairings

    Tart cherries pair well with both sharp and creamy cheeses. We pair it with goat cheese, Brie and Camenbert.
     
    Purple Fig Spread Cheese Pairings

    This one is easy: Fig pairs well with all types of cheese.
     
    Quince Spread Cheese Pairings

    For centuries, membrillo, quince paste, has been the classic condiment for aged Spanish cheeses. Cabrales and Manchego are most often found in the U.S., but your cheesemonger may also have Idiazabal, Roncal, Zamorano and others. Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, with nuances similar to Manchego, pairs well; so does aged provolone. The nutty Swiss mountain cheeses are also a match: Appenzeller, Emmental (with the big holes called eyes), Gruyère* and French Comté.
     
    NEXT STEPS

    Plan a cheese tasting with fruit spreads and other condiments. Your family and friends will love it!

    As of this writing, you can download a $2 coupon on the Bonne Maman website.
     
    PARTY FAVORS

    Looking for small Mother’s Day gifts or party favors? Jet.com is currently selling a six-pack with free shipping.

    The spreads are also available at retailers nationwide.

     

    Quince Spread

    Bonne Maman Purple Fig Cheese Spread

    Top: Quince Spread atop a pyramid-shaped cheese (photo courtesy Taylor Takes A Taste). Bottom: A jar of Purple Fig Spread (photo courtesy Jet.com).

     
    ______________________________
    *Switzerland has produced Gruyère for hundreds of years, but after an appeal to the EU, France was also allowed to use the name. French Gruyère must be made with tiny eyes—“between the size of a pea and a cherry”—to distinguish it from the original.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Create A New Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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    Grilled Cheese Benedict

    Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

    Hot Fudge Grilled Cheese

    Top: The first contest winner, “Bewitching,” with arugula, bacon, blackberries, spinach and two cheeses. Second: Grilled Cheese Benedict with Canadian bacon, poached egg, spinach and Gouda on an English Muffin; both from The Grilled Cheese Academy. Third: Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese from QVC’s Chef David Venable. Bottom: The Lisa Marie, Elvis’ favored fried PB & banana sandwich with bacon, cheese and hot fudge, from The Grilled Cheese Academy.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month, with National Grilled Cheese Day celebrated on April 2nd.

    Use the occasion to try some luscious new grilled cheese recipes. We have a lot of them on TheNibble.com, along with tips for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich:

  • With Pork: Bacon & Blue Cheese, Ham, Brie & Blue Cheese, Ham & Cheese With Caramelized Onions
  • With Herbs & Spices: South Of The Border, Tuscan Style
  • With A Sweet Touch: Bananas Foster, Brie, Strawberries & Balsamic, Dulce De Leche and Jam On Raisin Bread, Mascarpone & Dulce De Leche With Fresh Raspberries, The Lisa Marie—Bacon, Peanut Butter, Banana & Hot Fudge, Turkey & Fontina With Honey & Dried Cherries
  • With A Twist: Grilled Cheese Benedict With Poached Egg On An English Muffin, Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese, Turkey & Brussels Sprouts With Lemon Aïoli
  • Festive: Beer Battered With Bacon, Buffalo Chicken, Lobster Grilled Cheese
  •  
    We even have a trompe-l’oeil grilled cheese: Grilled Pound Cake & Frosting that looks like grilled cheese.

    And you must take a look at Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt, made with American cheese and a layer of fried mozzarella sticks.
     
    THE GRILLED CHEESE ACADEMY & RECIPE CONTEST

    The Grilled Cheese Academy.com, a website from EatWisconsinCheese.com, is a treasure trove for lovers of grilled cheese.

    Since 2012, they’ve sponsored an annual Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown. All the winners and runners up are posted on the website, along with a myriad of fetching grilled cheese sandwiches developed by the Academy.

    You can enter the contest (by May 15th) and download e-books of each year’s winners. In case you need some encouragement, the top prize is $15,000.
     
    THE FIRST WINNER

    This beauty (top photo), called BEWITCHING, took the top prize in the first Showdown. It was created by Ally Phillips of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

    Ally’s bewitching concoction layers fresh blackberries, peppery greens, crispy fried bacon and molten Wisconsin Gouda and Provolone.
     
    RECIPE: BEWITCHING BLACKBERRY GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 2 Sandwiches

  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 4 slices quality white bread
  • 4-6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Cooking spray to coat skillet
  • 20-24 fresh blackberries, divided
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese, cut to fit bread
  • 2 slices Gouda cheese, cut to fit bread
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the arugula and spinach in small bowl; set aside. Trim the crust from 3 sides of the bread slices, leaving the curved top crust attached. Butter the bread slices on one sides.

    2. COAT the skillet (preferably cast iron) heavily with cooking spray and then heat it. Place 2 slices of bread, buttered-side down, in the skillet; there should be a slight sizzle. Place 5-6 blackberries in the center of each bread slice.

    3. TOP the berries with a slice of Provolone. Add another handful of berries and top with Gouda for the second layer. Place 3 strips of bacon on each sandwich and place a bread slice on top, buttered-side up.

     
    4. MELD and compact the sandwich, using a spatula to press firmly. Grill 2-3 minutes until the bottom is browned; flip and grill another 2 minutes or until the cheese is melting.

    5. REMOVE the sandwiches to plates. Carefully pull back the top slices and spread the arugula and spinach mixture on top of the bacon. Replace the top, pressing down, and then flip the sandwich so the greens are on the bottom.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Burrata Salad For Spring

    Admission: We are addicted to burrata, a filled ball of mozzarella. When we discovered it 20 years ago, it was only carried by a few U.S. cheese shops, in cities with direct flights from Italy, its place of origin.

    Today, America’s cheese makers are turning out their own burrata: just as creamy, milky and delicious as the imports. You don’t have to hunt for it, either: It’s at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets!

    Cheesemakers from coast to coast are delivering their burrata to stores and restaurants. Burrata is made by (among others) Belfiore, DiStefano and Gioia in California; Maplebrook Farm in Vermont; Lioni Latticini in Brooklyn; and the retailer DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia. In the middle of the country is Belgioioso Cheese of Wisconsin, possibly the largest domestic producer of burrata.

    It is also made by restaurant chefs. One has provided a recipe is below).

    One of the more popular ways to enjoy burrata is in the center of a green salad, with crusty garlic toast. We can eat the whole burrata on salad for lunch.

    RECIPE: SPRING BURRATA SALAD

    This Burrata Salad from Good Eggs in San Francisco is oh-so-delicious. It takes just 5 minutes active time, 10 minutes total time.

    Ingredients For 1-2 Servings

  • 8 ounces burrata cheese
  • 1 cup of basil, chives, parsley or a mixture
  • 3 cups of baby greens
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced thinly into half-moons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 slices of sourdough bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  •    

    Burrata Salad  Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/burrata spring salad goodeggs 230r

    Top: A popular Italian burrata salad with frisée, radicchio and prosciutto, at David Burke Fromagerie. Bottom: Spring salad at Good Eggs.

     
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the burrata in a colander lined with a paper towel—you don’t want to pierce the skin of the burrata, but you do want any extra whey (the watery stuff) to drain off. While it drains…

    2. TOAST the sourdough bread until golden brown. Rub the finished toasts with a halved garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.

    3. FILL a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Add the herbs, radish and greens and toss with the dressing.

    4. SLICE or tear the burrata into large chunks over the top of the greens. Serve with the garlic toast and a peppermill for freshly-ground black pepper.
     
    Springtime Variations

    Add or substitute other spring:

  • Asparagus
  • Cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, nettles
  • Chives, garlic scapes, ramps
  • Fennel, radicchio
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Pea greens, peas, pea pods, snow peas
  •  
    We love the combined flavors of tomato and burrata. When vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t in season, use cherry or grape tomatoes, sundries tomatoes or roasted red pepper (pimento).

    Lovers of Caprese Salad can add some fresh basil.

     

    Burrata Salad

    Burrata Dessert

    Top: from Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City. Bottom: Peaches with burrata, honey and pistachio nuts from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. Here’s the recipe.

     

    BURRATA FOR DESSERT

    You can also serve burrata for the cheese course or for dessert. Add spring fruits: blackberries, black mission figs, lychees and strawberries.

    Drizzle with honey and garnish with pistachios or other favorite nut(s). It’s so elegant, yet so easy to prepare.

    May we suggest including a glass of dessert wine? They often have peachy, honey notes that are a perfect pairing.
     
    WHAT IS BURRATA?

    Burrata is a “filled” mozzarella, a specialty of the Apulia region of Italy, the “heel of the boot.” The word means “buttery” in Italian.

    A hollow ball of buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) is filled with panna, cream that contains scraps of mozzarella left over from mozzarella-making. It seems like very fine-grained ricotta.

    Cut into the ball and the cream oozes out. While both buttery and creamy it is not overly rich; just overly delicious.

    Burata imported from Italy it’s traditionally wrapped in a green leaf, the fronds of an Italian plant called asphodel, in the lily family.

    The leaves are an indicator of freshness: As long as the leaves are still fresh and green, the cheese within is still fresh. Dried-out leaves mean a cheese is past its prime.

    Because it travels, the cheese also wrapped in a clear plastic bag to catch the natural liquid that drains from it.

    Here’s more about burrata cheese and the history of burrata.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE BURRATA

    If you can find mozzarella curd, you can make your own. This recipe is from Chef Todd Andrews of restaurant Anella.
     
    Ingredients For An 8-Ounce Ball

  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella curd
  • 1 cup cream
  •  
    Preparation

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s one of several burrata videos on YouTube.

    1, CUT the mozzarella curd in half, setting one half aside. Grate the other half with a cheese grater into a bowl and mix well with the cream until smooth, creamy and completely incorporated. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Place the filling in the fridge until ready to use.

    2. HEAT a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, turn the heat off and wait five minutes. When water is just cool enough to be able to touch with your bare hands, drop the remaining half of mozzarella curd into the water. Remove with tongs after about five minutes, and press flat against one hand with the other hand.

    3. TAKE the mozzarella in both hands and stretch it across one hand until even. With an ice cream scoop, scoop a heaping amount of the filling into the center of the cheese. Stretch the cheese around the filling, pulling it toward the center of the filling until completely stuffed. It’s ready to serve!

    4. SERVE with extra virgin olive oil and fresh pepper.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Caraway Cheese Spread With A Caraway Stout Cocktail

    Caraway seed, from a member of the carrot family*, is a popular seasoning in Irish cuisine. Here’s a great way to start St. Patrick’s Day dinner: with Caraway Cheese Spread and a Caraway Stout Cocktail.

    RECIPE: CARAWAY CHEESE SPREAD

    This cheese spread from McCormick is so easy to prepare—it takes just five minutes when you start with a prepared Cheddar cheese spread. Make it ahead of time, refrigerate, and let it warm up on the counter for a few minutes prior to serving.
     
    Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups (10 Servings)

  • 1 container (12 ounces) Cheddar cheese spread, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons minced onions
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s® Seasoned Salt (or substitute†)
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crudités
  • Crackers
  • Baguette slices
  •    

    Cheese Spread

    Caraway Cheese Spread from McCormick. You can make it in 5 minutes.

     
    ____________________
    *Apiaceae, commonly known as the carrot, celery or parsley family, is a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems.

    †Here’s how to blend your own seasoned salt.

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX the cheese spread and seasonings in medium bowl. Cover.

    2. REFRIGERATE at least 2 hours to blend flavors.

     

    Stout Cocktail

    Caraway Stout Cocktail from McCormick: stout plus Irish whiskey!

     

    RECIPE: CARAWAY STOUT COCKTAIL

    Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this cocktail that features Irish whiskey, Guinness Extra Stout and licorice flavor notes from caraway seeds. It uses homemade caraway simple syrup—easy to make in 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

     
    For The Caraway Simple Syrup (Enough For 6 Cocktails)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed, coarsely crushed‡
  •  
    For The Caraway Stout Cocktail

  • 2 tablespoons caraway simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout or substitute, chilled
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Coarsely crush the caraway seeds (see footnote†). Bring the sugar, water and caraway seeds to boil in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand 1 hour. Strain the caraway seeds and refrigerate the syrup until ready to serve.

    2. MIX the cocktails: Combine the caraway simple syrup and the whiskey in tall glass. Pour the beer into glass. Serve immediately.

     
    ____________________
    ‡How to crush caraway seeds: Coarsely crush seeds with a mortar and pestle. Or, place seeds in a small resealable plastic bag. Close tightly. Pound with a rolling pin, mallet or heavy skillet until coarsely crushed.

      

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    RECIPES: It’s Cherry Time!

    Fresh cherry season begins in May; but today is George Washington’s Birthday, a traditional occasion for cherry pie and other cherry recipes.

    We started the day with a Cherry Yogurt Parfait. Chobani, Dannon and Yoplait, among others, sell cherry-flavored yogurt; but one can easily make a more festive yogurt parfait. And we did! We prefer our parfait to a cup of cherry yogurt.

    RECIPE: SUPER-EASY CHERRY YOGURT PARFAIT

    Ingredients

  • Yogurt brand of choice, in plain or vanilla; if you can find cherry yogurt, great
  • Cherries: fresh in season, frozen in the off-season
  • Optional: dried cherries (alone or in combination)
  •  
    What about canned or jarred cherries or cherry pie filling?

    You can mix cherries in water or light syrup into plain yogurt, but sweet, gloppy pie filling is over the top.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the yogurt and cherries in a mixing bowl, in your preferred proportions. Reserve a few cherries as a topping for the parfait. Stir to combine.

    2. SCOOP into a dessert dish, parfait dish, Martini glass or other festive vessel. Garnish with the reserved cherries and serve.
     
    HOW TO ENJOY YOUR CHERRY YOGURT PARFAIT

  • In the “normal” way—as a yogurt parfait.
  • Atop dry cereal (we eliminate the milk, and enjoy the cereal at its crunchy best).
  • As a topping for pancakes or waffles.
  • As a garnish for fruit salad.
  • Spooned over pound cake or angel food cake.
  • Atop frozen yogurt.
  •  
    DON’T WANT CHERRY YOGURT?

    Pick up some Welch’s Fruit & Yogurt Snacks in the new Cherry flavor.

     

    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt - Cherry

    Top: Make a Cherry Yogurt Parfait like this one from ChooseCherries.com. Bottom: Want something that’s grab-and-go? Have fun with these yogurt-covered cherry snacks from Welch’s.

     
    Small, round and chewy, they are, alas, addictive. There’s more information on the Welch’s Fruit Snacks website.

      

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