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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of Deviled Eggs

November 2nd is National Deviled Egg Day.

Deviled eggs took off as picnic and cocktail party fare after the second World War. But their roots date back to ancient Rome.

The cooks of wealthy Romans boiled eggs, seasoned them with spicy sauces and served them as a first course (known as gustatio).

Serving these deviled eggs to guests was so common that it featured in a Roman saying, “ab ova usque ad mala,” literally from eggs to apples (indicating from the beginning of a meal to the end), or what we might call “from A to Z.”

The culinary record is relatively quiet until the 13th century, when stuffed egg recipes begin to appear in Andalusia, the south of Spain. The yolks of boiled eggs are mixed with with cilantro, onion juice, pepper and coriander, fish sauce, oil and salt. After the mixture was stuffed into the egg whites, the two halves were fastened together with a small stick and seasoned with pepper.

By the 15th century, stuffed eggs were found throughout Europe. One medieval recipe filled therm with raisins, cheese, marjoram, parsley and mint. They were then fried in oil and topped with a sauce of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, raisins and verjuice, or dusted with sugar. Both executions were served hot.

The first known printed mention of “devil” as a culinary term appeared in Great Britain in 1786. It referred to dishes that contained hot and spicy ingredients (like paprika), or those that were highly seasoned and broiled or fried.

By 1800, deviling had become a verb to describe the process of making food spicy. Deviled eggs were seasoned with chiles, horseradish, mustard, paprika and spicy sauce.

So all deviled eggs are stuffed eggs, but only stuffed eggs with hot spice are deviled eggs.



Deviled Eggs With Smoked Okra

TOP PHOTO: A book of deviled egg recipes. Get yours at BOTTOM PHOTO: Deviled eggs with smoked okra (recipe). Photo courtesy Rick’s Picks.


Nonspicy versions were called dressed eggs, mimosa eggs, salad eggs or stuffed eggs.

In the United States, stuffed eggs began making an appearance in cookbooks by the mid-19th century.


Deviled Eggs With Salmon Caviar

TOP PHOTO: Deviled eggs topped with
salmon caviar. Photo courtesy Red-



A recipe from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook was one of the first to use mayonnaise as a binder for the filling of stuffed eggs.

While mayonnaise began to be distributed commercially in the U.S. in 1907, the condiment was not commonly featured in deviled egg recipes until the 1940s. The classic version of deviled eggs established then mixed the yolks with mayonnaise, mustard and paprika.

In more recent times, cooks have reworked the classic with modern ingredients, from beets, chutney and smoked okra to luxury ingredients like caviar, crab and smoked salmon to international influences like kimchi, sriracha and wasabi.

  • Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Eggs (recipe)
  • Barbecue Deviled Eggs (recipe)
  • Curried Deviled Eggs (recipe)
  • Halloween Eyeball Deviled Eggs (recipe)
  • Sweet Pea Deviled Eggs For Spring (recipe)
  • Valentine Deviled Eggs With Beets (recipe)
    This recipe was adapted from



    HALLOWEEN: Jack o’ Lantern Nacho Cheese Ball Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cheese ball cookingchannelTV 230sq


    Make a Halloween cheese ball. TOP PHOTO courtesy The Cooking Channel BOTTOM PHOTO courtesy Snackworks.


    It’s easy to make a cheese ball: combine room temperature cream cheese with other ingredients in a bowl or mixer and blend; then form into a ball and coat with shredded cheese or seasonings.

    This recipe has Mexican seasonings, but you can make any cheese ball recipe you like.

    TIP: It is better to shred your own Cheddar, as tempting as it might be to buy pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded has a different texture, from the additives used to keep the shreds from sticking together in the bag.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, chilling time is 2 hours.



  • 2 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons minced onions
  • 2 tablespoons prepared salsa (any kind)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno (without seeds, unless you want it spicy, then include the seeds)
  • 12 orange colored corn chips or Ritz crackers*, crushed
  • 1 stem of a green bell pepper or a celery stalk for the pumpkin stem
  • Blue corn chips or black bean chips, crackers for serving
    *Whichever you use, you’ll have the rest of the bag or box to serve with the cheese ball.



    1. CRUSH the corn chips in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the cream cheese, Cheddar, onions, salsa, cumin and jalapeño into the bowl of a mixer and blend thoroughly. Form into a pumpkin-like shape and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. You may find it neater to put the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, and form the ball from the outside of the plastic.

    3. BEFORE serving, roll the cheese ball in the crushed corn chips. Arrange the cheese ball on a plate, and press the bell pepper stem or celery stalk into the top.

    4. MAKE a jack o’ lantern face, if desired, with pieces of break off pieces of blue corn chips/black bean chips to form a jack o’ lantern face. The chip pieces should adhere to the pumpkin cheese ball if you gently press them onto it, but you can also glue them on using a small dab of the plain yogurt or sour cream.


    Halloween Jack O Lantern Glowing Pumpkin. FOR DAILY TRAVEL DO NOT USE

    The inspiration: a jack o’ lantern. Photo courtesy PlayBuzz.

    5. SERVE the cheese ball with black bean chips, crackers and spreading knives.

    Pumpkins carved into jack o’ lanterns are an Irish-American tradition. But for centuries before any Irish immigration, jack o’ lanterns were carved from beets, potatoes and turnips and placed in windows of homes in what is now Great Britain, to ward off evil spirits on Halloween.

    The jack o’ lantern is named after Stingy Jack, a fellow of Irish myth. He invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but was too cheap to pay even for his own drink.

    So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin, which Jack would use to buy their refreshments.

    Jack was not only stingy; he was a cheat. Once the Devil had turned himself into a coin, Jack simply pocketed it. No drinks were had that evening, but Jack was one coin richer. Clever Jack had placed the coin next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

    Jack eventually freed the Devil, under conditions including that, after Jack died, the Devil would not claim his soul.

    When Jack died, however, God would not allow his disreputable soul into heaven. Jack then tried to get into hell. The Devil, who had previously committed not to claim Jack’s soul, would not let him in.

    But the Devil was kind enough to send Jack off into the dark with a burning coal to light his way. To carry it, Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip. The spirit of “Jack of the Lantern,” subsequently shortened to “Jack O’ Lantern” (and evolving to the lower case jack o’lantern) has been roaming the Earth ever since.

    In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into potatoes and turnips, and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets were used.

    Immigrants brought the jack o’ lantern tradition to the U.S., where they discovered that the native pumpkin made the biggest, scariest and best jack-o’-lanterns.



    RECIPE: Fried Feta Cheese With Olives

    Fried Feta Cheese

    Warm, crispy cubes of feta cheese, with a
    side of spicy marinated olives. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.


    We really enjoyed this dish last night, served with beer and hard cider. Four of us polished off the 18 pieces of cheese and the spicy olives in 10 minutes, and we look forward to making it again.

    The recipe was sent to us by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Find many great cheese recipes at


    Ingredients For 18 Pieces
    For The Fried Feta

  • 1 8-ounce block feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Grapeseed oil or canola oil, for frying
  • Sea salt
    For The Olives

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup mixed olives
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

    1. HALVE the feta horizontally to create two 1/2-inch-thick blocks (or as many as can be cut from your piece). Cut each block roughly into 1-inch cubes to yield about 18 pieces total.

    2. WHISK the egg with the flour and water in shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow, rimmed dish. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the feta cubes in the egg mixture, coat with the breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Refrigerate while preparing the olives.

    3. HEAT the olive oil on low in a medium sauté pan. Add the garlic, orange zest and fennel. Sauté for 2 minutes, taking care not to the brown garlic. Add the olives and pepper flakes; toss to coat. Sauté for 1 minute. Transfer the olives to a serving bowl. Wipe the pan with a paper towel.

    4. REMOVE the feta from the refrigerator. Pour a thin layer of oil in the bottom of the same sauté pan and heat over medium until hot. Test by adding a few breadcrumbs to pan; they should sizzle. Gently place 8 to 10 feta cubes in the pan. When the cubes begin to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, use a fork to turn each cube to brown the other side. Continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes.

    5. REMOVE the cubes with a spatula; place on a seving plate. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining feta cubes, adding additional oil if necessary. Serve immediately with the olives.



    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.
    *Here are other Greek cheeses.


    Feta & Olives

    Quality feta cheese is never over-salted. Photo courtesy


    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.

    We don’t know what we’d do without our olive pit “ashtray.” It makes the ugly olive pits disappear. We got it at the Museum of Modern Art decades ago, and can’t find anything like it online.

    But we did find this one and this one, made from ceramic. It’s great gift for the olive lover who entertains.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Skillet Fondue

    Skillet Fondue

    Skillet fondue is easy and fun. Photo
    courtesy La Brea Bakery.


    Skillet fondue enables you to serve a warm, gooey cheese treat very easily, for brunch, lunch, a dinner first course or snacking. It’s also a good way to use up smaller pieces of cheese leftover from a cheese tray. We cribbed the idea from La Brea Bakery; this photo appeared in an ad celebrating the bakery’s 25th anniversary.

    Skillet fondue requires no fondue pot, although if you have a hot plate or warming tray, or the base of a fondue set with a heat source, you can use it to both raise the hot skillet from the table and keep the cheese warm.

    This isn’t a fondue in the classic sense, where melted cheese is blended with white wine, lemon juice and garlic. It’s mostly cheese melted in a skillet, although you add seasonings of choice, and can top the melted cheese with all sorts of goodies instead of using the goodies as dippers.

    We made this recipe in a broiler, although you can as easily use the oven. We used a cast iron skillet for “atmosphere”; you can use anything heatproof with a handle.

    We happened to have Cheddar and Gruyère on hand. You can use whatever melting cheeses you have, including any of the Swiss cheeses, the Hispanic melting cheeses, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti and others. Don’t hesitate to blend multiple cheeses.

    While regular fondue uses cubes of day-old bread speared with fondue forks, skillet fondue uses crostini, toasted baguette slices, which we sliced and toasted in the oven (or you can grill them). Instead of dipping and swirling cubes with a fondue fork, you scoop up the cheese with crostini. If you’re short on bread, you can use crackers.



  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried sage or savory)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (flavored oil is O.K.)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste (or substitute red chili flakes for the pepper)
  • Toppings: apple or fig slices, dates, grapes, cornichons, piquillo chiles, cubed ham, sliced sausage, raw or cooked veggies (bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, sliced boiled or roasted potatoes, zucchini or whatever you have
  • Crostini


    1. TOAST the baguette slices. To toast in the oven, preheat it to 400°F. Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crostini are crisp and browned. Let cool.

    2. REMOVE any rind and dice the cheese. Prepare the toppings and place them on the table in individual ramekins or bowls. (Instead, you can place some of each on individual dinner plates for each diner.) Preheat the broiler.

    3. PLACE the cheese in an even layer in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Scatter with the herbs plus salt and pepper to taste; drizzle with olive oil.

    4. PLACE under the broiler, ideally five inches from the heating element, for 5-6 minutes. The cheese should be melted, bubbling and starting to brown. Remove with silicone pot holders or oven mitts, onto a brazier on the table (or other heat-resistant base).


    La Brea Loaves

    Three of the loaves you may find at your supermarket. Photo courtesy La Brea Bakery.

    5. SERVE immediately, passing the toppings (an old-fashioned lazy susan or any type of kitchen turntable is great here).
    The History Of Cheese Fondue

    The history of fondue and a classic cheese fondue recipe

    28 Fondue Recipes


    Twenty-five years ago, Los Angeles was a bread wasteland. When Nancy Silverton and her then-husband Mark Peel were preparing to open their restaurant, Campanile, they found a location with room to open a bakery next door, to make their own sourdough bread.

    The bread became a sensation, and retail loaves sold out early each day.

    In 2001 the bakery was acquired by an investment group, enabling expansion throughout Southern California; and now, to quality food stores nationwide.

    Is there La Brea sourdough near you? Check out the store locator on the company’s website.



    TIP OF THE DAY: European Style Butter From Land O’ Lakes

    We grew up with a mom who had a wicked palate, and if she was brand loyal, you knew that brand was the best in its category. Mom only used Land O’Lakes butter; in fact, that’s how we came to know, at the tender age of five, that Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

    Mom was a great baker as well as cook, and she’d have loved the new Land O’Lakes European Style Butter, now available in select markets across the country (check out Kroger, Safeway, Super Target and Walmart). The suggested retail price is $3.79 for a half-pound package of two individually wrapped sticks, in both salted and unsalted varieties.

    We have long used Plugrá, an American brand made in the European style, and Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, which, as an import, is even pricier ($4.98 for a half-pound at our specialty food store). Both have 82% milkfat. We love the extra flavor they give to pastries, pie crusts and laminated dough, such as croissants; in fact, you can definitely taste the difference in a buttery croissant. Heavenly!

    Professional bakers who make artisan products have long used European-style butter, purchased in bulk. American consumers could find Kerrygold and Plugrá in some specialty food stores; and to a lesser extent, the 86% fat European-style butters from Straus Family Creamery of California and Vermont Creamery.

    But now, with Land O’ Lakes’ national distribution, European-style butter is available to most people—just in time for the holiday baking frenzy. It also enhances butter-based sauces.

    Note, though, that Land O’ Lakes’ and Kerrygold’s 82% butter still give the advantage to the 86% varieties from Straus Family Creamery and Vermont Creamery, if you want to pay for the best.

    Beyond baking and cooking, you can use European-style butter as a bread spread on artisan bread. As an indulgence for bread and butter lovers, there’s nothing better than Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter Blended with Sea Salt & Maple spread on a slice of fine baguette.


    Land O Lakes European Style Butter

    Linguine With Lobster

    TOP PHOTO: The new butter in town is even richer and creamier than regular butter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Yum: Linguine and lobster in a butter sauce. The recipe is below. Photos courtesy Land O’ Lakes.

    U.S. butter consumption has been steadily on the rise, and—counter-intuitive to the healthier foods movement— have embraced higher-fat butters as well. The American Butter Institute reports that per-capita consumption in 2014 was 5.6 pounds, a 40-year high. According to Mintel, younger consumers (between ages 18-34) are also using more butter annually.

    European-style butter, also called cultured butter, is slow churned for a longer time to give it an extra-creamy texture, lower moisture content and higher milkfat (butterfat) content. In the case of Land O’ Lakes, the brand’s conventional 80% milkfat is increased to 82%.

    In the U.S., butter with more than 82% milkfat is considered European-style. While European-style super premium butters comprise only about 1% of the entire U.S. market volume, the category is growing.

    Churning for a longer time decreases the moisture content and increases the fat content. It allows more flavor to develop in the cream. Butter with less fat contains more water, which can act as an unwelcome binding agent, gluing down layers of dough to create a tougher pastry. More fat, less moisture is better for baking, especially for crusts, flaky pastries and laminated dough like croissants. It also adds more flavor and texture to sauces.

    Why isn’t all American butter made in the richer European-style? It’s more expensive to take the time to churn out the moisture to create a higher-fat butter. The USDA says that butter must have a minimum of 80% milkfat, so that’s what most brands provide.

    For more information, visit

    European-style butter is just one type of butter. See our butter glossary for the different types of butter.


    Nothing shows off the quality of butter better than shortbread. This recipe from Land O’ Lakes makes shortbreadeven richer, with a buttery topping. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 2 hours.

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

    For The Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup European Style Butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    For The Topping

  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons European Style Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Optional: powdered sugar for garnish

    Gooey Butter Shortbread

    Make this gooey butter shortbread with European-style butter. Photo courtesy Land O’ Lakes.



    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE all the crust ingredients in a bowl and beat at medium speed just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

    3. MAKE the topping: Combine the water, corn syrup and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. Place the tablespoons butter, sugar and salt in bowl and beat until well combined. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Add the flour alternately with the corn syrup mixture, beating until well mixed after each addition.

    4. SPREAD the topping evenly over the shortbread crust. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.


    Here’s another yummy recipe from Land O’ Lakes. It’s National Pasta Month, so treat yourself. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 ounces linguine pasta, cooked al dente, drained but not rinsed
  • 1/4 cup European Style Butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped leek
  • 1/2 cup low sodium or unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur*
  • 8 ounces lobster meat, cut into 2-inch pieces (substitute 8 ounces large raw, peeled shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional garnish: copped fresh parsley

    1. MELT the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Add the leek and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and Pernod; cook 1 minute or until there is bubbling around the edges.

    2. ADD the lobster pieces; cook 3-4 minutes or until the lobster turns pink. Remove the lobster from sauce and cover to keep warm. Continue cooking the sauce another 4-5 minutes until the sauce is reduced to about 3/4 cup.

    3. STIR in the cream and salt. Add the pasta; toss lightly to coat. Cook 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Place the pasta onto a serving dish; top with the lobster. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
    *If you don’t have Pernod, you can substitute absinthe or Herbsaint. Don’t substitute anise liqueur in this recipe—it’s too sweet for a savory dish. However, you can make a close-enough substitute with anise: Combine 1 tablespoon of anise seeds, ideally toasted in a dry pan for a 2 minutes, with 1 cup of vodka in an airtight jar. Let it infuse for a week in a dark place. If you don’t have the time, simmer the seeds in the vodka for 20 minutes strain them out.


    Where would we be without butter? Here’s the history of butter, which dates back to 2,000 years before Christ in the written record.

    Land O’Lakes, Inc. is a dairy cooperative based in Minnesota, focusing on the dairy industry. The third largest co-op in the U.S., it is one of the largest producers of butter and cheese in the country, and handles 12 billion pounds of milk annually.

    In addition to milk and butter products, it also markets Alpine Lace cheese and Kozy Shack pudding, among other products.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Labneh, Lebanese Yogurt Cheese


    The trick to plating labneh or yogurt dip: Use a shallow bowl or a plate and add the labneh. You can make a depression in the middle with a soup spoon and fill it with extra virgin olive oil, or drizzle the olive oil on top and around the edges. Then, sprinkle the entire surface with herbs and spices: chopped fresh mint leaves or thyme, paprika, sumac or za’atar. You can also garnish with Kalamata olives, ideally pitted.


    If you made the farmer cheese recipe we published last weekend, you probably had a lot of fun. So here’s cheese-making, part 2: Make labneh today, enjoy it this weekend.

    Prep time is just five minutes, plus 1-2 days to let the cheese drain. All you do is place Greek yogurt in a sieve (strainer or colander) lined with cheesecloth or paper towels, place the sieve over a bowl in the fridge and let the moisture (the whey) drain out.

    Once the whey is removed, the firm solids that remain (the curds) are called cheese. This is common to all cheese making, from fresh cheeses like cottage cheesed to aged cheeses, where the curds are pressed into a mold to age.

    Bonus: Labneh is low in calories, 40 per ounce when made with whole milk yogurt. And since the yogurt is not heated after incubation, the active yogurt cultures remain live.


    Labneh or labne (pronounced LOB-neh or LOB-nay) is a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S. Thicker than Greek yogurt, it’s considered the Lebanese version of cream cheese.

    Labneh is packed with live cultures (beneficial bacteria), calcium and protein. It isn’t made with vegetable gum and shaped into a brick like American cream cheese. Rather, it’s sold in a container the size of a large yogurt.

    A mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East, labneh is available in grocery stores here. But since it’s so easy to make, why not have the fun of making your own?


  • Bread spread. Plain or mixed with spices or herbs and a pinch of salt, labneh is delicious on bagels and toast. In the Middle East, the protein-rich spread is enjoyed for breakfast with pita. It’s especially good with whole wheat and multigrain breads and crusty rustic loaves. For a sweet take, drizzle honey over the labneh (we love it on toasted raisin bread), or first spread the bread with jam. For more protein, garnish with chopped walnuts. Labneh can also be used as a bread spread at dinner.
  • Dip. Season with chopped basil, garlic powder, green onion, mint, oregano and/or thyme. Add salt to taste and stir in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Garnished with coarsely chopped walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil and more herbs. You can also mix finely-chopped walnuts into the yogurt for more texture and flavor. Serve with crudités, toasted pita wedges, pita chips or crackers.
  • Vegetable garnish. Top sautéed greens or other veggies with labneh, a drizzle of olive oil, and za’atar (a mix of spices you already have) or sumac (ditto for a sumac substitute—see below).
  • Ingredient. Use labneh in cakes, frostings and other recipes instead of yogurt or fat-laden mascarpone or sour cream.
  • Side or condiment. Serve it topped with chopped fresh mint as a side to roast lamb or pork, lamb chops or pork chops, grilled or roasted chicken.
  • Base. Use instead of cream cheese or sour cream as a base for for canapés or crostini.
  • Garnish. It’s delightful in soups and salads.


    While the recipe for labneh couldn’t be more basic, we thank Good Eggs of San Francisco for inspiring this article.

    Note that straining yogurt can reduce the volume of the yogurt by 50% or more, depending on how long you strain it (how thick the finished cheese is). Save the drained liquid (the whey). It’s filled with nutrients and we enjoy drinking it, but it can be used as a milk substitute in many ways, including mac and cheese.

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • Whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of salt

    For Serving

  • Bread, crackers, crudités
  • Fresh herbs
  • Olive oil
  • Spices

    1. MIX the salt and yogurt. Line a bowl or plate with 3 layers of cheesecloth and add the yogurt. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you just place the yogurt in a sieve/strainer or colander. At this point, you can mix in herbs and spices, or use them as garnishes to the finished cheese.

    2. GATHER the edges of the cheesecloth around the yogurt and tie them with a string. Or, place the strainer over a bowl to catch the whey, and place it in the fridge. If you don’t have space in the fridge, in the cool weather you can use a cool spot in your home to let the yogurt drain; but you’ll want to wrap it in cheesecloth.

    3. LET STRAIN for 1-2 days, or until labneh reaches the desired consistency.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/labneh making goodeggs 230

    The joy of cheese making. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    Sumac is ground from a red berry-like drupe that grows in clusters on bushes in subtropical and temperate regions. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice. (One of the species not used is the poison sumac shrub.)

    The word “sumac” comes from the old Syriac Aramaic summaq, meaning red. In Middle Eastern cuisine, the spice is used to add a tangy, lemony taste to meats and salads; and to garnish hummus and rice. The spice is also a component of the popular spice blend, za’atar, below.

    An easy substitute for sumac: lemon zest plus salt. (In salads, use lemon juice or vinegar.)

    Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends.

    Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.

    Fresh cheese is a category of unaged cheeses with a high moisture content (whey). They are typically set by adding lactic acid cultures. The cheeses can be made from any type of milk.

    Uncomplicated in flavor, fresh cheeses have a creamy, soft texture and fresh, sweet flavor. They are often used in cooking and with fruit for dessert.

    Fresh cheeses include cottage cheese, cream cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc, mascarpone, Neufchâtel, panir, ricotta, queso blanco, queso fresco and quark.

    Fresh cheeses are not made to age, and should be consumed quickly.

    Here’s more about fresh cheeses.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Noosa Yoghurt

    To start with, Noosa is yoghurt, not yogurt. That’s the Australian spelling, and appropriate for a brand that originated Down Under.

    The original Noosa is a picturesque Australian resort town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the home of golden beaches. The name Noosa comes from an Aboriginal word meaning shade or shadows, a probable reference to the tall forests behind the sunny coast.

    On a vacation to Noosa, company co-founder Koel Thomae—an Aussie ex-pat living in Colorado—came across a tub of creamy yoghurt and passionfruit purée.

    It took just one spoonful for her to decide that she must bring this celestial style of yogurt to the U.S. Back in Colorado she found a partner, fourth-generation dairy farmer Rob Graves, who milked happy, pasture-raised cows. He took one taste of the Australian yogurt and agreed with Koel. America needed Noosa.

    They began to make Noosa in small batches, from farm-fresh whole milk, local raw clover alfalfa honey and purées of the best fruits. The “Australian-style” texture is thick like Greek yogurt but oh-so-velvety, as elegant as any dessert. (Some of that texture comes from kosher bovine gelatin.)

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU, certified GMO free and made with rBGH-free milk from pastured cows.


    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Noosa Yoghurt is so silky, it’s like an elegant dessert. Photo courtesy


    The four-ounce cups, for 140 calories or so, depending on the flavor, is a wonderful bit of fruity sweetness at the end of the meal, or as a snack anytime.

    And for breakfast or lunch, well: What a treat. It’s worth seeking out.


    Noosa Yoghurt

    Some of Noosa’s luscious yoghurt flavors. Photo courtesy Noosa.


    There are 4-, 8- and 24-ounce sizes (not all flavors in all sizes):

  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Cranberry Apple
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Plain
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry Rhubarb
  • Tart Cherry
    Not all flavors are made for each season; for example, Cranberry Apple and Pumpkin—both winners—are fall flavors,

    Here’s a store locator and the main website. Scroll to the bottom of the home page for a link to print a coupon.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Emmental, The Real “Swiss Cheese”

    The U.S. is not known for its food sophistication, knowledge or accuracy. Errors surround the most popular foods. Today’s focus is one of them, “Swiss cheese.”

    There is no Swiss product called “Swiss cheese,” just as there is no “French cheese,” “Italian cheese,” and so forth. It’s a generic reference, like “French wine” or “Italian wine.” (Yes, there is Swiss wine, but you have to go there to try it. Nearly all is drunk domestically, with less than 2% exported,mainly to Germany.)

    Swiss cheese is the generic name used in the United States for several related varieties of cheese, originally made in Switzerland. Emmentaler is the cheese Americans think of as the generic Swiss cheese. While Americans believe that Swiss cheese has holes, properly known as eyes, not all kinds of Swiss cheese do.

    There are 450 known Swiss cheeses, classified into five categories: extra-hard, hard, semi-hard, semi-soft and soft. Cow’s milk is used in 99% of the cheeses produced. Examples include:

  • Extra-Hard Swiss Cheese: Sbrinz
  • Hard Swiss Cheese: Emmentaler, Gruyère/Greyerzer, Sapsago and Vacherin Fribourgeois
  • Semi-Hard Swiss Cheese: Appenzeller, Bündner Bergkäse, Mutschli, Raclette cheese, Tête de Moine, Tilsiter
  • Semi-Soft Swiss Cheese: Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Soft Swiss Cheese: Gala
    We suggest assembling examples of the five different styles—or at least, examples of the hard cheeses—for an educational “This Is Swiss Cheese!” tasting party.

    The Swiss cheese variety with the big eyes—the holes—is Emmental, also spelled Emmentaler, Emmenthal or Emmenthaler, and pronounced without the “h” (i.e., em-en-TAL, em-en-TAL-er).

    You may want to pick some up for tomorrow, National Cheeseburger Day. But today, we’ll focus on the glories of Emmental.


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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Emmentaler wheel 230

    Top photo: Don’t call it “Swiss cheese.” It’s name is Emmental. Bottom photo: Emmental is made in large wheels, 163 to 265 pounds! Top photo courtesy Bottom photo courtesy iGourmet.


    Flavorful and imposing in size, the Swiss consider Emmental to be the king of the Swiss cheeses. It takes its name from the valley of the river Emme, in the canton of Bern*, also home of Bern, the capital city of Switzerland.

    Emmental cheese production traces its origins to the 13th century. Emmentaler AOC is produced by some 200 dairies, from the fresh, raw milk of cows fed on valley grass. The milk accounts for the superior flavor of Emmenthal versus American reproductions:

    The milk from American factory cheeses (as opposed to artisan cheeses) typically comes from feedlot cows, who don’t graze and are fed commercial feed. Their milk does not have the flavor of milk from cows who graze on grass. Swiss milk is also rBgh/rBst-free, and genetically modified ingredients and any additives are forbidden.

    Around 12 liters (12.6 quarts) of milk are needed to produce one kilo (2.2 pounds) of cheese. The round wheels of cheese have a diameter of 80 to 100 centimeters (31-39 inches—that’s more than three feet wide!), and weigh in at 75 to 120 kg (163-265 pounds). Yes, they’re heavy lifting.


    The taste and texture differentiate quality Emmental from rubbery American immitations.

  • Emmental, aged for a minimum of 4 months (and up to 14 months or longer for the most prized cheeses), has a smooth, pale-yellow rind.
  • Like many Swiss mountain cheeses†, Emmental has a cooked, pressed paste (interior), which gives it a smooth, slightly springy texture—a flexible, pliant paste with a lovely deep yellow color from the use of raw milk.
  • In a well-aged Emmental, the aroma is sweet with tones of fresh-cut hay. The flavor is fruity with an intense finish.

    While other Swiss mountain cheeses have eyes, Emmental has the largest. The holes range from cherry size to walnut size.

    The eyes develop from the bacteria used in the production of Emmentaler cheese: Streptococcus thermophilis, Lactobacillus and Propionibacter shermani.

    In a late stage of cheese production, P. shermani consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other two bacteria, and releases carbon dioxide gas. This forms the bubbles that appear to be “holes” when the cheese is sliced. The cheese industry calls these holes or tunnels “eyes.” Swiss cheese without eyes is known as “blind.”



    Smoked salmon quiche with Emmental cheese. Photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.



    Emmentaler AOC is sold in different stages of maturity, for different culinary purposes and palates.

  • Classic. The nutty, mild “classic” is matured for at least 4 months. It is used for sandwiches, gratins and other recipes such as fondue, omelets and quiches. It’s an excellent melting cheese—try an Emmental grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Reserve. The distinctly spicy “réserve” is matured for at least 8 months. It develops deeper flavors, for those who want a more nuanced table cheese.
  • Cave-Matured. The very aromatic “cave-matured” Emmental is matured for a minimum of one year. It is the finest table cheese, delivering all the sensory components of a great Emmental.
    Be sure you are buying Swiss Emmental. Although it is an AOC cheese, originally, the denomination “Emmental” was not protected. Thus, there are French Emmentals, Bavarian Emmentals, even Finnish Emmentals.


    The original starter culture for Emmental was brought from Switzerland to Wisconsin in the 1850s, by immigrant Swiss cheesemakers, who recreated the cheese from their homeland. The American version of Emmentaler became known as “Swiss” cheese by the locals—perhaps because “Swiss” was easier to say than “Emmental.”


    *A canton is analogous to an American state. There are 26 cantons in Switzerland.

    †Also called Alpine cheeses, the term “mountain cheeses” refers to large, firm wheels made in the Swiss mountains (the Alps). These wheels are well-aged and full-flavored, often sprinkled with holes (some quite small). Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Hoch Ybrig, Raclette (four different cheeses), Sbrinz, Stanser Fladä, Tête de Moine and Vacherin Fribourgeois are examples. Mountain cheeses are not restricted to Switzerland, but to any mountains. Here’s more about mountain cheese.



    RECIPE: Lyonnaise Salad With Bacon & Eggs

    You may know Lyonnaise potatoes, sliced pan-fried potatoes and thinly sliced onions, sautéed in butter with parsley; Rosette de Lyon, a cured rosy saucisson (French pork sausage); and Lyonnaise sauce, a brown sauce for roasted or grilled meat and poultry, made with white wine, vinegar and onions.

    Some of our favorites from the area include as coq au vin and quenelles (a mouselline of pike in cream sauce—the more elegant cousin of gefilte fish)*.

    And now, there’s the classic Salade Lyonnaise (pronounced lee-owe-NEZ), which combines frisée lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg—a great combination of flavors and textures.

    Since the recipe uses raw eggs, pasteurized eggs are a worry-free solution (here’s more about pasteurized eggs and the 12 popular foods where you should consider them to eliminate the Salmonella risk).

    Prep time is 20 minutes; total time is 35 minutes.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 extra-thick bacon slices
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed (optional)
  • 3 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 pasteurized eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 5 cups frisée salad greens
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Lyonnaise Salad with bacon and eggs: Perfect for brunch or lunch. Photo courtesy


    1. CUT bacon strips into 2 x 1/2-inch pieces. Cook in skillet over medium heat about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Meanwhile…

    2. BRING 2 inches water to boil in wide saucepan or skillet. Cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes or just until crisp-tender. Immediately drop the asparagus into bowl of cold water to cool. Drain on paper towels.

    3. WHISK together in small bowl the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard. Set aside.

    4. FILL a deep saucepan or large sauté pan half full with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice. Crack eggs individually into small custard cup or bowl and gently ease eggs into water, one at a time, holding cup as low as possible so yolk doesn’t break. Use a spoon to gather whites around yolks of each egg and continue to simmer about 3 minutes, or to desired doneness.

    5. ASSEMBLE the salad: Mound greens in center of each plate. Arrange the asparagus over the greens and sprinkle with bacon. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Carefully place a poached egg on top of each salad. Offer salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


  • Use 2-1/2 cups frisée and 2-1/2 cups dark kale leaves, cut into ribbons, or baby kale, in place of all frisée.
  • Substitute green beans for asparagus.
  • Here’s another version of the recipe.
    *Here’s more about Lyonnaise cuisine.


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    A head of frisée. Photo courtesy



    Frisée has very narrow, curly pale leaves that grow in a bush-like cluster and are feathery in appearance. The name means “curly” and the lettuce is sometimes called curly endive.

    Frisée is a member of the chicory genus of lettuces, which includes endive. Chicories are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals—especially folate and vitamins A and K.

    Frisée is often included in mesclun and other salad mixes. It is extremely labor-intensive to grow, and therefore one of the costliest salad ingredients. For that reason, it isn’t a conventional supermarket item, but can be found at upscale markets and purveyors of fine produce.

    Frisée has a distinctive flavor and a delightful bitterness—less bitter than its cousins endive and radicchio. Its exotic feathery appearance has great eye appeal.

    Tips For Using Frisée

  • As with many salad greens, tear it rather cut it with a knife, or the edges may brown. Tear it shortly before use.
  • The tough, external leaves are best used as a plate garnish or fed to the gerbil.
  • Dress the salad right before bringing it to the table, so that it doesn’t discolor or become waterlogged.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Custard

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    Parmesan quiche with arugula salad: as a
    light lunch or a first course for dinner. Photo
    courtesy The Secret Menu. Here’s the recipe.


    Custard is one of our favorite dishes: a symphony of cream, eggs and flavorings.

    Most people consider custard to be sweet—a dessert that ranges from good old American chocolate pudding to crème brûlée, crème caramel, flan and others (see all the types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary).

    The same mixture of cream and eggs that forms the base of sweet custard replaces the sugar with savory inclusions to become a delicious savory custard that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    From a lunch dish with a salad, to a first course or side at a fine dinner, savory custards deliver a lot of bang—especially since most people haven’t yet had them.

    Well, not exactly: Many people have had savory custard in the form of quiche, a variation that’s baked in a pie shell.

    But today’s focus is on savory custard made in individual ramekins.

    While you can make them in casserole dishes, individual portions look so much better than the same recipe scooped from a casserole and plopped on a plate. (Of course, you can neatly slice it from a casserole and place it on the plate like a slice of pie, but we still prefer ramekins.)

    Since we’re getting to the end of corn season, here’s your opportunity to start your adventures in savory custard with corn custard. If you didn’t see it a few weeks ago, here’s a rerun of our corn custard recipe. If your Labor Day fare is more elegant than hot dogs and hamburgers, you can make it.



  • Asparagus & Parmesan Custard with Tarragon, or Green Pea and Shallot Custard (recipes).
  • Chawan-mushi, Japanese savory custard (the name means “steamed in a tea bowl”). Here’s a recipe with shrimp and green peas. There’s also a steamed savory egg custard in Chinese cuisine.
  • Gorgonzola and Leek Crème Brûlée recipe,
  • Gruyère, Garlic & Thyme Custard recipe.
  • Herb Custard (recipe).
  • Lobster Custard—substitute crab, scallops or shrimp (recipe).
  • Pumpkin Custard (recipe), the savory version. Pumpkin pie is a sweet pumpkin custard.
    How Is Bread Pudding Related To Custard?

    Bread pudding is a sweet or savory dish bound with custard. Put this recipe on your “to be tried” calendar: a mushroom bread pudding. You can serve it as the dressing with turkey.


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    Special occasion savory custard, with sauced with foie gras cream. Although it’s fancier to unmold the custard, you can serve it in the ramekin. Photo courtesy James Beard Foundation.




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