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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,
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Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: Savory French Toast

Saturday was always “French Toast for breakfast day” in our family. It was always sweet, with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.

So when we came across this recipe for savory French Toast from Castello Cheese (which used its Aged Havarti in the recipe), we picked the following Saturday (yesterday) to give it a try.

The result: a nifty breakfast option for those who don’t particularly like syrup or other sweet toppings, and a change of pace for those who do. It evokes a breakfast grilled cheese sandwich on a soft, eggy base of pan-fried bread, rather than on crisp toasted bread.

It’s a nice change of pace. Just as you can vary the toppings on French Toast, you can use different savory toppings.

For those of you who remember Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast, you can make a French Toast version. Use leftover beef or jerky to replace the tomato and cheese in the recipe below. No beef? Check the fridge: You can adapt just about any savory leftovers.

 

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Savory French Toast with cheese and tomatoes. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

 
Test out the recipe now: It may be just what you’re looking for for Father’s Day.

Prep time is 40 minutes. For prettier color, look for heirloom cherry tomatoes or a mix of red, orange and yellow varieties.

As you can see in the photo, the Castello chef used a three-inch round cookie cutter to cut the bread in circles after it comes out of the pan. We’re not so elegant; and besides, we don’t want to give up that cut-away French toast.
 
RECIPE: SAVORY FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients For 6 Servings
 
For The Tomato Topping

  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For The French Toast

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (substitute Asiago or Pecorino Romano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 1½-inch thick slices brioche, egg bread or jalapeño Italian bread
  • 2 ounces aged Havarti, shaved (substitute Jack, aged Gouda, Tilsit or other shaveable cheese)
  •  

    monte-cristo-kikkoman-panko230

    A Monte Cristo sandwich is ham and Gruyère on French Toast. Photo courtesy Kikkoman.

     

    Variations

  • Blue cheese and sliced apples
  • Feta and kalamata olives with dill or oregano
  • Smoked salmon, caviar and crème fraîche
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the tomatoes: Sauté the tomatoes in the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the oregano and vinegar and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve.

    2. MAKE the French Toast: Whisk the milk, egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a shallow pan. Dip the bread into the milk mixture and pan fry it in a hot non-stick pan for 3 minutes per side.

    3. TRANSFER the bread onto serving plates and top with the tomato mixture. Shave the cheese over the tomatoes. Serve immediately.

     
    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in America as French toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. In fact, pain perdu (lost bread), the current French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    While the story evolved that French Toast was a food of the poor, trying to scrape together a meal from stale bread, recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

  • Recipes used white bread, a luxury, with the crusts cut off. Poor people ate brown bread, much cheaper because the wheat endosperm did not have to be milled and painstakingly hand-sifted through screens to create white flour.
  • Costly ingredients such as spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg), sugar and almond milk are found in numerous recipes.
  • The cooked bread was topped with costly honey or sugar.
  • And cookbooks themselves were the province of the privileged: Only wealthy people and clergy learned to read.
  •  
    THE MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH

    More recently, French toast has evolved into a savory sandwich, the Monte Cristo. It is an evolution of the croque-monsieur, a crustless sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    The croque-monsieur was invented in Paris in 1910. A variation with a baked egg on top is called a croque-madame. Neither sandwich was battered, like French toast.

    The Monte Cristo sandwich, a triple-decker sandwich, battered and pan-fried, was invented at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. According to the L.A. Times, the first recipe in print is in the Brown Derby Cookbook, published in 1949.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Egg Salad Additions

    Today is National Egg Day, which rings nostalgic to us. The approach of summer reminds us of Mom’s fresh egg salad sandwiches, served to us with the just-cooked eggs still warm.

    Basic egg salad combines chopped hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise with finely chopped celery and onion, seasoned with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or some pickle juice), salt and pepper.

    Some people then build a sandwich by adding lettuce and tomato, even strips of bacon. But today’s tip is what to add to the egg salad itself. They turn egg salad from ordinary to memorable.

    It doesn’t have to be a sandwich. Scoop your egg salad atop greens, into a crisp bell pepper, a stuffed tomato, a bacon bowl, even into potato skins. Make canapés with a base of apple, cucumber or potato or.
     
    Kitchen tip: When preparing hard boiled eggs, add a teaspoon of baking soda or vinegar the pot of water. This will help when removing the shell & have a perfectly peeled egg. Here’s more on how to make hard-boiled eggs.
     
    25+ FAVORITE ADDITIONS TO EGG SALAD

  • Antipasto, with diced mozzarella, salami.
  •  

    egg-salad-tartine-theeggfarm-230

    Find more delicious recipes at TheEggFarm.com.

  • Asian, with garlic, green onions, ginger, soy sauce instead of salt and a few red chili flakes (note: the soy will darken the egg salad).
  • Bacon horseradish: Add crumbled bacon to your favorite egg salad recipe and a teaspoon of prepared horseradish to the mayonnaise.
  • Beet: Diced beets turn your favorite egg salad recipe pink.
  • Curried, with chopped almonds, raisins and fresh apple.
  • Deviled, using your favorite deviled egg recipe ingredients.
  • Greek, with lemon zest, kalamata cheese, peperoncini, oregano, thyme and optional crumbled feta cheese.
  • Dried fruit: dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or sultanas, especially in combination with sliced almonds.
  • Français: Add finely chopped shallot, fresh tarragon, and tarragon or wine vinegar mixed with the mayonnaise.
  • Fruit: diced apples, halved grapes, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, blueberries)—consider combining with nuts.
  • Giardiniera, with diced pickled vegetables (pickle carrots, celery and onion for one hour). Alternative: capers.
  • Gremolata, a combination of garlic, lemon zest and parsley (recipe). Or, add any one or two of these ingredients.
  • Gribiche, with capers, diced cornichons and fines herbes (fresh chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon).
  • Ham, diced.
  • Heat: chile in adobo, crushed red pepper, minced fresh chiles.
  •  

    curried-egg-salad-louisemellor-safeeggs-230

    Bacon and egg salad. Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     
  • Herbed: Pick two fresh herbs from among basil, chives, dill or parsley.
  • Mom’s: Our mother’s recipe uses finely chopped celery, red bell pepper, red onion; minced fresh parsley; and Durkee’s Famous Sauce*.
  • Mustard: Dijon or grainy mustard (add minced cornichons), honey mustard (add dried fruit).
  • Mushrooms, marinated or sautéed.
  • Niçoise, with drained flaked tuna, chopped picholine or Kalamata olives, chopped cooked green beans.
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts (consider combining with a fruit).
  • Olives: It’s fun to combine two varieties, e.g. Kalamata and pimento-stuffed.
  • Peppadew, especially combined with diced red pepper.
  • Pesto: Bind with half mayonnaise, half pesto.
  • Pickles/relish, from chopped cornichons or dills to sweet pickle relish and mustard pickles.
  • Russian, with dill, boiled potatoes, pickled onions and 50:50 sour cream and mayonnaise (optional: diced beets).
  • Soft cheese: crumbled blue, chèvre or feta; diced mozzarella.
  • Three onion: chive, red and sweet onion, finely diced.
  • Tomatoes: diced cherry tomatoes, sundried, and when the good summer tomatoes come in, with big, thick slices.
  •  
    SANDWICH BREAD

    Forget the supermarket white or whole wheat bread for a day, and try:

  • Baguette
  • Ciabatta
  • Croissant
  • Flatbread
  • Pita (look for whole wheat pita!)
  • Pretzel rolls
  • Pumpernickel, rye or black bread
  • Seeded bread
  • Semolina bread
  • Tortilla wrap
  •  
    BINDERS

    Plain supermarket mayonnaise is so 20th century. Blend proportions of any of the following, to taste:

  • Blue cheese, Italian, ranch or Russian/Thousand Island dressing
  • Chili sauce, ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • Durkee’s Famous Sauce (see footnote below)
  • Flavored olive oil
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus, plain or flavored
  • Mayonnaise, including flavored mayo (bacon, lemon, chipotle, wasabi, etc.) or sandwich spread (mayo mixed with pickle relish)
  • Mustard, from Dijon to grainy to flavored (types of mustard)
  • Pesto
  • Plain yogurt flavored with herbs or spices, or tzatziki
  • Salsa
  • White bean purée
  • Wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon vinaigrette
  •  
    VEGETABLES: BEYOND ICEBERG LETTUCE

  • Arugula or watercress
  • Cucumber slices
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Radish slices
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Romaine or bibb lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes in season, or chopped cherry tomatoes year-round
  •  
    This should keep you busy until the next National Egg Day! If you have anything to add to the list, let us know.

     
    *Durkee’s Famous Sauce is a tangy salad and sandwich spread that combines mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and seasonings. Mom used it in cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad and on sandwiches. Patented in 1857, Durkee says it was served in the Lincoln White House! It is still sold online and at some Wal-Marts and other retailers. We haven’t tried this recipe, but it claims to be a Durkee’s Famous Sauce clone. Here’s another version.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Shave Parmesan Onto Everything

    You shave Parmesan cheese onto pasta and risotto, meatballs and Caesar salad; maybe on other green salads, too; perhaps to garnish soups. But why stop there?

    Armed with two different grating gadgets*, the space for which we need to justify, we’ve been shaving Parmesan cheese onto just about everything. Just a bit goes a long way as a tangy, nutty garnish.

    We add shaved Parmesan cheese to these dishes (if cooked, after they come off the heat):

  • Beef, from slices to whole steaks and burgers. Try a roast beef sandwich with shaved Parmesan and arugula and of course, on a steak salad.
  • Carpaccio and crudo. (In Italian cuisine, carpaccio is raw beef fillet, crudo is raw seafood.)
  • Chicken and fish, grilled or baked. Not a surprise for those who like Chicken Parmigiano or Parmesan-breaded chicken or fish.
  • Eggs, any style.
  •    

    beef-salad-parmesan-blissfullydelicious-230

    Sliced steak and salad with shaved Parmesan. Photo courtesy Blissfully Delicious. Here’s the recipe.

  • Grains, from rice to quinoa. The best cheese grits are made with grated Parmesan and topped with some shavings.
  • Vegetables, particularly grilled vegetables and steamed asparagus. A favorite summer side is a grilled or broiled tomato, removed from the grill and covered with shaved Parmesan.
  •  
    As an aside to shaved Parmesan ideas, in Italy, chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano are often eaten for dessert with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and perhaps some fresh strawberries. The same wedge you use for shaving can be broken into chunks for a cheese plate.

     

    shaved-parmesan-onceuponachef-230

    You can shave Parmesan with a vegetable peeler. Photo courtesy Once Upon A Chef.

     

    PARMESAN & PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO: THE DIFFERENCE

    “Parmesan cheese” can be produced anywhere on earth, however the manufacturer desires.

    Parmigiano-Reggiano dates to medieval Italy. It is PDO-protected and produced only by members of a consortium, the Consorzio del formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. It can only be made from the milk of local cows in the Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and certain parts of Bologna and Mantova.

    Producers must adhere to strict Consorzio guidelines, which ensure that the cheeses develop the profoundly complex flavors of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano. Wheels that don’t meet the standards are declassified and aren’t given the official Consorzio stamp.

    Note to connoisseurs: The best Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is considered to be Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), with milk from a specific herd of cows, that is 30 months. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it at iGourmet.com.

     

    For most people, generic Parmesan is just fine. For connoisseurs, tasting the real deal can be an eye-opener. It is intense and complex, with nutty, sweet, grassy, creamy and fruity flavors. That’s why it has long been called called the “King of Cheeses.”
     
    PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO TIPS

  • Buy it only in wedges. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano begins to lose its flavor after grating.
  • Keep the cheese in the fridge for up to a month. After then, it slowly starts to lose flavor but can still be used.
  • Rewrap with fresh plastic or parchment paper at least once a week.
  • Don’t toss the rinds. Use them to add flavor to soups or pasta sauces.
  •  
    Here’s more on Parmesan vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and still more about Parmigiano Reggiano itself.

     
    *You can use a vegetable peeler; no special gadget required.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fried Cheese For The Cheese Course

    Sophisticated diners in the U.S.—and many people in Europe—have long finished dinner with a cheese course and small salad, instead of a sweet dessert.

    How about a twist: fried cheese with salad on top—or underneath?

    There are many fried cheese recipes; today’s is a Sicilian specialty. Caciocavallo, which means “cheese on horseback,” is a cheese that dates back to Roman times. Two large, pear-shaped cheeses are tied with rope and slung over a wooden board to drain and age.

    Believed to have been so shaped to make it easy to transport by slinging over pack animals, the cheese duo evokes the image of saddlebags, hence the name (here’s a photo).

    Caciocavallo is hard to find in conventional U.S. markets, although you can find it at Italian specialty stores and online from cheesemongers like Murray’s Cheese.

       

    fried-caciacavallo-esquaredhospitality2

    Fried caciacavallo cheese topped with salad. Photo courtesy E-squaredhospitality.

     
    Or, substitute halloumi, kasseri, provolone, scamorza, smoked mozzarella or queso de freier (Mexican frying cheese). You’ve got plenty of options!

    RECIPE: FRIED CHEESE COURSE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 pound of Caciocavallo, cut into 4 slices
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • Italian bread, sliced
  • Salad of choice (we like arugula, basil, cress, endive, chives or sliced green onions and sometimes, fennel; but you can use absolutely anything, very lightly tossed with vinaigrette to slightly moisten)
  •  

    fried-cheese-eatwisconsincheese-230

    Fried caciacavallo served atop the salad. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and slices of cheese and lower the heat.

    2. COOK covered for 1 minute; then turn the cheese over and cook covered for an additional minute, or until the cheese is golden in color.

    3. REMOVE the skillet from the heat, add the oregano and pepper and transfer the fried cheese to the serving plates.

    4. ADD the vinegar and sugar to the hot oil in the pan and cook for about 1–2 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates. This creates a sweet and sour sauce.

    5. DECIDE if you want your salad on top or underneath the cheese. Add the salad accordingly.

    6. TOP the cheese with the sauce if the cheese is on top of the salad; or use it to dot the plate if the salad is on top. Use the garlic as garnish and serve immediately with slices of fresh Italian bread.

     

    ABOUT CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

    Caciocavallo, a popular cheese in southern Italy and Sicily, is typically made from unpasteurized cow’s or sheep’s milk. Two pear-shaped cheeses, about 4 pounds each, are joined at the neck by a rope to age.

    Like burrata, mozzarella, provolone and scamorza, caciocavallo is a pasta filata, a cheese made by stretching and forming the curd by hand.

    It is then aged for two to three months, and optimally for one year. Because the pairs of tied cheeses hang from rods in the air to age, instead of sitting on shelves like other cheeses, more microbes can enter the cheese, where they help to develop sharp, spicy flavors, deep, earthy undertones and fruity aromas.

    The result is a layered, complex cheese that is typically sliced and served with fresh fruit, plus a glass of hearty red wine. The yellow rind is edible.

    There are different types of caciocavallo:

  • Caciocavallo Silano, a PDO* cheese made in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia.
  • Caciocavallo Ragusa, a PDO* cheese made in Ragusa, Sicily.
  • Caciocavallo affumicato, smoked caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo piccante, spicy caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo primaverile, made from milk gathered in the spring, which has subtle flavors of the aromatic herbs in spring pastures.
  •  
    MORE FRIED CHEESE RECIPES

  • Cashew-encrusted fried cheese recipe.
  • Fried cheese curds recipe.
  • Grilled halloumi cheese recipe.
  •  
    *PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, is a designation of authenticity from the European Union. In the case of Caciocavallo Silano or Ragusa, it guarantees that the milk used comes only from local herds.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Classic Cheese Soufflé

    comte-Souffle-comte-USAfb-230L

    A cheese soufflé, golden, fragrant, cheesy and hot. Photo courtesy Comté USA.

     

    Today is National Cheese Soufflé Day.

    We spent most of our 20’s making soufflés, both sweet (chocolate, vanilla, fruit) and savory (cheese, fish, spinach). The frenzy with which we turned them out was, in retrospect, our own mash-up of Julie & Julia and Groundhog Day.

    Modern soufflés were developed in France in the 18th century. The cheese soufflé, initially one course of a larger meal, evolved in modern times to a light main course, served with a green salad and a glass of rosé or white wine.

    To make a cheese soufflé, grated cheese is mixed into a béchamel (a type of white sauce).

    In the course of making cheese soufflés over and over again, we tried different cheeses, from Comté and Gruyère to Cheddar and Stilton. The cheese you prefer will depend on how mild or sharp you like your cheeses, but start with Comté or Gruyère, two French basics.

     
    There are a few “givens”:

  • You need a straight-sided soufflé dish.
  • You need to butter the entire inside thoroughly so the soufflé will rise evenly instead of sticking.
  • After you butter the dish, coat the butter with grated Parmesan or bread crumbs; then turn the dish upside down and tap out the extra crumbs. It’s just like buttering and flouring a cake pan.
  • You can make an optional collar from parchment or foil, and tie it around the dish with kitchen twine. This enables the soufflé to rise up perfectly, but it isn’t essential unless you’re really aiming to impress picky gourmets.
  • Always place the rack in the center of the oven before preheating.
  •  
    The following recipe uses a 10-cup soufflé dish or six individual ramekins (individual soufflé dishes).
     
    RECIPE: CHEESE SOUFFLÉ

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Side Servings Or 2 Mains

  • Grated Parmesan cheese and softened butter for soufflé dish
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter for the béchamel (white sauce)
  • 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, packed)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 large egg whites
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the rack in the center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Generously butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six 1-1/4-cup ramekins. Sprinkle the dish(es) with Parmesan cheese to coat and tap out the extra. If using ramekins, place all six on a rimmed baking sheet for easy removal from the oven.

    2. MELT the half stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook without browning until the mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute.

    3. GRADUALLY WHISK in the milk, then the wine. Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth, thick and beginning to boil, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    4. BLEND the egg yolks, salt and pepper in small bowl. Add the yolk mixture all at once to the white sauce and whisk quickly to blend. Fold in the Gruyère and the Parmesan cheeses (the cheeses do not need to melt—they’ll melt in the oven).

    5. BEAT the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into the [lukewarm] cheese base to lighten. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

     

    sancerre_rose_Wine-thor-wiki-230ps

    Rosé is our favorite wine with a cheese soufflé. Photo by Thor | Wikimedia

     

    6. TRANSFER the soufflé mixture to the buttered dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Gruyère.

    7. PLACE the soufflé in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake the soufflé until puffed, golden and gently set in center—about 40 minutes for the large soufflé or 25 minutes for the ramekins.

    8. REMOVE the baked soufflé with oven mitts to a heatproof platter (or individual plates for the ramekins), and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Havarti, A Great Melting Cheese

    havarti-danishblue-emmirothusa-230

    A tower of regular and flavored havartis. Photo courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

     

    Americans love cheese: atop pizza, on burgers, in mac and cheese. But most of us don’t know that havarti, a Danish cow’s milk cheese, is a great melter as well as a table cheese.

    The semisoft, rindless cheese with small eyes is popular as a table cheese and a sandwich cheese. Now, get to know it as a recipe cheese.

    We actually know who created havarti: Hanne Nielsen, who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, north of Copenhagen, in the latter half of the 19th century. She kept it close, though; havarti was not introduced commercially until around 1920.

    With its buttery aroma and flavor, the cheese was a hit. As it ages, it becomes saltier and nutty, with a slightly crumbly texture.

    Havarti pairs well with beer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and light-bodied Pinot Noir.

    If you like havarti, also try Danish tilsit, also known as tilsit havarti. It’s a more intensely flavorful version of havarti, but milder than German tilsit.

     
    Like havarti, tilsit is a good melter, excellent on regular and grilled sandwiches, burgers, and delightful melted over potatoes and other vegetables.

    We recommend that you avoid a product called cream havarti, which may sound tempting but isn’t. It’s made from ultrapasteurized milk to raise yields. The process produces more cheese, but alters the taste and texture.
     
    FLAVORED HAVARTI

    Havarti blends beautifully with other flavors. As a result, there’s a wealth of flavored havartis: basil, caraway, chive, coconut, cranberry, dill, garlic jalapeño and red pepper, among others.

    Beyond the cheese plate, how should you serve havarti? For starters, use it instead of other cheeses in your favorite recipes.

     

    WAYS TO USE HAVARTI

  • Breads: Use havarti to make cheese bread, biscuits and muffins.
  • Cocktails: Skewer cubes of havarti as a garnish for Bloody Marys and Martinis. Try caraway or dill havarti.
  • Crostini: Crunchy crostini are a perfect medium for melted or unmelted havarti. While most crostini are savory, for a delicious snack or dessert use plain havarti with sour cherry preserves or Nutella.
  • Grilled cheese and other sandwiches: With regular or flavored havarti. Try plain havarti with Nutella!
  • Fondue: It’s especially fun with flavored havarti.
  • Ravioli: Fill cheese ravioli with havarti in any flavor. Chef Michael Symon makes “Reuben ravioli” with corned beef and caraway havarti.
  • Other cheese dishes: Use havarti in casseroles, gratins, mac and cheese. Consider flavored havarti for even more flavor.
  •  

    crostini-beer-castellohavarti-230

    Havarti crostini with beer. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     
    Find recipes at CastelloCheese.com, whose delicious, award-winning havartis—plain and flavored—are available in food stores nationwide.
     
    Have a great time cooking with havarti!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pair Saké With Cheese

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    Buy the cheese, open the saké. Photo courtesy CheeseNerds.com.

     

    Recently, we were invited to a cheese and saké tasting at the French Cheese Board in New York City. Think you should sip saké only with Japanese food? Think again.

    While it doesn’t seem intuitive, the the traditional Japanese drink, brewed by fermenting rice, has a broad range of flavors and styles that pairs with various foods. Like wine, it’s a global beverage.

    Saké is made from four ingredients: rice, water, yeast and koji, an enzyme. Saké is fermented and brewed like beer, but served like wine. It is also characterized as a wine because of its alcohol content is similar.

    Think of saké as you’d think of white wine. A bolder saké can stand up to spicy cuisine, like Indian food. It can also pair well with French dishes. A milder sake is better with delicate flavors like sushi and sashimi.

    Now for the cheeses: Another reason saké pairs well with cheese is that both contain lactic acid. Most aged cheeses go better with bolder sakés, fresh cheeses (like chèvre) with milder ones. With aged cheeses, we personally like:

     

  • Genshu saké, a style that’s stronger because it is not diluted with water.
  • Nigori saké, cloudy because it is roughly filtered old-style, which leaves microscopic particles of rice in the liquid. We also like its hint of sweetness with stronger cheeses.
  •  
    As with white wine, serve saké semi-chilled, around 60°F.

    The journey to knowledge includes trying what you can get, and seeing how you like it. That goes with both sakés and cheeses.

     
    WHAT CHEESES SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

    Your favorites! We’re serving saké and cheese today, for Mother’s Day, with Truffle Tremor, a truffle cheese; Point Reyes Blue Cheese; Red Hawk, a strong, Muenster*-style cheese from Cowgirl Creamery; and a Brie. The first three cheeses are from Marin County, north of San Francisco; Brie is imported from France.

    If you want to see what pairings others have done, check out the website TrueSake.com, written by a sommelier who recommends his top three cheese pairings with particular sakés; and look for similar content online.

    If you’re not sure about taking this on by yourself, ask your local cheese store to set up a tasting. Here’s a report from CurdNerds on a tasting at Murray’s Cheese in New York City.

    More to discover:

  • Sake 101, an overview
  • Saké terms, a glossary
  •  
    *That’s Alsatian Muenster, not the mild American “munster.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Different Egg Dishes

    frittata-applegate-230r

    A frittata, made on the stove top and
    finished in the oven or under the broiler.
    Photo courtesy Applegate Natural &
    Organic Meats.

     

    You can have your breakfast eggs baked in a nest, boiled, fried, poached or scrambled or stuffed.

    You can make breakfast burritos and pizzas, Eggs Benedict and a library of other egg dishes.

    Which brings us to today’s tip: the differences among the egg casserole, frittata, omelet, quiche, strata and torta/tortilla.

    OMELET

    The simplest of this group of egg dishes, an omelet consists of beaten eggs mixed with a small amount of cream, milk or water. The mixture is cooked in an omelet pan until set, then folded around a pre-warmed filling (see “inclusions” in the Casserole section), cooked a minute more and served.

    An omelet pan is important to success. A shallow pan with sloped edges, it can vary in diameter.

    For those who don’t make omelets enough to develop the technique to flip, there’s a hinged omelet pan.

    Omelette is the French spelling. It evolved from the earlier amelette and alemelle, literally a thin plate, from the Latin lamella.
     
    CASSEROLE

    A casserole is a beaten egg dish with inclusions, that is baked in the oven.

    “Inclusions” are anything else you want to include in addition to the eggs: bacon, ham or sausage; cheese; herbs; and any number of vegetables, such as asparagus, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, spinach and summer squash. Toss in leftover veggies, too, like carrots, peas and edamame.

     
    It is the easiest of these egg dishes to make, since it requires no flipping. Just put the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake until ready. See the photo below.

    The word origin is French, from casse, a small saucepan, derived from the Medieval Latin cattia, crucible, a metal container for heating substances to high temperatures.
     
    FRITTATA

    A frittata is an Italian-style omelet, often cooked in a large pan to create multiple portions. Like the rest of the egg dishes featured here, it can have a variety of inclusions; some Italian cooks also include leftover pasta.

    All of the ingredients are cooked at once on the stove top. The frittata is then flipped. (If you don’t like to flip—it takes practice to do it well—then make a casserole.)

    Unlike an omelet, a frittata is not folded; the inclusions are cooked with the eggs, not a separate filling (see the photo above). The frittata is typically finished in the oven or under the broiler.

    The result is dense like a crustless quiche, which is cut and served in wedges. It can be eaten hot or cold, as can the strata and torta (the later is often served as tapas).

    The word comes from the Italian fritto, fried.

     

    STRATA & TORTA

    A strata is cooked on the stovetop and flipped in the pan; then, like a frittata, finished under a broiler or salamander.

    The Spanish torta or tortilla is similar, but always includes sliced potatoes (an option with a strata) cooked in olive oil, and is not finished under a broiler.

    Strata means layer in Italian; “torta” is the Spanish word for cake and some regions use the diminutive tortilla. Before the 16th century, before the availability of sugar in Europe (it originated on the Indian subcontinent and was affordable only by the wealthy until the 18th century), cake often referred to a savory dish.

    A tip: instead of stove top, you can cook the whole thing from scratch in a springform pan. This doesn’t work for a casserole, which is not as solid in consistency (see photo at right).

     
    QUICHE

    A quiche is a savory baked custard pie, made with cream and eggs to achieve a delicate custard texture. It is cooked in a pie shell, although if you don’t want the carbs, you can make a crustless quiche in a pie plate.

     

    egg-bake-kraft-230

    A strata, also called a casserole and an egg bake. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    A quiche includes cheese, as well as other ingredients: bacon or ham, seafood (crab, lobster, shrimp), vegetables (leeks, mushrooms and spinach are popular).

    The French word was derived from the German Küche, a diminutive of the word for cake, Küchen.
     
     
    You’ve got a couple of days to research recipes and decide what you’d like to cook for Mother’s Day.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Parfait

    southwestern-parfait-FSTG-230

    A savory Mexican (or Tex-Mex) parfait. Photo and recipe courtesy Food Should Taste Good.

     

    This Southwestern Tomato and Yogurt Parfait is made in trendy glass canning jars, but you can use wine glasses, juice glasses or whatever you have.

    It’s easy to make the salsa, but if you’re pressed for time you can buy ready-made corn and bean salsa.

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

     
    RECIPE: MEXICAN PARFAIT Parfait

    Ingredients
     
    For The Salsa

  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) fire roasted tomatoes (we used Muir Glen), drained, 2 tablespoons juice reserved, patted dry
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped, seeded jalapeño chile
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnish: cilantro sprig
  • For The Parfait

  • 1 quart plain Greek yogurt
  • Tortilla chips
  •  
    Plus

  • 8 pint-sized canning jars (substitute juice or wine glasses)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MIX the salsa ingredients in medium bowl.

    2. SPOON into each of the jars 1/4 cup salsa, then 1/4 cup yogurt. Repeat with two more layers. Top with a layer of salsa

    3. GARNISH with a sprig of cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Cheese Course

    We’ve been asked how to put together a cheese plate for Cinco de Mayo. Truth to tell, Mexico’s signature cheeses, from fresh to aged, are white cheeses made for cooking. They’re not intended to be nibbled during cocktail hour or as a cheese course.

    To learn about Mexican cheeses for cooking, read our article, Cooking With Hispanic Cheese.

    For a cheese course, we have three recommendations. You can serve one or all:

  • Panela. A fresh cow’s milk cheese, queso panela is used for snacking and in recipes. Similar in taste and texture to mozzarella, it’s commonly served with fruit. You can get creative and toss cubes of panela in a fruit salad or with berries, or serve it with bread or crackers and a light white wine.
  • Queso Criollo. This semi-hard yellow cheese is similar to Munster, but not easy to find in the U.S. If you want to be flexible, substitute a Monterey Jack made with jalapeño or other chile, and a hearty red wine.
  •  

    manchego-membrillo-thebestspanishrecipes-230

    Creative presentation: wedges of Manchego cheese topped with wedges of membrillo and a sprinkling of chili powder. Photo courtesy The Best Spanish Recipes.

  • Manchego. The famous sheep’s milk cheese from Spain (the breed of sheep is manchega) is also popular in Mexico, served for dessert with dulce de membrillo (quince paste*) and marcona almonds†. The cheese can be aged from six months to two years; the older the cheese, the more complex. Serve it with Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine.
  •  
    We’re already getting hungry for this cheese plate!
     
    *Quince paste, often made in a loaf form, is a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit. It is sliced and served with the cheese.

    †Marcona almonds, imported from Spain, are a variety of sweet almond. They’re slightly shorter and plumper in appearance compared to the almonds typically found in U.S. markets. But you can serve any raw or roasted almonds with manchego or any cheeses.

      

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