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Archive for Cheese-Yogurt-Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: Scream Cheese, Special Cheeses For Halloween

Basiron Red Gouda

Cahill's Porter Cheddar

English Cheddar With Harissa

Mimolette Cheese

Halloween Cheese

[1] Basiron Pesto Rosso, a red Gouda. [2] Cahill’s Irish Cheddar, marbled with porter. [3] English Cheddar with spicy harissa. [4] Mimolette, perhaps the spookiest-looking cheese. [5] A limited fall edition version of Weybridge from Vermont (all photos are the copyright of their respective owners).

 

Can cheeses be spooky? You bet!

These cheeses and others can create as perfect Halloween cheese plate. They also double as “harvest moon” cheeses for Thanksgiving.

They represent England, France, Holland, Ireland, and the U.S. They’re all delicious and worth seeking out. If you can’t find them locally, we’ve provided e-tail links.
 
HALLOWEEN CHEESES

Basiron Pesto Rosso

This Dutch Gouda (photo #1), also called Red Gouda, gets its bright color and flavor from an infusion of tomato pesto. Each creamy bite has a hit of ripe tomato and Italian herbs.

It’s what we call “fusion cheese”: a traditional cheese from one country flavored with herbs and spices from another culture.

Find it at Amazon.com.
 
Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar

Made near Limerick and dating to 1759, the brown mosaic pattern is made with Guinness (photo #2). There’s also a fall-appropriate version colored red with wine, and an all-yellow version made with Irish whiskey (save the latter for St. Patrick’s Day).

Find it at Amazon.com.
 
English Cheddar With Harissa

Another “cultural fusion cheese,” this tangy English Cheddar (photo #3) gets an infusion of harissa, a Moroccan spice blend that consists of chiles, coriander, cumin, garlic and smoked paprika (each producer has a proprietary blend, which can include other ingredients).

Find it at Amazon.com.
 
Mimolette

Perhaps the creepiest of all (photo #4), Mimolette’s rind looks like the craters of the moon. Cut it open and surprise: There’s a blazing orange interior that also looks scary.

This semi-sharp cow’s milk cheese is produced in the area around Lille in Alsace, France. Try it with an Alsatian Riesling!

Find it at ForTheGourmet.com.

 
Weybridge Limited Edition

This “surprise!” cheese from the Scholten Family Farm in Vermont has a ghostly white bloomy rind, that reveals a tangy orange paste (the industry term for the interior of a cheese). An organic cheese, limited edition version has a dusting of vegetable ash on the rind for some extra spookiness.

The limited edition cheese, a fall version of the regular Weybridge, sells out quickly. Reserve yours at Jasper Hill Farm.
 
WHAT CREATES THE BRIGHT ORANGE COLOR?

It’s annatto, a natural dye derived from achiote seeds. It’s the same natural color that differentiates yellow cheddar from white cheddar.

In large amounts annatto provides a slightly spicy flavor, but here in smaller touches it delivers only the color.
 
OTHER CHEESES TO CONSIDER

  • Ash-covered goat cheese. While originally used to protect delicate goat cheeses during travel, vegetable ash continues to be popular for eye appeal on a fresh goat cheese log, or as a dramatic interior stripe in Humboldt Fog or Morbid. It imports no flavor, but does help with the ripening process in cheeses such as Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery and Selles sur Cher from the Loire.
  • Extra Triple Aged Gouda, a sturdy paste and harvest gold color.
  • Huntsman Cheese, from the U.K., a layered cheese of orange-hued Double Gloucester and veined white Stilton.
  • Pecorino With Chile Flakes. This aged Italian cheese has flecks hot chile flakes. Find it at iGourmet.com.
  • Saxonshire Cheese. This five-layer British cheese has a dramatic appearance: Each of the layers is a different shade of yellow or orange. The layers are Caerphilly, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester and Leicester—all classics.
  •  

    FALL CHEESE CONDIMENTS

    Along with bread, crackers, fruits and nuts, serve a choice of condiments. Use ramekins for neatness. No ramekins? See what you do have, such as espresso cups and espresso spoons.

  • Chutney: apple, cranberry, pear, quince
  • Corn relish
  • Fall fruit jams: concord grape, fig, spiced fruits
  • Fruit butters: apple, pumpkin
  • Mustard: grainy mustard, horseradish mustard, walnut mustard, and the
  • Savory-sweet jellies: garlic, horseradish, onion
  • Spicy honey: buy it or add chili flakes to plain honey
  •  
    Look for an artisan semolina loaf if you want to add some seasonal color to the bread.
     
    MAILLE MUSTARDS

    The great French mustard house produces a standard line plus seasonal flavors: so good, we eat them from the jar on a spoon!

    Fall flavors include:

  • Black Olive & White Wine Mustard
  • Black Truffle & Chablis Mustard
  • Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard (limited edition)
  • Fig, Coriander & White Wine Mustard
  • Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard
  •  
    We love to give these gourmet mustards as house gifts and stocking stuffers for our foodie friends. Find them online at Maille.com.

     

    Maille Hazelnut Chanterelle Mustard

    Maille Black Truffle Mustard

    [6] Maille Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard. [7] Maille Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard, a limited edition for fall (photos courtesy Maille USA).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jarlsberg Cheese From Norway

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps

    Jarlsberg Wheel

    [1] Jarlsberg from Norway: the top special cheese in the U.S. [2] Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps in four flavors: Chipotle, Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil. We’ve been enjoying them plain, with soup and salads, and with dips. [3] “What big eyes you have,” said Goldilocks to the Jarlsberg. Eyes is the industry term for what consumers call holes (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).

     

    Sixty years ago, a group of students and scientists at the Agricultural University of Norway decided to explore old legends and cheese-making traditions, and to create an old cheese with modern cheese-making technology.

    The origin of the modern cheese they created traces back to the early 1800s when Swiss cheese makers came to southern Norway to teach Norwegians how to make cheese.

    Norwegians began to produce their own cheese similar to Swiss cheese, but after the departure of the Swiss, the particular style did not endure.

    Fast forward: 1956 arrives, along with the students who had a project under the direction of their professor, Ole Martin Ystgaard of the Dairy Institute at the Agricultural University of Norway. Their project: to revive an old-style cheese.

    They studied ancient texts and recipes, experimented, and created a wonderful cheese they named Jarlsberg® (pronounced YAHRLS-berg).

    It was named after Count Vadel Jarlsberg, whose countship was created in 1673. His estate was located near where the earlier version of the cheese was first produced.

    A mild, semisoft, part skim, pasteurized cheese made from cow’s milk, Jarlsberg has been beloved from the beginning for its mild, sweet and nutty taste and the appeal of its large round holes (eyes).

    It is Norway’s most famous edible export, the #1 cheese imported to the U.S., and the #1 specialty cheese* brand in the U.S.

    As a bonus to millions of Americans, it’s also lactose-free†.

    Bravo, Professor Ystgaard and team. Who wouldn’t love bragging rights to this creation: for oneself and for generations to come!
     
    A VERSATILE CHEESE

    Jarlsberg is one of the most versatile cheeses. More than a table cheese and sandwich cheese, it can be:

  • Melted for cheese sauces, fondues, gratins, grilled cheese sandwiches and rarebits/rabbits (here’s how to melt cheese).
  • Shaved as a garnish for salads and soups.
  • Used for cheeseburgers (so much tastier than American cheese!), mac and cheese, omelets, quiche and other cheese tarts.
  •  
    The line has expanded to include:

  • Hickory Smoked Pre-Sliced Jarlsberg.
  • Grab-and-go mini cheeses for snacking (voted Men’s Health Best Snack Award for 2014 and 2015).
  • Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks (shaped like string cheese).
  • Jarlsberg Lite, a reduced-fat rindless cheese (not a good melter—you need more fat to melt well).
  • Cheese crisps: cheese crackers in four flavors (photo #3).
  •  
    For starters, see some of the recipes below.
    ________________
    *Specialty cheese is defined as a cheese of limited production, with particular attention paid to natural flavor and texture profiles. The opposite is factory cheese, mass-produced.

    Cheddar and authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano are the other two cheeses that are 100% lactose free.
     

     

    THE EYES HAVE IT

    Each of the world’s cheeses is made from a specific recipe, which includes both the type(s) of cheese cultures and the production techniques. Both combine to deliver each cheese’s unique flavor, aroma and appearance.

    Jarlsberg enchants not only with its flavor, but with its eyes.

    Emmental, the first cheese with large eyes, is what Americans think of as Swiss cheese—although there are more than a dozen different types of Swiss cheese, including Appenzeller, Raclette, Gruyère, Tête de Moine, Tilsit and Vacherin Mont d’Or. (Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin Mont d’Or are also made in France.)

    Some Swiss have eyes, some don’t.

    Some people find Jarlsberg similar to French Gruyère, which has holes. Modern-style Swiss Gruyère does not.

    The larger the holes, the more mature the cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a stipulation that the “eyes” in “grade-A Swiss” can be no larger than 13/16 of an inch in diameter.

    Why? Because larger eyes can make the cheese difficult to slice on modern cheese-slicing equipment. The blades were catching on the large holes and shredding the cheese rather than slicing it.
     
    Why Does The Cheese Have Holes?

    The holes in cheese are a deliberate byproduct‡ of fermentation, the process by which milk is turned into the curds that are used to create cheese.

    They are the result of propioni bacteria, which cause gas to expand within the curd and create the holes’

    The longer cheese ages, the bigger the holes get, and the more intense flavor is developed.
     
    YUMMY JARLSBERG RECIPES

    Head to Jarlsberg.com for dozens of new and familiar recipes, such as:

  • Artichokes au gratin
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Cannelloni and other pasta dishes
  • Cheese and corn muffins
  • Crab fondue
  • Jarlsberg soufflé
  • Gravlax Eggs Benedict
  • Kale salad, chicken salad and other salads
  • Mac and cheese
  • Gratin, mashed and twice-baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Onion soup
  • Sliders
  • Waffle grilled cheese
  • White Pizzas
  •  

    Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    [3] Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict. [4] A Croque Monasieur sandwich made with Jarlsberg instead of Gruyere (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).

     

    ________________
    ‡In recent centuries the eyes a deliberate part of recipes, and can be created larger or smaller. In the beginning, the eyes were a happy accident. They certainly do have eye appeal! (Pun intended.)

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Liberté Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    [1] From top clockwise: French Lavender, Washington Cherry and Philippine Coconut. [2] Close-up on coconut. Note the haiku under the top foil. [3] Lemon and strawberry; note the triangular containers (all photos courtesy Liberté).

     

    We have long been enamored with Liberté yogurt, from the moment some 10 years ago that we plucked a few flavors off the shelf of our Whole Foods.

    Since then we’ve come to know other artisan brands, from FAGE and Siggi’s to small local brands like Culture and White Moustache.

    But in terms of accessibility, year after year we eat more Liberté than anything else.

    Liberté USA plans to transition all products to USDA organic-certified. A line of new whole milk yogurt flavors is debuting now at retailers nationwide, for a suggested retail price of $1.89. The eight delicious flavors, sundae-style (fruit on the bottom) include:

  • Baja Strawberry
  • Californian Pomegranate
  • Ecuadorian Mango
  • French Lavender
  • Lemon*
  • Philippine Coconut
  • Sweet Cream†
  • Washington Black Cherry
  •  
    The elgant triangular containers are new to us, and we enjoyed the haiku under each lid.

    The line is rBST/rBGH-free and certified kosher by OK.

     
    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE? HAVE A TASTING!

    Have a yogurt tasting. Compare four or more brands to see which one(s) you truly like best.

    One 6-ounce container allows four people to have a heaping spoonful, plus enough left over to re-taste and compare.

    The ideal way to do this is in a blind taste test, trying the same flavor of each brand. Strawberry is a best bet, but survey the options for flavors-in-common.

    With wine, you simply put a brown bag around the bottle. Yogurt requires a bit more work. You can cut and cover the containers with brown paper, or mark the names on the bottom of bowls and scoop the appropriate brand into each bowl.

    We did the latter, spring for two containers of each of five brands and making it part of a small brunch party.

    Did Liberté come out on top?

    We’ll only say this: Different tasters prefer different tastes. Do your own test!

     
    For more information about Liberte Organic Yogurt and a product locator, visit LiberteUSA.com.
     
    DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUSTRALIAN, FRENCH & EUROPEAN YOGURT?

    Check out these and other good-to-know yogurt terms in our Yogurt Glossary.

     
    ________________
    *We to wonder why Lemon is left without a modifier.

    †The Sweet Cream flavor is not flavored with vanilla, but has a slight sweetness that reminds us of some quarks and fromage blancs. We liked it very much, although it is quite different from the fruit flavors.

     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cracker Barrel, The Best Boxed Mac & Cheese

    Why do so many American households make macaroni and cheese?

    It’s easy, cheap, fast (9 minutes!) comfort food—at least in modern packaged form. But in the many centuries before boxed mac & cheese, it was as laborious as most other cooking.

    THE HISTORY OF MACARONI & CHEESE

    The first written known record of pasta and cheese casseroles dates to medieval cookbooks of the 14th century.

    The first modern recipe for the dish was published in Britain, in Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 book, The Experienced English Housekeeper.

    Raffald’s recipe calls for a mornay sauce—a secondary mother sauce that’s a béchamel sauce with cheese—in this case, cheddar cheese. The sauce is mixed with cooked macaroni, sprinkled with parmesan, and baked until golden.

    The recipe from scratch requires cooked macaroni (now referred to by its Italian name, pasta); plus milk, butter and flour and cheese to make the cheddar or parmesan sauce.

    Almost a century later, in 1861, the popular Victorian cookbook Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management offered two recipes for the dish, one topped with the bread crumbs still used today. Both books are available in reprints: Just click the links.

    Thomas Jefferson encountered pasta in Paris while Minister to France (1885 to 1889), and in his travels to Italy. Back in the U.S., he imported both macaroni and parmesan cheese in order to enjoy cheesy macaroni.
     
    Mac & Cheese Gets Its Name

    The first recipe called “macaroni and cheese” was published in the U.S. in 1824, in Mary Randolph’s influential cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. More American “macaroni and cheese” recipes followed, in the 1852 Hand-book of Useful Arts, and the 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book.

    By the mid-1880s, midwestern cookbooks included recipes for macaroni and cheese casseroles. Labor-intensive, the dish was enjoyed by the more affluent [source].
     
    Mac & Cheese Gets A Box

    Once it became available in dry packaged form in the first half of the 20th century, mac and cheese became affordable to the masses—and thus less interesting to the affluent. Launched in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese advertised that a family of four could eat for 19¢, the price of a box. Consumers bought eight million boxes in the first year [source].

    A whopping 50 million boxes were sold during World War II, when meat and dairy were in short supply, and one food ration stamp could be exchanged for two boxes of macaroni and cheese.

    Today, the original packaged form is joined by frozen heat-and-eat versions and cheddar cheese sauce is sold in jars. The dish can be cooked on the stovetop, in the oven or in a microwave.

    In the United States, July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Now that we’re up to date…
     
     
    WELCOME, CRACKER BARREL MACARONI & CHEESE

    Up-front disclosure: We’re really picky about our food, and have never enjoyed powdered cheese sauce. Our mom made mac and cheese from scratch, grating cheddar, gruyère or parmesan into her béchamel.

    She used bricks Cracker Barrel cheddar, her brand of choice. Back then, specialty cheese stores were few and far between; and even today, it’s not easy for many people to find the finest farmhouse (artisan) cheddars (and if you found them, the best use would not be grated into a cheese sauce).

    So we were more than interested to see what Cracker Barrel would present as a packaged mac and cheese.

    It’s the cheese that makes the biggest difference in preparations, and Cracker Barrel does not disappoint. Its cheese sauce is not mixed from powder, but is ready to eat, squeezed from a package onto the cooked elbow macaroni.

    Smooth, creamy and full of flavor, it has a distinctively superior taste, creating what you’d expect from a casual restaurant instead of a boxed product.

     

    Macaroni & Cheese Breadcrumbs

    Macaroni & Cheese Broccoli

    Lobster Mac & Cheese

    BLT Mac & Cheese

    Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese

    [1] A bread crumb topping was suggested in Mrs. Beeton’s 1861 cookbook. [2] Sneaking in broccoli and riced cauliflower. [3] Go upscale with added shellfish; here, lobster (photo courtesy Blake’s). [4] BLT mac & cheese (photo courtesy WMMB). [5] The best boxed mac and cheese, new from Cracker Barrel.

     
    And while it comes in a box, Cracker Barrel is not meant to compete with other boxed mac and cheese (Kraft owns Cracker Barrel as well as the number-one brand, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese) but with prepared dishes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and with restaurant dishes. (Kraft, which owns the Cracker Barrel trademark, has no relation to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.)

    People with sophisticated palates will notice the quality. Yet, the price is not much more than other boxed meals.

    There are four varieties of Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese, featuring different cheese options:

  • Cheddar Havarti
  • Sharp Cheddar
  • Sharp Cheddar & Bacon
  • Sharp White Cheddar
  •  
    You can dress up the dish with anything you like. We enjoy it plain with fresh-cracked pepper and some grated parmesan, but also loved:

  • Bay scallops and toasted crumbs—shades of Coquilles Saint Jacques.
  • BLT-style, with a topping of bacon, baby arugula and diced tomato.
  • Ham and cheese—we had some baked ham as well as serrano ham. We julienned the former, shredded the latter and snipped some fresh herbs on top.
  • Veggie supreme, made with all our leftover vegetables. Tip: put the veggies on the bottom and they’ll be coated with cheese sauce.
  •  
    DOES MAC & CHEESE REQUIRE ELBOW MACARONI?

    No: You can use any pasta. Elbow macaroni most likely became the standard because it was easy for children to eat with a spoon.

    We heard one of our favorite chefs—Gordon Ramsay—chew out a chef on TV for making mac and cheese with penne, insisting that it must be made with elbows.

    Not so, chef!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Frittata For Dinner

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

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

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

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

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

    Consider:

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

    RECIPE: KITCHEN SINK FRITTATA

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

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

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

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

  • Side salad
  • Toast or bread and butter
  •  

    Potato & Sausage Frittata

    Avocado Arugula Frittata

    Frittata Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

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