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Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: French Cheeses With American Meals


A beautiful blue: fourme d’ambert is made
from pasteurized cow’s milk in Auvergne.
Each wheel is formed from unpressed curds
inoculated with a less spicy blue mold than
that of its cousin, Roquefort. Photo courtesy
Murray’s Cheese.


We have friends who are French cheese snobs. They grew up on it, they love it, and they only vary their choice when in need of Parmigiano-Reggiano for pasta or risotto.

So we wondered what we would do without the Cheddar, cream cheese, mozzarella, ricotta and other standards in the American diet. We gave the experts at Cheeses Of France a long list of favorite American recipes with cheese, and asked them to “Frenchify” it.

The recommendations are below. Before jumping in, we have an editorial note:

Each publication creates its own “style sheet”—a consistent set of editing choices from the options available, such as p.m. versus pm and farmers market versus farmers’ market or farmer’s market. THE NIBBLE chooses to capitalize proper names, such as American cheese versus american cheese and Champagne versus champagne. Raclette is not the name of a place (it means “to scrape”) and chevre means “goat,” so they normally would not be capitalized under our conventions. Brie and Morbier are villages on France, so we typically would capitalize them.

But when we looked at the lengthy list below, we decided that consistency made more sense. So we’ve decided use the lower case for all of the cheeses.

Now, on to the cheese. If we’ve left out any of your favorite cheesy dishes, let us know. And if you haven’t heard of particular cheeses, great: The voyage of discovery starts here.

And these wonderful cheeses are not just for recipes: They belong on your cheese plate as well!

  • Breakfast Cheese On Bagel/Toast: brie, fromager d’affinois or the whipped cheese laita
  • Cheese Balls: comté trois comtois, des domes, fourme d’ambert, livradois, raclette
  • Cheese Biscuits: comté trois comtois (a.k.a. les 3 comptois)
  • Cheeseburger: abondance, beaufort, blue cheese (fourme d’ambert, bleu d’auvergne), cantal, comté, morbier, munster, raclette
  • Cheesecake: laita
  • Cheese Omelet: comté, fromager d’affinois with garlic and herbs or with truffles, young cantal (although any cheese could go into an omelet)
  • Cheese Dog: montboissier, morbier, raclette
  • Cheese Fries: melting cheese such as raclette, hard cheese such as comté, emmental, morbier

  • Cheese Sauce: blue cheese, fourme d’ambert
  • Cheese Straws: cantal, munster
  • Cottage Cheese and Fruit Salad: laita
  • Fondue: comté, emmental, tome de montagne
  • Fried Cheese: emmental, montboissier, morbier, raclette, tome de savoie
  • Grating: cantal, comté jeune, emmental
  • Ham & Cheese: brie, comté, fromager d’affinois (any variety), morbier, petit cantal, raclette, tome de savoie
  • Macaroni & Cheese: hard cheese—beaufort, cantal, comté
  • Macaroni & Cheese: semisoft cheese—morbier, montboissier, raclette
  • Mashed Potatoes: comté, laita, montboissier, morbier, raclette
  • Nachos: morbier, raclette
  • Pierogi/Ravioli: bleu d’auvergne, comté, emmental
  • Pizza: blue cheese—bleu d’auvergne, fourme d’ambert


    Morbier is a mild French cow’s milk cheese that is easily recognized by the dark vein of vegetable ash streaking through its middle. Photo courtesy Artisanal Cheese.

  • Pasta: grated hard cheese—abondance, beaufort, comté
  • Pasta: semi soft cheese—morbier, raclette
  • Pasta: blue cheese—bleu d’auvergne, fourme d’ambert
  • Risotto: grated hard cheese such as abondance, beaufort, comté; semisoft cheese such as raclette
  • Salad (Mild Cheese): hard cheese like cantal or comté
  • Salad (Strong Cheese): cubes of blue cheese—fourme d’ambert, bleu d’auvergne
  • Scones & Muffins: abondance, cantal, comté, emmental
  • Stuffed Chicken Breast: bleu d’auvergne, comté, fourme d’ambert, raclette
  • Stuffed Mushrooms: bleu d’auvergne, comté or mix (for topping, the melt under the grill)
  • Soup: cantal, comté
  • Tuna Melt: comté, morbier, raclette
    Hungry yet? We’re off to make an omelet with one of our new discoveries, fromager d’affinois aux truffes. It was around for the holidays and we loaded up. It will be back again for Easter.

    Look for it in gourmet/specialty food stores, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s (theirs is called “truffle brie”) and some Costcos. If you love truffles, don’t miss it!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Decorated Goat Cheese Logs

    Goat cheese logs: plain, green and
    pink-themed. Photo courtesy Vermont


    You can take a plain log of goat cheese and decorate it for any special occasion. We’ve included suggestions for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas below. But you don’t need an official holiday—just friends and family who’d appreciate the treat.

    You can serve the log on a cheese board, slice it to top salads, serve for brunch with toast and bagels, top brown rice or other whole grains, etc., etc., etc.

    When selecting the goat cheese, look for logs that are firmer than the rest. Very creamy logs are hard to roll.

    Decide on your custom herb-spice mix, and choose a “base” herb or spice for rolling the entire log, plus an “accent” (or accents) to sprinkle on. The herbs and spices mentioned below are only suggestions. Browse the spice racks, dried fruit and vegetable mixes, nuts, seeds, etc. to see what inspires you.

    For example, you might want a touch of chili flakes, but don’t want to enrobe the entire log in them.

    Minced fresh herbs provide better green color (and fresher flavor) than dried herbs.


    Ingredients (Select A Custom Mix)

  • Valentine’s Day: chili flakes, minced dried cherries or cranberries, paprika, pink peppercorns
  • St. Patrick’s Day: bright green fresh herbs, green peppercorns, pepitas
  • Halloween: turmeric and cracked black peppercorns
  • Christmas: green herbs, green peppercorns, pink or red peppercorns

  • Goat cheese log

    1. FREEZE goat cheese logs for 20 minutes prior to rolling (longer if needed), to firm them up.

    2. ASSEMBLE herbs and spices. Line a cutting board or baking pan with wax paper.

    3. ROLL the log in the “base” herb or spice. Sprinkle with the accents. Then roll a piece of wax paper around the log, gently pressing the herbs and spices into the log.

    4. REFRIGERATE until ready to use.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 28 Fondue Recipes For National Fondue Month


    Dip anything you like, including chicken
    cubes. Photo courtesy DairyMax.


    February is National Fondue Month, a fitting dish for Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day and the other 26 days of February. There are 28 recipes are below.

    For an overview of fondue, how to cook it and what to dip into it, the history of fondue and more, check out our main cheese fondue article. Head here for chocolate fondue.

  • Apple Lovers Fondue: Blend 1 cup apple chutney (or to taste) to Cheddar, fondue.
  • Americana Fondue: Melt Vermont Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Maytag Blue cheeses with white wine.
  • Bar Boy Fondue: Melt Cheddar cheese and beer. Be sure to have pretzels and sausage to dip.
  • Blue Fondue: Melt Gruyère, Emmenthaler and Gorgonzola with white wine. Use Roquefort instead of Gorgonzola for stronger blue cheese flavor. If you’re an uber-blue fan, you can use Emmenthaler, Gorgonzola and Roquefort instead of the Gruyère.

  • California Fondue: goat cheese, Gruyère or other Swiss-style cheese, sundried tomatoes, black olives and fennel pollen.
  • Caraway Fondue: Melt white Cheddar and American muenster with white wine. Season with caraway seeds.
  • Classic Fondue: Melt Gruyère and Emmenthaler with white wine and Kirschwasser (cherry brandy). Season with a garlic clove.
  • Cheddar Fondue: Melt aged sharp Cheddar and Emmenthaler cheeses with beer. Season with fresh black pepper a garlic clove. Be sure to serve fruit along with other dippers.
  • Croque Monsieur: Croque monsieur is a classic French sandwich of ham and Gruyère, grilled to toasty perfection. Add a small dice of ham to Gruyère fondue and toast the bread cubes.
  • Dutch Fondue: While not a true Kaas Doop (there’s no milk to dilute the strength of the cheese), melt Gouda with some beer and brandy, juggling the proportions of the alcohols to your preference. Season with fresh-grated nutmeg.
  • Exotic Fondue: This fondue is made from the exotic-flavored cheese of your choice. It could be Rogue Creamery’s Chocolate Stout Cheddar, the Cheddar With Thai Curry from Coombe Castle of England, or your favorite truffle cheese.
  • Goat Cheese Fondue: Melt goat Cheddar and Jack cheeses with white wine. Season with chopped Portabella mushrooms. (Several companies make goat Cheddar; at least one, Meyenberg, makes several different types of goat Jack.)
  • Italian Fondue: Melt Fontina and Taleggio cheeses. Mix in 1 cup of crushed tomatoes (canned or aseptic boxed tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes for this recipe). Season with chopped fresh basil and garlic.
  • Nacho Fondue: Mix a cup of salsa (or to taste) with a blend of Cheddar and Gruyère. Anything from mild to hot salsa will do; peach salsa adds sweetness. If you like the heat, add diced jalapeños; and of course, add tortilla chips to the dippers.

  • Onion Lovers Fondue: Stir a cup of caramelized onions into classic Gruyère fondue. Add green onions to the mix of vegetable dippers.
  • Pesto Fondue: Melt Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses with white wine. Season with basil pesto (or, if you’re adventurous, one of the numerous flavored pestos from our Best Pestos article).
  • Philly Cheesecake Fondue: Add diced cubes of steak to a Cheddar fondue.
  • Port & Stilton Fondue: These British classics combine, along with chunks of pear; white Port substitutes for conventional white wine. For a crunchy touch, use raw pear; for a softer touch, lightly poach the pear.
  • Pungent Fondue: Use your favorite “stinky cheese.” You can start with a highly aromatic but mild cheese like Taleggio.
  • Raclette: Raclette is a Swiss cheese conventionally served shaved from the wheel, on a plate with bread, cornichons and pickled onions. You can also melt it in a fondue pot and serve it with its traditional garnishes.


    Classic fondue. Photo courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

  • Royal Fondue: Blend Gruyère, Emmenthaler, Brie and Roquefort with white wine. This “royal” blend features the “king” and “queen” of cheeses, Roquefort and Brie. Season with a garlic clove and some lemon juice.
  • Shepherd’s Fondue: Melt your favorite sheep’s milk cheese (we use Roncal) with some fresh herbs.
  • “South of the Border” Fondue: You have a few options here. (a) Aged Sharp Cheddar and Emmenthaler cheeses with salsa (a cooked, shelf stable salsa is better than a watery fresh salsa—read the difference). (b) For more chile heat, blend Aged Sharp Cheddar and Emmenthaler cheeses with your choice of chopped ancho, jalapeño or smoky chipotle chiles). (c) For built-in heat, melt Cabot’s Chipotle Cheddar or Habanero Cheddar cheese, or other chile-based cheese. Use beer as your cooking liquid in all recipes. See our Chile Glossary for information about the different types of chiles.
  • Smoky Fondue: Melt smoked Cheddar with beer. Serve with smoked chicken, smoked sausage, steamed vegetables and pretzels.
  • Spanish Fondue: Melt Manchego cheese with sherry.
  • Swiss Cheese Fondue: Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses with a dry white wine base. Garlic, Kirschwasser and an array of other spices.
  • Triple Crème Fondue: Blend a triple crème Brie, St. André or Explorateur cheese and Gorgonzola Dolce, a sweeter, creamier version of mountain Gorgonzola. If you don’t like Gorgonzola, make a Brie and St. André or Explorateur blend and be prepared to go over the top. Drinking Champagne or other sparkling wine may help take the edge off. Fruit, bread and more delicate dippers pair better with this recipe than do heavier items like sausage.
  • Wild Mushroom Fondue: Blend Gruyère and Emmenthaler with chopped, sautéed morels, porcinis or other wild mushrooms (see our Mushroom Glossary).
    COMING TOMORROW: Dessert Fondue



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Egg Whites

    It must be “egg day” at THE NIBBLE: We just finished an article on the new pullet eggs (“farmer’s eggs”) from Fresh Direct. And now, some suggestions for leftover egg whites.

    More than a few recipes require just the yolk of the egg: custard (including crème brûlée), egg nog, hollandaise sauce, Key lime pie, mayonnaise and pudding, to name a few.

    So what do you do with the leftover whites?

    It’s easy enough to combine them with whole eggs in a scramble or an omelet. You can also toss them into soup that you’re heating, to create the ribbon effect in Chinese egg drop soup. The extra egg white adds more protein, for just 17 calories (per large egg white). You can add one or two extra whites to cake batter.

    But here’s a list we got from years ago, and continue to build on.
    Uses For 1 Egg White

  • Add To Frittatas, Omelets Or Scrambles
  • Soufflés (an extra 1-2 whites add to height and volume)
  • Sugared Nuts

    Add extra egg whites to a regular frittata or omelet. Photo courtesy

    Uses For 2 Egg Whites

  • Cake Frostings (buttercream, seven-minute frosting and marshmallow frosting)
  • Coconut Macaroons
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Marshmallows
    Uses For 3 Egg Whites

  • Egg White Omelet (add spinach and herbs)
  • Lemon Meringue Pie
  • Meringue Cookies
  • Nougat

    Make meringues: delicious, crunchy,
    cholesterol-free cookies. Photo courtesy
    American Egg Board.


    More Egg Whites

  • Angel Food Cake or White Cake
  • Baked Alaska
  • Meringue Topping For Pies/Tarts
  • Pavlovas (meringue cups to hold custard, fruit curd, fresh fruit, mousse, whipped cream, etc.)
    But what if your goal is to make meringues or angel food cake, and you have leftover yolks?

    That’s another article. Stay tuned.




    PRODUCT: Farmer’s Eggs At Fresh Direct

    In the New York area, online grocer is so ubiquitous that it’s often hard to think of it as a Northeast regional business.

    It overs only five states: Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. While there are numerous online grocers covering the country, Fresh Direct is known for delivering top quality produce, meats and seafood and prepared foods, as well as non-perishables.

    And such convenience: The customer picks the delivery time, 7 days a week. Your order can arrive from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays or 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays—just the flexibility that those of us who work long hours need.

    The company is committed to sourcing the best and newest products for its customers and to helping small farmers optimize their revenue.

    That’s what happened on a trip to Alderfer Farm, a fourth generation family farm in Pennsylvania that produces organic eggs. David McInerny, a co-founder of Fresh Direct, inquired about eggs he saw that were set aside from the rest.


    The brown farmer’s egg compared to a large organic egg. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.


    “We don’t sell them,” was the response. “Retailers don’t want them. So we send them to breaking companies,” where they are cracked and packaged for foodservice or other applications.


    But these smaller eggs are actually tastier, and are a “secret” product enjoyed by the farmers themselves, unknown by the outside world. (Similarly, hanger steak was kept by the butchers for their own families, until it was discovered by chefs.)

    A young hen, called a pullet, will begin to lay eggs at 19-20 weeks. Pullet eggs are much smaller, but produce fluffier cooked eggs with creamier yolks. The tight albumen sets up better for poached eggs. The shells are harder, which means low likelihood of bits of shell falling into the cracked egg.

    Part of the flavor and the deeper color of the yolk is because pullets are pickier eaters: They pick out the corn from the feed mix.

    The eggs are sold by Fresh Direct as “farmer’s eggs” under FreshDirect’s private label brand, Just FreshDirect, three times a year.

    Farmer’s eggs are available through the end of the month, or while supplies last; will be available again in late May or early June, and in September, as the latest crop of pullets starts to produce; and only are produced for four weeks, when the pullet grows larger and produces larger eggs.


    Omelet time: a half dozen “farmer’s eggs,”
    small eggs from young hens (pullets). Photo
    courtesy Fresh Direct.

      Organic farmer’s eggs are $3.69 a dozen from

    If you want a better-tasting egg, give them a try. We’d like to add our observation that organic eggs in general taste better than conventional eggs (due in part to superior feed).

    You’ll also enjoy these “farmer’s eggs” knowing that the hens are:

  • Fed 100% organic grains, most milled right on the same farm.
  • Never fed animal fats, hormones or GMOs.
  • Free range, with access to the the outdoors and natural sunlight as well as plenty of space in their barns to roam, roost and nest.
  • Cared for in a natural and healthy environment without the need for antibiotics or medication.
    The calories are lower, too: 50 calories, compared to 70 calories in a large egg. One dozen organic eggs are $3.69.

    Check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary.


    Also new in the refrigerator case is Just Fresh Direct pasteurized organic milk.

    Isn’t all milk pasteurized? Yes, but for years it has been ultrapasteurized, to afford retailers a 60-90 day shelf life.

    Ultrapasteurization (also called UHT, for ultra-high temperature) is the process of super-heating milk or cream to 275°F for 4 to 15 seconds or 280°F for at least two seconds. Regular pasteurization heats the milk to 161°F for 15 seconds.

    The ultra-high temperature kills off all bacteria—not just the harmful ones, but the benign ones that can potentially sour milk but also provide flavor to fresh milk. Now, you can enjoy Just Fresh Direct’s fresher-flavor organic milk with your better-tasting organic eggs.

    FOOD HISTORY: Routine pasteurization in the U.S. began around 1920, as a way to prevent illnesses caused by contaminated milk, including tuberculosis. Here’s the scoop.



    PRODUCT: Goat Cheese Crumbles

    Photo by Béatrice Peltre | La Tartine
    Gourmande in Boston. Check out her
    beautiful food photos. Above, Apricot and Thyme crumbles with Cranberry and Thyme Crumbles in the background.


    “Crumbled goat cheese is the largest category of the goat cheese market,” says Allison Hooper, co-founder of the splendiferous Vermont Creamery. “People love them on salads, and appreciate the ease and convenience.”

    Who knew? We typically see blue cheese crumbles in our New York City supermarkets. But since the stores in this cramped city tend to be smaller than elsewhere, we’ve never seen goat cheese crumbles. We simply take a log and crumble our own.

    But the ease and convenience factor beckons, not to mention the delicious flavored crumbles Vermont Creamery has created:

  • Classic Chèvre* Crumbles (plain), with a recipe on the label for Raspberry Walnut Salad
  • Apricot & Thyme Crumbles, with a Beet Salad recipe (see photo below)
  • Cranberry & Tarragon Crumbles with a recipe for Orange Fennel Salad
  • Tomato & Basil Crumbles with a recipe for Quinoa, Edamame & Tomato Salad
    You can find all the recipes on the Vermont Creamery website.

    The fresh goat cheese is crumbled by hand and mixed with carefully selected dried fruit and fresh herbs. Fresh Goat Cheese Crumbles are available in 4-ounce containers with an MSRP† of $5.99.


    Not all crumbled cheese products are of top quality. When we’ve purchased blue cheese crumbles at the supermarket, for example, they’ve tended to be dried out, hard and not pleasant.

    These crumbles are first-class, made with award-winning Vermont Creamery chèvre and the highest quality herbs and dried fruit.

    Unlike most other crumbles on the market, Vermont Creamery’s Crumbles do not use any mold inhibitors or anti-caking agents like cellulose, so there isn’t a “dry mouth feel.”
    *Chèvre is the French word for goat cheese (and also for the goat itself).

    †MRSP is the manufacturers recommended sale price.



    Naturally high in protein and calcium, each serving of the Fresh Goat Cheese Crumbles contains fewer than 100 calories, adding flavor and nutrition to salads and other dishes. Use them to top:

  • Burgers (an occasion for lamb burgers!)
  • Broiled/roasted fish, meat and other proteins
  • Bruschetta, crostini, hors d’oeuvre
  • Pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains
  • Pizza and flat breads
  • Salads—green, pasta, egg salad, chicken salad, fruit salad, etc.
  • Sandwiches, for just a touch of flavor on grilled vegetable, ham
  • Soups and stews
  • Tacos, enchiladas, refried beans, quesadillas, tostadas and wherever queso fresco is called for
  • Vegetables, especially beets!
  • General garnish
    †If you are crumbling feta, first slice and run under cold water for 10 seconds to wash away any brine and firm up the cheese.


    A marriage made in heaven: goat cheese and beets—here, three varieties of beets. Photo by Béatrice Peltre | La Tartine Gourmande.



    1. FIRM it. If the cheese is very soft, first put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm it up.

    2. CUT into slices or in half-inch cubes (for blue and feta).

    3. USE your fingers or the tines of a fork to break the cheese into small pieces, as fine as you like. Do not mash.

    Read our review of Vermont Creamery, a Top Pick Of The Week (actually, a Top Pick forever!).



    FOOD FUN: Bear In A Blanket

    Who can resist this edible bear? Photo


    We love this brown rice bear in an omelet blanket. What a fun dinner idea for this quiet week, along with a colorful side salad. Have the kids help make it!

    Bear in a Blanket was created by Angie Ramirez of, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    The recipe takes only 20 minutes of prep time, 50 minutes of cook time.


    Ingredients For One Bear & Blanket

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 scrambled eggs (for the blanket)
  • Small, thin slices of cheese (for the ears and nose)
  • Small, thin slices of black olive (for the eyes and nose)


    1. COOK brown rice on stove top as directed on package, or about 45-50 minutes.

    2. SCRAMBLE eggs with a pinch of salt over medium/high temperature in a lightly buttered skillet pan.

    3. ASSEMBLE the bear in a blanket: Place about 1/2 cup of rice in the middle of the plate to form the bear’s body. Then scoop a medium size ball of rice to form the head. To form the bear’s ears, use a small amount of rice by shaping it like a half circle. Place the omelet on top of the bear’s body to form the blanket. Attach the olive and cheese slivers to form his ears, nose and eyes.

    Serve to happy diners!




    Looking at a lot of leftovers today? Make a strata!

    A strata is a layered casserole, related by eggs and cheese to a fritatta or quiche, made from a mixture of bread, eggs and cheese plus any vegetables and proteins you have on hand. You can serve it for any meal, from breakfast through dinner.

    Wile it sounds Italian, the strata is actually American in origin. The earliest recipe has been found in a 1902 book, Handbook of Household Science. That first recipe used white sauce instead eggs.

    Today’s variations include everything from sweet stratas like French Toast Strata to savory stratas, like the recipe below. A strata can make good use of leftovers:

  • Breads: baguette, brioche, challah, cornbread, panettone, whole grain, seasoned bread crumbs for topping, stuffing or any type of bread
  • Cheese: any type at all, from blue, goat and feta to cheddar, gruyère and mozzarella
  • Seasonings: chile, garlic, pesto, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, berries, dried fruits (including raisins), pineapple
  • Meats: Bacon, chicken, ham, sausage
  • Onions: caramelized onions, chives, leeks,
  • Crab, smoked salmon, tuna, any leftovers

    Yummy layers of eggs, bread and any leftovers you have. Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, herbs, mushroom, spinach, potato, pumpkin, tomato, zucchini
    Here are hundreds of strata recipes.

    This recipe is from the National Pork Board, which has many delicious recipes at


    The National Pork Board says: This recipe is wonderful for Christmas morning or New Year’s Day because it takes advantage of the previous night’s leftover roast. You can substitute cooked sausage—breakfast or Italian—or even diced ham for the pork. On the side, serve a citrus and avocado salad and cinnamon-laced coffee.


    Don’t like goat cheese? Bell peppers?
    Whatever? Substitute an ingredient you do
    like. Photo courtesy


    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 12 ounces cooked roast pork, shredded or cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)
  • Oil spray
  • 12 ounces crusty Italian or French bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
  • 1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) spreadable goat cheese, crumbled*
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk (regular or lowfat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. SPRAY a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking oil. Arrange 1/2 of the bread in the dish. Top with 1/2 of the pork, 1/2 of the chiles, 1/2 of the cheese, and 1/2 of the sage. Repeat 1 time, making 2 layers. Set aside.

    3. WHISK the eggs in a large bowl; then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over casserole and set aside for 20 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it absorb the liquid.

    4. BAKE until browned and the center is set, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

    *Don’t buy pre-crumbled goat cheese; it doesn’t melt as well.



    PRODUCT: Cream Cheese & Sour Cream Hybrids With Greek Yogurt

    We have long been cutting down the fat content of our dips by mixing sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt. Sooner or later, dairy producers were going to figure out that creamy, nonfat Greek yogurt could be used to lower the fat count and calorie count in those two voluptuous, fatty and caloric dairy staples, cream cheese and sour cream.


    We initially received the news from Breakstone, which launched the first nationally “hybrid” last month: delicious Greek Style Sour Cream. It contains 50% less fat, 40% less cholesterol, and twice the calcium and protein of regular sour cream (each two tablespoon serving has 4% of the daily value for calcium and 2 grams of protein).

    They sent us samples. It is smooth, creamy, far superior to nonfat sour cream, and no one will know the difference. Use it instead of full fat sour cream in any recipe. We were so excited, we devoured half the carton with a spoon.

    The product is certified kosher by OU.


    A guilty pleasure: sour cream with New York Style Bagel Chips. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



    Available in bricks and tubs. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Farms.



    Then, we were trolling the aisles of our supermarket and saw Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese. Green Mountain Farms is a brand of Franklin Foods.

    Similar to the Breakstone Greek Sour Cream, the blending of nonfat Greek yogurt into cream cheese results in two times the protein and half the fat of conventional cream cheese, plus “live and active cultures.”

    Our market only carried the plain version, but it also is made in Cucumber Garlic, Garlic & Herb, Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato. The products are packaged in bricks and tubs. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Strangely, we detected a very slight sweetness to the product, such that we checked the label to see if any sweetener was in it (there isn’t any).


    While this might be delicious on a cinnamon raisin bagel, it was distracting on our poppy seed bagel with smoked salmon. The product consistency was less firm than conventional cream cheese (in the way that fat-free cream cheese can be), but not disconcertingly so.

    Try it yourself and see if you like it. When we’re in a fat-cutting mode, however, we’ll stick with Philadelphia Fat Free.

    Neither the Greek sour cream or Greek cream cheese is Greek in origin. The name simply refers to the Greek-style yogurt used in the blend.

    If you’re looking to cut back on fat, “Greek” is the new lower-fat. Opa!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Cheese

    Some types of cheese in full, uncut wheels—Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano, for example—can age for several years. Their flavor, aroma and texture grow more complex over time.

    But for most cheeses, once the wheel is cut and the rind is broken, the cheese begins to deteriorate. Small pieces of cheese have an even shorter lifespan than large, cut wheels.

    Given the cost of cheese, you don’t want it to spoil before each delicious bite is consumed. So here are tips to properly handle and store your cheese. The tips are from*, which sells specialty paper for wrapping cheese. (The two-ply cheese paper maintains proper humidity and allows adequate oxygen exchange to keep cheese alive [breathing] and tasty. It is the same paper used by leading Parisian fromageries.)
    *Formaticum is a noun created from the Latin verbs forma, to shape or mold, and aticum, to age. It was first used by Roman legionnaires to describe a specific cheese of compressed curds of milk, made in a mold.


    The best way to wrap cheese is in special cheese paper. Photo courtesy Formicatum.



    There is no single way to store all the many types of cheeses. But one general tip is:

    1. DON’T WRAP CHEESE IN PLASTIC. It needs to breathe. To retain its delicate flavor balance, the cheese requires both oxygen exchange and storage at the proper humidity. Non-porous materials like plastic wrap suffocate a cheese. In soft cheeses, they accelerate an ammonia aroma. Non-porous wraps also trap too much moisture, accelerating the growth of invasive surface molds.

    Wax paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap are unsuitable for wrapping cheese because they neither regulate humidity nor allow oxygen exchange. Cheeses wrapped in them are more likely to dry out, grow surface molds and otherwise spoil. If you’re planning to finish the cheese in a day or two it’s not an issue; but if you’re not sure when you’ll get around to eating it, you should invest in cheese paper (check out the Formicatum website).

    2. AVOID PRE-CUT, PLASTIC WRAPPED CHEESE. For the best possible flavor, shop at a cheese counter with unwrapped cheeses. Cheese that is cut to order is always the freshest and tastiest. Always taste before you buy. Try to avoid plastic-wrapped, pre-cut pieces of cheese. If those are your only choices, however, be mindful of the “cut and packaged date” on the label and be sure the cut date is within a day of purchase. When you get home, you can rewrap the cheese in cheese paper (or waxed paper, in a pinch).


    If you buy a lot of fine cheese, consider a
    cheese dome. This one is from Core Bamboo.


    3. CONSIDER A CHEESE DOME. Cheese domes (photo at left) are a great way to store cheese without wrapping. Cheese stored under a glass dome creates its own climate and proper humidity. White mold, soft ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert and washed rind cheeses (the “stinky” group) are ideal when stored under a cheese dome. They’re available with a marble, wood or glass base, and are a terrific gift idea for someone who enjoys good cheese frequently. (Or give them a box of cheese paper.)

    4. STORE EACH CHEESE INDIVIDUALLY. Never wrap different cheeses together: Their flavors will interact and none of them will taste as good as they should. Label the cheese with the date of purchase (and the name, if you won’t remember it).



    CUTTING. Cut soft cheese while it’s cold (we put very soft cheeses like chèvre logs in the freezer to firm up so we can cut slices for salads). Harder cheeses such as aged Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano are much easier to cut at room temperature. For hard cheese, a sharp cheese knife with an offset handle is the professional utensil of choice. For soft cheese a wire cheese cutter will ensure clean cuts. Always clean tool the tool before slicing, to prevent the introduction of new molds or bacteria.

    “FACE CLEAN.” Before re-wrapping cheeses that have been at room temperature cheeses, blot or use a serrated knife to scrape any oil or moisture that has formed on the surface. Always rewrap in clean wrapping material.

    TEMPERATURE. Cheese should ideally be enjoyed at room temperature, but will last longer in the fridge. Drastic temperature changes are not good for fine cheese. Keep cheese in the fridge and only remove and warm to room temperature what you will consume in each sitting. If you have leftover cheese that has been sitting out for hours, store it under a cheese dome at room temperature and finish it the next day. Soft cheese that has been left out overnight is delicious on morning toast. Never freeze cheese.

    CHECKING IN. Don’t loose cheese at the back of the fridge; it’s too expensive to throw out when you discover it weeks or months later. Check and rewrap the cheese periodically if the wrapper has become damp or oil-stained, and plan to eat it (or give it to someone who will).
    Discover much more about cheese and read reviews of our favorites in our Cheese Section.


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