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Beautiful Cheese: Port Wine Derby Cheese From England

There are a few cheeses that can turn a cheese plate into edible art.

One of these is Port Wine Derby, a smooth, creamy Derby cheese marbled with an infusion of Port wine to create an exquisite deep purple pattern.

The color and sweet blackcurrant undertones come from the Port wine, which is added to the vat to naturally blend with the maturing cheese (known as “vat made”).

It’s made by Belton Farm in Whitchurch, a market town in the north of Shropshire, England in the Midlands region of Central England and two miles east of the Welsh border.

The Beckett family has been making award-winning cheeses at Belton Farm since 1922. Port Wine Derby was a winner in the International Cheese Awards in 2019, the last pre-Pandemic year the show was held (the next one is in October 2021).

  • Serve it as the cheese course with a glass of Port, Zinfandel or other red wine*.
  • Enjoy as a snack with fruit and wine.
  • Serve cubes of it along with fruit (apples, grapes, pears e.g.) in a green salad.
  • Belton grates it into a cheese sauce for pasta.
  • The producer recommends a wheat beer pairing; or try a blonde/golden ale.
  • Pick a light-bodied white wine pairing, such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or Soave.
  •  
     
    WHAT IS DERBY CHEESE?

    Derby cheese is a mild, semi-firm cow’s milk cheese made in the rural county of Derbyshire, England since at least the 17th century.

    A traditional English-style cheese, it has a smooth texture with a mellow, buttery flavor.

    Derby is similar to its cousin cheeses Cheddar and Cheshire in taste and texture, but with a softer body and slightly higher moisture content.

    Like most of the traditional British hard cheeses, it was produced exclusively on farms and was typically sold at a younger age than its more famous cousins Cheddar and Cheshire. (Port Wine Darby is aged for four months before release; merchants can continue to age it.)

    When young, Derby is springy and mild. As it matures, subtle sweet flavors develop and the texture becomes firmer.

    BUY IT AT IGOURMET.COM
     
     
    MORE BEAUTIFUL CHEESES

  • Alp Blossom Cheese
  • Cahill’s Farm Cheddar
  •  
     
    > THE HISTORY OF CHEESE

    > THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHEESE

    ________________

    *Zinfandel substitutes include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Shiraz/Syrah.

     


    [1] Port Wine Derby, beautiful to look at, beautiful to eat (photos #1 and #4 © iGourmet).


    [2] One of the most beautiful wedges in the cheese world (photos #2 and #3 © Belton Farm).


    [3] Belton Farm also makes Sage Derby (photo © Belton Farm).


    [ ] Pair cheese with beautiful crackers, like these toasts in four flavors (shown, Apricot & Pistachio). Get them at iGourmet (photo © iGourmet).

     

      

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    Peach Ice Cream Recipe For National Peach Ice Cream Day


    [1] Churn your own: luscious homemade peach ice cream (photo © Dovile Ramoskaite | Unsplash).


    [2] Graeter’s makes a limited-edition peach ice cream each summer. Grab it while you can (photo © Graeter’s).


    [3] Even McConnell’s has discontinued its peach flavor (photo © McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams).

    Peach Ice Cream
    [4] No ice cream maker? Here’s a recipe for no-churn peach ice cream (photo © Bourbon And Honey).


    [5] The riper the peaches, the better. When peaches seem to be overripe, they may be just right to puree for ice cream (photo © Good Eggs).


    [6] Häagen-Dazs discontinued its peach ice cream (above), but now makes peach sorbetto (photo © Häagen-Dazs).

     

    July 17th is National Peach Ice Cream Day. Our favorite childhood flavor (along with pistachio), peach ice cream got nudged out of the lineup before the end of the last century. It was replaced by flavors such as Cookie Dough and Oreo.

    Even Talenti, which makes 51 flavors, ditched its Peachin favor of flavors like Banana Caramel Crunch, Chocolate Pretzel and Key Lime Pie.

    McConnell’s likewise: 24 flavors include Cherry Cheesecake & Graham Cracker Crumble, Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Honey & Cornbread Cookies, but no more peach (take a last look at it in photo #3). Only Graeter’s, it seems, remains.

    Why? Like anything else, trends. Younger customers have never had peach ice cream. And caramel, cookies and crunch sound better to them than fruit.

    Plus, fresh peaches are only available for four months at best (although frozen peaches work), so only smaller artisan producers tend to make it (look for Graeter’s—photo #2).

    We made a batch with fresh peaches (recipe below); and it was so heavenly, we’ll be trying the frozen peaches when the summer is open.
     
     
    WHAT ARE AMERICA’S FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

    A recent Newsweek article reported on the most popular ice cream flavors in the U.S., based on a YouGov survey of approximately 20,000 adults. The results were released in July 2020.

    The most popular flavor are, in order:

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Strawberry
  • Butter Pecan
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • Rocky Road
  • Coffee
  • Pistachio
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Neapolitan
  • Birthday Cake/Cake Batter
  •  
    While we like any ice cream, and have a particular fondness for five of those flavors, we’ll be making more peach ice cream next weekend. (Not so amazingly, yesterday’s quart is all gone.)
     
     
    RECIPE: PEACHES & CREAM ICE CREAM

    This rich and creamy recipe delivers a “peaches and cream” flavor rather than pure peach intensity.

    It’s an extremely rich French custard recipe (or “French-style” ice cream), in the manner of Häagen-Daz, which includes eggs.

    The recipe can be used with any type of fruit, as long as you have 5 cups of purée. The proportions work for a 4-quart ice cream maker. You can cut it in half.

    When making ice cream, use very ripe fruit. Every time we see fresh peaches on sale because they’re so ripe that it’s their “last day,” we scoop them up and make ice cream.

    Tips:

  • To ripen your peaches or other fruit, place them in a brown paper bag and set them on the counter for a day or more. Check them daily: They can over-ripen quickly.
  • As with tomatoes, you can peel stone fruit easily by blanching in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Transfer into a pot of cold water. The skins will slip off easily.
  • You can make the custard in advance and chill it for faster processing.
  •  
    Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3½ cups sugar
  • 10 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped plus 3 peaches peeled and diced for inclusions (see directions above for easy peeling)
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the peaches in a food processor or blender, keeping the 3 cubed peaches aside. You need 5 cups of purée.

    2. MIX together in a large bowl the eggs and sugar until smooth. Stir in the 5 cups of purée; blend well.

    3. ADD the cream, milk, vanilla and salt; blend well. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions (do not overfill your machine). Add the cubed peaches (the “inclusions”) according to the instructions for inclusions.

    4. PLACE the ice cream in the freezer to harden. But before you do, enjoy a dish as “soft serve.” The flavors are more delicious right out of the churn, than after the ice cream hardens.
     
     
    MORE PEACH ICE CREAM RECIPES

  • This recipe from Chef David Venable adds peach nectar and sweetened condensed milk.
  • This recipe from the National Honey Board substitutes honey for white sugar.
  • No-Churn Ice Cream Recipes
  •  
     
    > THE HISTORY OF ICE CREAM
     
     
    > THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FROZEN DESSERTS
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF PEACHES

     

     
      

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    How About A Hot Dog Lavash Wrap For National Hot Dog Month?

    July is National Hot Dog Month, 31 days to try something new.

    We’ve seen hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough (photo #2), but why not a regular wrap?

    That’s what Atoria’s Bakery did with their whole grain lavash (lah-VASH), a flexble flatbread.

    Atoria’s makes lavash in Traditional, Garlic & Herb, Whole Grain & Flax, and new Roasted Red Pepper.

    We really liked the switch from the standard doughy white bread hot dog roll.
     
     
    WHAT IS LAVASH?

    Lavash is an Armenian flatbread made with wheat flour, water and salt.

    It can be topped with toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic and other seasonings.

    When fresh, lavash is soft and thin like a tortilla (but with more flavor), and is used as a sandwich wrap for kebabs and other foods.

    It hardens (or can be baked) into a crunchy cracker consistency.

    Use fresh lavash for wraps, rollups, panini, flatbread pizza base.

    Of course, use it as a substitute for other breads with soup, salads, stews, etc.

    You can slice it in advance, or be casual and just tear off pieces.

    We’re big fans of Atoria’s Bakery (here’s our review).

    You can order their lavash, naan and pita online.
     
     
    RECIPE: LAVASH DOGS

    Ingredients For 2 Dogs

  • 1 sheet Atoria’s lavash (photos #2 and #3), or substitute
  • 2 hot dogs or brats
  • Condiments: ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the sheet a lavash in half, horizontally.

    2. GRILL the hot dogs according to package instructions.

    If you want, you can also lightly grill the lavash—but not so that it’s too hot to handle.

    3. WRAP the lavash around the dog; then add condiments as desired.
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF FLATBREAD & LAVASH

    > THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD
     

    30 MORE HOT DOG RECIPES

    Beef dogs, chicken dogs, pork blend, turkey dogs, vegan dogs:

    These recipes work with any type of dog (leaving off the bacon and cheese for the vegan dogs, of course).

  • Bacon Cheese Dogs
  • Bacon Hot Dogs
  • Baked Beans & Franks
  • Beer & Pretzel Hot Dog Rolls Recipe
  • Creative Toppings For Burgers, Brats & Franks
  • Cubano Dog
  • Firecracker Hot Dogs
  • Grilled Potato Salad & Hot Dogs
  • Hot Dog & Tater Tot Skewers
  • Hot Dog Lollipops
  • Hot Dog Party Bar
  • Hot Dog Sculpture
  • Hot Dog Turducken: A Sausage Stuffed With A Hot Dog
  • Italian Hot Dogs
  • Kobe Beef/Wagyu Hot Dogs
  • Mini Corn Dogs
  • Six Regional Hot Dog Recipes
  • Specialty Hot Dog Toppings #1
  • Specialty Hot Dog Toppings #2
  • Top 10 Hot Dog Toppings
  • “Worm” Sandwiches
  • Wrapped Hot Dogs
  •  
     
    HOT DOG ROLL RECIPES

  • Homemade Hot Dog Rolls
  • How To Pack More Toppings Into The Roll
  • Pretzel & Beer Hot Dog Rolls
  • Uses For Leftover Hot Dog Rolls
  • Sourdough Hot Dog Rolls
  • 20 Other Uses For Hot Dog Rolls
  •  


    [1] Try a hot dog in a lavash wrap instead of a doughy white bread roll (all photos except #2 © Atoria’s Family Bakery).


    [2] Hot dog in a crescent roll wrap (photo © Bison Council).


    [3] Sheets of traditional lavash.


    [4] Look for the Atoria’s package.


    [5] Dips with all three of Atoria’s breads: lavash (at left), pita (at right) and naan (at top).


    [6] At dinner, lavash in the bread basket.

     

      

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    Best Blue Cheese Dressing For National Blue Cheese Dressing Day

    On July 16, 2018, the city of Buffalo, New York celebrated the first National Blue Cheese Dressing Day, honoring a “special sauce” that’s combined with chicken wings, celery and hot sauce to create Buffalo Wings.

    If you’re a Buffalo Wings fan, also note that:

  • National Blue Cheese Day is October 18th.
  • National Hot Sauce Day is November 5th.
  • National Chicken Wing Day is On July 29th (there is currently no National Buffalo Wings Day).
  •  
    There’s a great blue cheese dressing recipe below.

    Blue cheese dressing had a distinguished life before the creation of Buffalo Wings in 1964.

    While no one can date blue cheese dressing, the history of blue cheese dates to the 7th century to a cave outside the village of Roquefort in France.
     
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLUE CHEESE

    Blue cheeses aren’t blue, of course—they’re dotted with veins that are dark blue, blue-green, green or bluish-black.

    The veins are Penicillium molds—cousins of the antibiotic. The molds are also relatives of the bloomy mold that covers Bries and Camemberts.

    Blue cheese was an accidental discovery.

    The documented history of blue cheese begins in the 7th century to a cave outside the village of Roquefort in France.

    The legend has is that a distracted young man forgot his lunch of bread and sheep’s milk cheese in the cave (to romantics reading this, the details are that the shepherd saw a beautiful girl).

    When he returned months later, the mold (Penicillium roqueforti) had transformed his cheese into what we now known as Roquefort.

    Whatever the legend, blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident because cheeses were stored at natural temperatures and in the moisture-controlled caves, which are favorable environments for many varieties of harmless mold.

    Not everyone could access a cave. But fortunately, blue mold is abundant in the air. It grows rapidly and in proper conditions, it out-competes most other molds in the air [source].

    Give it a humid, damp environment with plenty of oxygen—including barns and cellars, where cheese was often stored—and you have the ideal environment for blue mold to grow.

    Once cheesemakers realized what was happening, they made pinholes in the cheeses to help the mold penetrate more easily. The practice continues today.

    Of the three best-known blues, Gorgonzola is known to have been created around 879 C.E.

    Stilton is a relatively new addition, becoming popular sometime in the early 1700s. Subsequently, numerous varieties of blue cheese were created, and still are.

    In the 20th century alone, Cambozola and Danablu were created to fill the demand for Roquefort-style cheeses that were more affordable. The double cream blue in photo #7 debuted in 1969.

    Great American cheese makers like Point Reyes Farmstead and Rogue Creamery created their cheeses in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    And cheese makers in the U.S. and Europe continue to work on blue cheese recipes to please blue cheese lovers and entice new ones.

    So…what about blue cheese dressing?

    No one knows when the first cook crumbled or mashed blue cheese into a dressing or sauce. Let’s just be grateful that the concept took off!

    Whether as a salad dressing, a sauce or dip, blue cheese dressing is a gift to food lovers. See more uses for blue cheese dressing below.
     
     
    POINT REYES FARM’S BLUE CHEESE DRESSING & DIP

    One of our favorite blue cheeses is Original Blue from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese in Marin County, California.

    Some 15 years ago, they created a blue cheese dressing with it, and it was magnificent.

    Alas, it proved impractical to produce over the long term, and it was discontinued. But thankfully, they made the recipe available.

    You can substitute a different blue cheese, but as with all cooking, the better the ingredients, the better the finished result.

    Even if you don’t use it in dressing, definitely enjoy Original Blue on your cheese plate.
     
    Ingredients For Approximately 2-1/2 Cups

  • 1 cup crumbled Point Reyes Original Blue (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper
     
    Preparation

    1. PULSE the mayonnaise, blue cheese, buttermilk, shallot, lemon zest and salt in a food processor or blender to make a chunky dip and dressing.

    2. STIR in the parsley and season with plenty of pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.

    You’ll love it.

     
    USES FOR BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

    When you use blue cheese dressing, consider add some blue cheese crumbles.

  • Buffalo wings and buffalo chicken
  • Crostini and garlic bread
  • Dip for chicken fingers, chips, crudités, fries, pretzels, etc.
  • Mix-in to coleslaw, egg salad, potato salad and other salads bound with mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt
  • Pasta: add some dressing to a white sauce
  • Salad dressing (especially Cobb salad, wedge salad and shaved Brussels sprouts)
  • Sauce for baked potatoes, burgers, chicken, lamb, pork chops, steak, veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Sandwich and wrap spread (don’t forget lettuce wraps and cups—and a BLT or BLAT)
  • White pizza drizzle
  •  


    [1] Point Reyes blue cheese dressing. The recipe is below (photo © Point Reyes Farmstead).


    [2] Original Blue, the cheese used in the dressing recipe (photo © Good Eggs).


    [3] Cobb Salad with a side of blue cheese dressing (photo © eMeals).


    [4] Wedge Salad, another popular use for blue cheese dressing (photo © Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse).


    [5] Gorgonzola cheese (photo © Castello Cheese).


    [6] Roquefort cheese, the first blue cheese (photo © Castello Cheese).


    [7] Double cream blue cheese is a variation introduced in Denmark in 1969 (photo © Castello Cheese).

     
    We like it as an easy deviled egg alternative, using it to garnish halves of hard-boiled eggs.

    You’re sure to find your own favorite ways.

      

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    Frozen Cantaloupe Cocktail Recipe (Frozen Cocktails Are Fun!)


    [1] Frozen melon cocktail served in melon halves. The recipe is below (photo © Melissa’s Produce).


    [2] A Charentais melon is a more refined cantaloupe. While you can’t smell or taste it here, look at the smoothe skin (photo © Marius Kant | Wikipedia).


    [3] Charentais melons in a market in France (public domain image).


    [4] The recipe requires melon balls, but you can scoop and freeze any melon balls for a quick frozen snack, or to defrost for dessert (photo © American Diabetes Association).


    [5] There are many fine tequilas, some with interesting packaging like this bottle from Santo Blanco (photo © Santo Spirit).


    [6] You can add some sizzle to your cocktail with Tanteo tequilas in Chipoitle, Habanero and Jalapeño (photo © Tanteo Tequila).

     

    What’s better on a hot day than a a frozen cocktail (or a non-alcoholic slushie—just leave out the tequila).

    This recipe, below, comes to us from Melissa’s Produce, which used a Charentais melon, a relative of cantaloupe.

    You can substitute cantaloupe or any other melon.

    There are also more delicious frozen drink recipes below.
     
     
    WHAT IS A CHARENTAIS MELON?

    This “gourmet” melon is a more elegant version of a cantaloupe—some call it a French cantaloupe.

    It has similar flesh, but was bred to be even sweeter, with a more intense and distinctive aroma of tropical fruit and flowers.

    The variety originated in the Poitou-Charentes* region of western France in the 1920s.

    It was developed as a refined cantaloupe with a smoother, more aesthetically appealing skin—minimally netted, as opposed to the complete netting on a cantaloupe skin.

    The size was smaller, too: a perfect “breakfast for two.”

    These melons were almost exclusively available in France, because their thin skin and soft flesh does not travel well.

    Thus, while they are prized, there is low production because they are too delicate for commercial shipping.

    To please melon lovers across the pond, small amounts were planted and hybrids were created by crossing the Charentais with North American cantaloupes. This created a larger size and a thicker skin for better shipping.

    There is limited production of Charentais melons in the U.S. today. But if you have space for gardening, you can buy seeds and grow your own.

    Or, a faster solution: get them from specialty produce purveyors like Melissa’s.

    (By the way, unlike another famous french melon, the Cavaillon, Charentais melons are not protected by an A.O.C. designation [appellation d’origine contrôlée], which limits by law the specific region(s) where a product can be grown/made [like Champagne and Roquefort cheese, e.g.]. Therefore, Charentais melons can legally be grown anywhere.)

    Charentais melons grow 6″ in diameter and weigh 3-4 pounds.

    Botanically, the Charentais melon is Cucurbitaceae Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis.

  • The Cucurbitaceae family includes the cucumber (Cucumis sativus), and muskmelons (Cucumis melo.
  • Cucumis melo, the same genus and species as the Charentais melon, is the same for cantaloupe and honeydew, among others. Thus, they’re half-siblings to the Charentais.
  •  
    The Charentais melon is especially prized in France for its rich, honeyed finish on the palate. The French serve them plain for breakfast, as an appetizer wrapped with Bayonne ham or proscuitto as an appetizer, and as melon balls drizzled with Port or other sweet wine for dessert.

     
    RECIPE: FROZEN CANTALOUPE COCKTAIL

    You can make this cocktail with any melon (and with cucumber, too). But if you want to serve it in a melon half, you’ll need to find a small cantaloupe.

    The frozen cocktail just as delicious in a Collins glass or a Margarita glass—and if you don’t want to scoop out the cantaloupe flesh when you’ve finished the drink, a glass is better.
     
     
    Ingredients For 2 Melon Halves

  • 3 cups Charentais melon balls, frozen (substitute cantaloupe or other melon)
  • 8 Fresh Raspberries frozen
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup blanco (silver) tequila
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec
  • 2 tablespoons blue agave syrup
  • Optional: dash of hot sauce
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish per drink: mint leaf, lime wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PROCESS all of the ingredients in a blender, adding just enough of the ice to make a slushy drink.

    2. POUR into the melon halves. You may need to cut a flat spot on the bottom so that they don’t tip.

    3. GARNISH with mint and lime wedges.

     
    MORE FROZEN DRINK RECIPES

  • Alcohol Slushies
  • Blueberry Frosé (Frozen Rosé Wine)
  • Bourbon Slush
  • Classic Frosé
  • Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch
  • Frozen Cherry Margarita
  • Frozen Lemonade
  • Frosecco: Frozen Prosecco Cocktail
  • Frosé Granita & Drinkable Frosé Sundae
  • Frozen Margarita
  • Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
  • Frozen Strawberry Margarita
  • Red, White & Blue Cocktail
  •  
    ________________

    *Poitou-Charentes, a region on the French Atlantic coast with Roman, Renaissance and medieval history, is now part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Its best-known cities are La Rochelle, the region’s capital, which is on the coast; and Poitiers, inland. Other important cities are Angoulême, Châtellerault, Niort, Saintes, Rochefort and Royan.

     
      

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