Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grafton Village - The Making of Vermont Cheddar

Check out this really sweet video from Grafton Village Cheese Company! Learn more about the creamery and watch them make cheese (om nom nom).

They are famous for making a damn good Vermont Cheddar - find Grafton Village at your local store here.

xo D

Cheese of the Week

Hi all -

Just a quick post here in the middle of a hectic week - I have to replace a leaking tire, try to remember that dishes have to get washed, and convince the DMV I am not a raging delinquent. I'm about to throw my hands up, buy some paper plates and biodegradable plastic forks, and just order pizza.

BUT: This weekend I had an adventure. An adventure of epic and cheesy proportions. I made the pilgrimage to the new(ish) SF Mecca of all things sharp and oozy and delicious, Mission Cheese.

Chloe is jazzed about cheese!
I will post more photos when I get home tonight, or maybe tomorrow, BUT - suffice it to say that the cheese I am about to tell you about is one of the best cheeses I have had in a loooooong time.

Lovingly created at Nettle Meadow Farm in Warrensburg, NY, Kunik is a luscious triple-creme cow-goat milk blend cheese. I've been eating it spread on Della Fattoria levain with veggies and an egg fried over-hard. Also I may or may not have been eating it with a spoon.

You can definitely buy Kunik at Mission Cheese (for now - they update their retail list almost every day with new cheeses as stock changes!), or you can see a list of distributers here.

Bon appetit ;)
xo D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Jazzed in the Morning

Step Up soundtrack: THAT'S WHAT'S UP.

(Google Reader folks, click out for the playlist.)

Nothing like a little hip hop to kick it up in the morning.

xoxo D

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hippie Chow

Being Jewish is a huge part of who I am.. There's no way to write that sentence that doesn't sound a little cheesy but it's so true.

That said, for most of my life, I've stayed away from the majority of seafood (since unless it has fins and scales, it's not kosher). Still haven't ever eaten a scallop I enjoyed (although I've only eaten them twice, so I'm open to the possibility). I used to think I really hated shrimp - I still won't eat the ones you get at dim sum that still have the eyes and legs and everything. Blech. 

BUT. BUT. Thanks to Whole Foods, a very nice Asian man behind the seafood counter, and one dose of mustered-up courage, the other night I found myself the proud possessor of a dozen pre-cooked, delicious pink shrimp. The counter guy let me taste one before I bought and OH MAN it was so gooooood. Guh. Sweet and not fishy at all. Nom.

So: I was thinking to myself, I want to make myself a Bowl of Food. Now, the Bowl of Food phenomenon occurs when you put a bunch of healthy crap together and it tastes awesome. Also known as hippie chow. Here's my awesomely yummy shrimp-kale-grain version!

10-12 medium shrimp (size 31-40)
chopped Red Russian kale
crimini mushrooms
1 svg Trader Joe's 3 Grain Blend (barley, rice, spelt), cooked
dash olive oil
1 thick slice firm tofu
1 clove garlic
soy sauce

1. Cut the tofu into ~1/2 inch cubes. Dry-fry in a pan over medium heat. Let it brown a little bit and then set aside. 
2. Saute mushrooms & garlic & kale in olive oil. Kale should get bright green and mushrooms should brown but don't overdo it. 
3. Add cooked tofu and shrimp and a splash of soy sauce, just for long enough to warm through. 
4. Dump the rice in the pan, stir everything around, add a light squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. 
5. Serve in a bowl, with a tiny dish or napkin to put the shrimp tails.

Makes 1 serving.

Hey guess what! More single girl food! W00t. I think shrimp will not be a frequent guest in my home, but every once in a while I can see getting a craving and running down to Whole Foods to get em..

xoxo D

Potato Thyme Cheddar Toast

Oh man oh man. I just... yes. Amazing.

Let me rewind.

1) I have an obsession with food blogs that is rather odd - I bookmark everything and rarely make anything.

2) I love cheese. And bread. Also cheese. You might know this already.

3) It's rare that I make anything without adding touches of my own. Most of the time I don't use recipes and just toss stuff together.

So, with that context, I give you elephantine's potato & rosemary pizza... which, in my house, morphed into potato thyme cheddar toast.

A few notes: Make sure to slice the potatoes suuuper thin. Also, you can make this with frozen bread, which I did, since I have a loaf of Sunflower Seed bread from Wild Flour Bakery in Sonoma County (ya rly) hibernating peacefully in my fridge. Also also, try making this with other stuff! Like a milky soft cheese + some kind of spicy salumi + thinly sliced potatoes would also be amazing. Ooh! This one would be great with chives and butter instead of ricotta and thyme!

Without further ado:

2 small pieces of toast
2 tbsp ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
Whole salt (like in a twisty mill thing? What is that called?)
Pepper (peppercorns in a mill)
1/2 medium red potato
2 tbsp(ish) finely chopped Cabot clothbound cheddar
1 tsp olive oil

1. Toast bread lightly to defrost.
2. Spread with ricotta.
3. Slice potatoes very very thinly. Put olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl with potato slices; toss to coat.
4. Lay coated potato slices over the toasts.
5. Sprinkle sharp cheddar over the potatoes.
6. Toast again until cheese is melty and potatoes are sorta cooked.

In the above picture, I would have toasted it for longer - it was a little too soft and not crunchy enough. Maybe toasting the potato slices first on a toaster pan?

Anyway, DELICIOUS. Hell yeah single girl food.

xoxo D

Tangy Leek, Mushroom, Kale & Cheddar Quiche

Hey all! I was looking for a low-cal quiche recipe on Saturday and was so excited to find this post on the MyFitnessPal forums. I'm copying my recipe straight to/from there, so.. no judgment, ok? :)

I LOVE the OP's strategy of using greek yogurt and ricotta and egg to make the custard part instead of milk/cream etc - I think it gave this quiche a really fabulous tangy flavor that it might not have had otherwise. 

Alas, I am a quiche-with-a-crust kind of girl, so my variation is more calories than the OP's - but I used a whole wheat crust, so as to add some fiber. 

1 C part skim ricotta 
1 C fage 0% greek yogurt 
4 whole eggs 
dash nutmeg 

3 lg crimini mushrooms, chopped 
1 leek (white/light green part only, chopped thinly) 
2-3 cups red russian kale, chopped 
2 oz Cabot clothbound cheddar (sharp white cheddar), crumbled 
garlic, 3 cloves 
dash olive oil 

whole wheat crust from Whole Foods, frozen 

1. Saute leek in olive oil for 1-2 mins. Add garlic. Add mushrooms and kale. Saute until the mushrooms are browning and the kale is bright green, but nothing is burning or limp. (at this time, pre-heat oven to 325 F) 
2. Transfer to bowl off the heat; set aside. 
3. Mix ricotta, yogurt, and eggs. The texture will be a little gross at first but give it some muscle and it turns into a nice fluffy, slightly goopy mixture. Add a dash of nutmeg and some salt and pepper. 
4. Add cooked veggies to the custardy mixture. Stir. Also add the crumbled white cheddar. 
5. Pour the mixture into the whole wheat pie crust. The pie crust should be full but not overflowing. 
6. Bake the quiche at 325 F for 60 minutes, give or take. You want the center to be softish but not liquid. 
7. Let the quiche cool for ~5-10 mins. It will collapse/settle slightly - this is normal. 
8. Cut into 6ths; serve. 

So: for a serving that is 1/6th of the pie, the nutrition info is as follows: 
340 calories 
20 g fat 
18 g protein 

If you want to do 1/8th pie servings, the nutrition info is as follows: 
255 cal 
15.1 g fat 
13.4 g protein 

It's really the crust that adds on the calories and fat, so making this without the crust would really bring down those stats. BUT - crust is amazing. Therefore: whole wheat crust. More fiber!

AND IT WAS AMAZING. GUH. I am sad that I can't with any conscience eat the entire quiche right now, but I am heartened that I have quiche to eat for the rest of the weekend/week. NOM!

**UPDATE** Even more amazing two days later!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheese Reading

OK, maybe I'm a little bit obsessed.

Currently reading: The Cheese Chronicles by Liz Thorpe.

photo / Amazon
I'll let you know how it is!

Epic Cheese Post, #1

All right, as long promised, welcome to my first epic cheese post. A word of warning to the wary: this is no place for those whose palate favors only the bland, the unassuming, and the basic. Or those who are lactose intolerant.

To start off, of course I have to be a bit narcissistic and recommend to you my Favorite Cheeses of the Moment (in no particularr order):

1. Humboldt Fog - king among unusual, indigenous-to-Northern-California goat cheeses, this delicious specimen is ash-ripened and aged. For more information, visit CypressGrove.com.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery

2. Cana de Oveja - a rarer, sheep's milk version of Spanish Cana de Cabra, this Bucheron-like cheese is both buttery and sharp. I had it for the first time as a part of Absinthe's cheese plate, paired with white-wine-apricot preserves. Three words: To. Die. For.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery

3. Casatica di Bufala - A water buffalo milk cheese! According to Cowgirl Creamery, water buffalo milk "has twice the cream as cow's milk." It makes for a fantastic, bloomy-and-aged on the outside, soft-and-rich on the inside cheese.

Casatica di Bufala
photo / Murray's Cheese
4. Cabot Sharp White Cheddar - I first discovered this via a bowl of chili with my friend Kristin K. I thought that our bean-and-turkey-and-veggie-with-a-splash-of-beer chili couldn't get any better, and then then not only did we toss some fresh avocado on there, but she pulls out a hunk of white cheddar and proceeds to blow my mind. This cheese is seriously addictive - be careful!
photo / Cabot Vermont

5. And finally, last but certainly not least, Abbaye de Belloc - semi-hard, smooth but a little bit of a bite to it - the perfect cheese to eat with some membrillo. I love it, I love it, I love it. According to Cowgirl, it's made in the Western Pyrenees.

photo / Cowgirl Creamery
Apparently, you can buy all of these cheeses on Amazon! Can someone explain to me how that works? Does a man in a jumpsuit just arrive at your door with a refrigerated case? "Houston, we have delivered the package. Over and out."

Things to eat with your motherlode of cheese that you have undoubtedly purchased by now:
  1. Mitica membrillo - I found this at Whole Foods but you can also get it online. 
  2. Anything from Happy Girl, especially:
    1. Apricot jam
    2. Strawberry preserves
    3. Wildflower honey
This post is ideally just an overview, but in case you get impatient waiting for me to write a "how to assemble an awesome cheese plate" post, here are a few good ones from Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo

Clearly you need Cheese Supplies:
  • Cheese paper - ideally this keeps the cheese "alive," instead of suffocating it in plastic. I've found that plastic keeps the cheese fresher, but using paper deepens the flavors. Hmm, might have to write a post on the pros and cons of cheese paper - stay tuned!
  • Cheese box - I mostly want one of these because it's adorable. But I imagine if you have some super stinky cheese, it would contain the smell and make it so the rest of your fridge doesn't smell like death. 

Cheeses on my bucket list:
  • Azeitao - tough on the outside, creamy on the inside Spanish sheep's milk cheese.
  • Bucheron - tangy French goat cheese coated in ash.
  • Carmody - made with buttery Jersey cow milk, dense and smooth. (just bought a wedge! so excited!)

Types of Cheese AKA Whole Foods' CHEESE 101
Note: I didn't write any of this, all courtesy of Whole Foods. So useful! 
Like bread or wine, cheese falls into basic categories based on its texture and the process with which it's made. Luckily for cheese heads like us, the categories are simple:
  • Fresh: Think of these cheeses as the ones without rinds. This category is where you'll find casual favorites like goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and cream cheese.
  • Semi-Soft: If you're making a grilled cheese sandwich, consider these guys. Semi-soft cheeses—ones like Gouda, Provolone, Havarti and Jack—are great for eating out of hand and even better for melting.
  • Semi-Hard (a.k.a. Semi-Firm): Cheddar is the king of this category, which includes tasty favorites like Edam and Gruy√®re.
  • Hard (a.k.a. Firm): Grating cheeses (see Cheeses that Grate) and cheese tray stand-outs like Mimolette and aged Asiago rule this category.
  • Washed-Rind: Cheeses like Tallegio, Limburger and Muenster bathe in salty brine, sometimes with a little beer, wine or liquor added to gild the lily. The brine in turn helps cheese to form an edible rind around its soft or semi-soft interior.
  • Bloomy-Rind: These cheeses are purposely exposed to mold spores to create a gently fuzzy rind on the outside. The rinds on these cheeses, like those of Brie and Camembert, are generally edible, though some folks choose to skip to the creamy insides.
  • Blue: Love it or hate it, blue cheese is here to stay. These pungent, delicious cheeses are marked with blue mold, introduced when mold spores are injected or added to the cheese. Stilton and Maytag Blue are stand-out examples of blue cheese done right.

Thanks for the cheese primer, Whole Foods!

Best Places in the Bay Area to get cheese:

    • Excellent selection and knowledgeable cheesemongers.

    Berkeley Bowl West cheese department 

    • The guys at the cheese counter are always pretty busy, but if you catch them in a quiet moment they can be a valuable source of information. Keep an eye out for the sale cheese of the week! Nom!
    Cowgirl Creamery 

    • The Cheese Mecca - always an adventure! Take a number, and then be helped by an enthusiastic cheesemonger who only wants to get you the most delicious cheeses. Tell them what you're looking for or what you're planning to eat/drink with the cheese, and they'll take care of you.
    • Locations in the SF Ferry Building and in Pt. Reyes, among others. 

    In Conclusion (Now that I have overwhelmed you with yumminess):
    All right, bat's all for now, folks. Hopefully I have inspired some excitement in the cheese-loving members of my limited readership :) If you love it, share! If you have any ideas or feedback or cheese recommendations, comment! I always love to hear from people.

    Yours in deliciousness,

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Dreams That Feel Like Waking

    Why, this moment.

    A speck of truth

    Splinter in palm, corrected as such.

    Oh, to be an architect...

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Big Cheese Post Coming Soon!

    Hello all - I've been swamped with a project at work, but that doesn't stop me from eating lots of cheese! Good thing excellent cholesterol runs in my family!

    Cana de Oveja, photo courtesy Cowgirl Creamery

    Expect a thorough cheese post coming soon... with my favorite cheeses of the moment, where to buy in the Bay Area, a few yummy pairings, and an essential cheese accessory or two.

    xoxo D