Saturday, January 31, 2015

Giving The Gift Of Cheese: What Not To Do

Cheese is one of the best holiday gifts you can give, despite being a bit unconventional. It is versatile enough to offer something for everyone, easy to find, and delicious to eat. While it is easy to give cheese as a gift, there are some things you should avoid doing.

Don’t Forget About Refrigeration

If you are going to give cheese as a present, keep refrigeration in mind. Unless you are bringing the cheese right from your refrigerator to someone else’s within a few hours, it is probably best to stick to hard cheeses as they won’t go bad as quickly. Or give soft cheeses, but include a discrete ice pack or cooling system of some sort to keep it fresh.

Don’t Forget About Safety Risks

While cheese is delicious, not all cheese is safe for everyone to eat. If, for example, you plan to give cheese to a pregnant woman, stick to non-soft cheeses. Soft cheese has a higher risk of listeria, bacteria that can be life-threatening for the baby and the mom-to-be. Also avoid giving cheese to a very small child (under a year), although that’s not usually a thought anyway.

Don’t Forget About Dietary Restrictions

Even though cheese is incredibly delicious, some people will not be able to eat all of it or any of it due to dietary restrictions. Whether it is a medical restriction (such as a milk allergy) or a personal decision (such as being a vegan), be respectful. If someone has a milk allergy, then try giving them a goat cheese instead or some fresh buffalo mozzarella. If they are lactose intolerant, opt for a hard cheese (the older the better) as it will have less lactose due to aging.

Don’t Be Boring

Giving cheese may seem like an easy way out of picking a gift for someone, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Simply going to your local grocery store and buying a chunk of store-brand mozzarella, cheddar, and something else won’t be enough. Instead, use the gift of cheese as an opportunity to have your gift recipient try new things. Order from a specialty cheese retailer and buy something they’ve never tried before, such as flavored cheese curds or a Jurassic cheddar.

Don’t Feel Overwhelmed

The most important thing to avoid when giving cheese is feeling overwhelmed. There are lots of cheeses to pick from and that can make it hard to pick which ones you want to give, let alone worry about presentation. If you feel lost, either get the help of a cheese expert from a specialty cheese store or just buy a pre-packaged cheese gift set. These are affordable and tend to be available in a variety of themes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Four Keys To Serving Cheese With Fruit

Although cheese is traditionally paired with wine, it also goes well with snacks. Whether or not you plan on serving wine with your cheese, consider adding some fruits to your menu for extra flavor and nutrition. As with combining cheese with other items, whether food or beverages, the options are limitless, but these key tips can help you create the perfect combinations.

Ideal Cheese For Fruit

If you are just looking for the best cheese to serve with some typical fruit you have lying around your home, then it is good to know which options are ideal. Most people have pears, grapes, and apples at home or will pick them for a party. Smooth and buttery cheeses, such as Edam, Gouda, and Havarti go well with this type of fruit, particularly sweeter pears or apples. Munster also works well with sweet apples and grapes. For something a bit richer, try Gruyere with apples or Asiago with tart apples or grapes, or plums.

Ideal Fruit Spreads For Cheese

Depending on the time of the year that you plan on serving your cheese, you may find the selection of fresh fruit somewhat limited. In this case, you can look for some great fruit spreads. If you have a sharp white cheddar, try getting some Chutney. Italian Mostarda works well with Parmigiano, Pecorino, or Gouda. You can even try quince paste, spiced apples, or a fig spread depending on the type of cheese you are serving.

Picking Fresh Fruits

Although fruit spreads are a delicious combination with cheese, it is always a good idea to select at least a few fresh fruits whenever you have the opportunity. Simply select whatever is fresh and in season as these items will be the most flavorful. Aim to have three to five different fruits (and a similar number of cheeses), such as pears, apples, kiwi, melon, cantaloupe, strawberries, or grapes.

Arranging The Tray

When creating your presentation of cheese and fruit, most people will typically put all items on one tray, and this is fine as long as you take care to keep juicy fruits (such as kiwi) away from the cheese so people only mix them together if they choose. Try arranging grapes in small groups of four, cut the cheese into small, bite-size pieces, and have harder or larger fruits in serving sizes. Try to keep toothpicks or similar items on hand for people to use to eat their selection and remember to have a different serving utensil for each cheese and fruit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Five Of The Best Ways To Finish A Meal With Cheese

When most people think of cheese, they picture a snack or perhaps part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. in reality, however, cheese is much more versatile than this and you can easily end your meal with cheese. This works just as well as a dessert replacement as it does as an addition to your dessert.

By Itself

The easiest way to finish a meal with cheese is to simply serve the cheese by itself as a dessert. When following this method, most people typically prefer a creamy cheese due to the dessert-like texture, although any type will do. Some of the best options for a cheese dessert are Roquefort, Winnimere, Pecorino, Capricious, and Chevre. The classic dessert plate with cheese will include a blue cheese, a creamy cheese, and a hard cheese. You can also try alternative milk cheeses, such as one sheep cheese, one goat cheese, and one cow cheese.

Cheese With Fruit

Another option is to take some cheese and pair it with fruit. Soft cheeses in particular do well with a fruit spread, such as chutney or jam. Or you can opt for a variety of harder cheeses and fresh cut fruit for the perfect end to a meal.

Cheese With Wine

Cheese and wine is a classic pairing and for good reason. Wine is a typical drink for the end of the meal, and when combined with cheese, it allows you to appreciate the best elements, flavors, and textures from both items. Either select your favorite wine and pick a cheese to match or vice versa.

Cheese With Dessert

Although it may seem odd, there are actually some desserts that pair perfectly with cheese, giving you an easy way to finish a meal with cheese. The classic example is a slice of cheddar cheese on apple pie. Another option is to take lemon tart and add either cheddar or Gruyere. This works in the same way as apple pie and cheddar.  Or try combining black forest cake with blue cheese as the blue cheese’s boldness will cut through the cake’s richness. Even aged goat Gouda cheese goes perfectly with brownies.

Dessert Made From Cheese

A final top method of finishing your meal with cheese is to make a dessert featuring it. The classic example would be cheesecake, but there are actually infinite choices. Cottage cheese, for example, can be part of vanilla pudding or you can make any number of desserts featuring ricotta cheese or mascarpone, such as mousse, tarts, and crepes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Essentials You Need For Homemade Cheese

People who have tried really good cheese know that the best cheese will be made by an artisan or a smaller company, as there tends to be more attention to detail and better quality ingredients involved. One of the best ways to not only get high quality cheese, but ensure it is fresh and exactly what you want is to make it yourself at home. To get started making homemade cheese, you will need to buy some essentials.


The most important ingredient for homemade cheese is milk. This can be any type of milk you want, including cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk. Decide if you want to use raw or pasteurized milk and you will be set. You will then need to get cheese cultures. Typically, you will use mesophilic cultures for the majority of hard or soft cheeses. Some other cheeses, such as Italian ones or cooked curd cheeses (mozzarella and cottage) use thermophilic cultures. Either type of culture is affordable and will last in the freezer. You also need to get rennet, but keep in mind that vegetable rennet requires half the amount of animal rennet. Finally, you will need to buy some sort of salt. Most experts suggest cheese salt, but others say sea salt is another great option.


Luckily, even if you just decided to make homemade cheese for the first time, you probably have most of the supplies on hand. You will need a large pot, ensuring that the metal is non-reactive and that the pot can hold eight quarts at least. You will also need some sort of thermometer to track the temperature, a measuring cup, wooden spoons to stir the cheese, a colander (for draining the curds), some good cheesecloth (high quality is best and reusable), and a cheese press (if making hard cheese). To make life easier, you should also get a notebook to record notes, cheese wax for wrapping your cheese, cheese boards, cheese mats, and a curd knife.


While you are only active during the cheesemaking phases involving the above ingredients and supplies, most of the cheesemaking is spent waiting for it to age. During this process, you will need to have the right environment for the cheese. Whatever environment you create for your cheese to age in, make sure it has around 70% humidity and a temperature between 55 and 65 Fahrenheit. If you are lucky, you may be able to make a cheese cave or you can convert a wine refrigerator. To keep the right humidity levels, keep a glass or bowl of cool water in the fridge. If you don’t have another option, you can also age cheese in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer, but this take a bit more preparation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How Is Flavor Infused In Cheese?

If you are familiar with a range of cheeses, then you have probably noticed options infused with flavor at some point or another. It is common to wonder how exactly this flavor is added to the cheese and the reality is that there is no one answer. Depending on the type of flavor added, the subtlety of it, and the type of cheese, there may be a different infusion method.

Adding To Cheese Curds

Perhaps one of the most common methods of infusing flavor to cheese is adding it to the curds after they have formed. This creates a more noticeable change in flavor compared to some of the other methods, and is a very easy way to add herb or spices.

Infusing The Milk

If a cheese manufacturer or artisan is looking to create a more subtle flavor in their cheese, than they may opt to use milk that has been infused with flavor. This does somewhat dilute the flavor, creating a more subtle result that speaks to those with a more refined palate.
Infusing With Soft Cheeses

In the case of soft cheeses, such as ricotta, flavor is frequently infused as the last step in the process of making it. You would simply put the finished soft cheese in a mixing bowl, add in some flavoring, and mix the cheese together. You can even use this method to add flavoring to non-flavor infused store-bought soft cheeses.

Soaking Cheese

The flavors found in cheese were not always added before the cheese was mixed and if this is the case with harder cheeses, such as cheddar, then it will need to be added after the cheese has begun to age. Some cheesemakers will soak cheese in beer, wine, or other liquids for an extended period of time in order to add flavor in a uniform manner.

Smoking Cheese

Smoked versions of mozzarella, Swiss, Gouda, and cheddar are very common and this is also added fairly late in the process. The idea is to smoke the cheese as it ages, meaning it occurs during the phase of cheesemaking in which you are not actively involved.

Wrapping Cheese

Sometimes, the flavor will be infused in the cheese by wrapping it during the aging process with various substances. While cheese is usually wrapped in wax or cheese paper for aging, you can wrap it in leaves or herbs and that will affect the flavor. If you purchase a cheddar and aim to age it more, you can experiment with this method on store-bought cheese.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Easy, Cheesy Breakfast Casseroles For Your Holiday Guests

Holidays is a time to be with family and for many of this, that means having visitors staying at your home for a few days. Instead of having to make everyone their own breakfast, a breakfast casserole is the perfect way to minimize effort and create a delicious meal, especially when it includes cheese. Each of these options is great for cheese lovers and easy to make.

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

Hash browns are a breakfast favorite, but you don’t have to just serve hash brown patties by themselves. This casserole makes them more exciting by creating a casserole with hash brown patties, eggs, milk, sour cream, bacon, green onion, garlic powder, ground mustard, black pepper, and of course the star: shredded Cheddar cheese. Some of the cheese gets added to the other ingredients along with the bacon and onions while the rest is sprinkled on top.

Sausage, Egg, And Hash Brown Casserole

For this recipe, you cook some sausage, red pepper, onion, and garlic. Then add hash browns and lots of your favorite cheese (mozzarella and cheddar work best) after shredding it. Whisk some eggs and milk with black pepper then put everything together before putting it in your casserole dish and adding a bit more cheese to make this a truly cheesy breakfast casserole. Once you cook it, the gooey cheese will be topping a new breakfast favorite.

Create Your Own Cheesy Casserole

Looking at the two previous recipes, it seems pretty easy to come up with the perfect combination. Most easy, cheesy breakfast casseroles will include bacon or sausage, some hash browns or potatoes for texture, and lots of cheese. The most popular cheese choice is cheddar, but cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Swiss all work just as well.

Vegetable And Brie Strata

This is a delicious breakfast casserole that happens to be completely vegetarian. Saute together sweet onion, red bell pepper, and peeled potato. Take a round of Brie and get rid of the rind. Grease your baking dish, lining it with cubes of Brie, Parmesan cheese, the vegetables, and some cubed sourdough bread. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard together and add it on top. Put a second layer of each (the cheese mixture and the egg mixture) in your dish and bake it for 45 minutes.

Breakfast Enchilada Casserole

If your holiday guests love Tex-Mex, then try making them a breakfast enchilada casserole. The main casserole ingredients are pork sausage, butter, green onions, cilantro, and tortillas, but the favorite part will be the cheese sauce. Make your own using shredded Cheddar cheese (consider a jalapeno flavored one), flour, milk, salt, and butter. Don’t forget to sprinkle a spicy cheese on top of the casserole before putting it in the oven. Opt for something like Monterey Jack or jalapeno cheddar.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cheesy Dishes You Have To Try

If like most people, you enjoy cheese, then you are in luck because this food is delicious raw or cooked as part of a main dish. It is no problem to create your own cheesy recipe, but sometimes it is best to start off with inspiration from somewhere else. Here are just some delicious and cheesy dishes you need to try.

Macaroni And Cheese

The majority of people in the world can say that they’ve had macaroni and cheese in the past, but most of the time it will be a boring version, possibly from a box. A creative cheesy macaroni is one of the best dishes. Instead of sticking to the traditional American or cheddar cheeses, get creative and opt for a super aged cheddar or try a mixture of cheeses, such Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan, and any of your other favorite cheeses, including both standard and smoked or flavored versions as well. Don’t forget to try a baked version as well.

Cheese, Corn, And Grits Pudding

This variation of some southern classics is delicious and unique and even easy to eat. Cook some grits using milk and a bit of salt. Once the grits thicken, put them to the side and puree some corn. Mix your corn with egg yolks, grated cheese (such as aged Cheddar), and the grits, seasoning the mixture. On the side, beat egg whites using an electric mixer and then fold it into the corn mix. Put your mixture in ramekins and bake it so the pudding puffs up, giving you a treat that you can eat any time of the day.

Cheese And Buttermilk Scones

For further proof that cheesy dishes are delicious all day long, make some cheese and buttermilk scones. Make them like any normal scone with the following ingredients: flour, baking powder, unsalted butter, buttermilk, thyme, hot pepper flakes, and for the cheese, try Swiss or Gruyere as well as grated Parmesan.

Cheddar Apple Waffle Panini

This cheesy dish is very unusual, so chances are you will not have heard of it before. It is essentially a panini made with leftover waffles (Maple Belgian ones are ideal) instead of bread. Before heating them, you want to spread a mixture of maple syrup and mustard on the waffles. Shred sharp Cheddar cheese and put it on one waffle, adding some thinly sliced apple as well as more shredded cheese. Put the other waffle on top and make like you would a normal panini. You will quickly realize that even unusual cheesy dishes are worth a try.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cheese Curd Holiday Recipes

Cheese curds are a specific type of cheese only available in certain areas, most notable Wisconsin and Quebec. Because of this, although anyone can enjoy their deliciousness by finding a local or online retailer, it makes it hard to find exactly what to make with cheese curds. Because they aren’t commonly found, there aren’t many holiday recipes in particular for cheese curds, but you can adapt almost any recipe to make it great for the holidays.

Replacing Cheddar Cheese

If you have cheese curds on hand and want to use them in a holiday dish, the easiest way to find a recipe would be to swap them out for standard cheddar cheese. Keep in mind, however, that they will not be sharp like aged cheddars as cheese curds are best eaten fresh. You will also have to account for the difference in texture and melting properties.


Poutine is delicious all year round and is the traditional dish from Quebec that features cheese curds. The basic idea behind this dish is to take some fresh French fries, pile on cheddar cheese curds, and then top it all with delicious gravy. The addition of gravy makes it the perfect comfort food for winter months. You can always serve it on festive plates to keep in the holiday spirit.

Fried Cheese Curds

Although fried cheese curds are good all year round, they are the perfect late night snack. This means that when you are up late after your holiday party, waiting for Santa, or waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve, they can help you keep your energy levels up. Simply make some batter by mixing milk, all-purpose flour, eggs, beer, and salt, coat the cheese curds, and deep fry them.

Cheese Curd Risotto Cake

When it comes to the holidays, most people either attend a party or host one. No matter which you plan on doing, you will need to contribute a food item, such as this delicious cheese curd risotto cake. Chances are no one has ever had something like it before, so it will be a new experience, and hopefully one they want to repeat.

You need to start off by making plain risotto until it is softly floating, then add in fresh Parmesan. After the risotto cools, fold in cheese curds and put the entire thing in a baking dish lined with plastic wrap. Put this in the fridge for at least three hours. Cut the risotto loaf into smaller cakes, coating them in flour and sauteing them with clarified butter to create a golden crust. Although it is a bit complicated, your holiday guests will be truly impressed with the result and probably ask you for the recipe.

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