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A grilled cheese sandwich is the epitome of comfort food: Creamy, melty goodness on warm, buttery bread. Test Kitchen intern Rachael Daylong shares her tips for transforming the everyday sandwich into a healthier meal suited for a special occasion--or well, even just a night in.
Although I never require a reason to whip up a grilled cheese sandwich, having an extra excuse is always a plus--especially especially when it comes in the form of an entire month!! All over the Internet in April, you will see blog posts and stories with pictures of piled-high sandwiches, oozing with heart-stopping amounts of cheese. And while that type of overindulgence has its place, I prefer to enjoy my warm and cheesy sandwiches more often than as an occasional treat.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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Use a combination of cheeses. When you want to make a lower-fat grilled cheese
sandwich, the easiest and most common way is to use a low-fat cheese. However, while these cheeses usually melt just fine, they sometimes lack fundamental cheese flavors. To help with this problem I love to combine low-fat cheeses like reduced fat sharp white cheddar, with hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere. Not only are hard cheeses low in fat, but they are bursting with smoky, cheesy flavor!
Add some veggies! Adding vegetables to a grilled cheese is obviously a great way to bulk up the sandwich, but it also gives you the opportunity to try more grown-up flavors. One of my favorite combinations is mozzarella, tomato, olives, and red onion on ciabatta bread. You can also try low-fat white cheddar, parmesan, sun dried tomato and spinach on French loaf.
Change up the bread. I love pre-sliced white sandwich bread for my grilled cheese as much as the next guy, but if you are going to eat grilled cheese sandwiches more than once in a blue moon, you may want to consider other options. Lean dough breads, such as French baguettes and ciabatta, are a healthier option because they have no added fat or sugar in the dough. (They are traditionally made with only flour, water, yeast, and salt). And of course
whole grain breads are always a better option if you don’t mind these dark breads paired with gooey cheese.
Have a Happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!!
6 Cheesy Recipes That Say Hello SpringMonica Petrucci | March 26, 2021
I t’s finally that time of year again: The temps are rising and the days are stretching wide. We’re more than ready to soak in every second of spring this year—especially after a long, isolated winter. If you’re craving seasonal, delicious, and cheesy recipes that mirror all the joyous and bright feelings of spring, we’ve got some ideas that’ll kick off the season right. Let the al fresco dining begin.
Savory Granola with Yogurt and Spring Vegetables
The season of rebirth means it’s time to switch up your breakfast routine. Ditch the boxed cereal for this nourishing bowl of Greek yogurt topped with homemade savory granola and seasonal veggies. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all.
Whipped Chèvre Tartine
Spring is practically synonymous with chèvre—it’s kidding season, aka the time of year when the flavor of fresh goat cheese thrives . So once you’ve got your hands on some (or made your own at home ) spread it on a thick slice of rustic bread with orange zest and mint for a fragrant, blissful snack.
Tagliatelle with Lemon Cream, Asparagus, and Prosciutto
This pasta recipe uses a citrus-forward cream sauce and blanched asparagus to evoke bright springtime vibes. The lemon flavor is perfectly balanced by the ultra-savory pieces of prosciutto and grated Pecorino Romano. Don’t hold back on going in for seconds.
Veggie Salad with Quinoa and Goat Cheese
The warmer the weather, the more we crave a hearty and fresh salad. This one combines all of spring’s best ingredients—like fava beans, radishes, and fresh chèvre—in one fresh, colorful dish.
Whipped Queso Fresco with Spring Vegetables
Queso fresco—literally translated to “fresh cheese”—is the ultimate springtime staple for salads, soups, and grilled produce. Let it take center stage in this creamy dip, which pairs nicely with fresh spring veggies or as a spread on a bagel sandwich.
Ginger-Chèvre Ice Cream
What says warm weather better than ice cream? This chèvre-based recipe uses milk instead of cream to keep things light (ideal for that extra scoop or two), and the cheesy-sweet combo holds a balanced flavor for peak springtime indulgence as the days stretch long.
- 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie pasta
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1 (10.75 ounce) can milk
- 1 (4 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes drain, and set aside in a large bowl.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until they begin to soften. Add ground beef, and cook, stirring, until evenly browned. Drain off grease, and pour into the bowl with the pasta. Stir in the condensed soup, then measure the milk using the soup can. Add mushrooms, and thyme until well blended. Mix in 3 cups of the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and melted butter. Mix in remaining 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the baking dish.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until topping is crispy and golden.
100 Easy Food On A Stick Options
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3. Creamy Spinach Fettuccini
1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Additional fresh grated parmesan (optional)
Cook fettuccini according to package directions. While pasta is cooking prepare sauce.
In a 4-quart saucepan mix spinach, cream, butter, parmesan, onion and garlic powders, and salt, and simmer over low heat until combined and heated through.
Pour sauce over fettuccini and mix well. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese on the side, if desired.
Tip: If not served immediately, the sauce will dry out on the pasta. So if not serving immediately, keep sauce and pasta separate.
Go into Shavuot hungry and enjoy!
Want to learn more about the Shavuot holiday and its roots? Check out this post from The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Say cheese - recipes
While Cheddar and Gouda are great cheese staples, it’s nice to try the different cheeses that are now freely available on our supermarket shelves and in local delis.
I visited Cheese Gourmet, a speciality cheese shop in Linden in Johannesburg. Standing in front of a huge table groaning with wheels and wedges of a variety of hand-crafted cheeses, it was hard to know what to choose.
Very knowledgeable owner Jo Dick was happy to let me sample some of the local varieties, and recommended a few for me to take away to cook with.
I had a wedge of raclette cheese, which is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese with a creamy, slightly nutty flavour. Also, a very interesting looking sheet of mozzarella cheese fresh ricotta that had come from the farm that morning and two types of goat cheese – a soft creamy chevin plus a harder, stronger tasting wedge.
* Cheese Gourmet: 71 Seventh St, corner 3rd Avenue, Linden. Phone: 011 888 5384.
MOZZARELLA ROLL WITH SALMON AND AVOCADO
200g slices of smoked salmon or trout
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Lay the mozzarella sheet on to a large board. Cover the surface with the rocket.
Lay the slices of salmon over the rocket to cover the surface. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season with a good grinding of black pepper.
Place the avocado slices at the long edge of the roll about 5cm from the edge. Season well and sprinkle with lemon juice. Lift the end of the roll, fold it over the avocado and then continue rolling it up like a Swiss roll.
Place it onto a serving plate and drizzle the surface with balsamic glaze.
Refrigerate until required.
To serve cut the roll into slices.
RICOTTA HOTCAKES WITH BACON AND MAPLE SYRUP
These were made famous by Australian chef Bill Granger who served them with honeycomb butter. We tried them with bacon and maple syrup, delicious!
cooked streaky bacon for serving
maple or golden syrup for serving
Combine the ricotta, milk and egg yolks and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the milk mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.
Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan and drop spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Cook over a medium heat until golden brown underneath the crumpets, then flip them over and cook for a few minutes on the other side.
Remove from the pan and keep the crumpets warm. Repeat until all the batter is finished. Serve them warm with bacon and syrup.
GOAT’S CHEESE AND RED ONION TART
100g good quality hard goat’s cheese, shaved
PASTRY: Put the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rosemary and pulse to combine.
Add egg yolk and enough ice water to bring the mixture together. Remove and knead gently until smooth.
Roll out the pastry and line a 22cm quiche pan. Lightly prick the base and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and crisp.
ONIONS: Put the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and fry gently for 20-30 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer gently for another 10-15 minutes. Add the butter and marmalade.
Remove from the heat and cool. Spread the onion mixture on the pastry, top with goat’s cheese and then pop it under a hot grill until the cheese is melted and golden on top.
CREAMY CHICKEN AND APPLE WITH RACLETTE
800g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges
125g raclette cheese, cubed
Toss the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Cook until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft. Return the chicken to the pan.
Add the cider, stock, rosemary and seasoning and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and apples and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the rosemary and stir in the cheese just before serving.
FIG AND GOAT’S CHEESE PHYLLO STACKS
4 sheets of phyllo pastry
2x 125g chevin goat’s cheese
Lay one sheet of pastry on your work surface and brush it with melted butter. Add another layer of pastry and brush with melted butter. Continue layering the pastry with butter until you have 4 sheets on top of each other.
Cut out 12 stacks of pastry each measuring approximately 8x13cm. Place the stacks on to a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper.
Slice each fig into 4 slices and place the figs on to the pastry stack. Cut the chevin roll into 12 slices and cut each slice in half. Put a piece of cheese on to each slice of fig.
Drizzle honey over each stack and bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.
Allow to cool and put three layers on top of each other to make 4 stacks.
Are you in Cape Town at the end of April? Visit The South African Cheese Festival, taking place from 27 – 30 April 2012.
The event has settled in well at its new home, Sandringham (on the N1 halfway between Cape Town and Paarl). Buy your ticket at a Computicket outlet or Checkers store near you (no tickets at the gates) at R110. Senior citizens pay R90 and children 13 years and younger enter free. The festival runs from 10am to 6pm each day and 5pm on the last day.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Wood River Creamery Black Truffle
Right from the first bite, this cheese is intriguing. There are a lot of flavors present all at once, but after the initial confusion passes and with a second nibble, more distinct flavors begin to emerge: nuts, lightly sauteed garlic, button mushrooms cooked in butter, and a familiar tang of cheddar cheese. Initially, this unusual product is interesting, but it can easily and very quickly go from a little bit odd but pleasant to very tasty and downright addicting.
This was the first time I had ever heard of a Gruyere Cheddar cheese. I'm not talking about combining cheeses in cooking, on a four-cheese pizza, in a blend in mac & cheese, or shredded to use on tacos or sandwiches, for example. This was my first experience with a marriage of two kinds of cheese in one solid block. It's a bold move to merge two classic cheeses. Until you try it, you wonder who the heck would do that and why. Swiss or Alpine cheese and Cheddar are two completely different animals. It's like pairing white and dark chocolate, only instead of melting or mixing two separate products into one, this cheese is made using specific bacteria that produce enzymes that allow all the magic in cheese to occur, and with a bit of magic, the final product comes together quite nicely. As far as taste, it all makes sense. You get the robust sharp tang of Cheddar cheese paired with the mild nutty, earthy flavors associated with Gruyere. And then there are the black truffles. Oh, those truffles!
Wood River Creamery is part of the Burnett Dairy Cooperative in Wisconsin, located in the north-western part of the state. Some might remember the terrible fire that destroyed part of the over 100-year old building in the summer of 2020. Fortunately, with some heart-warming community support, the dairy was back up and running to almost full capacity by the fall of that same year. The Wood River Creamery is one of the oldest in the state, dating all the way back to 1896! With such a rich and long history, it's not surprising that Burnett Dairy Cooperative has received top honors and awards on the world stage over the many years they have been in operation.
Burnett Dairy Cooperative is a farmer-owned cooperative based near Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Founded in 1896, we are one of the few remaining full-service cooperatives producing cheese today. With the guidance of our Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker®, our award-winning cheeses are Masterfully Made™ with inventive flavors and inspired quality for retail, deli, foodservice and private-label customers.
Many of our retail cheese products are sold in grocery stores throughout the United States, online at burnettdairyshop.com, and at our retail Cheese Store & Bistro in Grantsburg, Wis., and Cady Cheese in Wilson, Wis.
Burnett Dairy Cooperative provides farmers with a full range of agricultural services needed for farm management. We provide agronomy services, fuels, grain, feed, animal health and nutrition services, and a General Store with farm supplies.
Made in small batches, Wood River Creamery cheeses are distinctive in both how they are made and aged but also because of the unique flavors added to their beautifully crafted cheeses, especially the Cheddar Gruyere varieties. The Creamy Black Truffle cow's milk cheese is aromatic, nutty, tangy, and earthy. It's both slightly sweet and savory, a product of the two different styles of cheese in one. With the added truffles, garlicky notes are prominent. Despite what might seem like a mess of conflicting flavors, everything comes together perfectly. The very next day after I first sampled this cheese, I actually craved it and thought about it, that next lovely bite, as I was making my way home from work, excited to dive in when I got the chance.
This is a great cheese to eat on its own, but it is fantastic in baked noodle dishes, mac and cheese, for example. Cooking softens the sharper flavors. It's wonderful on grilled or cold sandwiches. You can serve it with crackers, on a baguette, or in a fondue. Winter fruits, dried or fresh, are also a nice accompaniment to this truffle cheese.
If you're looking for a good wine pairing, try Wood River Creamy Black Truffle with a sparkling Lambrusco. It also goes well with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Riesling, or a blanc de noir or rose Champagne. For a beer selection, try it with a Pilsner or wheat beer.
Say cheese: Melt away with Hix's cheese recipes
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Next month the Real Food Festival begins at Earl's Court. It's more or less the biggest farmers' market ever, showcasing 500 of the world's finest artisan food producers. There will be lots of great cheesemakers there, including rock star turned cheesemaker Alex James and Juliet Harbutt, chairman of the British Cheese Awards, who are doing a joint gig to promote their latest new product, Farleigh Wallop, a camembert-style goat cheese imbued with the aroma of a fresh sprig of thyme.
Some of the least interesting cheeses come to life when they are mixed with other ingredients. The amazing vacherin, for example, has natural qualities when heated up that transforms it into a perfect after-dinner fondue. And some of the Mediterranean countries produce cheeses that can only really be enjoyed when cooked or melted.
Angel hair fried halloumi
I was recently in my local Turkish supermarket, TFC in Ridley Road Market, looking for a little inspiration. It's one of my favourite local shops you can almost buy anything there from delicious kataifi pastry to fresh lambs' testicles. Kataifi is a bit like finely shredded filo pastry and is handy for wrapping prawns, oysters or fish and deep frying, or for making those sticky sweet Mediterranean pastries.
These make great little snacks for drinks or you could make them into a starter with some of those long Turkish peppers, simply grilled.
1x 250g piece of halloumi
100-150g kataifi pastry
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
Pre-heat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer. Cut the halloumi into 10 finger sized pieces. Mix the flour with enough water to make a wet paste. Pull enough of the kataifi pastry away in as long a piece as you can to wrap round the cheese. Brush a little of the paste on the cheese and wrap a good layer of pastry round the cheese. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes until golden then drain on some kitchen paper.
Sprouting broccoli with garlic fondue
I'm still convinced there's going to be a fondue revival. Cookery shops are still selling fondue sets, so there must be some people out there having swinging Seventies fondue parties (where's my invite?). Sprouting broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables before the asparagus season. It's perfect for dipping into fondue as the flowery heads retain the sauce.
1 clove of garlic, peeled
200ml dry white wine
100ml double cream
120g Gruyère, grated
120g Emmental, grated
60g Beaufort or Vacherin, grated or cut into small pieces
10-14 young heads of sprouting broccoli
Bring the garlic clove, white wine and cream to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.
Whisk or stir in the cheeses until they are melted. If the cheese doesn't completely melt and you find that the mixture is still a bit stringy, you don't need to worry too much, as the wine and juices will eventually evaporate and prevent the cheese from burning while you are eating.
Then transfer the fondue to a lit fondue bowl or heat-proof serving dish over a pan of simmering water.
Meanwhile, cook the sprouting broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes so that it still has a bite, and then drain it. Then all you have to do is dip the sprouting broccoli in the fondue, and it's back to the Seventies again – time to start swinging!
Piccata of veal with taleggio and spinach
We used to make a dish like this at The Dorchester with Anton Mossiman, and serve it on green tagliatelle with a Madeira sauce. Although veal is popular on the Continent, British veal hasn't really taken off in the past because of dubious production methods, but now British rose veal is produced to the high welfare standards and offers a credible alternative.
8 thin slices of veal fillet, weighing about 50g each
Flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
1 can of chopped tomatoes
8 slices of taleggio
2-3tbsp olive oil
2-3 handfuls of spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season and simmer the chopped tomatoes on a medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated put to one side. With the palm of your hand or a meat bat, flatten the fillets to about 1/3cm thick.
Season and lightly flour the veal fillets, then pass them through the beaten egg. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a heavy based frying pan and cook the fillets quickly on a high heat for a minute on each side until they colour nicely. Lay the veal on a tray spoon a little of the tomato mixture on top, then a slice of taleggio.
Meanwhile, heat the grill. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pan and cook the spinach on a medium heat, seasoning and stirring every so often until just tender then drain in a colander.
Heat the pieces of veal under the grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese has melted, then spoon the spinach on to serving plates and lay the veal on top.
Chicory salad with gorgonzola and walnuts
There are lots of interesting members of the chicory family at this time of the year such as witloof, the common bulbous heads of Belgium endive, puntarelle (a green spider leaved plant with tasty hearts), and the trevisso family, including the fine leaved spider trevisso. All these can be used in this salad although be careful: some can be bitter.
A selection of chicory, cut into even sized pieces and washed
24 walnuts, shelled
1tbsp olive oil
2tsp sea salt
1tbsp cider vinegar
1tsp clear honey
2tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dry the chicory leaves in a salad spinner or colander. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and season. Mix the walnuts with the olive oil and salt and lightly toast them under the grill or in the oven. To serve, toss the chicory leaves in the dressing, season and arrange in a bowl. Scatter the walnuts over, then break the gorgonzola into pieces and scatter over the salad.
As you probably know by now, I prefer using the original 18th century name for what is now commonly called rarebit. You can use grilled strips of streaky bacon or used diced-up chunks in the mix as I have done here. Serve it as a savoury or as a canapé or drinks snack.
150g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
2tsp Worcester sauce
1tsp English mustard
80ml Guinness, stout or ale
80ml double cream
4 slices bread – a small bloomer-style loaf is ideal
Salt and pepper
4 rashers of streaky bacon cut into small dice
4 quails' eggs
A couple of knobs of butter
Simmer the Guinness until it has reduced by half, add the cream and then reduce this by half again until it is really thick. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat for a few minutes until lightly coloured, drain on some kitchen paper mix with the cheese mixture. Mix in the other ingredients, except the bread, eggs and butter, and season. Toast the bread on both sides, spread the cheese mixture on top, about 1cm thick, and to the edges to avoid burning, and grill on a medium heat until nicely browned. Gently fry the quails' eggs in the butter and place on top of the browned cheese mixture.
Afrim Pristine in his Cheese Boutique in Toronto. Photo by Rita DeMontis photograph / SUN MEDIA/Division of Postmedia Network
Today, thanks to relationship building and industry collaborations, he counts some of Canada’s most famous celebrity chefs and restaurants as part of his inner food circle. When the Toronto International Film Festival is in town, many of the city’s top chefs start ordering their cheeses well ahead of the festivities, knowing the favourite foods of the visiting stars. He organizes fun fundraisers with fellow foodies, raising money for various causes while celebrating his beloved superheroes (he’s a big fan of Batman).
Afrim’s first cookbook, the national best-seller For The Love Of Cheese: Recipes and Wisdom from the Cheese Boutique (Appetite by Random House) became the go-to book, while a second book is now on the horizon.
Say – horse – cheese
Last time I blogged for the Recipes Project, I talked about mares. I’d like today to return to mares, their milk and the cheese made with it.
Gold Scythian belt buckle. Seventh century BCE. Source: Wikipedia.
These were not delicacies that the Greeks and Romans themselves enjoyed. Instead, they had observed their consumption among the Scythians, a series of tribes, often nomadic, inhabiting large expanses of Eurasian steppes in antiquity. The Scythians, and their taste for mare’s milk and cheese, were a topic of fascination among the classical Greek authors. The historian Herodotus devotes a long passage to the way in which the Scythians milked their mares: they used slaves they had blinded for that purpose. One slave blew into the mare’s vulva with a bone tube, while another milked the mare (Histories 4.2). This is a well-known and much discussed passage among ancient historians. Enough to state here that much appears to have been lost in translation between the Scythians and Herodotus’ source! The Greeks did not drink milk themselves on a regular basis (although they used it in medical context), and established a linked between ‘otherness’ or ‘barbarism’ and milk drinking.
What will retain me today is the use of the mare’s cheese recipe in a physiological analogy. The author of the Hippocratic treatise On Generation, On the Nature of the Child and Diseases IV (which dates to the end of the fifth century BCE or the beginning of the fourth) was very fond of analogies, some of which are rather wacky. In the passage that concerns me, he compares the physiological process whereby a bad humour is heated and agitated in the human body to the making of mare’s cheese:
If the man is not purged, as the humour is stirred, there is produced an amount that is excessive. This is similar to what the Scythians make with mare’s milk. For they pour the milk into wooden bowls and shake it. As it is stirred, it foams up and separates. The fatty part, which they call butter, as it is light rises to the surface the heavy and thick portion sinks to the bottom they separate it and dry it. When it has become firm and dry, they call it ‘hippakē’. The whey of the milk is in the middle. Similarly in the case of man: when all the humour in his body is stirred, all the humours are separated by the principles I have mentioned: the bile rises to the top, as it is lightest then comes the blood third the phlegm and the water, as it is the heaviest of the humours. (Diseases 4.51, 7.584 Littré)
Milk curdling: butter at the top, whey, solids at the bottom. Image Credit: MARTYN F. CHILLMAID/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
This is a rich and surprising passage. It mentions four humours, but those are not the four humours we all know (bile, phlegm, blood and black bile). Instead, we find bile, blood, phlegm and water. It is relatively little known that there is only one text in the Hippocratic Corpus that mentions the four humours that would become, under the influence of Galen, canonical: Nature of Man. The number and name of humours varies from one Hippocratic treatise to the next. Our author has a predilection for his ‘water’, the heaviest of all his humours, which he compares to the heavy portion to the Scythian milk. One wonders why this Greek author has chosen a Scythian process as a comparing point. The Greeks did make cheese, but their cheese was of the soft type, kept in brine. They did not make butter and hard cheeses. They did not churn (shake) their milk. The recipe the author provide is reasonably clear, although I would personally find it difficult to make cheese by following it. Looking forward to my feta-based dinner now!