Sunday, April 26, 2009

Appreciation for Cheese, Week 17

This past month has been a busy one for me, and I've not been able to keep up with the blog as I would have liked.  I think things should be calming down soon, and I am enthusiastic about continuing to try more cheeses!  Some people have asked about last week's cheese-- if I liked it so much, why was it rated so low?  The simple answer is this: I have been eating really, really good cheese this year.  There are just a couple of cheeses I probably wouldn't get again.  For example, my last ranked cheese, Monterey Jack, can be a great cheese on its own.  In comparison to the other cheeses I've had, it was just a little on the boring side.  Perhaps another brand would have changed my mind.  I certainly hope I'm not offending too many Monterey Jack aficionados out there.  :)

This week I had a craving for plain old grilled cheese with my pre-blog favorite, Muenster.  After buttering my sunflower bread, placing some pre-sliced Muenster inside, and grilling, I just knew it would be delicious.  I was shocked!  Something just didn't taste...right.  Had I become a cheese snob? Would I never be able to eat deli cheese without remembering my delights with Comte and the Lamb Chopper?  Thinking my grilled cheese could have been subpar because of 'butter' spread, I tried Muenster plain...but to no avail!  Come back favorite cheese, come back!

While I didn't try a new cheese this week and I still have Irish cheese in the fridge, I increased my appreciation for cheese.  

I'm off to do more work and have a Muenster grilled cheese for dinner.

Have a great week, readers! 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Oaxaca/Asadero, Week 16

Plans with Cassie didn't work out this week, but when we do get around to making use of the Gubbeen, we can provide the back story of foreign cheese shopping and trying to guess what will survive the flight across the pond.

This week, a friend reminded me of the HowChow blog and tipped me off to Lilly's Mexican Market.  Once I figured out where it was and read the review that included homemade corn tortillas, Lilly's was my go-to spot.  Of course, cheese was on my mind when I was parking there, but the bakery case definitely caught my attention when I first stepped into the store.  The dozens of fresh rolls and pastries made on location made me wonder how I'd managed to do without Lilly's!  There's a butcher shop and take out tacos, too, but this week the blog went for simple: Flaming Cheese (Queso Flameado).  Side note- how awesome of a dish does it sound already?

Unfortunately, I only realized I was taking photos directly onto my camera's internal memory when I was just about to put the cheese in the oven.  So, the standard wrapper photos will have to wait until another time. (That is, when I walk all the way over to the drawer I keep the cable in.)

Price: $9.32/lb
Smell: Like string cheese but less processed.

Step One: Rip 12 ounces of Oaxaca into a few large hunks. (Note: This cheese is called Oaxaca when it's shaped like a ball, and Asadero when shaped like a brick. I got the ball of Oaxaca because it was at eye-level.) Add about 4 tablespoons of chopped chorizo (sausage)  or more if you'd like. 

Step Two: Watch and wait. Don't wait too long or it will just be Burnt Cheese. Nobody wants to eat that.  

Step Three: Quick! Spoon (or fork) into tortillas or chips for a quick dip!  I served the Flaming Cheese (while much more authentic when actually flaming, warm cheese is still delicious) with green corn tamales (beyond amazing corn goodness steamed in the microwave), some black beans and onions, Lilly's bread rolls, and some fruit juice drinks that looked fun.  

Step Four: Don't forget dessert! For a taste of fried ice cream without the hours of prep and challenge of actually frying dairy...I just put honey and cinnamon sugar on top of vanilla custard.

Verdict: Oaxaca cheese was way better than normal string cheese on its own, but tasted just amazing when melted.  It was sweet and creamy. The oil from the chorizo probably helped its consistency smooth out, too.  I will definitely be craving this dish in the future, and I can't wait to go back to Lilly's for just-made tortillas and bread!  

End tally: Midnight Moon > Lamb Chopper > Manchego > Paneer > Comte > Irish Cheddar > Vermont Cheddar > Emmentaler > Bucheron > Delice d'Argental > Brie > Oaxaca/Asadero > Red Square > Port Salut > Stilton > Pecorino Romano > Monterey Jack

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, all!

It seems I will take another week off from the cheese blog. This week has been rather busy and I'm a bit drained.  Next week, however promises to be exciting.  My friend Cassie recently returned from Ireland and brought me a wheel of Oak Smoked Gubbeen cheese!  I don't know quite how we're going to use it, but it'd be nice to do something special with it.  Here's the description from the Gubbeen Farmhouse web site-- if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!

Gubbeen Cheese has been produced since 1979 by Giana Ferguson, with Rosie and the Gubbeen dairy team. It has been enjoyed across Ireland, Europe and America, and has won some of the key cheese awards both in Ireland and England. Gubbeen Cheese is a surface ripened, semi-soft cheese with a delicate pink and white rind that is developed in our curing rooms by daily washing and a lot of skilled care. The flavours are creamy with lots of mushroom and nutty aftertastes. We also produce a Smoked Gubbeen-smoked by Fingal at the Gubbeen Smoke House where he adds his skills to the cheeses' flavour by the addition of oak smoke.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Port Salut, Week 14

About the April Fools' cheese-- I really did want to try vegan 'cheese,' but when I went to the Teeter on Wednesday, I just didn't have the heart to purchase "Cheddar Veggie Shreds" or "American Veggie Slices."  After weeks of fantastic cheese, I couldn't bear to buy a large quantity of 'cheese' that most books and countries don't recognize as such.  Thus, the cheese blog tragically went a week without cheese.

Yet, this is the part where happiness and cheesiness come in.   Port Salut (POOR sah-LEW) was plentiful and on sale.  Per usual, I had not the faintest idea what to do with this cheese.  Laura Werlin's book, Cheese Essentials, describes Port Salut as "very popular among Americans" because of "its lack of assertive flavors" and recommends using it when cooking rather than eating it plain.  With that in mind, I went for a breakfast sandwich-- easy, homey, and hard not be delicious.  

Port Salut
Smell: Kind of like a strong deli Muenster
Cost: $9.99/lb

Step One:  Basil butter the pan.  I've been finding the neatest things in the freezer aisle lately.  See those green cubes? Two tablespoons of chopped basil!

Step Two:  Add eggs (4) and generously season bacon with cayenne pepper.  Bacon is one of the reasons I'm a vegetarian wannabe.  Right now, I love Pederson's uncured applewood smoked bacon with lots of cayenne-- the bacon becomes sweeter with the heat.

Step Three: Add some cheese!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from heat and add cheese. I used a bit less than half of the wedge I got.  When I make this again, I would use even less.  The cheese was so soft, no shredding was required- it melted nicely into the eggs.  (For my longtime readers-- I got new heat-proof spatulas! Huzzah!)

Step Four: Enjoy!  Happy breakfast, happy belly!

Verdict: Port Salut tasted great in the eggs with basil, but it was just so-so on its own (mild cheese with funny aftertaste).  More of a supporting actor kind of cheese, Port Salut is no Denzel.  

End tally: Midnight Moon > Lamb Chopper > Manchego > Paneer > Comte > Irish Cheddar > Vermont Cheddar > Emmentaler > Bucheron > Delice d'Argental > Brie > Red Square > Port Salut > Stilton > Pecorino Romano > Monterey Jack