Thursday, March 26, 2015

What Is The Best Cheese For A Frittata?

Frittatas are one of the most delicious dishes to serve no matter the time of the day. They use ingredients that you tend to already have on hand, such as cheese, onion, eggs, herbs, and spices. Best of all, the dish is incredibly easy to make as you simply spend a few minutes prepping, then pop it into the oven and are ready to eat. The question then becomes which cheese goes best in a frittata. To some extent, the answer will be personal opinion, but there are some things to consider.

Basic Frittata Recipe

For a basic frittata, you will preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is heating, slice up an onion, some green scallions, a clove of garlic, and whatever herbs you want to include. Crack a dozen eggs in a bowl, adding in a few handfuls of your favorite grated cheese, salt, pepper, and your chopped herbs and scallions. Stir everything together and saute the onion and garlic in a frying pan. Add your egg mixture to the pan and cook it for between ten and fifteen minutes, then sprinkle on some more cheese. Then place your frittata in the oven for five or ten minutes and voila.

Popular Choices

Cheese forms a large portion of the frittata recipe, as it is not only part of the main mixture, but also used as a topping. As mentioned earlier, the best cheese to use will mostly come down to personal preference. Cheddar is a popular choice since it melts well and everyone has it on hand. People also enjoy using ricotta, feta, and goat’s cheese. In reality, as long as the cheese melts well and matches the dish in terms of flavor, it will go well in a frittata.

Considering Melt

When figuring out which cheese to try in your next frittata, be sure to consider its melting properties, especially if you are trying out a new recipe or creating your own. Swiss cheese and Gruyere both melt incredibly well and Camembert is also known for its melting properties. When shredded, cheddar and will melt reasonably well, making it a good choice for frittatas. Mozzarella, on the other hand, is delicious, but tends to melt in strings, something most people won’t necessarily want in their frittata. Instead, try to select a cheese with higher moisture content as these will have the best melting properties to give you a uniform melt without stringy cheese.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Top Cheeses To Add To Your Gift Basket

Finding the right holiday gift can sometimes be a challenge, but cheese makes the perfect present for almost anyone. No matter their age, gender, or occupation, the majority of people love cheese and will enjoy it in a variety of ways, including plain, with crackers, or cooked into a delicious meal. When you decide to create a gift basket for someone, there are multiple cheeses you can add; you simply have to decide what sort of theme you would like to go with.

Cheddar

Perhaps one of the most popular cheeses to include in a gift basket is cheddar. It is hard enough to stay outside of the refrigerator for the time it takes to give your gift basket and the present receiver to take it home. Best of all, while most people are familiar with cheddar in general, they haven’t tried all there is to offer. If you include a sampling of cheddar of different ages (or sharpness levels), including a really sharp, old cheddar, you will be giving a gift basket that includes something the person knows they love as well as something new to try.

Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are another top cheese to add to a gift basket and this is for two reasons: the variety available and trying new things. Unless you live in a certain area of the country, you probably haven’t tried cheese curds before so by including them in a gift basket, you let your friend or family member enjoy a completely new type of cheese. The other great thing is that there are many different types of cheese curds and while they are almost always cheddar, they have a range of flavors, such as ranch and chives, buffalo wing, bacon and horseradish, dill, jalapeno, and more. This means you can select cheese curds of the particular flavor your friend will most enjoy or create a combination.

A Themed Assortment

While cheddar and/or cheese curds can work well as part of any gift basket, you may also want to create a themed basket. In this case, you will need to pick your theme and then pick the cheese accordingly. If, for example, you want an Italian themed basket, consider getting grated parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and provolone. For an exclusive-themed box that aims to include cheeses they probably have not tried before, select rare options such as super aged cheddar or super aged swiss. Or you can simply stick to traditional favorites when it comes to cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, and Colby Jack, all of normal ages and sharpness.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tricks To Properly Serving Cheese

Whether you are hosting an event or party or simply want to spice up your dinner, serving cheese can make a great deal of sense. You can serve as much or as little cheese as you want and it does just as well as an appetizer as a snack or dessert. Follow these tricks and you will be a pro at serving cheese.

What To Serve

When you serve cheese, you don’t want to serve it all by itself. You will need a variety of cheeses in addition to small slices of bread or crackers and some small accompanying snacks as well. You should generally select a soft cheese, a firm one (like Swiss, Cheddar, or Gruyere), and a blue cheese. Your goal is to have a range of textures and flavors on display. Snack ideas include nuts, fruits, vegetables, cured meats, and jams.

Quantities To Serve

The biggest question some people have about serving cheese is how much to provide. If the cheese is going to be the main appetizer at your party, then aim to get three pounds of cheese for every eight people that will be present. If, however, you will have multiple appetizers, having just three or four ounces per person on hand should be enough.

Knives For Serving

To truly serve cheese like a professional, you need to know which types of knives to use as well. Easily cut off a cheese wedge from the wheel with a sharp cook’s knife after dipping the knife in hot water and wiping it. Put either a cheese knife or any small, sharp knife on the tray for cutting harder cheese and a pate or butter knife for soft ones. Remember that you need to give each cheese its own knife so flavors don’t mix.

Spreading Out The Cheese

If you buy a cheese platter from your local supermarket, chances are the cheese is all thinly sliced and stacked on top of each other or layered. While this works for budget cheese, to create a nice presentation, you need to follow some different advice. Don’t layer the different cheeses on top of each other as this will cause their flavors to mix. If you have a larger quantity of cheese, considering spreading it out among several different trays. This prevents the feeling of crowding, both on the tray and from guests trying to get to their favorite slices. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tips For Freezing Your Cheese

If you recently found a great deal on your favorite cheese, then you will be glad to know that it is completely safe to freeze cheese. You can thaw and then eat almost any frozen cheese, although you should expect the texture to be slightly different. These tips can help you get the best out of your frozen cheese.

Freeze For Later Cooking

Because freezing cheese tends to change the texture of it, it is ideal to only freeze it if you plan to use it for cooking. You can still eat the cheese by itself after you thaw it out, but it will probably be crumbly. The flavor will luckily still be the same, even if the texture is different. Instead, consider freezing the cheese you will use in casseroles, soups, and sauces.

Ideal Cheese To Freeze

The best types of cheese to freeze tend to be firmer, with Swiss, Gouda, and cheddar being the ideal examples. You can also freeze Romano, Provolone, Port du Salut, Parmesan, Muenster, Mozzarella, Edam, and Camembert. Soft cheese, on the other hand, doesn’t freeze as well, so although you may get away with freezing a block of cream cheese that you plan to cook with, you should otherwise avoid freezing cream cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese.

Packaging And Freezing

The goal of freezing cheese is to slow down the process of bacterial growth and in order to do so, you need to ensure that the cold from the freezer reaches every area of the cheese. Most experts suggest that you don’t freeze cheese in blocks that are bigger than a half pound each.

When you freeze a hard cheese (like Swiss or cheddar), you can reasonably keep it in the freezer for up to six months and the same is true even of soft cheeses like Brie. Before putting the cheese in the freezer, wrap it up using resealable freezer bags, plastic wrap, or some other material that is moisture-proof.

Thawing And Using The Cheese

When it comes time to thaw out your cheese, you will simply leave the wrapper on and move the cheese to your refrigerator until it thaws. You need to use this newly thawed cheese within two to three days to take full advantage of it. Keep in mind that it will be hard to slice frozen cheese, but you can easily grate it. As such, if you plan on using the cheese as slices, slice it before freezing, but feel free to store it in chunks if you plan on grating it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Smart Tips For Buying Your Cheese Online

It used to be that if you didn’t have a quality cheese retailer close to your home, you were stuck buying your cheese from your local grocery store. While at least there are some choices in the supermarket, the selection is nothing like what you would find from a specialty shop and neither is the quality. Now, the internet has helped fill in the gap and no matter where you live, you can find an online cheese store that will ship to you, giving you the chance to try new and creative cheeses.

Pay Attention To Shipping Times

When you plan on buying your cheese online, always pay close attention to shipping times. The majority of online retailers will offer delivery for within one or two days. In some cases this will be the only delivery option and sometimes there will be other options for hard or less-perishable cheeses. If a cheese retailer doesn’t at least offer two-day (or less) shipping, then skip them and move on as there is no guarantee you will receive your cheese before it goes bad.

Pay Attention To Packaging

Just like shipping times, the packaging method of an online cheese store can indicate how good (or bad) it is. The majority will use some type of insulated packaging and include an ice pack or similar object inside to keep the cheese cold. This is the ideal method as it ensures the cheese stays in a refrigerator-like environment until it arrives. As long as the company doesn’t simply put cheese in a regular box without any special labels, it should be fine.

Find A Knowledgeable Retailer

It is common to be a bit overwhelmed by the wide selection of cheese available online. The good news is that just like physical cheese shops keep experts on hand to help customers, so do some of the best online retailers. The best ones will have a contact form or customer service line where you can talk to an expert and get expert feedback as well as help selecting your ideal cheese.

Take Advantage Of Selection

Even if you choose to order cheese online to get standard items (such as cheddar or mozzarella) because you don’t have a nearby grocery store, try to take advantage of the incredible selection online. You will see unique flavors and cheeses that you have never tried before, from super aged cheddar to flavored cheddar cheese curds to classic Italian cheese or even fresh mozzarella. Do your best to try at least one new cheese every time you order, even if it is just a small quantity, or get a sampler platter. As long as you are already ordering cheese online, you might as well try something new and take advantage of the selection.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How To Use Cheese In Appetizers This Holiday Season

Cheese is a delicious addition to almost any meal, no matter the time of day or the time of the year. That means that when it comes to holiday dishes, cheese can play a central role, whether you are talking about the main dish or the appetizers. Here are just some delicious ways to use cheese in your holiday appetizers.

Classic Cheese Tray

Perhaps the easiest way to use cheese in appetizers during the holiday season is to create a classic cheese tray. Try to select three or four cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, and sharpness. Remember to include crackers, chips, or something similar to eat with the cheese and add some fruit and/or nuts for additional flavor combinations.

Almond Crusted Brie

If you want to actually make something for the appetizer instead of simply making a festive cheese tray, try almond crusted brie. It may sound intimidating, but is actually fairly simple. Preheat your oven while completely covering a Brie cheese round with puff pastry. Brush on some egg, sprinkle on some almonds, and bake your Brie. At the end, drizzle on some pureed raspberries and serve your appetizer.

Cheese Balls

A simple option for a handheld cheese appetizer is a cheese ball. Mix together your favorite cheeses (such as cream cheese, feta, and shredded sharp Cheddar) with some Worcestershire sauce and onion using a mixer. Once this is fluffy, let it sit in the fridge for eight hours before shaping it into a ball and rolling in some parsley. Serve it with crackers like you would a standard piece of cheese.

Cheese Dips

Those looking for a simple way to ensure cheese is the focal point of the appetizer without involving too many other ingredients can try to make a cheese dip. You can either get creative or find a recipe you enjoy. To keep it simple, simply melt three or four of your favorite cheeses together (try cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded semi-soft cheeses such as Havarti or Gouda) plus some seasoning. Or to let your creativity shine and truly impress your guests, mix some blue cheese with caramelized apples, pecans, and other ingredients for flavoring. Another delicious choice is to make a nutty cheese spread incorporating fruit chutney on top.

Cheese Bread

A final option is to make some cheese bread as an appetizer. To make this appetizer even easier so you can focus on creating the main dishes, buy some biscuit making mix and throw in butter, milk, egg, minced onion, chopped parsley, and the secret ingredient: shredded Cheddar cheese, as sharp as you want.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Serve The Best Cheese Tray

No matter what type of event you are hosting, a cheese tray can be an excellent addition. Cheese trays are versatile as you can include as many different types of cheese you want, including your particular favorites. It is a great chance to tempt the tastebuds of your guests before the meal is served, making it a classic option for appetizers. Keep the following things in mind and you will have no problem serving the best cheese tray.

Selecting Cheeses

When you pick the cheeses for your tray, aim to select at least three or four different options. You want as wide of a range of flavors and textures that you can find. This means you should include some blue cheeses, some soft ones, some hard ones, and some aged ones. Always be sure to include one cheese (at least) that your guests will already know and love and don’t be afraid to buy sheep or goat cheese as well.

What Else To Include

Most of the time, your guests won’t want to eat cheese all by itself, unless it is a bite-sized morsel such as cheddar cube or a cheese curd. Even then, it is a good idea to have crackers, bread sticks, and sliced baguettes on the tray to eat with the cheese. As with the cheese, opt for bread and crackers of different flavors and textures. Also consider including chutneys, nuts, or fresh fruit and vegetables to complement the cheese.

Use Labels

While you may not need to label basic cheeses, such as cheddar or mozzarella, it is a good idea to label all unusual or potentially unfamiliar cheeses on your tray. Either put the label directly on the tray or place a labeled diagram of the cheese tray off to one side. This way when guests enjoy a new flavor and want more, they know what it is called.

Preparation

When getting ready to serve your cheese tray, you need to take the cheese out of the refrigerator ahead of time. Almost every cheese tastes best at room temperature as the cold will subdue the flavor. This means you should start let them sit outside of the fridge for an hour before organizing the tray or serving it.

Presentation

When it comes to serving your cheese tray, the presentation is completely up to you. Try to include labels, as mentioned above. Be sure that your tray includes one knife per cheese, particularly the soft or spreadable ones. Also make sure that strong-smelling cheeses are on a separate plate as this will prevent the flavor from overpowering the other options.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How To Host A Cheese And Wine Tasting Party For New Year’s Eve

Wine and cheese parties are one of the most classic types of gatherings due to their versatility and fun. This is a great chance for you and your guests to try new types of wine and cheese, finding new favorites. Having your party on New Year’s Eve is even better as you don’t have to worry about it going too long or drinking too much wine - after all, everyone wants to be up until midnight or later anyway.

Formal Vs Informal

The first thing you have to decide is if you want your cheese and wine tasting party to be formal or informal. A formal party will typically be a sit-down affair. You will prepare plates of cheese with various glasses of wine and have them planned out, including which order to serve them in. Formal parties usually include breaks for discussion of each item between courses.

Informal cheese and wine tasting parties tend to be stand-up affairs and better for larger crowds. You would simply arrange various cheeses on platters with labels indicating their names, origins, and suggested pairings. Do the same for the wines at another station. You can either keep the cheese in one area and the wine in another or spread them throughout the space based on suggested pairings.

Select A Range Of Each

One of the most important aspects of hosting a cheese and wine tasting parties on New Year’s Eve is making sure that there is enough variety. You want to have at least three or four different cheeses and the same number of wines on hand. Make sure that there are cheeses of different ages, firmness, textures, and flavors. Don’t forget to include snacks such as fruit and nuts to cleanse the palate and help soak up some of the wine.

Considering Pairings

Perhaps the most stressful part of hosting a party for tasting wine and cheese is figuring out the pairings. Either ask an expert or find some guidelines online. Fresh cheese, such as ricotta, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, and burrata, for example do best with wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. If you want to keep it simple, then opt for a dry red or white wine. Champagne will work with most cheese as well, making it perfect for New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind, however, that there are no hard rules when it comes to cheese pairings. As long as guests are happy, they can eat whichever cheese with any of the wines on offer.

Have Guests Bring Items

A great idea to take some of the stress out of hosting a cheese and wine tasting party (especially on a big night like New Year’s Eve) is to ask your guests to bring some of the items. Either select a theme (such as a region the items should be from) or let them bring whatever they want. Just be sure that you divide up who brings cheese and who brings wine so there is enough of each.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Is American Cheese Different Than In Other Countries?

Cheese is a nearly universal food as it can be found throughout the world. An interesting thing to note, however, is that when you look at cheese made in the United States and that made in Europe, there are actually several very important differences. While all cheese is delicious, if you want to become familiar with all types of cheese, it helps to understand these variations.

Cheese Known As “American Cheese”

The first thing to consider is what exactly is meant by American cheese. This term typically refers to a particular style of cheese, but it can also simply mean cheese that is produced and sold in the United States. The following paragraphs will talk about cheese made in America, but it is important to also consider the style of American cheese. This cheese tends to be processed and either white, yellow, or orange. The traditional recipe included a combination of cheddar, colby, and other cheeses, but today a great deal of “American cheese” is simply a “cheese product” as it doesn’t contain enough cheese to be classified as cheese.

Added Ingredients

When looking at cheese produced in the United States, you will notice that it typically contains more additives and extra ingredients, such as colorings and preservatives than the European alternatives. In fact, the typical Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese found in the United States, for example, contains, cheese cultures, potassium sorbate, and cellulose powder, none of which you will find in the European version of this cheese.

Pasteurized Milk

Another difference between American cheeses and international ones is the type of milk that is used. Because of safety concerns, mainly those related to bacteria, the vast majority of American cheese is made using pasteurized milk as this process reduces the risk of bacterial growth. In fact, it can be nearly impossible to find a “raw cheese” which is made with unpasteurized milk in the United States. Other countries, however, tend to offer both types of cheese as there is a demand for both and they have accepted that the production and aging process helps reduce the risk of any bacteria-related problems.

Meaning Behind The Name

Perhaps the biggest difference between American made cheese and those made around the world, and the one that has recently got the most attention on the news, is the name of the product. In Europe, the name of a particular cheese refers to where it originated. This means that if you buy Parmigiano-Reggiano in Europe, it will have been made in the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. If you buy it in the United States, however, it is simply made to imitate this particular Italian cheese. While names such as Gruyere and Asiago refer to styles of cheese in the U.S., they refer to the style of cheese as well as where it was produced.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Cheesy Recipes For The Holidays

Just because you are allergic to gluten or choose to be gluten-free doesn’t mean you will have to miss out on all of your favorite holiday treats. From main dishes to appetizers to desserts, you can easily make gluten-free versions of your favorite cheesy recipes. Here are just some holiday ideas to get you started.

Macaroni And Cheese

Since the holidays are during winter, something warm and comforting like macaroni and cheese is the perfect way to stay warm. The secret for this dish is to use some potato starch and gluten-free puffed-rice cereal to supplement gluten-free pasta, letting it keep the texture. The traditional cheese for this dish would be cheddar, but you can get creative too. You can even make a baked macaroni and cheese with similar ingredients, but by adding cottage cheese and gluten-free “bread” crumbs.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Winter is a great time for cheesecake and just because Thanksgiving already passed doesn’t mean it’s too late eat pumpkin. You can make a delicious gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake with a crust made from almond meal, crushed almonds, white sugar, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and butter. As with any cheesecake, this recipe relies on sour cream and cream cheese as the cheese component, making a delicious, cheese-filled holiday dessert.

Holiday Pizza

This gluten-free recipe is delicious enough to eat year round and while pizza traditionally uses mozzarella cheese, you can let your creativity flow and try some goat cheese, parmesan, or even cheddar. The secret to making this cheesy dish a success is making your own gluten-free pizza dough. Boil potatoes and put them through a ricer. Combine yeast, agave, and water together so it foams, then add in your potatoes along with a bit of salt, tapioca starch, and rice flour. mix together, then add oil and egg whites, let it sit in a warm spot, and you will have gluten-free pizza dough. To make this particular pizza ready for the holidays, pick festive toppings, such as red and green peppers and you can even arrange them in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Bacon Cheese Appetizer Squares

Don’t let the gluten-eating people have all the fun and choices when it comes to appetizers at a holiday party. Instead of sticking to the vegetable platter (minus the dip), make some gluten-free bacon cheese squares. Just use a Gluten Free refrigerated pastry and pie dough and some gluten-free onion and chive cream cheese, throwing in bacon, grape tomatoes, and green onions. 

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.

Ingredients

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.

Supplies

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.

Storage

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

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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

When Is It Safe To Feed Your Baby Cheese?

As a new parent, you are probably looking forward to the time when you can start introducing your baby to solid foods. The good news is that cheese is actually one of the earlier foods that you can give your baby, despite the concerns of most people. Keep in mind, however, that every baby is different, so you need to know how to properly start giving your baby cheese.
Age
You can actually start giving your baby a bit of cheese as soon as she is about six months, provided that she can already gum or chew well. You will, of course, want to make sure the cheese is in small pieces to minimize a choking risk. Many parents wonder why you can introduce cheese before milk and the answer comes down to the fact that when cheese is cultured, the quantity of lactose is reduced, making it easier to digest the milk protein.
Safety Concerns
Anytime you introduce a new food, like cheese, to your baby, you need to carefully watch her for signs of an allergic reaction such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, skin rash, wheezing, or swelling on the face, lips, or tongue. If your baby has shown signs of a milk allergy or there is a family history of one, talk to your pediatrician before giving your child any cheese.
Best Types Of Cheese
Although you can start giving your baby cheese early on, you shouldn’t just give her any cheese you have lying around. Experts suggest you start with those with mild flavors such as American, Jack, Colby, cheddar, or cottage cheese. You should not, however, give your baby soft cheeses until she is older as these are frequently unpasteurized and may contain listeria. Although the risk is low, you should always consult your pediatrician before giving your baby any soft cheese, although cottage cheese and cream cheese are usually safe for baby.
Serving Ideas
When you give your baby cheese, be sure that it is actually cheese and not a “cheese product.” The easiest way to do this is to purchase it from a cheese retailer. You can easily offer the solid cheeses (like cheddar) as finger foods, but shred it first. You can also melt it and add it to some small pieces of bread or veggies. You can even stir it into rice, noodles, scrambled eggs. If you want to give your baby cottage cheese, you should try mixing it with fruit, spices, or a mashed avocado or banana while your baby gets used to the texture.

Friday, December 26, 2014

When Does Cheese Go Bad?

The only problem when it comes to cheese is that it is sometimes impossible to finish an entire wheel or wedge in one sitting, no matter how hard you try. Whether you have leftover cheese simply purchased a large quantity of cheese and need to know how long it will be good for, it helps to know when it will be going bad. The following guidelines can help you predict how long of a life your cheese has as well as show you if it is no longer safe to eat.
Hard Cheese
No matter the type of cheese you have, its lifespan will depend on whether it is opened or unopened and in a chunk or shredded. Hard cheese (like Romano, Asiago, or Parmesan) that is unopened and in a chunk will last two to four months in the fridge, but if it is shredded, it will only last one to two months. If the cheese is opened, however, plan on a chunk lasting three to six weeks and the shredded version going three to four weeks.
Semi-Hard Cheese
As cheese gets softer, its lifespan decreases. Therefore a semi-hard cheese (like Swiss or cheddar), in a chunk will last one to two months if unopened or three to six weeks of opened. Shredded semi-hard cheese should be good for a month when unopened or two weeks if opened. Soft cheeses will have an even shorter lifespan, which is when the following guidelines become helpful.
Use Smell
If you aren’t sure whether your cheese is past its prime, the easiest way to tell is by using your senses. One of the first signs that cheese is bad will be if it smells odd. All cheeses smell different, so be sure to give your cheese a sniff when you buy it so you know what it should smell like. Bad cheese may smell like the freezer or fridge, like ammonia, or like spoiled milk.
Use Sight
While most people are concerned about a little bit of mold, you can simply cut this portion off (including a bit extra in every direction) and eat the rest of the cheese. If, however, the cheese is completely covered in mold, then you should toss it. Also pay attention to whether the cheese has changed colors or the texture has become less consistent. Check for bloated packaging, oil, and sliminess as well.
Use Taste
Although most people are hesitant to do so, the final way to see if your cheese is bad is to have a small taste. Eating a tiny piece won’t hurt you, and it can be the best way to tell for sure whether cheese has gone bad. If you aren’t sure based on timing, sight, and smell, then tasting will be the only way to see if the cheese is good and you will know as soon as you take a nibble. Just remember to only take a small bite.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Qualities Should A Fine Cheese Have?

While many people are familiar with low- or medium-quality cheeses, not everyone has the necessary experience with fine cheese to be able to make an educated decision. Any cheese specialty store, whether it is online or a physical store, will have experts on staff that can help you select the right cheese. Despite this, it still helps to have a good idea of the qualities to look for in a fine cheese ahead of time.
Production Location
Keep in mind that where a cheese is produced will actually affect the way that the fine cheese tastes. Some cheeses, for example, are made in specific caves that are naturally cool. These cheeses tend to have unique coloring and flavor. If you are looking for a specific type of cheese with a particular flavor within it, ask to be sure that the fine cheese was made in the necessary location for the flavor to come across.
Not Pre-Cut
Although there are some exceptions to the rule, a fine cheese should not typically be pre-cut. That is because when a cheese is cut, it will stop aging correctly, and that can affect the flavor of it. Therefore the best cheese retailers will cut the piece of cheese when ordered, with certain exceptions. Hard cheeses, including Parmigiano-Reggiano tend to do fine when pre-cut so even fine cheeses of that variety may already be packaged before you place your order.
Healthy Appearance
Any fine cheese you purchase should look healthy and this should be fairly obvious at a glance. The cheese should be free of major dents or cracks with the rinds intact. The inside of a fine cheese won’t be too dry, bulging, or runny.
Wrapped Correctly
When looking at fine cheese, remember that plastic wrap is generally a poor decision for packaging cheese. Therefore a fine cheese sold by a quality retailer should have the cheese wrapped in waxed, parchment, or cheese paper. Fine cheese can be wrapped in one of those types of paper and then plastic wrap, and this is actually a good sign for moist cheese.
Clear Label
Fine cheese should also include a clear label, either on the cheese itself or its description online (or a nearby sign in a physical store). The label should include all the pertinent information such as the type of cheese, its origins, common uses, price, type of cheese, and more.
About Flavor
When you finally take a bite of your fine cheese, it should have a nice, long flavor. This is the main characteristic that distinguishes fine cheese from standard cheese as fine cheeses tend to focus more on long-lasting flavors as opposed to sharp ones upfront that instantly fade. Additionally, the flavors within the cheese should all be balanced as fine cheeses won’t feel too sharp; instead you should notice a richness and a different flavor with each bite.
What Qualities Should A Fine Cheese Have?
While many people are familiar with low- or medium-quality cheeses, not everyone has the necessary experience with fine cheese to be able to make an educated decision. Any cheese specialty store, whether it is online or a physical store, will have experts on staff that can help you select the right cheese. Despite this, it still helps to have a good idea of the qualities to look for in a fine cheese ahead of time.
Production Location
Keep in mind that where a cheese is produced will actually affect the way that the fine cheese tastes. Some cheeses, for example, are made in specific caves that are naturally cool. These cheeses tend to have unique coloring and flavor. If you are looking for a specific type of cheese with a particular flavor within it, ask to be sure that the fine cheese was made in the necessary location for the flavor to come across.
Not Pre-Cut
Although there are some exceptions to the rule, a fine cheese should not typically be pre-cut. That is because when a cheese is cut, it will stop aging correctly, and that can affect the flavor of it. Therefore the best cheese retailers will cut the piece of cheese when ordered, with certain exceptions. Hard cheeses, including Parmigiano-Reggiano tend to do fine when pre-cut so even fine cheeses of that variety may already be packaged before you place your order.
Healthy Appearance
Any fine cheese you purchase should look healthy and this should be fairly obvious at a glance. The cheese should be free of major dents or cracks with the rinds intact. The inside of a fine cheese won’t be too dry, bulging, or runny.
Wrapped Correctly
When looking at fine cheese, remember that plastic wrap is generally a poor decision for packaging cheese. Therefore a fine cheese sold by a quality retailer should have the cheese wrapped in waxed, parchment, or cheese paper. Fine cheese can be wrapped in one of those types of paper and then plastic wrap, and this is actually a good sign for moist cheese.
Clear Label
Fine cheese should also include a clear label, either on the cheese itself or its description online (or a nearby sign in a physical store). The label should include all the pertinent information such as the type of cheese, its origins, common uses, price, type of cheese, and more.
About Flavor
When you finally take a bite of your fine cheese, it should have a nice, long flavor. This is the main characteristic that distinguishes fine cheese from standard cheese as fine cheeses tend to focus more on long-lasting flavors as opposed to sharp ones upfront that instantly fade. Additionally, the flavors within the cheese should all be balanced as fine cheeses won’t feel too sharp; instead you should notice a richness and a different flavor with each bite.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Is The Best Way To Store Cheese?

Despite your best efforts, chances are that you will have some cheese leftover from your initial purchase. Whether you are looking to store the leftover cheese or store the entire thing before you ever take a bite, it is important to know the right methods. When you store cheese correctly, you will preserve the texture and flavor so despite eating it a few days later, it still tastes fresh.
Wrapping Material
The first thing to consider is what you will be wrapping the cheese in. Plastic is the most common option, but should almost never be used. Cheese, particularly softer cheese, needs to breathe in order to maintain its texture. Therefore you should opt for cheese paper, parchment paper, or even wax paper. No matter the type of cheese, wrap it in one of these materials.
How To Wrap
The process of wrapping up the cheese is actually fairly simple. Simply place the cheese, parchment, or wax paper flat on top of your counter, putting the cheese wedge on top of it. Fold up the edges, one at a time, ensuring that you make neat creases. Secure the wrapping with a bit of tape and be sure to label the cheese with the type and date so you can keep track of its age.
Changing Brine
If you have a fresh cheese, chances are that it is stored in some brine. The good news is that you don’t need to change this brine daily, like some people suggest. Instead, simply change it if it starts to smell or look off, or is contaminated. Simply dump the brine and throw in a few cups water with a tablespoon salt dissolved in it. Keep in mind that the cheese will absorb some of the salt, so you may want to reduce the amount.
Temperature
Hard cheeses can be out of the refrigerator for a few days, but with that exception, you should always store your cheese in a nice, cold environment. You want them to be in an environment that is 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and that means that the ideal location in your fridge is the vegetable drawer, or if you don’t have one, opt for the bottom shelf.
Based On Cheese Type
Although all cheeses should be wrapped up in cheese paper before placing them in the fridge, there are some differences in terms of the best storage method for various types. After wrapping up hard cheese, for example, you can put it inside a sealed plastic container or bag, as losing moisture isn’t as crucial. You may want to do the same with blue cheese, but don’t seal the bag, to prevent the odor from spreading around your fridge. If a fresh cheese was originally packaged in brine, leave it in the original container and simply change the brine as needed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Is The Best Way To Make Cheese Sauce?

Cheese sauce is one of the many different types of dishes you can make using cheese. The great thing about a cheese sauce is that it is incredibly versatile as you can make it using nearly any type of cheese that you want, meaning that the end result can complement whichever dish you choose. This allows you to make the perfect cheese sauce for meat one day, for fish the next, and for pasta the next day.
Select The Right Cheese
The very first step in making the best cheese sauce is to select the correct cheese. Although you may be tempted to go with your favorite cheese, no matter the type, the truth is that some types of cheese will do better than others when it comes to cheese sauce. The simple route is to opt for a processed cheese, as these tend to melt uniformly, but they usually lack a great deal in terms of flavor. Teh good news is that there are also many natural cheeses that do well in cheese sauce. Some of the best options include Muenster, Monterey Jack, Havarti, Gruyere, Gouda, fontina, colby, cheddar, and Asiago. You can also use soft cheeses or blue cheeses, but be sure to remove the rind first.
Order Of Ingredients
Once you have your ingredients ready, you want to think about the order. Despite cheese being the main ingredient in cheese sauce, it is actually added last. That is because cheese can easily overcook and when this happens, it affects the texture negatively. As such, you want to add the cheese as your final ingredient. Be sure that you add the cheese when the sauce is cooking at a low temperature. If necessary, take extremely hot sauce off the heat so it cools slightly before adding the cheese. Also, be sure to grate the cheese before adding it as this will allow it to melt more smoothly.
Cooking Steps
The exact way to make cheese sauce will depend on the recipe that you select, but the general steps will be the same. Begin by cooking the same amount of butter and flour in a pan (first melting the butter, then whisking in the flour). Lower the heat and constantly stir. After the flour has cooked a bit, turn off the heat and warm up milk, then slowly add it into the mixture. Now you can simmer the sauce, constantly whisking it until it thickens. Finally, you can throw in the shredded cheese and whatever seasonings you want. Be sure to cook on very low heat due to the cheese.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tips For Using Cheese In Casseroles

Casseroles are a popular meal choice as there are limitless options and varieties available. You can combine almost any type of meat and vegetables, letting you use up leftovers before they go bad. Almost all casseroles will involve cheese as that is part of what adds to their flavor and texture. The cheese also serves as the binding agent, letting all of the ingredients easily connect together. The following tips can help you with selecting the right cheese for your casserole or actually cooking it.
Consider Melt
When it comes time to think about which cheese to use in the casserole, you want to think about its melt. Not all cheeses are capable of melting, and many fresh cheeses are not. Generally speaking, harder cheeses (which are low-moisture) need to melt at higher temperatures. Softer cheeses with high moisture (like mozzarella) tend to melt at lower temperatures. Also keep in mind whether you want a cheese that melts in strings or forms a cohesive melted mass. Hard cheeses, like parmesan, tend to melt in individual into individual pieces, while semi-hard cheeses, like cheddar, form a melted mass.
Improve Melt Efficiency
When it comes to preparing your casserole, you probably won’t want to cook the cheese for too long. In order to make it melt more efficiently, most recipes call for shredding or grating the cheese. This allows you to increase the surface area so the cheese melts quicker and in a more uniformed manner.
Cooking Temperature And Placement
If you are making a cheesy casserole, you want to keep the temperature at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit or less (definitely not over 375 Fahrenheit), otherwise the cheese sauce may begin to break up. Also keep in mind that the longer the casserole cooks, the dryer the cheese will become. Generally speaking, you want to keep the casserole three of four inches away from your oven’s heat source to prevent burning the cheese. Your main concern when cooking with cheese is to not overcook it, which is why the recommended temperature sits firmly at 350 degrees.
Adding Cheese Toppings
If you plan on adding some cheese to the very top of your casserole, either instead of or in addition to cheese throughout the dish, save this for almost the very end. You should try to add these final cheese toppings when there are about five to ten minutes left for cooking the casserole. This will give the cheese enough time to melt, but not enough to burn.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tips For An Upscale Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is a classic dish as it is incredibly simple to make. Although the process varies, you basically pick some cheese and bread and cook the sandwich in a pan. While the standard grilled cheese is typically made using standard store-bought bread and American (or other processed) cheese, you can actually turn the classic sandwich into an upscale version with just a few simple tips.
Selecting The Cheese
The first step to making an upscale grilled cheese is to select your ideal cheese. Although there are almost limitless cheeses to select from, you want one that will melt correctly. Avoid cheeses that don’t melt, such as queso fresco, feta, fresh goat cheese, Indian paneer, and cottage cheese. Traditionally, grilled cheese is made with a flowing and smooth melter, such as cheddar, blue cheese, gouda, muenster, monterey jack, brie, fontina, or asiago. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, however, you can try a cheese that melts into stretchy strings, like mozzarella, provolone, or even fresh cheddar cheese curds.
Throw In Extra Ingredients
The best way to take your grilled cheese to the next level is by adding additional items to it. After selecting your favorite cheese and bread, think about what additional items you would like to throw in, such as vegetables or meats. The most popular option is probably tomatoes, but you can also add avocado, tart apples, hot peppers, pears, sweet grapes, berries, and dried fruits. For meats, bacon is a popular choice, although almost any deli meat works, and you can even get creative and add a pre-made sauce like pesto or your favorite jam. Some people even put pretzels or potato chips in their grilled cheese and while that may not be upscale, it certainly is creative and adds some unique flavors and textures.
Shred The Cheese
Some grilled cheese experts recommend using sliced cheese and that is the traditional method. Many, however, find that shredding the cheese truly helps you get an even consistency. It also makes it easier to add in some of the extra ingredients mentioned above as you can fit shredded cheese in any nook or cranny left open. A bonus of using shredded cheese is that you can easily use more than one type of cheese and mix them together evenly.
The Cooking Process
Making an upscale grilled cheese sandwich follows the same exact directions as any other type of grilled cheese. For the best flavor and texture, grill both slices of bread in some butter, then flip them over and grill the other side after adding the cheese on top. Simply close the sandwich and flip it over part way through to make it into a grilled cheese.

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