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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tasty Ways To Use Cheese In Dessert

Cheese is traditionally thought of as an appetizer, or possibly the main course, but few people ever associate cheese with dessert. In reality, however, cheese can make an excellent addition to your dessert, no matter the dish you served. This means that next time you are hosting a dinner party, consider one of the following tasty treats to give your guests some cheese with dessert.
By Itself
When done correctly, you can actually have cheese as it is for dessert. This is actually a fairly popular trend in Europe and it is beginning to spread to the United States. The thing to keep in mind about serving cheese for dessert is that it is easy to do; you simply want to make sure that you select the right cheese. You ideally want to go with fine cheese, but don’t feel limited by sweetness. You can make a stinky cheese work by combining it with sweeter sides like fruit. Try to select cheese that is lighter, such as fresh goat cheese, as not only is it less filling, but it also combines well with other items. If you are having cheese by itself for dessert, try not to serve more than two or three and add in some fresh fruit, flavorful dried fruit (like cherries, apricots, or figs), nuts, or honey. Perhaps the easiest dessert cheese to find is fresh ricotta.
Cheesecake
The classic, delicious way to incorporate cheese into your dessert is via cheesecake. This dessert is made using cream cheese, but you can also find creative varieties that incorporate other elements. The great thing about cheesecake is its versatility as you can make it plain or add in any flavor that you want from chocolate to fruit to nuts.
Pies
If you think you enjoy apple pie, try making it with a slice of cheddar cheese. One option is to simply serve the apple pie and add a fresh slice of cheddar on top of each piece. Alternatively, you can take advantage of cheddar’s excellent melting abilities and bake it right into the crust. To do so, either blend it into the dough using a food processor, or roll up little pieces into the crust as you are rolling out the base and putting it in the pan.
Ice Cream
When most people think of ice cream, they picture the creamy goodness that you get from a milk-based treat, possibly with chocolate or other sweet add-ins. There is a growing trend, however, of making ice cream with cheese. You can easily find plenty of recipes online that only require a few simple ingredients. These take advantage of all types of cheese including blue cheese, goat cheese, and even parmesan.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How To Tell Cheese Allergies

For cheese lovers, an allergy to cheese would be one of the worst things to happen. Most of the time, people don’t develop allergies to cheese in particular; instead it will be a milk allergy in general or perhaps even lactose intolerance. If you think you might be allergic to cheese, don’t start worrying until you are tested, but the following information can give you an idea of whether you are truly allergic. The good news is that if you are lactose intolerant, not simply allergic to cheese, you will still be able to eat some cheese; you just have to select them carefully.
Symptoms Of Cheese Allergy
As mentioned earlier, most people are allergic to milk, not just cheese. In the case of an allergic reaction, the symptoms will be similar to those of any other allergy. This means that right after eating cheese, you may experience vomiting, wheezing, or hives. Over time, you may also notice an itchy skin rash (particularly by your mouth), watery eyes, a runny nose, coughing, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea. In extreme cases, a cheese (milk) allergy can lead to anaphylaxis when the airways narrow. The symptoms of lactose intolerance, on the other hand, include nausea, painful gas, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.
Diagnosis
The symptoms of lactose intolerance and a milk or cheese allergy seem similar at first, but they are actually very different things. Milk and cheese allergies work directly with the immune system, while lactose intolerance is simply the inability to digest lactose, a substance in dairy products, and will not involve the immune system at all.
Most of the time a doctor will diagnose a cheese allergy in several ways. They will ask about the symptoms and what foods you ate before hand. They will also do a physical exam and may ask you to exclude all cheese (or dairy products) and slowly add them back in to test for a reaction. There are also skin tests and blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Lactose Intolerance And Cheese
If you are allergic to milk or cheese, then you sadly won’t find many options, although some people with a cheese allergy can still eat cheese made from non-cow’s milk, such as goat cheese. Those with lactose intolerance, however, will still be able to tolerate small quantities of lactose, including processed cheese. That means that in addition to eating goat cheese, lactose intolerant people can also have cheese that is highly processed or very aged. Aged cheese tends to have less lactose as this slowly converts to lactic acid, making them ideal for those with lactose intolerance. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How Should You Pack Cheese To Ship?

Cheese is an incredibly delicious food, but certain areas of the country, such as Wisconsin, tend to have much more variety than other locations. That means that if you want a special cheese from across the country, you may need to ask someone to purchase and ship the cheese to you. The same is also true if you have a delicious cheese that you want to share with a distant friend. When shipping cheese, always pick the fastest shipping method so it arrives within two or three days and follow these tips.
Time Of Year
There are actually certain times of the year that it is better or easier to send cheese. You should ideally send it during the colder months of the year as you may not need to add ice packs or similar items to the packaging. Most of the time packages are left out on loading docks or warehouses that are the same temperature as outdoors, making fall or winter the ideal time to send cheese without concerns for refrigeration.
Ideal Cheeses For Shipping
As long as you know what you are doing, you can send any type of cheese you want. If you are starting off, however, keep in mind that hard, aged cheeses tend to be much easier to ship. That is because these cheeses will not be damaged by spending a few days out of refrigeration, especially if it is not the height of summer.
Keep In Original Packaging
If you have ordered cheese online from a specialty retailer, then trust their packaging method. Simply copy it in the future, or if you plan on sending a portion of your order on to someone else, remove the cheese you plan on keeping and send the rest on in its original packaging.
Packing Method
The best way to pack cheese to ship is to place inside an insulated container (such as a disposable cooler) filled with ice packs in addition to cushioning, like packing peanuts. This will keep the cheese cushioned and cold for two days (possibly three). Opt for frozen gel packs when selecting the right packaging materials and don’t forget to label the package with the words “keep refrigerated” or “perishable” so the mail service is aware that the contents have special requirements.
Receiving Shipped Cheese
When you get cheese that has been shipped, always carefully examine it before eating it to ensure it still appears normal and safe. Your senses of sight, smell, and taste should be enough. Also be sure to take the cheese out of the packaging and put it into the refrigerator as soon as possible to ensure freshness and optimize shelf-life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Get To Know Different Types Of Cheese Sauces

If you are a cheese lover, then chances are that at some point or another you have decided to make or buy cheese sauce. While you can purchase it, most of the time it tastes better when made fresh. Instead of opting for a processed or pre-packaged cheese sauce that you just need to heat up, get to know the basic types of cheese sauces so you can make them at home and enjoy the flavors whenever you want.
Mornay Sauce
Mornay sauce is considered one of the classics and it is a type of bechamel sauce typically made using melted Parmesan and Gruyere. To make this sauce, you start off by creating a white sauce with some milk, butter, and flour. Then throw in seasoning such as pepper and nutmeg. Take a separate bowl and mix together cream and an egg yolk before beating them into the sauce mixture. After it cooks for about a minute, take it off the heat and stir in your cheese. This cheese sauce works great with vegetables, fish, and pasta.
Fondue
Most people are familiar with fondue, one of the most popular types of cheese sauce. It is traditionally made with Swiss cheese, but other common options include Raclette, Emmental, and Gruyere; you can also get creative and select your favorite. You typically melt this cheese and then dip various items, such as crusty bread, into it.
Rarebit
Rarebit is a type of melted cheese that is baked into a white sauce and made with beer, giving it a unique flavor.
Four Cheese
Just as it sounds, four cheese is a type of cheese sauce made from four different types of cheese. It is incredibly popular for pasta, particularly gnocchi, but keep in mind that it contains a lot of cheese and therefore high levels of salt and fat. Usually the cheeses in this particular sauce will be milk-based. An example combination of cheeses from packaged four cheese sauce is Italica, Grana (Parmesan), Fontal (Fontina), and Gorgonzola. Some experts suggest Parmigiano, Gruyere, Edam, and mozzarella, showing the true versatility of this sauce.
Making Your Own Cheese Sauce
As mentioned, you will generally get better flavor by opting to make the cheese sauce yourself as opposed to purchasing a store-bought one. When you are making the cheese sauce, shred up the cheese so it is in smaller pieces and will melt quicker and more consistently. Also be sure to add the cheese at the very end, when the sauce is at low heat (or off the flame entirely, but still warm) as this will prevent it from overcooking.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Four Tips For Storing Cheese After It’s Been Opened

Cheese is one of the most delicious and versatile foods on the planet. Because of all the different varieties available, you can find limitless uses for it, from eating it plain or with some crackers, to cooking with the cheese, topping a salad, or even baking it into a dessert. The tricky thing, however, is that unless you buy small quantities of cheese or host a large party, there will always be leftovers, leaving you to wonder how to store them.
Pick The Right Wrapping
The basic method for storing cheese after it’s been opened is to carefully wrap it up before labeling it with the date and cheese type and placing it in the refrigerator. The question then becomes what you should wrap it in. Experts say that the best option is cheese paper. Although plastic is a popular choice, it doesn’t let the cheese breathe, giving it a flavor like ammonia and encouraging harmful bacteria. You can find cheese paper at any specialty cheese retailer and even some of the better grocery stores, and it will let your cheese breathe, helping preserve its flavor.
Storing Hard Cheeses
One thing to keep in mind is that hard cheeses are hard by nature, and this is because it begins to dehydrate as soon as the curds and whey are separated. Unfortunately, putting the cheese in the fridge speeds up this process, so before putting your hard cheeses in the fridge, you must add an extra step. Wrap the cheese in cheese paper and then place them inside a plastic bag that is open.
Storing Blue Cheeses
Blue cheeses also require special storing so if you frequently buy them, remember this tip. If you store blue cheese right next to other types, its flavor will spread, invading the milder cheeses. To prevent this, simply wrap it up in cheese paper (feel free to double wrap it if you want), before placing it within a plastic container.
Opening The Wrapping
Physically storing the cheese isn’t the only aspect of saving cheese for later that requires advice; sometimes you need to know what to do after opening it as well. If you still haven’t finished your cheese in the second sitting, be sure to select a new piece of cheese paper instead of reusing the old one. Also, don’t worry if there is a small amount of fuzz. As long as it isn’t growing on a soft cheese, you can simply cut it off and safely enjoy the rest.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Does All Cheese Have To Be Refrigerated?

Cheese is one type of food that is often misunderstood in terms of recommended storage. Because it is a dairy product, most people simply assume that it must be refrigerated, regardless of the situation or type of cheese. In reality, however, while no cheese will suffer from being refrigerated, it doesn’t all need to be. The following information will help you understand whether you need to refrigerate your cheese, but when in doubt, remember that putting it in the fridge generally won’t cause any harm.
Soft Cheeses
The one type of cheese that must always be refrigerated is soft cheese. You should ideally put it in the fridge at a temperature somewhere between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit as this is ideal for preserving freshness. The reason that it is so essential to refrigerate soft cheese is that if you don’t do so, the cheese will begin to dry out. In addition, a thin oil layer will begin to form around the cheese, separating it. Refrigerating the soft cheese will also add a great deal of time to its shelf life, so you don’t have to rush to finish it.
Hard Cheeses
While soft cheeses must always be refrigerated, you have the option when it comes to hard cheeses. This is due to their lower quantities of moisture. The thing to remember, however, is that while a hard grating cheese (like Romano or Parmesan) can last a good amount of time without refrigeration, you will eventually want to put it in the fridge to preserve its lifespan.
Ideal Cheeses For Non-Refrigeration
If you truly love cheese, but are short on room in your refrigerator, it helps to know which cheeses will do best without refrigeration. These cheeses are also ideal to take with you on trips or to store for a longer period of time. Generally speaking, hard cheese is ideal for traveling or other situations where you won’t have a refrigerator handy. Some of the best options include aged gouda, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino, aged cheddar, appenzeller (a slightly softer option that still does well out of refrigeration), Sbrinz (the oldest Swiss cheese), and Piave vecchio.
Freezing Cheese
While refrigerating cheese will almost never harm it, even if it is unnecessary, the same cannot be said for freezing it. Generally speaking, frozen cheese will have a different texture than fresh or refrigerated cheese and it tends to lose some of its smoothness. If you have to freeze cheese, try to opt for something you plan to cook with, ideally something with a higher fat content or a softer cheese.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Different Ways Cheese Is Served Around The World

Unless you are a true cheese connoisseur, chances are that you are familiar with the various national cheese varieties, but not anything much more exotic than that. Many countries will eat similar cheese and serve them in a similar manner, but there are always exceptions. In reality, traveling to another country will show you at least slight differences in the way that cheese is served. Here is just a quick overview to give you an idea of some things you may notice.
Base Milk Used
Before looking at how cheese is actually served, it helps to know how it is made in the first place. While the process of making cheese is always fairly similar, the source of the milk can vary greatly. In the United States, most cheese is made from cow’s or goat’s milk, but this is different around the world. Italy, for example, is famous for their traditional mozzarella, made from buffalo milk. Other areas, including Bedouin communities, the Sudan, Mauritania, and Ethiopia commonly make cheese from camel’s milk. Tibetan communities frequently use yak cheese, while Central Asia is home to a good amount of Airag (or horse milk) cheese.
Cooked Cheese Varieties
For the biggest variation in terms of how cheese is served around the world, you only need to take a look at traditional dishes involving cooked cheese. In Greece, for example, saganaki is a specialty and this is essentially fried cheese made from sheep’s milk. After being fried until it becomes bubbly, this cheese is served with lemon juice. In Northern Mexico, queso fundido is a party dish that involves melted cheese with chiles, onion, spices, tomato, and chorizo cooked right into it. Italy is famous for their own version of fried cheese, a crisp known as frico. This cheese is made by frying or baking shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, or Montasio until it is crispy. In Israel, they typically top their fried cheese (halloumi) with pine nuts. India is another country that fries some of their cheeses, and deep fried paneer (a non-melting farmer’s cheese) is usually served with peas or spinach. Switzerland is famous for their classic method of serving cheese: in fondue.
Noteworthy Flavors And Types
In addition to the various methods of serving cooked cheese around the world, you will also find some unusual tastes and flavors. In fact, some of these would seem odd to serve to American palates, but are completely normal internationally. Italy, for example, is home to Casu Marzu, which only a few people enjoy due to it being served complete with the live maggots that are part of the aging process. Germany is home to Milbenkase, which is flavored by mite excrement. No matter where you travel, however, you will find both familiar and exotic cheeses and they are eaten plain or with bread or crackers, as in the states, in many countries across the world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

6 Reasons Fruit & Cheese Go Well Together

When most people think of classic items to serve with cheese, they picture wine, beer, crackers, or bread. In reality, however, fruit is an excellent companion for cheese. To find the perfect pairing for your favorite cheese or fruit, you simply have to ask a cheesemonger or do a quick search online. Many times, cheese retailers will even tell you the ideal fruit pairing for a cheese. But many people wonder why these two items work so well together.
Add Variety Of Flavors
The very first thing to realize about putting fruit and cheese together is that it gives you a wider range of flavors. There are at least dozens of options for both fruits and cheeses, and as such, you can truly create any combination of flavors that you want. That means that you can select your favorite cheese or fruit and work from there. Apples, for example, do well with flavors ranging from Gouda to Asiago or Parmesan.
Neither Overpowers
The sign of a good pairing, such as cheese and fruit, is that neither flavor overpowers the other. They should ideally complement one another, increasing the features of each flavor and that is exactly what happens with cheese and fruit. Some fruits will balance out the sharpness of certain cheeses, while others work to cancel out the strength of blue cheese.
Various Textures
Another reason that cheese and fruit do so well together is the combination of textures that they create. When, for example, you choose to combine a soft cheese such as mascarpone with melons, mangos, pears, or apples, you will be taking the soft texture of the cheese and putting it together with the harder texture of the fruit for variety.
Limitless Pairings
A great thing about fruit and cheese is that there are almost limitless pairings. Although you will find some suggested pairings, such as those already mentioned or combining mozzarella with pineapple, peaches, or berries, the possibilities are truly limitless. That is because everyone has a personal preference. You can easily put together a tray with five cheeses and just as many fruits and have dozens of combinations available depending on the tastes of your guests.
Balance Out Acidity
In some cases, fruits work to balance out the acidity of cheese. When working with soft-ripened cheeses, like camembert or brie, for example, sun-dried tomatoes are an excellent pairing. This is because the acidity of the tomatoes will help balance the cheese’s richness, letting the two items work in harmony.
Add Color
A final reason that fruit and cheese go so well together is the simple ability to add color to your tray or plate. Cheeses typically range in color from white to yellow, with the occasional blue cheese. Adding fruit, however, lets you add any color you want to your serving platter, making it more aesthetically pleasing.

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