Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tips For Throwing A Fondue Party

Cheese parties are a popular option as they are fairly easy to set up and let you try a range of delicious flavors. The problem for most people, however, is that cheese parties won’t provide enough food to be a dinner, meaning that your guests may leave hungry. If you find yourself torn between throwing a dinner party or a cheese one, consider a fondue party instead. Even if you aren’t familiar with them, they can be easy to throw, provided you follow these tips.

Cooking Your Fondue

You can either find a fondue recipe online or make your own. This is the time to let your creativity shine, but remember that you want to make sure the fondue you make contains cheeses that will go well with a variety of foods. The best way to do this is to only pick cheese from a specific family. If you want to include cheddar, then consider Longhorn, Monterey Jack, or colby. You can also combine Edam and Gouda or Emmental and Gruyere. Another delicious combination would be Scamorza, mozzarella, and provolone or Roquefort and blue cheese.

Picking A Fondue Pot

One of the most important parts of your fondue party is the pot that you select. If you are making a typical cheese fondue, then you will want to go with a ceramic fondue pot. If you plan on using a fondue recipe that includes beer, wine, oil, or broth and involves cooking the food within the pot, opt for a metal one. You can also find combination pots, which are elegant and practical.

Buying Food

When it comes to the food to serve at your fondue party, you want to offer a wide range of options. Have some bread, meat, fish, seafood, pickles, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, cookies, and other items. Assuming that you are throwing the fondue party for dinner as opposed to dessert or a snack, buy around a pound of food per person. Also remember that you will want to make sure everything is in bite-sized pieces so they are easy to dip in the fondue. The ideal size should be no more than two bites as this will make it possible to coat as much of the item as possible without double dipping.

Extra Supplies

Although the cheese fondue and the food items to dip into it are the most important part of any fondue party, you don’t want to forget about the other items. Remember to buy plates, napkins, silverware, cups, and some drinks for your guests as well.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pairing Cheese With Chocolate For A Sweet Treat

When most people are trying to figure out what to pair with cheese, they simply go straight for the wine. Despite wine and cheese being a classic combination, there are plenty of other delicious duos you can make featuring cheese. When you are locating for a sweet treat or to use cheese as part of your dessert, consider pairing it with chocolate. Here are some guidelines to help you get started making these pairings.

Portions Of Each

The first thing to think about when pairing cheese and chocolate is how much of each item you want to have on hand. Remember that chocolate will easily overpower other flavors and because of this, you will want to make sure there is significantly more cheese than chocolate. Most experts suggest serving twice as much cheese compared to the amount of chocolate you have on hand when making a pairing.

Consider Textures

The next thing to keep in mind is texture. Since both cheese and chocolate are food items, they will both have physical textures, something that is not true when pairing cheese with a beverage. Your goal should be to find chocolate that has a texture which contrasts with that of the cheese. If you have a cheese which is crumble or soft, for example, then find chocolate with a crunch, such as toffee, espresso beans, or caramels covered in chocolate.

General Rules Based On Cheese

When you are just starting off with pairing cheese and chocolate, simply knowing the above information is not always enough. To help you, there are some general guidelines based on the type of cheese you are serving. Soft ripened cheese (from any type of milk) is usually more aggressive, acidic, and pungent, making it better for milk or dark chocolate. Aged cheeses tend to have a crunchy texture and less acidic, nutty flavor, meaning they go well with chocolate filled with honey, maple, or almonds. Because blue cheese is sharp and pungent, it can help enhance the undertones in dark chocolate. If you want a range of cheeses, opt for caramels or truffles as their butter and dairy tones make them work with most cheeses. Remember that experimentation is key to finding the perfect matches.

Pairing Ideas

If you are truly lost, then it can help to have a few specific pairings of particular cheeses with their ideal chocolates. Try pairing a dark chocolate English toffee with some aged Gouda. Another good choice is aged Cheddar with caramel apples dipped in chocolate. If you want to really show off your pairing skills, take aged Parmesan and some dark chocolate and then find a nice oatmeal stout to drink.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Mold Helps Cheese

When most people think of mold, they picture something unwanted that is growing on their food. Most of the time, if your food has mold on it, you will have to throw it out or cut off the moldy bit. On cheese, however, mold is not always a bad thing, depending on the type of mold it is. In reality, both mold and bacteria are crucial to cheesemaking, but they are particular types of these substances. In many cases, people will refer to them as beneficial mold and bacteria to avoid confusion.

Bacteria In Cheese

Before understanding the relationship between mold and cheese, it helps to know about the role of bacteria in cheese. In reality, your favorite types of cheese (like mozzarella and cheddar) use beneficial bacteria to develop their texture and taste. The bacteria found in most cheese comes from the lactose found in milk. These bacteria are then cultured to grow and it is this process which creates the cheese we enjoy eating.

Blue Cheese

Although bacteria and mold are not the same thing, they are closely related and if there are beneficial bacteria, it stands to reason that there is also beneficial mold. This is most commonly found in blue cheese and in fact, all of the blue veins on the cheese are areas of mold growth. All of the mold found within blue cheese was developed by encouraging Penicillium bacteria to grow. It is usually introduced right after curds are put into containers where they drain and create a wheel of cheese, although other cheese that include the purposeful growth of mold may add the Penicillium bacteria at a different point.

Encouraging Mold Growth

If you take a look at your favorite blue cheese, you will notice that the blue segments appear in veins. These are the result of needling, the process in which wheels of (soon-to-be) blue cheese are pierced by a machine or by hand, creating many tiny openings. These openings give air a path to enter the cheese where it feeds the mold, allowing it to grow and create green or blue veins that give the blue cheese their name.

The mold which is most commonly added to blue cheese is known as Penicillium Roqueforti and gets its name from Roquefort, French. This town has many caves where Penicillium mold spores naturally occur. As such, it is no surprise that the blue cheese made from these spores, known as Roquefort, originated in the town.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Getting Creative With Macaroni And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a delicious meal or side dish and is incredibly easy to make. You can buy boxed mixes that include the noodles and a cheese mixture, probably with a bunch of artificial flavors or you can make your own macaroni and cheese from scratch. Whenever you choose to make it from scratch, you will end up with a more flavorful, and probably nutritious, dish. Whether you are using your favorite mix or making your mac and cheese from your favorite recipe, there are plenty of ways to take this simple dish and make it exciting.

Changing The Cheese

Typically, people will make macaroni and cheese with cheddar or American cheese. If you want to get creative, you can either swap these cheeses out for another one or add in a few of your favorites. Just be sure that you pick a cheese that will actually melt. Cheeses which are known for their ability to melt in a smooth and flowing manner include Cheddar, Asiago, Muenster, Gouda, blue cheese, Monterey Jack, Harvati, Gruyere, Fontina, Emmentaler, and soft-ripened cheeses, but remember that the rind of cheese won’t melt so if you are using Camembert or Brie, you should remove it first.

Changing The Noodle

When most people think of mac and cheese, they picture a hearty dish featuring elbow macaroni. While that is a great option, you can actually use any type of noodle you want. Try to stick to smaller noodles, although if you are really adventurous you could try spaghetti. Most people, however, would recommend sticking to options like rotini, penne, shells, cavatappi, farfalle, campanelle, or orecchiette. If you want to make a truly interesting dish to show off your creativity, combine some of your favorite types of noodles.

Adding Extra Ingredients

To truly let the creativity flow when making macaroni and cheese, try throwing in some extra ingredients. Cut up hot dogs are a popular option, but you can also make classy combinations of macaroni and cheese, including ones that would impress at an adult dinner party. If you want to make your dish with blue cheese, try throwing in some buffalo sauce and smoked chicken. Or to give your dish an Italian flair, make it with mozzarella cheese, basil, roasted tomato, and roasted garlic. An upscale option would be to take a basic macaroni and cheese with Swiss cheese and add parsley, bacon, and mussels. When it comes to adding ingredients or coming up with combinations, simply think of your favorite cheese dish and then try mixing some of those ingredients to create macaroni and cheese that is reminiscent of that plate.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Delicious Variations Of Baked Brie

Brie is one of the most popular cheeses as it makes for a very elegant dish. You simply pop it in the oven for a little bit and you are ready to serve a delicious, gooey cheese that is perfect for any cheese tasting party, snack, dinner, or even dessert. While plain Brie is delicious, so are these more creative ways to serve it.

With Fruit

One of the easiest ways to vary your baked brie is to add a bit of fruit to it, either before or after you bake it. Try adding some cranberries and figs to the top of the Brie before popping it into the oven. Or you can top it with cold figs (and honey) after it comes out of the oven. Other fruity flavors that go well with baked Brie include strawberries, blueberries, and pears.

With Nuts

Another great choice is to add some nuts to the Brie. Usually when you add nuts, however, you will also want to add some sort of liquid or moist topping, such as a pecan praline sauce. You can also top the Brie with a bit of pumpkin butter and then sprinkle walnuts on top of it or sprinkle on pecans after adding maple syrup.

With Condiments

Brie is the perfect shape to hold a bit of liquid, which means it is incredibly easy to add condiments to the top of it to create your own variation. Any liquid from compote to maple syrup to honey will do well. One of the best types of condiments, however, is jelly as this is easy to find and comes in limitless flavors.

With Savory Flavors

If you don’t want to add a bit of sweetness to your Brie, you can also bake it with some savory ingredients. Try baking in some thyme and sundried tomatoes or mushrooms. This option is easy as the cheese will naturally melt right around the mushrooms, keeping them in place.

With Crust

To change the presentation of your Brie a bit, you can also give it an edible crust with your favorite puffed pastry or phyllo dough. If you are really ambitious, try stuffing the Brie inside a vegetable before baking it. Artichokes work very well for this as they will create a natural and edible serving bowl for the Brie.

On A Stick

If you want to turn baked Brie into a pre-portioned and portable appetizer, then consider baking it onto a stick. This may sound odd at first, but it is actually fairly simple and only involves wrapping the Brie (and maybe some jam or other ingredients) in pastry dough in bite-sized pieces and inserting a stick for portability.

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