Recipes and Pairings

ROUGETTE Grill Meister Cheese “Burger”

Last modified on 2014-05-22 14:11:16 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Rougette Grill Meister Burger

I know it may seem blasphemous to take the burger out of a cheeseburger, but let’s admit it, that whole burger/slider craze has really died down anyway. In its stead are things like kale salads and gluten-free pizzas. And going “meatless” is no longer for the dabbling college student, but has become a weekly ritual for all ages. So go meatless this week with this luscious cheese “burger.”

Rougette Grill Meister is grilled or pan-fried until golden and crisped on the outside and melted on the inside. Unlike other cheeses, Grill Meister is never stringy or gooey when heated, but becomes warm, soft, and yielding to the bite. It is everything you want melted cheese to be.

For this “burger,” I restrained myself and stuck to traditional dressings of lettuce, juicy tomato, and snappy raw onion, and let the cheese become the star. But the minute I bit into this delicious combo, my mind began to run wild with the possibilities of replacing meat with Grill Meister in all my favorites: Grill Meister breaded with panko and fried, topped with a dollop of marinara, a chicken Parm without the chicken (or, well, Parm); Or Grill Meister topped with sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and caramelized onions; Or Grill Meister sweetened by a lick of apricot jam and a kick of peppery arugula.

You get the idea. You won’t miss the beef in this burger.

IMG_9193ROUGETTE Grill Meister Cheese “Burger”

1 ROUGETTE Grill Meister cheese
1 seeded bun
2 slices of tomato
Salt and pepper
Lettuce (I used frisée, but Green Leaf or Romaine would also be excellent, something with tooth)
3 thinly sliced red onions

1. Prepare your grill or pan, following steps 1–3 in this recipe.
2. Toast the bun on the grill (or oven, if you are indoors).
3. Salt and pepper the sliced tomatoes.
4. When the Grill Meister is heated through, layer it on the toasted bun with the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and serve it up with a nice cold ale.

Spinach and Chard Soup with CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic Toasts

Last modified on 2014-05-16 02:11:35 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Champignon Garlic and Spinach-Chard SoupHerby and earthy, CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic is the perfect cheese for spring dining. Try it melted on grilled asparagus, enveloped in fluffy buttermilk and leek omelets, or spread across a crispy baguette and paired with a vibrantly hued soup.

For this chartreuse soup, lightly sauté shallots, spinach, and green Swiss chard, and then purée with broth until smooth. The creamy and flavorful CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic on toast adds the perfect counterbalance to the light and grassy greens. A final zest of lemon opens up the flavors and aromas, like opening up a window on a sunny spring day.

IMG_2084Spinach and Chard Soup with CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic Toasts

2 T olive oil
3 small shallots, sliced
2 bunches spinach, stemmed and chopped (mature spinach, not baby spinach)
1 bunch green Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
4 cups of chicken (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste
½ T lemon juice
lemon zest for garnish
1 crusty baguette, cut into ½” slices
4 oz. CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic, brought to room temperature

1. In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan, sauté the shallots in olive oil until tender.
2. Add the spinach and chard to the skillet and sauté until just wilted.
3. Add the broth, salt, and pepper, and bring the broth to a simmer.
4. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly. Puree the spinach, chard, and shallots with a hand blender, or in batches using a standard blender (wait a little longer for the soup to cool before puréeing in a standard blender, and then pour back into the pot and reheat).
5. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
6. Toast the slices of baguette. Spread each toast with CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic.
7. Garnish each soup bowl with a zest of lemon (finely grated or thinly peeled), and serve with CHAMPIGNON de Luxe Garlic toasts.

ROUGETTE Bavarian Red with Strawberries and Crispy Sage

Last modified on 2014-04-17 00:42:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_2023-a

Buttery and creamy ROUGETTE  Bavarian Red harmonizes with a symphony of flavors in this simply decadent appetizer.

Vibrant and fragrant strawberries and sage are a wonderful complement to buttery ROUGETTE Bavarian Red. In this pairing, the initial juicy, sugary-sweet flavor of strawberry is followed by grassy, crispy sage, which breaks and folds into the creamy slice of ROUGETTE. A sweet-sour balsamic reduction rises and harmonizes with the strawberries, and a final snap of the water crackers leads to a subtle encore of heat from the spicy red pepper jelly. Let the applause begin.

IMG_2004-a

ROUGETTE Bavarian Red with Strawberries and Crispy Sage

½ cup balsamic vinegar
4 oz. ROUGETTE Bavarian Red
¼ cup red pepper jelly
½ T. olive oil
Fresh sage
2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
Water crackers

1. In a medium skillet, reduce the balsamic vinegar, on medium heat, until syrupy (Note: err on the thinner side, as it will thicken more as it cools). Set aside.
2. Pour olive oil in a small skillet heated to medium-high heat. Fry sage leaves until crisp, about 5 seconds per side and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Let cool.
3. Slice ROUGETTE cheese in ¼ inch thick slices and then cut in 1″ by 1″ pieces.
4. Spoon a ½ teaspoon of balsamic reduction on each cracker, top with cheese, ½ teaspoon red pepper jelly, fried sage leaf and sliced strawberry.

French Onion Soup with Bavarian Limburger Toasts

Last modified on 2014-03-27 15:04:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

French_Onion_IMG_1443This French onion soup will bring tears to your eyes. And I don’t mean from the onions. You’ll cry for joy in its simplicity and cry for more when you’ve reached the bottom of the bowl.

Though Limburger’s rusticity may belie its versatility, it is in fact a perfect match for this elegant soup. Forgo the wooden serving boards, the dark bread, and the beer, and break out the porcelain, silver, and Bordeaux for this Limburger pairing.

The caramelized onions are so sweet and aromatic it’s hard not to steal a sliver as they soften. Once they stick together, bathe the onions in rich beef broth, and spike them with cognac to create a luscious stew. The thick slices of bread, smothered by bubbling hot Limburger elevate this soup to entrée. The sprig of fresh thyme, an absolute necessity, lightens the flavors, and is a welcome teaser of the forthcoming green of spring.
French_Soup_detail_IMG_1431
French Onion Soup with St. Mang Bavarian Limburger Toasts

3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 lbs medium-sized yellow onions, thinly sliced
1½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar (optional)
4 T flour
8 cups beef stock or mushroom stock
¾ cup white wine
¼ cup brandy (optional)
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Fresh thyme
Baguette
1 St. Mang Bavarian Limburger

1. In a large heavy pot over medium heat, heat the butter and oil, until the butter is melted. Add in the sliced onions. Give them a stir to coat them in the oil. Then turn down the heat to low, cover the pot, and leave them alone. (I know, it’s so tempting to lift the lid for a whiff and a poke, but to caramelize them properly, you’ll have to be hands-off for 15-20 minutes. Hang in there.)
2. After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, add the sugar if you are using, and the salt. Give the onions a stir and raise the heat a little (just before medium-low on the dial). Then let the onions continue to cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes until they are golden brown. As they cook, stir the onions occasionally, to ensure they don’t stick.
3. When the onions are golden brown and soft, sprinkle them with the flour and stir to coat. Turn up the heat a little more and add the wine. Let a little of the alcohol cook off, about a minute or two, and then add in the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, for another 40 minutes. (Patience should be listed as an ingredient!)
4. Stir in the brandy. (This step is optional, but will add complexity to the soup’s flavors.)
5. Lightly toast slices of baguette.
6. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Top each with two slices of toast. Set a slice of Limburger on top of each toast. Set each bowl in the broiler, and broil until the top of the cheese is bubbly about 2 minutes, but keep an eye on it! Note: If you don’t have ovenproof bowls, broil the Limburger on the toast before you add the toasts to the bowls.
7. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve.

Polenta with Mushrooms and CAMBOZOLA Black Label

Last modified on 2014-03-11 23:38:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_1350Polenta is soul food. Whether whisked into porridge or shaped, baked, and cut into a cake, polenta has a stick-to-your-ribs quality perfect for a cold, late-winter night in. If you yearn for a summer day, polenta will bring you the sweetness of summer corn and warm you from the inside.

Here, herbed, coarse polenta cake is counterbalanced by creamy and robust CAMBOZOLA Black Label and tender caps of shiitakes, creminis, and baby ‘bellas for a perfect marriage of sweetness and umami. Serve with a fresh sprig of aromatic rosemary to awaken all the senses.

IMG_1391

Polenta with Mushrooms and CAMBOZOLA Black Label

1 cup polenta
2¼ cups water
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (I used shitakes, creminis, baby bellas, and elephant ears)
2 Tablespoons Marsala wine (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
4 oz. CAMBOZOLA Black Label
Fresh rosemary

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the water and milk and a dash of salt. Bring almost to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook the polenta for 10–15 minutes, giving it an occasional stir, until thick as porridge. Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper.
2. Grease a 9-inch-square cake pan (you can use round too, or even a muffin pan, but your rounds will be slightly smaller and thicker). Spread the hot polenta into the pan. Let the polenta cool. Brush the top with oil and cover with plastic wrap (tight to the polenta). Refrigerate for two hours, until set.
3. Preheat the oven to 365. Bake the polenta for 20 minutes (15 if using muffin pan).
4. While the polenta is baking, prepare your mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms, keeping them slightly thick (about ¼ inch).
5. Heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes without stirring, until the mushrooms are slightly browned. Then give them a toss and let them cook another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are tender.
6. Add the wine and cook another 3 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. When your polenta is done, cool enough just to handle. Use a cookie cutter or cup to cut out 4-inch rounds (or 4-inch squares if you prefer). Plate the polenta cake. Top with a wedge of CAMBOZOLA Black Label.
8. Spoon the mushrooms on top of the CAMBOZOLA, and plate with an aromatic sprig of rosemary. In presentation, you can be as precise (using a ring to shape the mushrooms) or as free-form as you like. Either way, your dinner guests’ senses are sure to be delighted.

ROUGETTE Bavarian Red and Ham Croissants

Last modified on 2014-02-21 18:02:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_1275Light and flaky pastry wrapped around smoky, salty ham, wrapped around creamy, buttery ROUGETTE Bavarian Red.

Decadent, yes, but it’s as easy as you want to make it. Should you be an ambitious (and extremely patient) baker or should you prefer a semi-homemade approach, this recipe is for you. I know (I know!) there’s nothing like a made-from-scratch croissant, but I too know that there are only 24 hours in a day, 12 hours of which is not spent in close proximity to the kitchen. (Unless of course you are still snowed in and get the urge to do something other than shoveling every three hours, like say, fold dough.)

For those of us who have lost all patience with winter and dough alike, there’s a shortcut called “crescent rolls” which can easily and successfully be substituted. Just don’t tell Julia.

IMG_1218

ROUGETTE Bavarian Red and Ham Croissants

4 oz. ROUGETTE Bavarian Red
6 slices of smoked ham, thinly sliced
1 package of 6 crescent rolls or 6 homemade croissants (recipe follows)
1 egg white

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2 .Cut Rougette into ¼” slices; trim rind (optional)
3. On each triangle of dough, place a slice of ham so there is about a half an inch of overhang over the shortest base of the triangle.
4. Next place a slice of Rougette on the ham. Roll the edge of ham over the top of the cheese, then starting from that shortest base of the triangle, roll the dough over the ham and cheese, and toward the opposite point of the triangle, until the entire triangle is rolled up.
5. Pinch the edges slightly inward and place on cookie sheet.
6. Brush with egg white.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Croissant Dough
(Adapted from Julia Child’s Croissant recipe)

Yeast mixture:
1 T dry yeast
¼ tsp salt
½ T sugar
¼ cup warm water

Dough:
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup unbleached pastry flour flour mix
1 T sugar
¾ tsp salt
½ cup room temperature milk
2 T oil
1 stick (½ cup) good quality butter, chilled.

1. Mix yeast, salt, and sugar into the measuring cup of warm water until dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes, until a foamy surface forms. (If the foamy surface doesn’t form, this is a clue that you’re water was too warm and killed the yeast.)
2. In a medium bowl (or a stand mixer if you have one), make your dough. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, milk, oil, and yeast mixture.
3. Once it comes together (it will be a rough, slightly sticky mass), put it on a lightly floured surface and knead it. To do this, fold the dough in half towards you, then using the base of your palm, push the dough away from you firmly, in a light rolling motion. Rotate the dough a half quarter turn and repeat the same. Add a bit of flour if the dough gets sticky. Keep kneading in this manner until the dough is smooth. (Another good test is to gently press your finger into the dough. If it springs back, you’re ready to take a rest.)
4. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it, and let it rise at room temperature until double in size about 1–1 ½ hours.
5. Punch down the dough and form it into a ½” patty. Wrap it in plastic or wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
6. About half way through your dough’s chilling time, take out the butter. Between two sticks of waxed paper, flatten the stick using the rolling pin, until it is about a ¼” thick than roll it even flatter into a 5″circle. This will take some elbow grease. By the time you’re done, your butter will likely be softened, so firm up again by putting it in the fridge for 5–10 minutes before proceeding.
7. Take out the dough and roll it into a 9″ circle. Place the chilled butter in the middle of the dough and fold the dough over the butter like you are making an envelope.
8. Lightly flour the dough and begin to roll the envelope out into a 5″ x 15″ rectangle. The butter may ooze out as you do this, so just pinch the dough around it to keep it in.
9. Once you have the rectangle rolled out, start from the short side, closest to you and fold one-third of the rectangle up. Then fold the top one-third over the bottom third (like you’re folding a letter). Turn this rectangle so that the short side is now closest to you and roll it out into a 5″ x 15″ rectangle again. Fold as you did before. 10. Wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill it for 2 hours.
11. After the dough is chilled, take it out and repeat steps 8 through and 10 twice.
12. Finally take the dough out, roll it into a 5″ x 20″ rectangle. Cut it in half. Chill one half. Then roll out the remaining half so you get a 5″ x 12″ rectangle.
13. Cut the remaining half into thirds. Chill two of the thirds while you work with one. Roll the third into about a 5½” square. Cut the square in half diagonally to form two triangles.
14. Roll each triangle out so that the length of the shortest base to the opposite tip is about 7″. Proceed with ROUGETTE and Ham croissant recipe above.

Super Bowl Munchies: CHAMPIGNON Brie Wontons

Last modified on 2014-01-30 01:40:09 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Champignon Brie Wontons

Get ready for your Super Bowl party by whipping up these crispy pockets of CHAMPIGNON Brie. Unlike most fried cheese recipes, these treats are light and delicate. The wontons puff up when fried, creating an airy center around the melted Brie. Each bite begins with a crunch and ends with a tender morsel of cheese.

Though you will need to assemble the wontons individually, the prep time is minimal, and they fry up in under a minute, so they are perfect for satisfying a crowd. Warm up your favorite jam or preserves and you’ve got the most perfect dipping sauce. (For these, I used cherry preserves, and added a dash of cayenne for a little kick.)

A word on the oil: Since this recipe has all but four ingredients, I recommend seeking out sunflower oil if you don’t have it in the pantry. It is lighter than other high-heat oils, and has a neutral taste.

Champignon Brie Wontons

4 oz. CHAMPIGNON Brie, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 package of wonton wrappers
2 cups of oil for frying (Note, this depends on how large your pot is, you’ll want three inches of oil for frying.)
½ cup of cherry preserves
dash of cayenne

1. Assemble the wontons: Place a chunk of Brie in the center of the wonton square. Lightly brush two sides of the wonton square with water. Fold the square over the brie to form a triangle. Press the sides firmly together to seal, making sure to remove air bubbles.
2. Heat the oil in a deep pot on medium-high heat to about 375 degrees.
3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently slide the wontons (3 or 4 at a time) into the hot oil. They should rise to the surface within 30 seconds. Pay close attention to the edges of the wonton: If they darken quickly, your oil may be too hot. Once the edges are light golden, use the tongs to turn the wonton over and fry on the other side for another 30 seconds. Carefully remove the wontons and place on paper towels.
4. Repeat for the remaining wontons.
5. For the dipping sauce: In a small pot, combine the cherry preserve and cayenne. Heat on low until the consistency thins out enough for dipping. Serve and enjoy!

Champignon Brie Wonton bite

Holiday Leftovers: Fromage Fort

Last modified on 2014-01-15 19:31:36 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Fromage FortWhy is it that no matter how delicious the cheese, guests can never bring themselves to devour that last little bit from the plate? Sadly, at the end of the party, the plate is decorated with gouged Gouda, chunks of cheddar, and carved out Cambozola. But don’t toss these less-then-presentable bits. Reuse and recycle, with this spiked cheese spread: Fromage Fort.

What’s awesome about this “strong cheese” spread is that it can be made using a wide variety of cheeses. I used Cambozola along with leftover chèvre, brie, and Gruyère. Beware that when combined, blues still muscle their way to the front of the palate, dominating the other cheeses. Because Cambozola is pretty mild and soft, it was a little forward, but not overpowering. If you find its flavor too “fort”, you can always scale it back to find the right balance.

Also note that the consistency of the cheese will vary depending on the types of cheeses you are using, so add the wine in a little at a time until it’s spreadable. You don’t want to get cheese soup. Lastly, it’s a good idea to include at least two soft cheeses (with rinds removed) or you’ll get a pretty chunky spread. Though it may still taste amazing, it may not look very appetizing.

Use this spread on baguettes, crackers, sandwiches, and I’m even thinking with that lovely garlic, it would be fantastic as a base for a pizza. There goes that New Year’s resolution…

Fromage Fort cheese spread

Fromage Fort

8–10 oz. small chunks of cheese from a mix of 3–4 cheeses, equal parts except a little less if using a blue (here: Cambozola, brie, chèvre, Gruyère). Rinds removed.
1 clove garlic, minced
¼–½ cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
½ tablespoon chopped parsley or chives

Put the chunks of cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and ¼ cup of wine into a food processor. Combine until smooth, adding more wine if necessary to smooth it out more. Remove from the processor and serve it as a spread, garnished with parsley or chives.

We Three Cheeses

Last modified on 2013-12-21 19:10:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_0543-wMirabo Walnut, Cambozola, and Champignon Garlic are a delectable assortment of cheeses that can dress up any holiday party. Here the cheeses are paired with a range of divine flavors: nutty and tart, strong and sweet, savory and sumptuous.

So whether you are currently trying to find a parking space at the mall while fretting what to make for the holiday party (tonight!), or you are the planner who has everything checked off the list except picking up some cheese for your party this weekend, look no further. You’ll find something here to fit every schedule, every budget, and every palate.

IMG_0532-w

 

Quick and Simple: Mirabo Walnut and Cherry Preserves
No time for a recipe? This one’s for you: nutty, sweet, and easy.

1) Go to the store and pick up a crusty baguette, Mirabo Walnut, and a jar of Cherry Preserves.
2) Rush home, take out a cutting board and slice the baguette on a diagonal.
3) If you have time, slice the Mirabo and put it on the bread. Take a breath. Spoon out a teaspoon of cherry preserves on top. If the doorbell rings before you have time, set all three out with utensils and go answer the door.
IMG_0529-w

Pretty and Pungent: Cambozola-Apricot “Sandwich”
If you are a little more Rachel Ray than Semi-Homemade, this one’s for you. Give yourself a half hour to prepare these bite-size beauties. They are pungent and fragrant, sweet and salty, and all wrapped up in a pretty little package.

16 dried apricots
4 oz. Cambozola
½ cup pistachios, finely chopped
1 T honey

1) Halve the apricots laterally. (You can use a knife, but I found you can open up the dried apricot along the seam, as you do fresh apricots.)
2) Top half of the apricots with the Cambozola (about a teaspoon for each).
3) Place the remaining apricot halves on top to make “sandwiches.”
4) Brush honey on each top half.
5) Sprinkle with the finely chopped pistachios and serve.

IMG_0547-w

Luscious and Lavish: Champignon Garlic Blinis with Caviar
If you have a little more time and more lavish tastes, this one might be right up your alley, er, avenue.
Champignon Garlic underpins the decadent flavors of this “blini,” which is actually adapted from a previously failed pâte à choux recipe. But one man’s failure is another’s success. These blini are airy and light and so delicious they can be eaten on their own. But really why stop there, when you can indulge with a dollop of crème fraiche and briny caviar? Yes, do. And enjoy after all that work.

For Blini:
1 cup water
3 T butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs, room temperature
3 oz. Champignon Garlic, rind removed

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Bring water, butter, and salt to boil. Whisk together and turn off heat.
3) Slowly add flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
4) Beat in eggs, one at a time (make sure they are at room temperature first).
5) Stir in cheese until mostly smooth.
6) At this point, if the batter is runny, put the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens enough so that it holds a soft peak when you pull a spoon out of it. Then spoon the batter into a pastry bag (or plastic bag) that is fitted with a wide round tip, and pipe one-inch wide drops onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.
7) Bake for 25 minutes, without opening the oven for the first 15 minutes.
8) Cool slightly before adding the toppings.
9) Add ½ teaspoon of crème fraiche to each blini and top with a ¼ teaspoon of caviar (American Sturgeon or Paddlefish is perfect, though I won’t stop you if you want to splurge for Osetra). Garnish with chive and serve.

One final can’t-help-myself-because-these-blinis-are-too-good recipe:
IMG_0530-w

Duck and Champignon Garlic Blinis
I’m not saying go out and cook a whole duck breast just for these blinis. But, if you do have leftover duck hanging out in the fridge during the holidays, why not give this one a try?
To prepare, spread the blini with any remaining Champignon Garlic (leftover from the blini). Top with very thinly sliced duck.
That’ll keep you going until the limousine arrives.

Happy New Year!

Mirabo Walnut and Baked Apple

Last modified on 2013-11-20 17:06:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mirabo Walnut and Baked AppleAll the flavors of fall come together in this divine dessert: A creamy dab of Mirabo Walnut atop a cranberry-stuffed baked apple, all drizzled with maple-vanilla syrup.

The key to this baked apple is in selecting the apple. Apple varieties vary widely in taste and texture and each bakes quite differently. So even though all those baked apple recipes out there say you can use any apple you please, I’m going to do you a favor.

In this recipe, use Gala apples, select smaller ones, and cook them for only 20 minutes. 20 minutes, you ask? Yes. (In my humble opinion, unless you want applesauce-like results, don’t ever cook an apple more than 30 minutes. Some baked apple recipes even say to keep them in for an hour!!)

The thing to keep in mind is that apples keep cooking after you remove them from the oven. And because they are usually hotter than the sun, no one in their right mind can eat them right away. And so, as they cool, the inside is still cookin’ away. So take them out of the oven when they still look a tad underdone, when the skin is still pink and only just puckering around the edges, not wrinkly. And ignore the voice of doubt in your head. This time they will come out just right: still in shape and soft enough to be cut with a fork.

A topping of nutty and creamy Mirabo Walnut perfectly complements the cranberries’ tartness and the apple’s acidity, and the vanilla-maple syrup adds both a whiff of autumn and a drop of indulgence to every bite.

Mirabo Walnut and Baked Apple detailMirabo Walnut and Baked Apple

4 Gala apples, small
½ cup dried cranberries
4 oz. Mirabo Walnut, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)
½ cup of Grade A Maple syrup (I prefer dark amber), plus a tablespoon for baking
Walnuts for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Halve and core the apples (see also Take 2 for alternative). Slice a small piece from the side of the apple and place on a baking sheet so that the half sits firmly, without rolling. Brush with the tablespoon of maple syrup.
3. Divide the dried cranberries among the apple cores.
4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the edges begin to pucker.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool to just warm.
6. Divide the Mirabo Walnut into four slices and remove the rind (optional).  Spread a dab of the cheese onto each warm apple.
7. In a measuring cup, mix together the syrup and vanilla.
8. Drizzle each apple with the syrup, garnish with walnuts, and serve.

Take 2: Mirabo Walnut and Baked Apple Stack
Mirabo Walnut and Baked Apple StackFor a more dramatic presentation, follow steps above but in Step 2, use an apple corer to core the whole apple. Slice a small piece from the bottom of the apple (again, so that the apple sits firmly, without rolling when placed on the baking sheet). Then thinly slice the apple, keeping the slices together as much as you can. Place the stack of apples on the baking sheet. From the top of the apple, fill the core with cranberries. Brush the outside of the apples with maple syrup. (Feel free to also brush each apple slice with the maple syrup if you have the patience, and a sweet tooth.)  Follow Steps 4–8 above, decreasing the baking time to 15 minutes.

Mirabo Walnut and Baked Apple Stack detail

St. Mang Bavarian Limburger and Beer Pairing

Last modified on 2013-10-28 02:13:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Limburger and Beer Pairing

Pairing a beer and a cheese takes some experimentation, but lucky for you there are myriad possibilities. With over 2400 craft beer breweries in the United States alone, you are bound to find at least one combination to suit your tastes. So pick up your favorite Champignon cheese, a case of mixed beers, and a six pack of friends for an epicurean scientific investigation.

In this experiment, St. Mang Bavarian Limburger is paired with four delicious beers. Because Limburger’s washed rind has such a bold aroma, I selected equally robust beers that I thought could stand up to this unique cheese. The results are in:

Brooklyn Local 1 (New York)
With or without a cheese pairing, Brooklyn Local 1 is one of my favorite beers. This strong pale ale is complex with an initial sharpness that turns from sweet to spicy. In this pairing, Local 1’s yeasty aroma tempers the Limburger’s and brings forward its earthy flavors. Then the beer’s prickly carbonation sweeps across the palate for a warm and fuzzy finish.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (Germany)
Holy smokes! The first thing you will detect when you pour this beer, aside from its alluring opaque color, is its fantastic smoky scent. I chose this beer to pair with Limburger in a kind of heavyweight championship of flavors. And true to their reputations, both held their own.
At first taste, the two threw their punches: bacony and woodsy from the Urbock against meaty and mushroomy Limburger. But the two came together as peaceably as campers around a fire, ending with autumnal notes of earthy dried leaves, a bitter bite, and a waft of smoldering embers.

Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)
After tasting the Urbock, I was sure the Bavarian Limburger would find another worthy match. But sadly I was underwhelmed. And worse yet, the flavors of both beer and cheese fell flat when matched with an equally potent opponent. I imagined that the wonderful fizziness of the Rodenbach would have mingled well with the cheese, but it washed right over the cheese, leaving a residue of cream on the palate. The ale’s sour cherry flavors also left a strongly vinegary aftertaste. Quite unpleasant together.

Chimay Blue Grand Reserve (Belgium)
Chimay Blue’s sweetness and fruitiness are an excellent counterpoint to Limburger. Similar to Brooklyn Local 1, this beer has a prickly fizziness and high alcohol content (9%), both of which perfectly “scrub” the palate, cutting through the creaminess of the cheese and allowing the flavors to partner up. Breathe in as you taste this pairing and you’ll notice the flavors combine and change together—from pungent, earthy and fruity to a final smooth, creamy caramel. This one is a winner in my book.

Chimay Blue Grand Reserve

CAMBOZOLA Black Label and Portobello “Cheesesteak”

Last modified on 2013-09-25 03:15:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Cambozola Cheese Steak

Going vegetarian doesn’t have to mean forgoing flavor. For those of you searching for meatless Monday night football fare, try this amazing, vegetarian take on the famous Philly Cheesesteak. It’s so savory and delicious, it’ll have you doing a little end-zone dance.

Tender, hearty slices of Portobello mushrooms are sautéed and spiked with Worcestershire sauce (hello umami!) and topped with sweet caramelized onions and buttery, blue-veined CAMBOZOLA Black Label. With flavors this rich, you won’t miss the meat.

IMG_6206

CAMBOZOLA Black Label and Portobello “Cheesesteak”

3 large Portobellos, sliced ½” thick
2 small yellow onions, sliced ¼” thick
1 T butter
1 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T olive oil
1 T Marsala wine
2 potato or brioche hot dog buns (I highly recommend Eli Zabar’s brioche—slightly sweet, soft, and sturdy)
3 oz. of CAMBOZOLA Black Label

1. Sauté the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Then lower the heat to medium and cover the pan with a lid to sweat the onions.

2. When the onions have just softened, take the lid off, increase the heat again to medium-high and add ½ tablespoon of butter. Give the onions a toss with tongs or a flip of the pan to coat. They should be golden and soft at this point. Cook another minute more, and then finish with the Marsala. Let the alcohol burn off to deglaze the pan. Then remove the onions. Set aside.

3. Using the same pan at the same medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and lay the sliced Portobellos flat in the pan (do not overlap slices, so if necessary sauté in batches). Keep the heat at medium-high so the slices become tender and golden but remain firm. If the heat is too low, the Portobellos will get soggy and gray). Cook for two minutes.

4. When the Portobello slices are golden brown, flip them. Keep on high for another minute or two and then drop the heat to low. Add ½ tablespoon butter, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt if desired. Toss to coat and cook a minute more. Remove from heat.

5. Toast the buns.

6. Assemble the sandwich: Lay the Portobellos on the bottom side of the bun, add the CAMBOZOLA Black Label (about 2 ⅛”-slices per sandwich), and layer on the caramelized onions. Prepare to be amazed.

ROUGETTE Grill Meister, Arugula, and Figs, with Balsamic Glaze

Last modified on 2013-11-12 15:07:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_5877Stop! Don’t put that grill away just yet. We’ve got some cheese to grill! And I don’t mean the bread and butter kind. That’s right—the unique ROUGETTE Grill Meister is a grilling cheese that can withstand the heat. The rind keeps its shape, becoming golden and kissed with smokiness and char, while the interior turns soft and tender.

And although this luscious cheese is absolutely, the most perfect substitute for a hamburger, my growing nostalgia for summer compelled me to utilize the late season greens. Regrets? None.

I paired it with snappy stalks of baby arugula, juicy figs, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Peppery, sweet, tangy, and warm, this is a simple but decadent dinner-on-the-deck salad.

A little note on the balsamic glaze: I am shamefully notorious for swapping out ingredients in recipes (particularly when the listed ingredients sound like they come from a leather-bound menus), so I’ll look the other way if you use balsamic vinaigrette. But the balsamic glaze is so quick to whip up and so divine in this salad, that really, you should just go ahead and give it a try. Once simmered, the vinegar will become as opaque and as viscous as melted chocolate. Its subdued astringency will brighten rather than sharpen the salad’s lovely flavors, and make you forget that you were ever starting to miss the summer sun.

IMG_5926

ROUGETTE Grill Meister, Arugula, and Figs, with Balsamic Glaze

1 ROUGETTE Grill Meister cheese
1 ½ cups of arugula
2–3 fresh mission figs, halved
½ cup of balsamic vinegar

1. Prepare your grill. (A charcoal grill with wood briquettes is best, as it adds smokiness without any scent of gas. Note: If you’ve closed up your grill for the season, no worries. The Grill Meister is also the Pan Meister. See pan-heating instructions below.)

2. Using a fork, puncture the cheese 3 or 4 times. (This will prevent the cheese from bursting as the interior melts).

3. Place the cheese on the hot grill and cook for about 3 minutes, or until golden. (Check it after 2 minutes, as grilling times will vary. I like it a little on the darker golden side as it crisps the rind and adds contrasting texture to the soft paste). Flip and repeat.

4. Place the warmed cheese over a bed of arugula and figs.

5. Heat the balsamic vinegar on medium heat until it has reduced and thickened to the viscosity of syrup (quickly remove from heat once it reaches this point, or it will become too thick and sticky). Drizzle over the salad, and serve immediately.

Grill Meister Pan Method:
Follow Step 2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the Grill Meister. Cook approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Proceed with Step 4.

CHAMPIGNON PEPPER Ice Cream and Sea Salt Cone

Last modified on 2013-07-16 13:10:35 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_2248-2
Zesty CHAMPIGNON PEPPER, flecked with tender green Madagascar peppercorns, adds exotic flavor to a summertime favorite. This double-cream, soft-ripened cheese creates a smooth and rich texture while the peppercorns add a chew reminiscent of chocolate chips, with the grown-up flavor of savory pepper. A sea-salted sugar cone brightens the sweet cream and complements its typical pepper partner. Wow a crowd with this unusual frozen delight.

Ice Cream:
1-1/4 cup cream
1-1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
dash of salt
4 egg yolks (reserve 1 egg white for salting the cones)
6 oz. Champignon de Luxe – Pfeffer/Pepper, rind removed

Special equipment: Ice cream maker

Salted Cone:
3 T sea salt (or large flake Kosher salt)
1 egg white
2 T water
6 sugar cones

1. In a saucepan, heat the cream and milk on medium-low heat and add in the sugar and salt. Stir at regular intervals until the cream is hot (do not let it boil). While this is warming, beat your egg yolks and set aside.
2. Once the cream is steaming, turn it down to low heat. Then add just a tablespoon to the bowl of the beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly as you pour. (You do not want the heat of the cream to curdle the eggs.)
3. Continue to add a tablespoon at a time, until your egg mixture is warm (about 6–8 tablespoons). This will raise the temperature of the eggs enough so that you can introduce them into the cream without shocking them into a solid. (Tip: Keep the eggs in a metal bowl so you can gauge the temperature of the egg mixture.)
4. Once your eggs have warmed, stir the egg mixture into the saucepan of cream. Keep the temperature of the saucepan at low heat and stir at regular intervals for about ten minutes or until the custard has thickened (until it coats the back of a wooden spoon).
5. Strain the mixture into a bowl to catch any solids or film that might have formed. Then stir in the Champignon Pepper until melted and incorporated.
6. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours.
7. Use the mixture in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze overnight, or at least 8 hours.
8. For the salted sugar cones, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg white and water in a small bowl. Using a bristle brush, paint the egg white mixture on the top rim and edge of the cones, and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Set the cones upside down on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until the salt has set. Cool before serving. Top with Champignon Pepper ice cream.

 

CAMBOZOLA, Strawberry, and Dandelion Salad with Candied Walnuts

Last modified on 2013-05-22 03:56:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

CAMBOZOLA, Strawberry, and Dandelion Salad with Candied WalnutsForgo the micro-greens and dispatch the spinach, dandelions are the green of choice this spring. With delicate leaves, snappy stalks, and robust flavor, these are not your ordinary weeds. Pluck them up now while their bitter flavor is at perfection.

Here, zesty CAMBOZOLA and sweet strawberries quell dandelions’ powerful bite, harmonizing to create a chorus of flavors. Notes of salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami are rounded out by creamy Cambozola and punctuated by the delightful staccato of crunchy walnuts.

I warn you now, this simple salad may induce a state of sensory euphoria.

For the Salad:
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. water
¾ cup walnut halves
1 pound dandelion greens, washed well and chopped into 4-inch long pieces
1 cup strawberry halves
6 oz. CAMBOZOLA

For the Dressing:
½ T. Dijon mustard
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Candy the walnuts. (Don’t you love it when the first step in a recipe is to candy something? Yippee!) In a small saucepan, over low heat, stir together the brown sugar and water until the brown sugar is dissolved and begins to bubble and froth. Stir in the walnuts to coat well, cooking for another minute. Then turn them out onto waxed paper and cool completely.
2. Prepare the dressing. Stir together the mustard and balsamic until incorporated. Then pour in the olive oil, while continuously whisking until emulsified.
3. Arrange the dandelions on individual plates. Divide the walnuts and strawberries among the plates and generously decorate.
4. Cut the CAMBOZOLA into ¼-inch slices and then divide each slice into smaller pieces atop each salad. End with a drizzle of vinaigrette and serve.

Dandelion, strawberry, and Cambozola salad detail

CHAMPIGNON Mushroom and Leek Quiche

Last modified on 2013-04-19 11:14:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Champignon Mushroom and Leek Quiche

Break out the patio chairs, stir up a pitcher of mimosas, and ready yourself for a sunny Sunday brunch. This luscious quiche captures the essence of the garden. Aromatic leeks and earthy Champignon mushroom are nestled in an airy custard and edged with a crispy herb-crust. Sit back and savor the flavors of spring.

Mushroom and Leek Quiche

CHAMPIGNON Mushroom and Leek Quiche

2 ½ cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks), or 1 ½ cups chopped ramps if in season
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Champignon Mushroom, cold, rind removed, and cut into ¼-inch chunks
salt and pepper

For the Herb Crust
2 cups flour
¾ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
11 tablespoons high-fat butter*, cold and cut into ¼ inch chunks
4-5 tablespoons ice water
1 egg white

1. Prepare the crust. Whisk together the flour, salt, and thyme in a large mixing bowl.
2. Using a hand pastry blender or fingertips, cut the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs. (I prefer to use my fingertips to start and finish with the pastry blender to evenly cut the crumbs.)
3. Add the ice water and toss with a fork a few times. Then using your fingers again (just channel your inner child), work the mixture just until it sticks together.
4. Move the dough onto a work surface and push the dough away with the palm of your hand and then fold. Repeat two more times. (Folding and rolling the dough like this will impart a flakier crust.)
5. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, prepare your leeks (or ramps if you can get your hands on them during your short growing season). Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet and add the chopped leeks. Cover and simmer until the leeks are quite tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
7. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
8. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to form a 13″ circle. Transfer the dough to a 10″ spring-form pan. Fold the top quarter of the edges down. (You can also trim the top evenly with a knife, but I like to fold the edges for a rustic look.)
9. Prick the bottom and sides of the pan with a fork and transfer the pan to the refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes to harden the dough again. (This will help keep the crusts form when you bake it.)
10. Line the pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down and add baking weights or beans to keep the foil in place. Bake the crust for 9 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and brush the top edge of the crust with egg whites. Return to the oven and bake for 1 minute more.
11. While the crust bakes, prepare your custard. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and salt and pepper.
12. Add the leeks and cheese to the egg-milk mixture, making sure the leeks are cool before adding them to the custard so they don’t curdle the eggs.
13. Pour into the prepared crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden.
14. Remove and let cool to room temperature. Serve alongside a bed of peppery arugula or sliced and lightly salted tomatoes.

*High-fat butter: Most American butters have 80% fat, whereas European butters tend to have 82% or higher. Now I know 2% sounds like it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but trust me, it does. For this crust, seek out premium American or European style butters, and do not substitute with shortening. You can thank me later.

Quiche detail

 

Champignon Garlic and Jamon Serrano Croquetas

Last modified on 2013-03-13 21:05:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Garlic is a fundamental flavor of dishes around the world, so it’s no surprise that Champignon Garlic proves so versatile. Here, robust and creamy Champignon Garlic turns the flavors of croquetas inside out. No need for aioli to top these croquetas: the punch of garlic is in the filling.

Crispy on the outside, gooey and savory on the inside, these croquetas hit all the right notes. Dab them with piquillo pepper or parsley coulis and your mouth will be in flavor heaven. The piquillo pepper adds a marvelous sweetness that compliments the creamy filling, while the parsley is a refreshing counterpoint to the heady garlic.

Champignon Garlic and Jamon Serrano Croquetas

Croquetas
3 T butter
3 T finely chopped onion
1/2 cup flour, plus another ½ cup for dredging
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
4 oz. jamon Serrano, finely chopped
4 oz. of Champignon Garlic, rind removed, and diced into ½ inch cubes
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
sunflower or safflower oil (for deep frying)

Parsley Coulis
1 bunch of parsley
3 T of good olive oil

Piquillo Pepper Coulis
9 piquillo peppers
2 T of good olive oil

1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onions and sauté until translucent.

2. Add salt, pepper, and flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together (away from the sides of the pan).

3. Remove from the heat and add the salt and pepper, chopped jamon Serrano and the cheese. Stir until just incorporated. Let cool until able to safely handle.

4. Form the dough into 1½-inch balls and set on a baking sheet.

5. Then set up a dredging station: in one bowl, pour ½ cup of flour; in another bowl whisk together three eggs; in a third bowl, pour the breadcrumbs.

6. Dip a ball in each station, coating it well in each. Then set on baking sheet.

7. Pour oil into a heavy and deep pot, until 2 ½ inches deep (you can use a knife to measure the depth).

8. Heat the oil on medium high heat until you hit about 370 degrees.

9. Using a slotted spoon, lower one croqueta at a time into the hot oil (CAREFUL!). Put no more than four or five croquetas in the pot at a time so the temperature of the oil does not lower too quickly (make sure it stays around 360-370) and adjust temperature as needed.

10. Using the slotted spoon, turn the croquetas once to fry evenly and remove when they are slightly dark brown in color. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with remaining batches.

For the parsley coulis, remove the leaves from the stems and puree with oil in a food processor until smooth. For the piquillo pepper coulis, remove any seeds from the piquillo peppers and, again, puree with oil in food processor until smooth. Add a dollop of each coulis to each plate before serving.


Macaroni and Limburger

Last modified on 2013-01-31 00:36:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

IMG_9353_sm

Creamy Limburger challenges its malodorous reputation in this comfort food delight. Rich and cheesy macaroni is punctuated by crunchy breadcrumbs and crispy bacon, while a hint of caraway salutes the traditional Limburger on rye of yesteryear.

But do yourself a favor: reveal the star ingredient only after the plates are cleaned. Then bask in the pleasantly surprised looks.

IMG_9371_sm

Macaroni and Limburger
Serves 6-8

4 T butter
3 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
6 oz. Limburger
2 oz. Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 slices thick cut bacon, cubed
chopped parsley or chives for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cube the bacon and brown in a saucepan until golden on the edges. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside. Reserve a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan and add the panko breadcrumbs, toasting until darker golden brown in color. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan on low heat. Turn off once it is warmed.

4. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter and add flour to make a light roux. Gradually pour in the warm milk, stirring until thickened to a béchamel.

5. Meanwhile turn a pot of water on high heat to boil the macaroni.

6. Trim the rind off the Limburger and cube. Add the cubes of Limburger, mustard powder, and caraway seeds, salt and pepper to the béchamel and stir until incorporated. Turn off the heat. (A word on the rind: though delicious, the rind does not melt evenly in the béchamel. To add some umami flavor, I added large trimmings of the rind, separate from the cubes, and then removed them before adding in the macaroni. This step is optional.)

7. Boil the macaroni until just slightly before al dente. The noodles should be tough but not crunchy (they will continue to cook further in the sauce and in the oven)

8. Drain the macaroni and fold into the cheese sauce until well coated. Stir in bacon cubes, reserving 2 tablespoons for topping.

9. Pour macaroni into a greased 9″ casserole dish or individual ramekins.

10. Generously sprinkle on the breadcrumbs. Grate the Parmesan on top.

11. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until just browning along the casserole edges. Top with reserved bacon cubes and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley or chives. Serve with a side of crunchy kale chips.

IMG_9327_sm

Perfect Party Plate

Last modified on 2012-12-17 14:48:30 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Holidays have arrived! It’s that time of year again for cheer and cheese. So gather your guests around the cheese plate for a toast to another year.

A cheese plate is a holiday must-have, not only because of its simplicity, but it is a crowd-pleaser. One of the most commonly asked questions to a cheesemonger is what kinds of cheeses to pair on a plate. Cheeses should be served singly, in threes, or fives, but typically no more (unless you are doing a tasting). So when selecting cheese varieties for a cheese plate, I like to think of a theme or a central cheese that I want to feature and select the other cheeses and accompaniments based on that particular flavor. Approach a cheese plate as you would any meal. It’s about striking the right balance in aromas, flavors, and textures.

Variety

Champignon Mushroom, Rougette, and Cambozola Black Label are each distinctive cheeses that are wonderful anchors to begin putting together a cheese plate. Here are a few options.

For Champignon Mushroom, try an earth-themed plate pairing it alongside an herb- or ash-covered goat cheese and a hay-covered Pecorino.

Rougette, with it’s washed rind and distinctive hue, tends to steal the show of other cheeses, so you can opt to serve it singly or alongside charcuterie or pâté. However, if pairing with other cheeses, select mild flavored fresh cheeses and a nutty Comté.

Cambozola Black Label is an excellent blue to add to any cheese plate as it is not as strong as other blues. Try serving this cheese alongside a Boucheron and an aged Gouda. I also like serving this one with other blues as a dessert plate to open up guests to the beauty of blues.

Embellishments

Fruits, nuts, honeys, olives, and fresh fruits and herbs are excellent garnishes to have on hand around the cheese plate. Not only do they add color, but they also add wonderful textures and compliments to the cheeses. Breads and crackers should also be carefully selected. Remember, these are not just vehicles for the cheese, but can alter or enhance a cheese’s flavor.

Champignon mushroom, flecked with bits of mushrooms, has a mild, earthy and grassy flavor that lends itself to both savory or sweet accompaniments. For a sweet version, serve it on a wedge of date almond cake. Here it is served on a crusty baguette topped with bacon brittle. (The combination tastes like a mini-quiche lorraine minus the egg. Recipe for bacon brittle below.) Served this one with Champagne before a meal as a perfect way to whet the appetite.

(For Bacon Brittle: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a backing sheet with parchment. In a bowl mix 1 cup of dark brown sugar with 3 tablespoons of water. If the mixture is still too sandy, add a little more water, but don’t let it get soupy. Dip thick cut strips of bacon into the brown sugar paste. and put on the parchment. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Cut into inch pieces.)

Rougette has a distinctive reddish-orange rind with a strong aroma and flavor, so pair it with mild-flavored accompaniments, such as nuts and mildly sweet fruits (but avoid pairing with berries). The buttery paste needs something more than a water cracker, so try a baguette or, as shown here, pair it with a wedge of pear and walnut for a touch of sweetness and crunch.

Cambozola Black Label can be versatile in its pairings. Fruit and walnut breads are texture-rich vehicles for this decadent cheese. For a buffet-style plate try pairing it with a  slice of apple crisp bacon, or both. Here, honeycomb offers a texture and sweetness that brings forward both the grassy and blue flavors. The combination is luscious and decadent, and a perfect tasting note to end the year.

 

Cambozola Black Label, Butternut Squash, and Walnut Tart

Last modified on 2013-01-02 18:23:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Move over pumpkin pie, a new Thanksgiving treat has arrived: silky smooth and naturally sweet butternut squash atop a gluten-free walnut crust. For those that indulge in dairy, put down the whipped cream and try a topping of Cambozola Black Label. This decadent tart is savory enough to be served as a side but sweet enough to be reserved for a rich dessert.

Cambozola Black Label, Butternut Squash, and Walnut Tart 

Ingredients:

Filling

1 1/2 lb butternut squash, halved and seeded

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of cream or whole milk (for those that want a little lighter texture, otherwise optional)

Crust

2 cups of walnuts

1 cup of pitted dates

3 T millet flour

Topping

6 oz. Cambozola Black Label

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the inside of the the butternut squash with oil and place skin side up on a roasting pan or cookie sheet.

Roast for 35-45 minutes, until the skin of the squash becomes golden and just begins to pucker. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Scrape the squash from the skin into a bowl, mash, and set aside.

Now begin your crust. In a food processor, chop the walnuts and dates until a fine crumb. (Keep checking it to make sure the mixture doesn’t turn into a nut-butter. If it does—yum! But it won’t work for this crust. Set it aside and use it on your toast.).

Next, add the millet flour and process until incorporated and the crumb sticks together. (Feel free to use regular flour, but this recipe is a shout out to my gluten-free buddies, so millet flour it is.) Now warning if you are typically a glutton for gluten like I am: this crust will not stick like your usual wheat-flour dough. But it should stick together somewhat between your thumb and your forefinger.

Line the bottom (but not the edges) of a 10″ springform pan with parchment paper. Press the walnut/date mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 7 minutes, until edges turn golden brown.

Meanwhile, finish up that filling: Add the eggs and milk to the butternut squash mash and blend until smooth. (This step, by the way, is also the moment when I reach to the back of my minuscule appliance cabinet  and thank the small-appliance gods. Seriously,  a hand-blender produces silky butternut squash).

Pour the mixture onto the walnut crust and spread with a spatula to even it out. Then pop it in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Check to see that it is mostly set (the center might jiggle just slightly). Then turn off the oven with the tart in for another 5 minutes. Finally, remove the pan and let cool to warm. The top may crack slightly, but no worries. That’s what the cheese is for.

Lay the Cambozola wedge on its side with the outer rind facing toward you (top and bottom rinds on your left and right). Then cut 1/8 cross-sections of the wedge. (Note that you can leave the outer edge of the rind on, however I preferred to remove it, as I found the flavor of the rind a little too overpowering when mixed with the other flavors.) Arrange the the slice-size wedges on top of the tart.

 

Buffalo Chicken and Cambozola Sliders

Last modified on 2012-10-24 23:20:29 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Now is high season for tail-gating parties and Octoberfests around the country. And where there’s beer, there’s bar food. Here the tastes of the classic bar favorite—buffalo chicken wings—take flight as a one-bite slider of kickin-hot pulled chicken, tempering Cambozola, and snappy celery. No muss, no fuss, and no sticky fingers.

Buffalo Chicken and Cambozola Sliders

Firstly, there are two ways to achieve great pulled chicken. One, is to slow cook it, and two, is to grab a rotisserie chicken from the nearest reliable store. (I hear that gasp! I know, it’s sacrilegious, but trust me, a rotisserie chicken can cut out hours of prep time and will have just the right tenderness for shredding.)

Secondly, topping that chicken with some vinegary hot sauce will likely knock most people’s socks off. But always feel feel free to kick it up to get your desired burn. Luscious Cambozola will be there to rescue you.

And lastly, pair these sliders with potato chips or celery root chips, which have the starchiness of potato chips, and just a hint of celery. And don’t forget a nice cold beer.

Sliders

1 small chicken, 2-3 lbs., slow-cooked or rotisserie

1 cup (8 oz.) Frank’s Red Hot cayenne pepper sauce

3 T butter

6 oz. Cambozola, cut into 1/8″ slices

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

12 mini burger buns, toasted

1. Using a fork or your fingers, pull apart the chicken from the bone and skin, and shred into a bowl. Set aside.

2. In a small sauce pan on low-medium heat, melt the butter. Add the hot sauce and stir until incorporated and steaming, but not bubbling.

3. Add the shredded chicken. Stir together to coat the chicken well with the sauce and heat throughly. The goal is to get the chicken hot enough now to later melt the cheese.

4. Assemble the sliders: Place 3 tablespoons of chicken on each toasted bun. Add a slice of Cambozola (and cue melting). Top with slices of celery.

5. Serve with celery chips (recipe below) and your favorite IPA.

 

Celery Root Chips

Peanut oil for frying

2 or 3 small celery “knobs” or roots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds

Coarse kosher salt

1. In a tall, heavy saucepan or pot, pour the peanut oil so that there is about 3 inches of oil at the bottom.

2. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.

3. Add the celery root slices in batches of 10-12 and fry until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove and drain each batch on paper towels and season with salt.

 

Paired Up

Last modified on 2012-09-13 13:24:07 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Pairing cheeses with wines can be pretty tricky. You’ll either have a pretty mild wine that doesn’t create a very interesting pairing, or you’ll find at least one of the cheeses does not go well with at least one of the wines. Moreover, the flavors of cheeses can interfere with each other, resulting in a confusion of flavors on the palate. In the interest and tradition of experimentation, I decided to test a single cheese with several wines to home in on some perfect pairings.

The experiment turned into a sort of online dating service for wines and cheeses: The tasting notes of the wines matched well with the flavors of the cheese in theory, but when the big date rolled around, it was Rougette Roulette.

Here’s the dance card:

Rougette Bavarian Red 

Luscious, very buttery, slightly sweet. The bloomy, reddish rind has a slight pungent aroma, and a tanginess when incorporated into a tasting. Make sure it is fully ripened when pairing, and bring it to room temperature to let it open up. This is a decadent cheese.

The Wines:

Mount Eden Chardonnay, Wolff Vineyard 2009

SOLO: Smoky and buttery finishing with tropical fruit. Acidity forward, but then rounded by creamy texture. A wonderful wine, with a surprising flavor for a California Chardonnay.

PAIRED: Hi Butter, meet Butter. The similarities in flavor here bring the butter flavor straight forward, though the smokiness of the Chardonnay does just linger for a moment with the Rougette. A great pairing, but not a particularly complex match.

Chateau de Manissy Tavel Rosé 2011

SOLO: Gorgeous in color; rosy nose; strawberry, cherry, and cranberry in a flower garden. I really wanted to like this wine, but was not a fan.

PAIRED: Admittedly, this was a bit of a shot in the dark, but it was just Rosé season. Plus, the tasting notes screamed “Strawberry!” which is a favorite fruit pairing with Rougette. Unfortunately, the tasting notes should have mentioned that cranberry (dry, bitter, wintery cranberry) runs forward, turning the taste medicinal in its bitterness, and squashing any thought of summer strawberry. Perhaps, psychologically, it was the seasonal change of summer to autumn, but I ended up thinking of Thanksgiving—buttery potatoes meets cranberry sauce—the bitter/sweet/buttery memory of holidays gone by. I am tempted instead to try this wine with Cambozola Black Label, which I think could be a nice match.

Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number 57

SOLO: Cherry and raspberries forward, acidic in structure, slight spiciness. Not bad, but not a wine that I could enjoy all on its own. This wine requires food to soften it.

PAIRED: Rougette makes this young wine look good. This wine on its own is unremarkable, but Rougette brings it up several notches. The butteriness of the cheese rounds out the edges of the wine’s acidity. This cheese is a challenge to pair with many reds, and after striking out with a few zinfandels, and a spicy, but bitter Côtes du Rhône, this was the winner of the reds. Unless your explorations reveal a complex matching (and do let me know), whites are the general rule of thumb for Rougette.

Valckenberg Gewürztraminer 2011

SOLO: Floral aroma, peachiness. Delicious on its own.

PAIRED: Rougette diminished the fruitiness of the wine, though the peach was still strong. Interestingly, the combination of the butter texture of the cheese and fruitiness of the the wine created a slightly salty flavor on the palate. A good match.

Thousand Islands Winery Gewürtztraminer 2011

SOLO: Floral aroma. Mango, apricot flavor, but totally unremarkable in character otherwise.

PAIRED: Woah, woah, woah. Hold that thought. Rougette was made for THIS wine. The buttery flavor and slight bitterness from the rind of Rougette mingle with the mango and apricot, bringing forward the fruit flavor. The butter and fruits together merge into a rich, fruit sweetness of a homemade summer tart. Truly delicious.

Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne

SOLO: Fruity, green apple, very dry.

PAIRED: Surprise! This one was on my list of anticipated misses, for the green apple and dry characteristics, but I thought, I must showcase a champagne. This one is a complex matching. The combination doesn’t push the flavors of one over another, but instead creates a new flavor, nutty—almost macadamia-like in taste. This one makes me keep coming back to explore. An interesting match, worth experimenting with—both with this cheese, and other dishes.

Quinto de Infantado Tawny Port

SOLO: Incredibly rich, tasting of hazelnuts, and ending with a slowly dissipating sweetness.

PAIRED: The alcohol content of this port cut like a knife throughout the coating of Rougette on the tongue and then allowed the flavors of both to mingle. It has heat, but hangs low in the throat rather than forward on the tongue, allowing the flavors of both the cheese and the port to converse. Rich, meet Rich. A lovely pairing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camembert and Blueberry Crêpes

Last modified on 2012-08-07 01:04:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

“Camping” can be as epic as a cross-country trip in a camper or as simple as a sleeping bag and a pair of hiking boots. Whatever your preferred method of experiencing the great outdoors, don’t forget to pack this recipe.

Camembert in tins are small and  light, transport easily, and are a great source of protein to keep up energy on a long trek. They fare well in a cooler or wrapped in an ice pack without the risk of moisture seeping in. Pack them with a piece of bread for a plein-air picnic or keep them in your camper for national-park paninis. Here, Camembert dresses up a breakfast ‘round the campfire.

 

Camembert and Blueberry Crêpes

1 cup of flour
1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1-3/4 cup water or milk
2 eggs
butter to coat pan
1 tin of Camembert, cheese cut in 1/8 -inch slices
wild  blueberry or blackberry preserves

Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, milk (or water) and eggs to make the batter.

(For those of you who pack a little lighter, you can use the “shake and pour” variety of pancake mix in lieu of the above batter, but thin it out with a couple extra tablespoons of water. Note that it will be more pancake-like in taste, but still work well with the toppings.)

No matter the batter, let it rest for 10 minutes, while you sip your cup of coffee and watch the sun rise.

Next, set a cast-iron griddle or pan on a grill over fire (high enough from the fire so it is at the equivalent of medium-high heat).

Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and brush it to coat evenly. Pour a 6-inch circle of batter onto the pan and tilt it to move the batter around, expanding the circle another inch or so. Put the pan back down on the heat for another 1-2 minutes, until the edges start to turn light golden.

Carefully flip the crêpe: It will be much thinner than a pancake, so use a spatula to get under the edges first and then slip the spatula under the crêpe’s middle, flipping the whole crêpe in one gesture. (If you’ve let your batter rest, you should be able to flip it without tearing it.)

Then cook the crêpe for another minute before spreading  preserves (about 1 T) over half of the crêpe. Place 2-3 slices of cheese on preserves.

By this time, the bottom of the crêpe should be a nice golden, so fold the crêpe in half to form a semicircle and slide it onto a plate. Then fold it in half again and serve.


Cambozola Ice Cream

Last modified on 2012-08-05 19:12:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Homemade ice cream usually gets the oohs, mmms, and eager spoons, but this one may get some raised eyebrows, too. But don’t let any doubt deter you.  Cambozola Ice Cream is rich, extra creamy, and with just the right tang of blue. Drizzle it with honey, dot it with summer berries, or dip into it on its own with a pairing of sherry. This ice cream is well worth taking a culinary leap of faith.

For the ice cream:
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup sugar
3 T honey (I used raw honey, which was a bit thicker than the avg. honey)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1/4 of a vanilla bean, split)
4 egg yolks
4oz. Cambozola, room temperature, rind removed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup cream
 

For the sauce:
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Special equipment: Ice cream maker

In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half on low heat and add in the sugar, honey, and vanilla. Stir at regular intervals until the cream is hot (do not let it boil). While it is warming, beat your egg yolks and set aside.

Once your milk is hot, ladle out a tablespoon and add it to the bowl of the beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly as you pour. You do not want the heat of the milk to scramble the eggs (or you’ll have a different recipe entirely).

Keep adding a tablespoon at a time, until your egg mixture is warm (about 6-8 tablespoons). The goal here is to raise the temperature of the eggs so that you can introduce them into the milk without shocking them into a solid. I keep the eggs in a metal bowl so I can tell how warm the eggs have gotten. Now, watch the heat of your milk ad you do this step so the milk does not get too hot while you are concentrating on the eggs.

Remove the vanilla bean at this point (if you are using) and then stir the egg mixture into the hot milk. Stir and scrape the sides regularly for about ten minutes or until thickened (that is, until it will coat the back of a wooden spoon). Strain the mixture into a bowl. Then stir in the Cambozola to melt until you only see very small chunks left. Add a 1/2 cup of cream and stir.

Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered for at least 4 hours.

Use the mixture in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze overnight, or at least eight hours.

Before serving, or while you wait for your ice cream to freeze, start on the sauce. Add the water, sugar, and cherries to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the cherries are softened and the sauce is slightly thickened. Let cool (it will thicken more as it cools).

When you are ready for raising some eyebrows, dip a scoop, pour over a spoonful of the cherries, and serve.

The LimBurger

Last modified on 2012-05-24 03:42:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Throw off that cover and light a fire: Grilling season has begun. And it’s a good thing you’ll be out of doors, because this LimBurger needs room to breathe. Limburger’s strong odor may precede it’s taste, but I guarantee with each bite, this cheese will rise to the status of new favorite burger melt. (I know, I know, for those that did read my last post, I did say I don’t each much beef, but this experiment I just couldn’t pass up. This is small-farm grass-finished beef— no LFBT needed to fill this patty out).

Top this beef with old-world Limburger cheese and caramelized onions for a touch of sweetness. Condiments may be added, but I find the LimBurger altogether juicy, savory, creamy, and sweet enough on its own. Wash it down with a cold Weiss beer, and welcome summer.

The LimBurger

For the caramelized onions:
1 sweet onion thinly sliced
1t olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

For the burgers:
1 lb ground beef (85% lean, grass-finished)
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce
4 oz. Limburger cheese.

Set a skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil, onions, sugar, and salt. After a minute, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the onions for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.

While the onions soften and sweeten, prepare your grill. I prefer the charcoal grill over the gas grill for sake of taste (but a gas grill will do, too). For the charcoal grill, a chimney is invaluable—it will shave tens of minutes off the wait for the charcoals to reach optimum burn. Fill the chimney with charcoals all the way up. Crumple a piece of newspaper, set it directly underneath the chimney on the rack for the coals, and light it. Your briquettes should start to glow in ten minutes or so. This leaves you time to prepare your patties and give your onions a stir.

For the meat, add a couple pinches of salt and pepper and a couple dashes of worcestershire (but don’t put that bottle away). Run your fingers through the beef just enough to work in the seasonings. Now look at the size of your bun. Look at how much meat you have, and divide accordingly. I like a medium-sized patty, not too tall or the bun won’t be able to stand up to it. I made 3 patties from a pound of beef, making the patties 1-1/4” tall and 4″ in diameter.

Once the patties are ready, go check your grill. The briquettes should be glowing orange in the center, but not all the way to the top briquettes. Gently turn the chimney over, emptying the briquettes into the bottom of the grill and set your grill rack back on. Give your grill rack a good five-ten minutes to get good and hot. Then grab your patties, your worcestershire sauce, and a cold one to whet your appetite.

Set the patties on the grill, douse the top with worcestershire and let cook for 4-5 minutes, until the juices rise to the top of the burgers. Then flip them, add another generous splash of worcestershire and cook for another 4 minutes or until they are just about done to your liking (mine? On the medium rare side so that the center is a still a bit pink), then move them off to the side, away from direct heat.

Now, get that cheese ready. You might wonder why you’d save this task to the very end. Well, if you’ve ever dealt with Limburger, you’ll know you’ll want as little time between the unveiling and the eating as possible, or the smell will deter any bystanders. (However, keep this trick in mind if you want all the burgers to yourself.). Slice 2 1/8”-slices per burger (or 3 slices, depending on your burger diameter). Keep the rind on— it will just contain the cheese enough to keep it from running over the sides of the burger once it begins to melt.

Overlap the slices onto the center of the burger (just by a corner, so the burger is well covered) otherwise you’ll have cheese run-off. Then cover the grill and check on them in 1 minute. If the cheese is just trying to escape the confines of its rind, it’s done.

Set each burger on a bun with a layer of green-leaf lettuce (got to get that snappy crunch in), top with a spoonful of the caramelized onions. Then try to make it to the table before stealing a bite!

Asparagus Soup with Cambozola Toasts

Last modified on 2012-04-23 11:25:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.


The bold blue flavor of Classic Cambozola punches up the mild, earthy flavor of asparagus without stealing the show.

Take advantage of fresh asparagus while you can, as they are a short-lived treat, from their short season, short storage life, and cooking time. Here their skinny stalks will be boiled up and pureed with pea shoots and fresh mint, and balanced with a Cambozola melt.

Asparagus Soup with Cambozola Toasts

3 bunches of skinny asparagus (approx. 2.5-3 lbs)
Two shallots,roughly chopped
I large white potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2T butter
1/4 cup pea shoots, plus more for garnish
4 large mint leaves, finely chopped
5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
pinch of salt and pepper, or to taste
4 oz. Cambozola
1 fresh baguette

Melt butter in large pot and add in the chopped shallots and potato.

While the butter foams and the shallots begin to soften, prep the asparagus. Cut the thick ends off and toss them (be generous–I cut a good 2 inches off. Better to be safe than sorry—you do not want fibrous end pieces ruining this creamy concoction). Next guillotine those tips (about an inch and a half) and set them aside. Then chop the remaining asparagus into 1-inch lengths and toss them into the pot.

Add in the pea shoots, mint leaves, stock, salt and pepper.

Simmer on medium-low for about 15-20 minutes (depending on how skinny your asparagus stalks were to begin with. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool until it is just warm.

Then purée the soup, either in batches in a blender or with a hand blender. (I prefer the hand-blender— an invaluable tool for those that want to do a one pot soup. Be careful with the hand blender though. You want your pot to be deep enough that when you go to blend it, it doesn’t spray up over the pot— unless you’ve always wanted pea-green wallpaper. Give yourself a generous 4-5 inches between the soup and the top of the pot.) As you blend, you’ll find out if you did have inadvertently toss in any fibrous ends of asparagus. With a hand blender these pieces conveniently get stuck in the blade and can easily be discovered and removed. With an upright, blender you may have a little more difficulty discovery them, so I would put it through a sieve. Either way you spin it, you should have a silky purée back in a pot.

Set it on low heat just to warm it back up. Here’s where you can adjust your seasoning of salt and pepper.

Next bring a separate small pot if water to boil. Prep an ice-water bath. Blanch your asparagus tips in the boiling water (less than a minute on those scrawny ones!) You want them to be bright green in color and still slightly stiff (if they’ve wilted or turned pea green, they’ve gone too far). Fish them out quickly with a slotted spoon and put them directly in the ice water. Gently move them around in the ice water as they’ll tend to keep warm if they’re clumped together. Drain once they are cool, and reserve.

While your soup is heating up, slice 1/2″ thick slices of baguette, on a sharp diagonal. (The longer you can make the slices, the better, I say. It will help you balance the slice across the bowl and not to mention allow for more cheese!) Turn the broiler on.

Cut the Cambozola in 1/8″ slices, the length of the wedge, so you get a long, continuous slice, about the length of your baguette slices and lay the cheese on the bread. You don’t want the cheese to hang over the crust too much or you’ll get too much melt-off when you go to broil it. Keep the rind on, as it not only adds flavor, but keeps the melted goodness in line and from running off as it melts.

Set the baguette slices with cheese on a baking sheet or foil and place them in the broiler for 2-5 minutes depending on the fortitude of your broiler. Now, admittedly, I am forever distrustful of broilers, so I keep an eagle on my toasts. The cheese should just begin to foam along the edges* (remember this is an extra creamy cheese, so it won’t melt like your typical go-to melting cheese like say, gruyere), then remove the pan.

*Make sure your baguette edges don’t get too crisp. A trick I discovered when broiling diagonal toasts is to put each slice on a small sheet of foil and fold the edges of the foil over any crust, thus keeping only the cheese exposed. This will get your cheese melted, but keep your crusts from smoking!


Add all but a dozen asparagus tips back into the soup and give them a stir. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each bowl with three asparagus tips and a few pea shoots. Lay the cheese toast over the edge of the bowl and serve.

Skirt Steak and Cambozola Black Label Salad

Last modified on 2012-04-23 11:22:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Beef is rarely served at my table—that is—both in frequency and doneness. I make an exception for this simple dish. The heartiness and tenderness of sliced skirt steak is complimented by the creamy yet pungent Cambozola Black Label, and balanced by a bed of frisée and mixed greens. While the decadent cheese and steak make a perfect match, don’t skimp on the frisée which adds a welcome spring snap to every bite. Lightly dress and dot with tangy and sweet balsamic vinaigrette.

Skirt Steak and Cambozola Black Label Salad

For the Steak

1 lb/ skirt steak

1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat the steak)

Salt and pepper

2 small cloves garlic, minced

For the Dressing

1 T Dijon mustard

2 t honey

3 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

For the Salad

4 cups mixed greens

2 cups frisée

4 oz. Cambozola Black Label Reserve

1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

1. Marinate the skirt steaks, anywhere from 24 hours to 30 minutes (a full range depending on your patience and foresight). Bring the steak to room temperature before cooking.

2. Pan-sear or grill the steaks.  I tend to use the grill summer through summer, but if yours is closed up, pan-sear the steak in a cast iron skillet (but preheat the pan so it is nice and hot before searing.) Cook the steaks about 3 minutes on each side for the rarer side, or longer to your liking. If you have an ounce of adventure, go toward the rare side. A well-done steak will not have the same texture and will be sure to flatten this salad like a brick.

2. While you are salivating over the pan or grill. Take a moment to get your cheese ready. Yes, your cheese needs a little prep, too. You want the cheese to breathe a bit, as you would do if you were prepping your cheese plate. So pull yourself away from the smoke of the grill or the sizzle of the pan for just long enough to unwrap the cheese and allow it to get some air. Okay, now you can go back and take in a whiff of that steak-filled air yourself.

3. Once the steaks are seared or grilled to medium rare (I’ll convince you yet!) remove them and let them rest. I know. They are juicy and delectable and the smell is tantalizing but LET THEM REST. Besides, you’ve still got the salad to assemble. (Yes, I know you’ve forgotten you were even eating salad staring at that steak, but it is worth it. And now you’ve got the time…)

4. Make the dressing. Whisk together the dijon, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Slowly pour in the oil and keep mixing, until the oil is incorporated. Set aside.

5. Assemble the salad. Plate the bed of  greens on individual plates. (Conversely, you can plate the steak, cheese, and then top with the salad for a more unusual presentation).

6. Slice the cheese into 1/8″ thick  wedges. Then cut the wedge into 1/2″ squares. No need to be precise, but the pieces should be small enough that you can get a morsel in with your bite of steak. Dot the salad greens with the cheese.

7. Sprinkle on the dried fruit if you are using.

8. Set the steak on a cutting board and cut it into 1/2″ thick slices against the grain (the fibers of the steak). For a more precise explanation, get your calculators out and head over to Serious Eats. If your steak was anything like mine, the first slice will be a on the small side and perfect for a taste test.

9. If it is to your liking, fan the slices onto the top of the greens.

10. Drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette and serve.

Champignon Mushroom & Dates, en Croute

Last modified on 2012-03-12 03:53:35 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

While I like the idea of a brie en croute, unfortunately, I’ve attended too many parties where the at-first delicious pastry is sadly left to ooze and cool into an unappetizing mass on the platter and left untouched the rest of the evening. For shame!

Here the popular appetizer gets miniaturized and updated with an earthy mushroom-specked triple-cream and slices of dates. These sweet and savory little packages will delight your guests all evening long. And no doubt will there be any bits left of these tasty bites.

Champignon Mushroom & Dates, en Croute

Makes 16 appetizers

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (recipe follows)

6 oz. Champignon mushroom triple-cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (removing the rind is optional)

Dates, thinly sliced

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 º F.

Prepare the egg wash by beating the egg with a a tablespoon of cold water.

Cut the puff pastry into 16 squares. Place slices of dates (about 4-5) on puff pastry. Top with cheese. Fold one corner of the square up. Brush the opposite corner with a dot of egg wash and fold up. Brush the remaining two corners with egg wash and fold up, like you are making an envelope. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat the process with the remaining squares. Then brush the top of the pastries with the egg wash (this will give the pastries a nice golden color). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Puff pastry recipe (adapted from Alice Waters’s puff pastry recipe)

Yes, puff pastry. Homemade. Save the rolling of the eyes for when you bite into it, for it is so well worth it. (I tried the store-bought kind and was sorely disappointed. The shortening in it leaves an awful filmy taste. Butter is always so much better.) On a cold winter’s day, give it a go, and throw it in the freezer for when you need it most. You will thank yourself later.

4 cups of flour

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup and 2 T ice water

5 sticks of cool butter

In a bowl, stir together flour and salt and make a well. Pour ½ cup of water into well and begin to stir with a fork. As the flour becomes incorporated at the center, add the remaining water and continue to incorporate. When the dough begins to come together, add 1 stick of butter and knead, to form a round mass. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough and form it into a cross-shape with the center thicker than the cross’s arms. Place the 4 sticks of butter in the center. Fold each arm of the cross over the butter. Sprinkle the top with flour and roll out into a rectangle, about 18″ x 9″. Fold the rectangle like a letter by folding the shortest side up, about a third of the rectangle and folding the opposite side over it. Set the long side of the rectangle closest to you and roll out again into an 18″ x 19″ rectangle. Fold like a letter again. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat this same process (rolling out and folding twice) two more times, letting the dough rest in between. Let it rest one more hour after the final time before use. Use it within a day or freeze, wrapped well.

Rougette, Bacon, Caramelized Shallot Flatbread

Last modified on 2012-01-12 11:59:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

When the temperature begins to drop, many people hang up their spatulas, take down their patio umbrellas, and close up their grills. But wait! October is one of the best times to take the dinner party outdoors! Put on your jackets, turn up the grill, and huddle in. You’ll want to get closer to these indulgent flatbread pizzas. The smoky grilled crust will recall the barbecues of summer, while the rich bacon and cheese will fill you with the warmth of winter. It’s the perfect autumn offering.

Rougette, Bacon, and Caramelized Shallot Flatbread

Makes 16 4×4 inch pizzas

Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 1.5 hours

Dozen small shallots

3 T butter

3/4 red wine vingar

3T brown sugar

8 oz bacon, strips

8 oz Rougette Bavarian Red

Pizza dough, enough for a one large pizza

2 cups arugula or frisée

Melt butter until foaming. Add shallots and cook on medium heat, partially covered for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Set aside.

As you finish the shallots, start to cook bacon strips on low heat for 15-20 minutes until just turning crisp. Drain and set aside.

Start a charcoal or gas grill and get it to medium heat. (You can also bake these flatbread, using a pizza stone and preheating the oven to 500 degrees).

In saucepan combine vinegar and brown sugar and set on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until reduced. Liquid should be viscous, but still fluid. This is what is called agrodolce, or “sweet/sour” sauce. It will thicken as it cools.

Prepare the pizza dough. Divide the dough into quarters and stretch each quarter into and 8×8 inch square. You can cook one or two at a time on the grill, depending on your crowd. Brush each flatbread with olive oil or reserved bacon fat. Set oil side down on grill for 3-5 minutes, or until undersides are slightly browned and crispy. Brush top of dough with oil or received bacon fat and turn dough over and grill for another 3 minutes or until slightly browned.

Transfer flatbread to foil. Brush lightly with agrodolce sauce. Add thin layer of  caramelized shallots. Dot pizza all over with 2 oz. Rougette cheese. Break up bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and scatter over cheese. Transfer flatbread back to grill for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top each flatbread with 1/2 cup arugula.