Madame Fromage makes cheese SOOO sexy!

Video

If you aren’t hungry now, you will be dying for cheese by the end of this divine PBS interview with Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, cheese courtesan. Oh my, she is just the best at describing, plating and visibly adoring high-personality artisan cheeses. I just want to immediately drive to my favorite cheesemonger and buy $100 of the best stuff. Yes, I confess, I do that on a regular basis anyway, but now I JUST CRAVE IT!!!!! Despite the fact that Birchbark Farm has at least 15 wheels at our disposal at the moment….you can never have enough. Now click the link below and let Tenaya transport you to Cheese Nirvana!

http://video.whyy.org/viralplayer/2365424034

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Cheese tasting, virtually

If you have never visited Picholine in New York City, you are in for a treat through this video from the Cheese Channel (bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing!). Feast your eyes on the yumtiousness of these cut and whole cheeses and marvel at the incredible diversity and sumptuousness of c.h.e.e.s.e!

Filling the Cheese Trolley at Picholine

I love the fact that urban diners are preferring more and more assertive cheeses. Long live stinky cheese!!!

 

Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl Brownies

Ohhhh! I know what I’m doing tomorrow, in preparation for <3’s day! This luscious version of my husband’s favorite cookie couldn’t be improved upon by anything better! Thanks to www.thekitchn.com, I have the perfect savory-sweet combo now.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
Makes about 30 small brownie squares

Raspberries
2 cups raspberries, lightly mashed (thawed, if frozen)
2 tablespoons brandy or Kirsch

Brownies
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
8 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Heat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or any 3-quart dish, like the gratin dish I use here) with butter or baking spray. Place the raspberries in a bowl and stir in the brandy or Kirsch. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter until liquid in a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan over low heat. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from the heat, whisk in the milk, and cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the eggs one by one. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold in until just combined. Fold in about half of the raspberries and spread this brownie batter in the prepared pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with hand beaters, or by hand with a heavy whisk) beat the goat cheese with the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the other half of the raspberries and their juices. Drop the goat cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter in spoonfuls, then swirl it through the batter with a knife. Bake for 30 minutes or until just barely set. The top will be just turning light brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Store at room temperature, well-covered. The flavor and texture of these brownies really bloom when you let them rest overnight.

PS: I made these the week of Valentine’s day and used a shortcut, namely, a Duncan Hines brownie mix along with the goat cheese filling. It worked splendidly, as evidenced by the following photos! I also skipped the raspberries, opting instead for the only choice I had onhand, raspberry jam. Worked wonderfully, just cut back a bit on the sugar if you use the jam.

Baked Spaetzle with Melted Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Ok, so we’re not having a real winter here in Michigan. Hardly any snow, daytime temps in the 40’s and the plants and animals keep thinking spring is on the way. That is no reason not to love a hearty, carb-loaded dinner, is it? Herewith I present one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes: German-Austrian-Hungarian Spaetzle! It’s claimed by many cultures, and loved by all. And this recipe (courtesy of a great Austrian food blogger, Ellja of 2 steps away from paradise) is the bomb! Have to have it tonight!

The best part? It’s really easy, especially since I translated the recipe for you:

Ingredients for Spaetzle noodles: 

250 g or 1 cup all-purpose Flour
2 Eggs
1/2 Tbsp. Salt
ca. 150 ml or 1/2 Cup warm Water

Mix all ingredients together into a sticky mass. Dough should be very stiff. Put a large pot of water on to boil, adding 1 tsp of salt to the water. When the water is boiling hard, take the noodle dough over to the pot and either pinch off small pieces of dough with wet fingers (so that they don’t stick to the dough), or if you have a rigid pot scraping tool, use that to cut off small elongated pieces of dough. Wet the pot scraper in a bowl of water to prevent it sticking to the dough. Boil the spaetzle 1 – 2 minutes, or until they are floating. Strain them out into a colander, and rinse them very briefly to keep them loose from one another.

Additional Ingredients:

2 large onions

Couple slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into cubes

5 ounces or so of your favorite aged goat cheese, grated. I would take Raclette for this or goat Gouda if you can get it.

Mince the onions and brown them in butter and olive oil until well-caramelized. Add the bacon cubes and keep browning until they are rendered down. Now toss the Spaetzle with the onion-bacon-butter mixture, pour into a buttered casserole and top with the grated cheese. Slide into a 350 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. If you like the top extra-crispy, broil for the last minute or so. Top with a couple grinds of pepper. Can’t be beat!

Danke, Ellja! Ich weiss es zu schaetzen!

The crottins are here, the crottins are here!

These lovely little button-like molded fresh cheeses are a bit like goat cheese’s answer to brie…mushroomy, creamy, just a bit more character than the chevre they’re based on. Thanks to a baptism in geotrichum and pencillium candidum (yeah, more than you wanted to know…), they’re covered in a gauzy, pillowy sheath of pure white edible mold. This gets patted down during packaging, so that what you see when you receive the cheese is just what you see with brie: a dense network of whitish-greyish flannel-like covering over the paste itself. And inside? A pure white paste that is firmer than chevre, sliceable and melt-in-your-mouth good.

We have this cheese occasionally, in very limited quantities. Let the cheesemaker know if you want to try it as part of your goatshare distribution! Oh, and if you need a hint on pronunciation, say crow-tan, accent on the second syllable.

Serve with dried cherries, apricots, nuts, crackers and wine....or naked!

We love cheese, and not just our own

This past December I had the great joy of visiting Britain’s most famous cheese shop, Neil’s Yard Dairy in London. Having heard so much about it in advance, I was surprise to find that it was so small. Much smaller than its peers in the US, including Murray’s in NYC and Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI. But tasty things come in small packages.

Can't fail to notice what the major product on offer is!

The smell of fresh and aged cheeses met us at the door — the Montgomery Cheddars, Sticheltons, fresh and raw goat cheeses, Ticklemores, Beenleigh Blues….yummy! It was hard to decide what to taste first, and what to buy to take home in my luggage.

Riches for a curd nerd!

But taste I did! And it was just fantastic — my very favorite thing to do when traveling in a new city: find the cheese and EAT IT! I took a half-wheel of Ticklemore home to the US, and we are still enjoying the last of it, two months after the trip.

Complex and crunchy in the mouth, I loved it!

Can you believe these cheddar wheels? Veritable footstools!

There is something for everyone in this tiny, but packed emporium. The cheesemongers are extremely helpful and knowledgeable, the shop is packed with people who are passionate about artisanal and farmstead cheese, and they are buying substantial pieces…clearly for entertainment and enjoyment for days to come!

Get there if you can, or to any well-stocked cheese market where there are cheeses made with love and care, from pasture-fed goats, cows and sheep! The shop is on Neal’s Yard Street….go figure!

Verrine of Goat Cheese and Fresh Fruit

Something light and fruity for dessert?

This looks impressive, but is not at all difficult!

Ingredients

8 ounces fresh goat cheese

2 tablespoons honey

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 pint blueberries, picked over for stems

8 springs fresh mint, for garnish

Tea biscuits, torn pieces of moist sponge cake or sweet crackers

Assembly

Place the cheese and honey in a medium-size bowl and beat with a hand mixer into a fluffy mixture.  Spoon a layer of cheese into one large glass bowl or 8 large shot glasses, then a layer of crushed cookies or sponge cake, then top with a berry layer and finish with a cheese layer.  Top each glass with a mint sprig.

Serves: 8

Reprinted with permission from © Hallie Harron, Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres, published by The Harvard Common Press