Montboissie Morbier

MORBIER

Montboissie is a Morbier style cheese that is made in the highest part of the Jura Mountains in a small farm village in the Franche-Comte region.  The cheese dates back to the 19th century when producers of Comte cheese decided to make a smaller cheese for their own consumption. They take the leftover curd from the day and sprinkle it with ash to prevent it from drying out overnight. The next morning new curds are added and the wheel is pressed and washed with brine for form a protective rind.  Because of the washed rind the cheese has a pungent aroma that is surprisingly mild. It has a supple silkiness that is sweet, rich and has a nutty aftertaste with hints of fruit and fresh hay that pairs well with fruity white wines, nuts and grapes. This cheese is made with the milk of the Montbeliarde cow which is typical of this area and is a great melting cheese and is used in recipes like Quiche Lorraine, Potato Gratin

Try melting it over potatoes and bacon for a special treat on this cold mornings.

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Parmigiano Reggiano La Traversetoles “White Gold”

La Traversetolese logo

Known as the “king of cheese” there are more than one kind of Parmigiano Reggiano.  For example there is Parmigiano Regiano Solo Di Bruna made with milk from the Brown Apline Swiss cows, or Parmigiano Regiano Vacche Rosse made from the milk of the Regiano cow. Italy has 33 PDO cheeses and the La Traversetolese has a history dating back to the mid-13th century.  To be a PDO cheese the cows must eat at least 75% of their feed from the region, along with several other regulations, one is the sound the cheese makes when you strike it.

This version of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced from the cream of raw milk skimmed from the evening milking and whole milk from the morning milking. The color of the crust is straw color with branding that identifies the month and year made and the dairy.  The paste is hard with a color ranging from a light cream (pale straw) to a darker yellow (straw).  The structure of the cheese is hard with “crunchies” which are amino acids that are formed by proteolysis (the breaking down of proteins).  The crunchy bits facilitate in the digestion of the cheese making this an excellent cheese for young children and the elderly, it is rich in bioavailable calcium, absent of lactose and low in cholesterol.

La Traversetolese also known as “White Gold” takes its name from the village where the dairy was founded. The Cooperative has 73 farmers supplying milk for the 20,000 wheels made each year. The milk comes from cows that graze in the mountains, where they eat a particular mountain grass and flax.  Its rich taste pairs well with white wines.

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Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse

red cow

As part of the slow food movement it gives me great pleasure to share with you this wonderful cheese and its history.  It’s about this lovely cow that was almost lost to us and how it has been reinvigorated.

Up until the post WWII era, the Reggiana was the main breed of cow in the province of Reggio Emilia. This beautiful cow had the most striking red coat. But sadly it did not produce as much milk as its black and white cousins.  By the last 1980’s there were only a few of these cows left. However, during the last few years Fanticini family has brought this breed of cow back from the brink of disaster. In their family dairy in Villa Sabbione they use the milk of the Reggiana to make Parmigiano Reggiano of yesteryear.  It has a higher butterfat content and contains more proteins. This combination allow for a longer period of aging. Its unique nutty, fruity, grassy flavor is richer than most Reggianos and its texture is creamier.

The Vacche Rosse (Red Cow) is made from 100% grass fed, unpasteurized cow’s milk. Most Parmigiano Reggiano’s are made from 80% grass fed cow’s milk. The farm only makes 2000 wheels per year so most Italian reserve this cheese for special dishes or eat it chunked and drizzled with thick expensive Balsamico.

This cheese carries several marks very proudly on its shell. This cheese is certified that no GMO was used in the feed, no methods to force the production were used and the animals were given a high level of attention.  This is cheese at its best!


vache Rossa Parm

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Limburger Cheesecake… only for the strong of heart or if you have a cold!

limburger cheesecake with onions

Limburger Cheese! OH the wonderful smell of this cheese.

Limburger is one of the cheeses that belongs to the “washed-rind” category. It is a real cheese, albeit not the most popular, at least in places where many Germans do not congregate.  This is the cheese that my great grandfather loved on rye bread with raw onions and mustard, but only after it sat on top of the “ice box” for a few weeks.

It’s taste is not as bad as it’s smell (thank god!). Once you trim away the rind, it has a slightly sweet, spicy flavor and is much milder than you’d expect.

Washed-rind cheeses tend to be some of the highest regarded cheeses, at least amongst cheesemongers and other industry professionals and fanatics. Their complexity and richness of flavor even in pasteurized form makes them a satisfying group of cheeses for the table, to be enjoyed simply as a snack, with no embellishments or further preparation necessary. I however, love to turn them into wonderful deserts.  So at the end of this article is a savory limburger cheesecake with a sweet onion, apple cayenne pepper chutney topping.

Limburger is a “washed-rind” and this is the key to understanding the character of this type of cheese, Limburger included.

During the cheese’s production and aging, the exterior (the rind) is washed, smeared, rinsed, or submerged in a liquid that alters its insides and outsides. (That’s why, in the cheese world, sometimes this category is known as “smear-ripened.”)

Depending on the recipe for the specific cheese, this liquid can be brine (sometimes salt water) with herbs, beer, wine, aquavit, etc. Its effect on the cheese is to decrease its acidity.

This step makes the rind a welcome place for the growth of Brevibacterium linens,or B. linens, a friendly, beneficial bacterium that causes the interior to soften during ripening (just like in the bloomy-rind cheeses), the rind to turn sticky and pinkish-orange, and the aroma to be illustrated by wavy green lines. This cheese smells bad.

If you relied on smell alone, you might never eat this cheese but then you’d be missing out. While flavor varies by individual cheese, some common taste experiences of washed-rind cheeses are: eggy, sweet, beefy, pungent, creamy, spicy, buttery, and mustardy.

It’s rare that a washed-rind cheese tastes as assertive as it smells, and if it does, it often means the cheese is past its peak and is no longer good.

For those with a highly sensitive palate, I recommend trimming the rind. It can not only taste overwhelming, but its texture is often gritty. Then again, some people love the rind, so do what you like.

NOW for those of you who are BRAVE of heart and love a challenge….

Limburger Cake

1 Envelope Gelatin
1/2 c Mini-white chocolate Chips
1/4 c Milk cold
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust, 9 Inch
1 c Milk boiling
2  6-Oz Pkgs Limburger Cheese
1/2 c Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

In blender, sprinkle gelatin over cold milk; let stand 2 min. Add hot milk and process at low until dissolved, about 2 min. Add limburger cheese, sugar and vanilla and process until blended. Arrange chocolate in bottom of crust. Pour in gelatin mixture.

Chill until firm, about 2 hrs.

Onion, Apple, Cayenne Pepper Chutney

1 tablespoon light olive oil
4 apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium hight heat, sweat the onion in olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add in rest of ingredients and stir very well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Ingredients might appear a little dry at first but as the apple cooks it will throw water and become “saucy.”
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring often to help break up the apples.
  4. For best results, chill overnight and serve cool to room temperature and place on cheesecake just before you serve.

 

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Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

brie with carmel onions bacon

I love caramelized onions, and they marry well with Brie.   Baked Brie is a classic.  It is served with toast or bread. It is usually made with jellies, fruits and nuts or some combination.  I made this one with caramelized onions left over from an apple onion hot pepper chutney, which, to me, sounds so good with this cheese.  Then as everyone knows bacon makes everything better so we sprinkled it with bacon pieces.

To save time I baked the brie in the microwave and started the onions there also.

Ingredients Baked Brie:

1 mini brie

caramelized onions

two slices of bacon

Ingredients of the caramelized onions:

3 large onions, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon of corn oil

 Preparation of onions:

To speed up the cook time, place the chopped onions in a glass baking dish in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan with the oil and butter and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Increase heat to medium and cook until onions become caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Preparation of baked Brie:

Line a plate with paper towels and arrange the bacon slices. Microwave for 1 ½ minutes.  Then let cool and break it into pieces.

Remove the top of the brie and place a spoonful of onions on cheese. Microwave for 1 minute and sprinkle with bacon. Enjoy!

 

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Asparagus and Cheese Dip

asparagus dip

For those moms who can’t get their kids to eat healthy food this is a great dip made with fresh Asparagus, parmesan cheese and almonds.  Serve over a colorful pasta or with vegetable sticks. Asparagus has a lot of nutritional values, the potassium in it can lower your blood pressure and It’s also rich in soluble fiber to help lower blood cholesterol levels.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into pieces and cooked

2 cloves of garlic

¼ cup almonds toasted

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 pinch of garlic roasted sea salt

½ cup sour cream

½ cup cream cheese

Directions:

Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender about 3 minutes. Remove asparagus from water and dry.

Once asparagus is cooled transfer to food processor, add garlic, almonds, cheeses, salt and pepper and sour cream. Blend until pesto consistency.

This is a tasty creamy preparation that does well as a dip for parties or used as a topping instead of pesto.  It can also be baked at 350 until bubbly and served hot.

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Gourmet 4 cheese Mac and Cheese with Serrano Ham

Macaroni-and-Cheese-with-serrano

Total Time 1 hour and 15 minutes (Cook time 50 minutes) Serves 6

Ingredients

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

4 cups milk, warm

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste

Salt to taste

Dash Worcestershire Sauce

8 oz shredded Amish cheddar

8 oz shredded Asiago

4 oz shredded BellaVitano Balsamic

1 pound macaroni of your choice, cooked al dente

1 stack crumbled butter cracker (Ritz like)

2 oz shaved Serrano ham lightly fried and crumbled

2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano crumbled for topping

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in the warm milk and bring to a boil, continue to whisk constantly. The mixture will thicken as the heat increases. Continue to whisk while adding the dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and Worcestershire. Stir in the cheddar, Asiago, Bellavitano and stir until it is melted.

Pour cheese sauce over noodles and add to a 3 quart casserole dish.

Sprinkle top with cracker crumbs, Serrano crumbs and Parmigiano crumbles. Bake for 35 minutes.

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