Cheese

Feta Cheese

April 24, 2013

Greek FetaFeta Cheese

Choose the right Feta for your dish!

Goat’s Milk Feta: Goes with pita bread, olives, grapes, cherry tomatoes & pasta

Sheep’s Milk Feta:  Goes with watermelon and red onion salad, pizza, lamb & anchovies

Cow’s Milk Feta:  Goes with Greek salad, olive oil, rosemary and thyme, black beans, soup or casseroles.

Did you know that Traditional Greek Feta is made with a combination of sheep and goat milk?

Feta is a white, semi-firm, crumbly, salty cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk (sometimes cow’s milk) and cured in brine.  Originally from Greece, feta translates to “slice,” for one of the stages in its making.  The word came into English around 1956.  Feta is one of the world’s oldest cheeses.  It has been made in Greece and other Balkan countries for centuries.  Homer wrote about it, describing how the gods made the cheese.

The finest feta cheese should be purchased direct from its brine bath.  If it is prepackaged, it should have some of the brine in the packaging to keep it moist.  Feta cheese is best when eaten fresh, so always check the date.  If you will not be consuming it immediately, store the feta in a brine or milk bath in the refrigerator.  The milk bath will reduce the saltiness and help keep the cheese moist and last for up to 3 months.  Freezing is not good for feta cheese.  Feta that has been aged in barrels and sold straight from the barrel may be wrapped in a lightweight paper.  You may want to wrap your feta in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and store in the fridge however there is some controversy about storing cheese in plastic.  You may want to keep the feta in the paper, even when the paper gets soggy from the cheese moisture.  Allow at least 30 minutes for feta to come to room temperature, to fully enjoy its rich, tangy flavor and creamy texture.

If you are one who doesn’t like feta’s salty taste then you may want to soak the cheese in fresh water to leach out some of the salt or tone down the salt in dishes that feta is used in.  This allows the cheese to supply the salt.

Feta Vinaigrette

The slight sharpness of the feta combined with fresh green herbs makes a versatile vinaigrette dressing that goes beautifully with lightly steamed asparagus or sliced tomatoes as well as artichokes.  It is a lovely dressing on potatoes, pasta or shrimp salad as well.

 INGREDIENTS

1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar

1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Basil

1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Dill

1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Mint

1/2 Cup Finely Crumbled Feta Cheese

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Safflower Oil

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

In a small size bowl, whisk together the vinegar, herbs and cheese.  Add the olive oil and safflower oil in a slow thin stream.  Whisk constantly until combined and emulsified.  Add the kosher salt and pepper.  Set aside until you are ready to use.  Cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for up to 1 week.  Stir or shake well before using.  Makes 1 cup.

 

Horseradish Cheddar Cheese Ball

December 16, 2012

Horseradish Cheddar Cheese Ball

Along with serving your traditional cheese platter think about adding a Horseradish Cheddar Cheese Ball.  It is unique, but not overpowering.  It’s easy to make, but will look like you spent all day crafting it.  This cheese ball is great for holiday parties as well as a pre-dinner appetizer.  Serve with any type of crusty bread, vegetables or crackers that you prefer. If you are vegetarian then leave out the bacon crumbles.

 

INGREDIENTS

8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese

3/4 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Onion

1 Tablespoon Prepared Horseradish

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

1 1/2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

3 Cooked Bacon Slices – Crumbled

1/3 Cup Chopped Toasted Walnuts

 

In a large size bowl mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, crumbled bacon, parsley, Worcestershire, kosher salt and pepper.  Form the cheese mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill in the fridge overnight.  Place the chopped walnuts into a medium size bowl.  Remove the cheese ball from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and roll the cheese ball in the walnuts so that it is coated evenly.  Serves 10

Burrata Stuffed Peppers

August 14, 2012

Burrata Stuffed Peppers

I love this dish.  You can either bake the burrata or leave it at room temperature.  It is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. 

INGREDIENTS

4 Small to Medium Sized Red Bell Peppers

16 Ounces Burrata

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Herb Paste

Preheat your oven to 350° F.  Slice off the top of each pepper and then scoop out and throw away the membrane.  Cut a think sliver off the bottom of the peppers so they will sit flat.  Put the peppers on a parchment paper and drizzle the peppers with the olive oil.  Place the peppers in the oven for 10 minutes.  While the peppers are baking put the burrata in a medium size bowl and mix with a fork.  Remove the peppers from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Fill the peppers with the burrata and place back in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.  Dot the herb paste on top of the burrata and all over the serving plate.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 4

Homemade Ricotta

June 2, 2012

Homemade Ricotta

 

Homemade Ricotta sounds like a lot of work, I know, but trust me it is actually pretty darned easy.  If you rinse the pot with cold water before pouring in the milk it will save you some serious cleanup.  The reserved liquid whey can go into soups, stews and curries.  It can also be used to cook pasta and rice.  The liquid whey will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 Gallon High Quality Organic Whole Milk

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (Typically 1 Large Lemon)

 

You will need a large colander for this recipe.  Line the colander with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to save the whey).  Wet the cheesecloth to hold it firmly in place.  To make the ricotta you will need a large heavy pot.  Rinse the pot with cold water before pouring in the milk.  Bring the milk and salt to a gentle simmer over a medium high heat.  Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer gently for 2 minutes.  You want the curds to begin to form and float to the top.  They will first look like spatters of white and then gather into soft clumps that look like little clouds.  You will see the liquid begin to clear of cloudiness and the curds firming up, but not hard. This is when you need to scoop them out with a slotted spoon.  Let the curds drain thoroughly in the colander.  If the curds are very soft press gently to extract just a little of the moisture, but do not squeeze dry as you don’t want to dry out the cheese.  Transfer your homemade ricotta to a large bowl.  Cover and chill for 2 hours.  Make 1 1/2 pounds.

 

Chicken Parmigiana

May 23, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana

 

Chicken Parmigiana is a Southern Italian (Campania & Sicily) dish made with layers of tomato sauce and a combination of Parmesan & mozzarella cheese. Serve this dish with a side of spaghetti and a salad and you have a delicious meal. Chicken Parmigiana also makes a nice grinder!

 

INGREDIENTS

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1/2 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs

2 Beaten Eggs

5 Tablespoons Butter

2 1/2 Cups Marinara Sauce

4 Large Slices Mozzarella Cheese

2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

 

Pound the chicken breasts to get them good and flat.  Salt and pepper the chicken.  In a medium size bowl (you want to be able to get the chicken breast in the bowl) beat the eggs.  In another bowl or I like to use a plate place the breadcrumbs.  Dip the chicken in the beaten eggs and then the breadcrumbs.  In a large skillet over a medium heat melt the butter.  Place the chicken in the skillet and brown for 15 minutes making sure to turn so they cook on both sides.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer to a plate.  Set aside.  Add the marinara sauce to the skillet and heat thoroughly.  Add the chicken breasts back to the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes.  Place the mozzarella on top of the chicken and then sprinkle with the Parmesan.  Cover and cook until the cheese has melted.  Remove the chicken along with the sauce from the skillet and transfer to a serving platter.  Serves 4

 

Sour Cream Gratin Potatoes

May 4, 2012

Sour Cream Gratin Potatoes

 

All I have to say about this side dish is DELICIOUS!  Serve beside beef steak or chicken and you have a beautiful meal. 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 Pounds Russet Potatoes

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 Beaten Egg

1/2 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Minced Garlic

1 Tablespoon Minced Dill

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

 

Preheat your oven to 375° F.  In a medium saucepan put the potatoes in lightly salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook the potatoes on low boil for 15 minutes until just tender.  Remove from the heat and drain.  Let cool slightly and then peel.  Slice the potatoes and put in layers in a buttered 9×6 baking dish.  In a medium size mixing bowl combine the sour cream, egg, milk, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.  Pour over the potatoes.  Evenly spread the cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve alongside the main dish of your choice.  Serves 4

Best Ever Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

April 26, 2012

Best Ever Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

Forget the stovetop.  The trick is the oven!

 

INGREDIENTS

6 Ounces Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

3 Ounces Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

6 Tablespoons Melted Butter

8 Slices Nice & Thick White Bread

 

Preheat your oven to 450° F.  Place the oven rack to the middle and place the baking sheet on the rack.  You want to heat up the baking sheet.  In a large size bowl mix together both cheeses.  Brush one side of the bread slices with the butter.  Don’t skimp on the butter.  On a large plate place the four buttered slices butter side down.  Top each slice with a generous amount of the cheese mixture and press down on the cheese lightly.  Put the remaining slices on top of the cheese and press down slightly.  Butter the tops with the remaining butter.  Take the hot baking sheet from the oven and arrange the sandwiches on the hot baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet back in the oven on the middle rack.  Bake for 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully turn the sandwiches over.  Bake for another 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately.  Makes 4 sandwiches.

Toasted Open Faced Mozzarella Sandwiches

January 3, 2012

Toasted Open Faced Mozzarella Sandwiches

I like to serve these with soup. So easy to make and extremely yummy!

INGREDIENTS

6 Pieces Sliced Italian Bread

5 Tablespoons Butter

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard

6 Slices Fresh Mozzarella

In a small size bowl, mix together the butter and garlic powder. Set aside. In a separate small size bowl, mix together the mustards and set aside. Preheat the oven to broil on low. Butter each piece of bread evenly and then smear an even layer of the mustard mixture over the butter layer. Put a piece of mozzarella cheese on top of each slice of bread. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sandwiches on the baking sheet. Place in the oven for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes turn off the oven and let the sandwiches sit for another 4 minutes. The cheese will not completely melt, but the sandwiches will be ready to eat. Take them out of the oven and place them on a serving plate. Serve warm. Serves 6

Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese

December 18, 2011

Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese

We are all super busy this holiday season. Here is a quick meal to rely on while wrapping those presents. Add a salad and some garlic bread and you’ve got a full dinner that everyone will enjoy.

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ Cup Macaroni

¾ Ounces Cubed Provolone Cheese

¾ Ounces Cubed Cheddar Cheese

1 Cup Half & Half

½ Cup Coarsely Crushed Seasoned Croutons

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Remove from the stove and drain the pasta. Combine the cooked macaroni, half & half and the cheeses in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. Spoon the macaroni into a serving dish and sprinkle with the crushed croutons. Serves 2

Monday’s Mac & Cheese

November 28, 2011

Monday’s Mac & Cheese

So yummy for the tummy!

INGREDIENTS

8 Ounces Fusilli Pasta

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

5 Tablespoons Butter

4 Tablespoons Flour

¼ Teaspoon Dry Mustard

½ Teaspoon Salt

1/8 Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Cream

2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

¾ Cup Breadcrumbs Tossed With 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Cook the pasta following the directions on the package. Make sure not to overcook the pasta though. Drain the pasta in a colander. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on the pasta and set aside. Butter a 2 quart baking dish and preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium sized saucepan melt 4 tablespoons of butter over a medium low heat. Stir the flour into the butter until the butter is smooth and bubbly. Stir in the dry mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk and cream. Stir constantly. Continue to cook. Stir constantly until thickened. Add the cheese and continue to cook and stir until melted. Combine the pasta and the cheese sauce and turn into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes until hot and bubbly. The top should be lightly browned. Serves 6

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