Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Night of Cheese - Second Course

The second course for our cheese workshop featured a really fun cheese called Eclipse. Crafted by R&G Cheesemakers in Cohoes, NY, Eclipse is a goat's milk cheese that is soft ripened and features a coating of vegetable ash. A bloomy rind develops over the ash (which is all edible), and the cheese itself is slightly sweet.

The cheese was paired with orange marmalade and toasted pistachios. Both are traditional pairings for cheese: The acidic citrus rind in the marmalade balances the chalky characteristics of the vegetable ash; the pistachio is a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cheese's paste.

The beverage pairing in the second course was a 2010 Domaine Des Vieux Sancerre. A quick note about Sancerre - it's not an actual type of wine or grape, but rather, a region in which the wine is made (in the Loire Valley in France). The grape variety it is produced from is Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine gets its mineral qualities from the soil in which the grapevine is grown (that's why you can have wines produced from the same varietal of grape but with different flavor notes). The style of the cheese is typically of the Loire Valley, so pairing the Eclipse with the Sancerre was a nod to the traditions of wine and cheese.

I made the marmalade for this course. Marmalade is a different beast from some of the other jams or jellies that I've made in the past. It involves a few more steps and can take a few weeks to set; with that said, marmalade is still an easy recipe and is a great to keep in one's repertoire. Note that I kept the traditional peel in the marmalade to a fine zest. I think for the purpose of pairing with cheese, it helped to balance the bitter/sweet ratio of the marmalade as to not overpower the cheese. Feel free to make the peel/zest as fine or thick as you would like!

Orange Marmalade
Makes about three pints
Based on the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

5 medium oranges
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups sugar
1/2 of a 6-ounce package of liquid fruit pectin (or 3 ounces of homemade liquid pectin)

1. Zest the rind of the oranges, being sure to avoid the white pith. Bring the zest, 1 1/2 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Do not drain.

2. With a sharp knife, cut the pith off the oranges, then cut out the segments of the oranges, being sure to cut between the segment membranes and avoid seeds. Discard pith, seeds and membranes. Squeeze the segments to extract juice into a bowl, then add the juice and the fruit to the boiled zest mixture. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure three cups.

3. In an 8- to 10-quart heavy pot combine the three cups of fruit mixture and the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in the pectin and return to a full boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.

4. Ladle marmalade into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims clean and screw-on lids. Place in the fridge (for up to three months) or hot-water bath can for 10 minutes.

A very special thanks to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. R&G Cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler.