Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Host Your Own Cheese Night

The Night of Cheese wrap-up is complete! In case you missed a course, here is the rundown:

Maybe you are completely tired of cheese at this point (shame on you!), or maybe this series has inspired you to throw your own cheese tasting. If you are looking for any easy place to start, you can refer to the ideas and tips in the posts above, or you can check out this post I wrote for From Scratch Club about De-Mystifying the Cheese Plate. Learn about how many cheeses you should put on a cheese plate (three or five), what type of milk to choose, mixing textures, appropriate serving sizes, how to arrange the plate, adding accouterments, and much more! If you have any more questions about cheese (how to use it, how to buy it, what to do with it), email me or leave me a comment!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Night of Cheese - Sixth Course

The final course for the Night of Cheese was the simplest course to assemble. A play on a classic dessert offering, Seaver Brook Blue (from Bonnieview Farm, South Albany VT) was plated next to a dollop of buckwheat honey. Traditionally, chestnut honey would accompany this style of cheese, but chestnut honey can be tough to come by here in the States. Buckwheat honey is a comparable alternative and is just as tasty.  It's gentle earthiness and rich flavor help to balance the pungency of the blue cheese. The sweetness of the honey compliments the sweetness in the cheese.

The Churchill's 10 Year Tawny Port was paired alongside the Seaver Brook Blue. The port's rich and complex taste is typical of a tawny port, but it's unique brightness balanced the other heavy textures of the cheese and honey.

No recipe here. It was all about simple, delicious ingredients and easy assembly.

A very special thank you to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. Bonnieview Farm cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler, online, or at regional farmers markets.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Night of Cheese - Fifth Course

The fifth Night of Cheese course was a slam-dunk favorite. Everyone loved it! And how could one not? Cheese, chocolate, and delicious booze all in one course? Sign me up.

This course consisted of Rupert from Consider Bardwell Farm (West Pawlett, VT), Cornelius Applejack from Harvest Spirits (Valatie, NY), and homemade chocolate Chantilly cream (which might be the easiest chocolate dessert ever, besides eating a straight-up chocolate bar). The cheese has subtle notes of butterscotch and custard. It is aged a minimum of six months and has a thin rind, indicative of even turning and rotating of the wheels of cheese on a frequent, regular basis. It certainly has a sweetness with the characteristics of an Alpine-style cheese.

Applejack and chocolate Chantilly were natural choices to feature with the Rupert. Both have a similar depth and roundness of flavor, but were perhaps surprising at the same time: Chocolate is typically paired with a blue cheese at dessert, and hard alcohol with cheese is not a common accompaniment. Altogether, though, it was a fantastic combination. One warning about the chocolate Chantilly: It's addictive. You'll be making it often and eating it all. By yourself. Just be sure to use a very good quality chocolate since it's really the only ingredient in this recipe.

Chocolate Chantilly
Adapted from this recipe via Cafe Fernando
Makes approximately two cups

9 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar, optional

1. In a double boiler (or, just a small pot with 1 inch of water with a larger bowl on top of it), heat together the water, sugar and chocolate. Whisk together until melted.

2. Place bowl with chocolate mixture in a second larger bowl filled 1/3 to 1/2-way full of ice water. With a whisk or electric mixer, whip the chocolate mixture until it thickens (about five minutes). Do not over whip or it will become grainy. Serve immediately, or let set up (covered) in the refrigerator - it's great straight-up or as a filling to cakes and cookie sandwiches.

A very special thank you to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. Consider Bardwell cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler or online.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why I Love Living on Silly Goose Farm: Reason Five

Because I get to have amazing nights filled with good food and good drink, shared with darling friends who effortlessly fill the house with intriguing conversation and boatloads of laughter.

I'm a very lucky lady.

A Night of Cheese - Fourth Course

Sorry for the bad picture here... I had to snap it just before someone ate it! I always forget to take pictures :)

The fourth course for the Night of Cheese was probably the most savory of the offerings, even though it was still on the sweet side. Featured was the Battenkill Brebis cheese from 3-Corner Field Farm (Shushan, NY), paired with a 2008 Syrah from the Magnificent Wine Company (Columbia Valley, Washington) and fresh pears with balsamic-steeped cherries.

I can't lie - this course took a little fanagaling to get it just right. The cheese is a superstar and most definitely deserved a spot on the menu, but getting the right combination of accompaniments and accouterments was somewhat challenging (for me, certainly, more than Eric). Battenkill Brebis is an aged raw sheep milk cheese that has a firm texture (like Parmesan, but smooth like an aged cheddar). It is nutty and has a particularly gritty texture towards the rind. The richness of the cheese called for a bold yet smooth wine.

Enter the Syrah. It was peppery with notes of cherry. Slightly oakey, it coated the entire palate highlighted the earthy qualities of the cheese. We took a cue from these existing flavor profiles and steeped some dried cherries in balsamic vinegar and coupled that next to pears from the Silly Goose Farm orchard that were cellared over the winter (the cherries highlighted the flavors of the wine and cheese, while the pear helped cut the richness of it all and brightened the plate). Keep some of these cherries on hand to add as a quick topping to lots of different cheeses or pureed up and added to salad dressing.

Balsamic-Steeped Cherries
Makes approximately 3/4 cup of cherries and balsamic syrup

1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used a little bit of fig balsamic, as well)
1 tablespoon honey

1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey. Once it just boils, reduce heat to medium/medium-low and add cherries

2. Cook for about five minutes (until cherries appear to soften slightly). Remove from heat at allow to steep for 10 minutes

3. Serve immediately or allow to sit in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month

A very special thank you to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. 3-Corner Field Farm cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler or online.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Night of Cheese - Third Course

Sorry for the blogging break... let's get back to it!

The third course for the cheese workshop (I thought) was especially tasty, but I'm not sure what guests thought of it. Some seemed to really enjoy it. Others... not so much. The cheese was called Manchester from Consider Bardwell Farm (West Pawlett, Vermont). A raw goats milk tomme, the cheese has a particularly nutty flavor which is more concentrated as you eat towards the rind (if you like, you can also eat the rind, or save it for soups and stews).

The Manchester was paired with Ommegang Witte, a beer from my favorite brewery in Cooperstown, NY. The effervescence in beer is a great companion with cheese, as it helps to cut the creaminess on the mouth's palate and bring out the flavors in the cheese. The Witte is a Belgian-style white beer, and it's smooth yet spicy flavor was very complementary to the nuttiness of the cheese.

Homemade walnut praline was also served with the cheese and beer - the sweetness played off the spiciness of the beer, while the walnut brought out the nutty notes in the cheese.

I made a decent sized batch of walnut praline, and any left over was mixed into maple ice cream for a tasty treat a few days later. This praline is very easy to make and only takes about 15 minutes to cook, but let it cool and set-up overnight. If you want a thinner praline, chop the walnuts a bit finer, but for this use I left the nuts "chunky," as I wanted to highlight the nut aspect more than the sugary aspect of the praline.

Walnut Praline
Recipe adapted from

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey

1. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet or half-sheet pan with cooking spray. Place sheet/pan on trivets or kitchen towels to protect the counter from heat

2. Combine sugars and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wood spoon. Be careful not to scorch the milk

3. One the mixture begins to boil, stir in the butter, walnuts, spices and honey. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 235 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes

4. Carefully pour the hot praline mixture onto the cookie sheet and let cool. Once completely cooled, break the candy into desired sized pralines. Enjoy!

A very special thank you to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. Consider Bardwell cheese can be purchased through the Cheese Traveler or online.