Archive for the ‘cheese’ Tag

Cheese party…   Leave a comment

The only picture of me at the cheese party, sadly. In the mirror… as we were setting up with guests arriving.

Table filling up with cheese… the goat cheese we made is out in the front in this photo, and you can spread it on a baguette and top with basil/mint/sage and/or pinot noir jam and/or honey balsamic vinegar. Most of the wines for the evening were reds, though some beer also got thrown into the mix later.

There are actually two more side tables of cheese items not in this photo that included blackberries, the parmesan romano rice, slice granny smith apples, and chips with homemade cheese salsa, but this was the main spread that everyone revolved around.
                            
 
Other cheeses that were added to the chevre (topped with mint/basil/sage and/or honey vinaigrette and/or pinot noir jam), Willamette Valley Farmstead Brindisi, and Pecorino E Tartufo Rusti that I had planned included Chaubier, Feta, Humboldt Fog, Cave Aged Swiss Grueyere, and Queso Del Invierno.  

Posted August 22, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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Cheese practice   Leave a comment

Examples of the pao de queijo… I decided to try a new version of the recipe I found because it is less fat (uses olive oil, less cheese) then the version I usually make. It also uses a blender instead of hand-kneading, which resulted in much more fluffy version.

However, I think I may still make the other version which is denser and chewier, and offers more savory cheesiness.

                                              

Current homemade chevre progress… just unmolded yesterday morning after 12 hours of curdling, 24 hours of draining in mold. Then it needs 24 more hours of draining through the bamboo. 12 hours to go, and we'll wrap it tonight! We haven't decided what we wanted to roll it in yet. We do have sweet basil, mint, and sage in our herb garden.

Posted August 17, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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My Cheese Extravaganza   Leave a comment

Inspired by Steve's Cheese and Ten01's Cheese Spectacular, I've decided to make my own cheese party version at my home this coming weekend. Mine will not have 100 cheeses. But, I still want that same casual atmosphere of going up to stations of cheese to try a taste and mingling cocktail style, but without the complication of fancy hors d'oeuvres or dinner or managing a bar. I asked everyone to bring a favorite cheese/beverage pairing, or a dish with a cheese ingredient. So for the most part I'm not sure what I'm going to get, though I am guessing most are going to lean towards the cheese and wine route.

I've been trying to brainstorm how to make sure everyone enjoys cheese as much as I do at this get-together, at least the part I can contribute/control. I think it's about both sharing with each other our favorite cheeses as well as throwing in something new to try, and balancing that with interesting assortments of beer and wine and other accompaniments. And, to me, a delicious time is to tickle all those tastebuds: sweet, savory, salty, spicy, sour and bitter.

Obviously the cheese is offering the savory. I have decided on three cheeses to offer.

JUST THE CHEESE
I am guessing that everyone will end up eating 4-6 oz overall of cheese, divided
among all the cheese options available.I think if I bring three cheeses, there's a likelihood that there will end up being eight cheeses at least, which is quite an assortment. 

So, first the familiar. I have planned

  • Willamette
    Valley Farmstead Brindisi, a hard cow cheese aged 12 months, with
    Bridgeport IPA and/or red like the Gouger Celler red grape blend 903.
    • Pecorino E Tartufo Rusti, a sheep's cheese with truffles from Italy,
      paired with beverages. Either with a home-beer kit brewed malty porter
      and/or a berry leather
      red like Cain Five that I've had for almost a decade and is really
      needing to be shared with other wine appreciators. I think many won't
      have had tried this kind of cheese before, though I love trying
      experimental cheeses rubbed or aged in whatever anyone wants to try.

    So something new. We want to offer

    • a soft cheese
      like chevre drizzled with liquidy pinot jam on toast point or cracker. We're planning on having this paired
      with Blue Moon's honeymoon summer ale and/or a sweet light white like a Vinho Verde (an almost sparkling summer when it's sooo hot white). We are going to attempt to make our own goat
      cheese chevre, and when we check on it that morning we'll know whether
      to go get a substitution from the farmer's market…

    DRINKS
    We have other white and red wine, various beer, Coke and Sprite, lemonade,
    pitcher of mixed juice beverage, and water. The lemonade is going to be made quite sour, while the fruity beverage will be sweet.

ACCOMPANIMENTS
We will provide

  • hye roller sandwiches
    (Turkey Breast, Ham, chicken salad, veggie or tuna salad, with cream
    cheese spread, green leaf lettuce and cherry tomatoes). Yeah, I'm just getting this at Safeway. I wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted something in their stomach so they can drive home could have something a little more filling.

  • parmesan romano rice with peas.This is one of my dirty little secret things I like to eat that I discovered when I first was living on my own after college. It totally starts with the natural parmesan romano rice a roni. Yes, rice a roni. It didn't used to have a "natural" version, but this changed a couple years ago I think, and really it's a mix of pretty straightforward ingredients then dried: parboiled long grain rice, parmesan and romano cheese, whey, cultured nonfat milk, sunflower oil, salt and other seasonings. The key though is to us this as a base and then mix in a little extra, like lightly sauteed in butter organic local peas, and a drizzle of truffle oil and sprinkle of dill. I also like shrimp or mushrooms, but based on who may be coming I may leave that out based on their dislike of those ingredients

  • Brazilian cheese mini-rolls: essentially, pao de queijo


  • Bread and crackers
Moving from the more substantial savory offerings to the sweet, I have

  • lemon honey hazelnuts
  • orange honey hazelnuts
  • sliced apples and pears

Salt-wise, there are

  • shelled walnut halves
  • jalapeno bacon almonds (which also adds to the table one of the flavors I like, some hot spice)

For sour, I am going with

  • bacon pickle slices. It is vegetarian (flavored with hickory smoke) by Unbound Pickling
  • pickled beets in a pomegranate and chai sprice brine by Unbound Pickling, though these have some sweetness because of the pomegranate
  • little gherkins
And, finally bitter. I thought about a nice arugula salad, my standard go to for bitter (that or a beer but those drinking wine might not want to mix beer). But I think a helping of salad to balance with the sandwiches and cheese makes it too much of a meal that detracts from the cheese, even if I add some shavings of grana padano. And, I only have little canape plates for the number of guests coming. So instead, I am going to cut some bittersweet chocolate in little pieces as "dessert", and if some are interested I can open a port. I also have some balsamic vinegar (one Italian heirloom that is barrel aged, one honey vinegar) that is nice drizzled as an optional enhancement to bread or cheese.

 

Posted August 14, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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Cheese Whiz: A Cheese Class with HipCooks   Leave a comment

I woke up at 6am this morning, excited that today I was making cheese. Actually, I did that on Thursday too, but then realized I still had to go through Friday. But, today was the day!

HipCooks
is a studio located in Northeast Portland, actually tantalizing only a few steps away from Tasty N Sons and Pix Patisserie. The Cheese Whiz class, taught by Cheyenne, ran from 11am to a little past 2pm, but she made sure to let know in advance that as we were classing through lunch, we should plan to have eaten beforehand. I found out later that most of the classes they teach there's a lot more eating apparently and this one is more "workshop". Have breakfast and you'll be good.

We made 5 fresh cheeses,which included from easiest to hardest, fromage fort, mascarpone, ricotta, goat cheese, and mozzarella, though actually we made the fromage fort last as it took the least amount of prep time and waiting until it was ready to eat. The cheeses were made in a shared hands-on experience of generally groups of 4-5 and a total class size of 14. We also then ate each of these cheeses in her suggested recipe for serving, though at that point with the breaking out of the wine, a light effervescent white Vinho Verde, we also broke out into more socializing and conversation subgroups during actual recipe/eating time and she had to recruit single/pairs of helpers for the "using the cheese in a recipe" preparation.

BTW, the Vinho Verde is an easy to drink wine that would please anyone with its light flavor with little bubbles, and has low alcohol content so everyone can drink freely with less worry about quantity! During the class, they also had water and a pitcher of minty tea to keep us hydrated. After class, she had put together some small cheese starter kits that were optional for purchase, a great idea since otherwise you might have to stop at a few locations. I almost wish they stocked everything they used equipment, and the wine. Particularly I strongly feel the need for a Creuset.

Fromage fort is the meatloaf equivalent to using a bunch of random cheeses, and is more assembling and putting together then real preparation of cheese, though you need a food processor and some already existing cheeses (though whatever leftover cheese you use doesn't matter). This was garlicky cheesy goodness that we spread onto some baguettes that had just been toasted in the oven. It takes longer to toast the bread then it does to do any of the prep/putting together! Awesome hat trick to pull out for easy entertaining snacks if you like to have cheese in the fridge to snack on anyway.

Meanwhile, the mascarpone only needed a few steps, literally heat the milk, add the acid, flavor, and chill. We talked about different options for flavoring mascarpone since so many mascarpone you can purchase in the store already come somewhat flavored… and we all got passed spoons to taste virgin mascarpone right then and there, and then after flavoring, and then it went to the fridge for a couple hours and that's it. The particular recipe for this class was to use the mascarpone, sweetened with vanilla paste and lemon zest, into mini-sandwiches between sliced poached apricots and rolling the outside with pistachios to make very light dessert bites.

The ricotta was our first visit into really seeing the curds and whey separating after heating, and using the cheese cloth to assist in that separation over time. It was funny as we passed the bowl around to poke the curd (with clean fingers!) to get a feel for it. The final recipe for the ricotta was to pipe it into roasted tomato halves and drizzle some olive oil and fresh basil.

The goat cheese was only more difficult because it was more a test of patience. Unlike the fromage fort which had no weight until you could eat it, or the mascarpone which would sit in the fridge chilling, or the ricotta which would sit draining, the goat cheese includes putting the curds into molds and waiting for the whey to drain. As the whey drains, the curd compresses into the mold, which means you can fit more curd… so it was almost like watching water boil in the sense that you had a bowl of curd still and really wanted to stuff it all into the mold, but had to wait for draining. 

After the molds are finally really full and you've got all the curd you can fit, the goat cheese can be left to age much longer then the other fresh cheeses we learned about- more patience testing. The cheese below was made using the molds in the photo above- look at all that compression, it's like half the size! Although Cheyenne was using a fancy mold she had been gifted with, she explained we could use anything as long as there was drainage for the whey- including empty yogurt containers with holds punched in. We talked about various ways to flavor the goat cheese, both during the making of it or as we did in this class, by rolling it in extra flavor such as freshly chopped herbs. After that, the spreading of the herb goat cheese chevre onto toasted crusty bread is super easy.

 

The fresh mozzarella took the most steps, and is apparently a fussy fresh cheese. She made sure to explain how many times she failed in trying to make it, how she kept a cheese journal on all her attempts trying to track her attempts, and how to tell it's not turning out as it's much more temperature sensitive and milk sensitive, and what to do if the mozzarella doesn't quite turn out (put it in lasagna/treat it like ricotta!)

Everyone in class all made a watery mess everywhere on the counter in forming our mozzarella balls as we kneaded and stretched by hand cheese that had just been poached in hot whey. Mozzarella also has an extra complication in which after you have separated the curd from whey, you then return the curd to hot whey later in order to make balls step… which leeches out whey which you want somewhat but you don't want the mozzarella to be dry either, which can be based on how much handling of the cheese you do or the temperature of the whey. Temperate mozzarella!

The shape of the balls and size didn't matter though in this case, since they were then cut to be used for pizza bianca (just on top of dough with olive oil and basil).

This class was really fun, and the entire 3 hours well thought out to keep everyone interested. Her teaching style is laid back but also detailed because she had a lot of knowledge and experience, and explained in a way understandable to anyone. She emails after class out all the instructions, including where to buy various supplies/ingredients and tips for preparation/Plan B if the cheese making didn't work out, and the recipes as an initial idea of what to do once the cheese was finished. This makes you less focused on reading a list of instructions or writing notes and more on just listening and watching and feeling and tasting, like a bunch of little apprentices. It was like she was a friend you have that knows how to cook but also knows better then to try to impress you with techniques or references to what others in the professional industry do- she knows you care about putting together good food not being fancy, so focuses on teaching in a very practical way, including her own personal stories from the everyday attempts. The entire format made this Cheesemaking 101 very approachable and seemingly easy.

I would recommend this Cheese Whiz class to anyone who loves cheese and is interested in getting a good basic introduction to what is the cheesemaking process and foundation of some easy make at home cheese with very little time, effort, or equipment. No special terminology of French words that have you looking for a dictionary or chemistry science in this class beyond reading a thermometer- just practical DIY cheese loving that includes making and eating and is a mix of demonstration by the instructor as well as a little hands on, sampling and touching mid process to get a feel, and then enjoying samples of the fruits at the end of class.

Despite telling us to eat beforehand, everyone left really stuffed from tasting milk and cheese as we were working, and then the final products which included basically 3 appetizers (on bread or tomato), a main (the pizza) and a dessert (the apricot and mascarpone) from the 5 fresh cheeses we had practiced creating.  In fact, I was so full after this class I couldn't make it back to the Bite… though admittedly we got distracted exploring Mississippi Avenue as well. I do plan to go tomorrow.

Posted August 7, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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Annibrew Summary, and Prepare for Bite-time   Leave a comment

The Bailey's Taproom Annibrew Cubed event was what I had hoped it would be- full of good beers and conversations with other beer enthusiasts, it wasn't crowded or hot and there were no obnoxious people that I could tell, which is good enough. We were there when they opened their doors to ensure we would get to taste everything, and sure enough a few hours in our top favorite, the Cascade Bailey's Quadratic Formula in beautiful beer geekiness of ax^2 + bx + c = 4 where a= 1 bubonic Plague(Heaven's Hills) b= 1 Spiced Quad (Maker's Mark) and c=2 Big Red(Maker's Mark)  all equating into a wonderful swirl of complex flavor, was out. As we left, our second place winner in our eyes, the Firestone Parabola with a bold bourbon and tobacco initial punch followed by dark chocolate and smoke as it bloomed on the palate, also tapped out.

During our 5 hour stay (which also included a cheerful passing by of pirates outside from Plunderthon which many along the windows raised their glass and waved to but still everyone withstrained from any shouts or screams even after a couple hours of drinking, inner woo hoos only!), we chose to get a few repeat token taste. The beers that made this cut included the Russian River Consecration (Belgian style aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces and Pediococcus and currants added to make one sour beer) and Hair of the Dog Cherry Adam from the Wood (a bourbon nose with a very dark cherry profile and only a hint of tartness Pilsner malt aged with black cherries in bourbon casks). We were at a draw whether the Hopworks For Those About to Bock had vanilla tones or yeast tones in it or not- even 20 minutes after we had left and were on the way home the debate continued.

And we will never forget the barnyard nose, our first experience of barnyard in beer, on the Block 15 #181- despite its aroma the yeasty ferment did even out on the tongue. The biggest disappointment was the Allagash 08 Curieux, a Belgian Tripel aged in Jim Beam for 8 weeks that didn't have much to show for its age. The New Holland Dragon's Milk was a soft caramel nice beer, but not as deep as hoped either. And no, there are no pictures from this event because hey, I was tasting 20 barrel aged beers. The veggie sandwich I had right before and the chorizo burrito from Santeria afterward were still not enough to combat the heavenly effects of the alcohol content ingested at this Bailey's third anniversary. Still my favorite beer event of all July. So no beverage photos… though I do have a token photo of the best happy hour menu in Beaverton that I know of, Decarli's. The pizzettas are enough for two, and their best one is the portobello mushroom, gorgonzola, sweet onion, and walnut-sage pizza. The best option is still the polenta fries with gorgonzola butter, but if you want to share, go with this pizzetta.

Next weekend is Bite of Oregon, including 120 items from restaurants, food carts, and a dessert pavilion to taste. I'll also be switching gears from tasting beer to tasting wine. On Monday, there is a Groupon special where you can purchase 2 admissions for the price of 1!

We'll be stopping by on Saturday afternoon, after a class I'm very excited about, a cheese making class with Hip Cooks where we'll be making and sampling Ricotta, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Mascarpone and Fromage Fort in a menu that includes

  • Roasted tomatoes filled with fresh ricotta
  • Goat Cheese and Fromage Fort with french bread
  • Pizza bianca with fresh Mozzarella
  • Poached apricots stuffed with Mascarpone, rolled in pistachio

Isn't my countdown to this coming weekend worth it?

Posted August 1, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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Cheese Bar Spectacular Report   Leave a comment

Adam Berger of Ten 01 and Steve Jones of Cheese Bar held a collaborative special event called, “The Cheese Bar Spectacular,” yesterday at Ten 01 from 6-9pm. It was 3 hours where you could wander around Ten 01 with a beer or wine or even a craft cocktail (I still adore their Pistache drink) while stopping at stations for tastings of 101 of Steve’s favorite artisan cheeses from around the world. There were six stations (each station generally two tables long) placed upstairs and downstairs inside the restaurant. The stations included Soft Cheese, Cow Cheese, Goat Cheese, Sheep Cheese, Bleu Cheese, and Mixed Milk Cheese. Some bloggers talked about drink and cheese pairings, but it was just an open cheese tasting market (well, there were certain selected wines and beers at the bar that were highlighted, but no specific matchings with anything. Actually, I wish there had been more to balance out the bleu cheeses specifically because I like bleu cheese, but even my standing favorite Maytag and Rogue fared poorly when I had them towards the end of the event because my palate had become too unbalanced. I was cheesed out!).

101 cheeses… and I probably almost had that much. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to finish the goat cheese table, having only done 1/3 of it. I did pick up a sample of every cheese from all the other tables though, even cheeses I had before just to compare with the new ones.

My favorite was naturally, a combination of both truffle and cheese, a Pecora Il Tartufo- pecorino with black truffle, a sheep from Tuscany… at only $30.90 a pound. This sheep cheese just burst into your mouth with flavor. And what can I say, if I had a type, it would be Italian Cheeses (they are most likely to go with everything!) and also Specialty Blended Cheeses (with chipotle spices. With lavendar. With alcohol. Fruit. Yum!). In general, the sheep cheeses was the "safe station" in terms of being surprised by strong stinky cheeses like at the goat and cow cheese station.

On the more affordable side, an Oregonian produced soft cheese, The Little Goat Dairy By the River's Rivers Edge Chevre which was smoked over maple had a nice complex flavor and is only $10.90 a package, really stood out. I was surprised there were not more smoked cheeses, actually. I guess Steve doesn't like them, since this event was after all put together by his favorite picks? And no burrata (that I saw)? I only saw Rogue's blue, but several from Willamette Valley. In a surprise to me, F picked out Willamette Valley cheeses from stations of cheese multiple times as ones he thought stood out.

I also really liked a Plymouth Wisconsin cheese, Sartori Bellavitano, a cow cheese washed in New Glarus Raspberry beer ($15.90 a pound).  Samish Bay's Fresh Ladysmith, an organic cow cheese from Washington, was fresh and light in the line of mozzarella-likeness at $16.90 a pound, while for mixed cheese Perolari's Robiolo due latti and the Snow Goat's Triple Cream Brie melted perfectly creamy on the crostini.

Although I appreciated the cheese map of where the stations were (and having little pencils and the back of that sheet to write notes), I think the Boy's and Girl's Club Showcase of Wine and Cheese had a smarter idea. They actually gave each individual a book, and inside the book was a number (corresponding to the table and then the offerings of that table) and then a description of the individual cheese. This would have helped me in picking out cheeses I wanted to seek out instead of having to take one of everything at a station and remembering what I had taken from a station. I know this would have taken a lot more work though, given each painstakingly hand written note already for each plate. There were only seats at the bar area downstairs, so everyone was trying to balance a beverage glass with a little plate and somehow write down the names of the cheeses, and although I appreciated Ten-01 trying to get everyone to start upstairs where it was standing room and their quick turnaround on wine glasses, it was hard to maneuver and often there were people standing in front of the table. I went with taking maybe six at a time in order from a table and then walking away to keep the tables clear, tasting my selection, then taking photos of certain ones, but I skipped writing notes because it was just too much to manage with two hands and essentially hallway space. Obviously, I have missed my calling as an event organizer. 
 
I did enjoy the event though- the quality of cheeses was a huge step above the Showcase of Wine and Cheese as these were artisan cheeses, and I don't know when else or how else I could have had this caliber of cheeses in this amount of variety unless I parked myself at Steven's Cheese bar and never left! I hope he makes this an annual Spectacular- if not with 101, a selection of matches would be super… well, still spectacular.  

Posted June 22, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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B&G Club of Portland’s Showcase of Wine and Cheese 2010   Leave a comment

At $40, the price tag to attend might seem steep to the Showcase of Wine and Cheese Event… until you do a little research and find out that it goes to the Boys and Girls club, and there are no additional tasting fees for any of the wine or cheese. When we entered, there was a long aisle of silent auction items that we got to peruse, and then when we walked into the Portland Ballroom we greeted by Sinatra-era music (with a singer on stage crooning- perhaps the same guy I have seen at Olive or Twist) and tables of 10 numbers each arranged in a big square or line, with each number being a wine station for 3-6 wines. The tables numbered from 1-83. Holy crap.

We picked up our 2 tasting glasses and also a big bound book which described the offerings of each station and had a lil space for tasting notes. The front section was all cheese… 60 some cheeses. Ok, maybe a handful of those were actually cheese mix spreads, or chocolate, or cheese crackers, or pears with advice on how to match it with cheese… but seriously. Most of my photos are of the cheese, because it was just put together so well.

And there were two buffet stations of antipasto and toasts topped with diced tomato or eggplant spread, vegetarian sushi, lil crabcakes, breadsticks… and 4 carving stations of beef round with horseradish and au jus. The site had mentioned hors d'oeuvres and there were some passed by servers that first hour, but having the 4 stations of food (along with all the cheese) was a great combination of wine pairings.

It started at 6:30, and by 10 when it ended I was so full and exhausted I tell you! The atmosphere was very classy- I kept shaking my head in wonder at some of the lovely ladies I saw wearing 3-4 inch heels with their lovely dresses because there were only 20 something tables seating 10 by the stage, but otherwise everyone was on their feet tasting away. They were probably more comfortable temperature wise then I though- even in just a tank top and long sleeved shirt with jeans, I was really warm. I appreciated during that they had big iced containers of soda and bottled water by the exits.

Volunteers were hard at work at all the cheese stations, prepping trays of cubed cheese or lil containers of cracker/cheese combinations so you could help yourself to a tasting. One of the tastings actually cemented by purchase of what brand of marscapone to purchase today to make a tiramisu fondue. At the very end during clean-up, some of the trays of already prepped cheese ended up in ziploc doggy bags- we took probably 20 small cubes of a swiss cave aged gruyere, yum!

The atmosphere was super classy- besides the music and the auctions at 8:30 (there was also a live voice auction), beautiful decorations of red cloth and arrangements with red roses made it much more of a cocktail event then a bunch of tables with tastings at the convention center a la the Beer and Wine festival (which I have already marked on my calendar!). There was never a line of more then maybe 1-2 people for wine, and it could be a bit slower then cheese, but somehow people naturally did a clockwise rotation 🙂 I plan to mark this showcase for next year as well: I will be happy to return many times.

Below, the "unwrap and roll fresh mozzarella" from BelGioioso was layered with meat for a very tasty bite, and seemed great for a party tray.

Just a spoonful of the marscarpone was already so delicious- I can't wait to try it out with the recipe cards they have next to it for tiramisu!