Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cheese Tasting

        For a long time I have been wanting to have a 'Wine and Cheese Tasting.'  Me and my mom did some major cheese shopping and came home with a boat load of dairy products.  We cut, arranged and placed the cheeses on all of the decorative plates we could find.  We all admired our work for a moment, in slight awe, then we began!
        Sadly I don't remember the intimate details of our cheese tasting because it was almost a year ago.  But I know that there were some we enjoyed and some we did not.  We had a collection of cows, goat, and I think we even had a sheeps milk cheese.  We had a French Raclette, a cave aged Swiss Gruyere, Havarti and a Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts.  We also had a goats milk Honey Lavender Formage Blavac and a goat milk Les Pyramids, white pyramid and a cows milk Savory Coeur a la Creme.  We also put out GF crackers, toasted bread, cashews, pecans, red and green apple slices and a spicy chunky mango chutney for the Savory Coeur a la Creme.
        Cheese is one of life's mysterious, decadent foods that comes in many shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors.  We enjoyed almost all the cheeses except one, Les Pyramids.  To tell you the truth this cheese was so unappealing that my mother did not want to taste more than a smidgen, and convinced me that it was not even worth trying.  That cheese did not last the night and found its home off of the table.
        I think my two favorite cheeses were the Honey Lavender Formage Blavac and the Savory Coeur a la Creme.  The Lavender cheese was smooth and so beautifuly flavored with lavender it reminded me of my childhood (I love lavender, and my mom had a jar of the flowers and I would always open the lid to smell the relaxing aroma.)  The Savory Coeur a la Creme is a cheese made of cream cheese, heavy cream with a hint of pepper and lemon.  Perfectly delectable. 
        Hopefully in the future I will be able to have another cheese tasting and we will be as fortunate as the last time to have the majority of the cheeses be enjoyable.  This is something everyone should do.  It brings the family together around the table sharing, buffet style. 



French Raclette, cave aged Swiss Gruyere and Havarti.

Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts.
Honey Lavender Formage Blavac, and Les Pyramids white pyramid.


Savory Coeur a la Creme.
 

The Savory Coeur a la Creme
This cheese is so creamy and perfect that I would recomend it at any cheese tasting.  Although this is not one of my own recipes, I feel it would be cruel not to give the dish justice and tell everyone how to make it.
This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten
Ingredients:
-12oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
-1 cup Heavy Cream
-1 Lemon, zested
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
-1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 bottle chutney (Mango)
-GF crackers for serving

Directions:
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachement and whip until it is firm like whipped cream.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick.
Next the instructions say to line a 6 inch Coeur a la Creme mold, but I know that that is not an every day kitchen tool, so just use a strainer or better yet a sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth, allowing the excess to drape over the sides.  Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Fold the excess cheesecloth over the top of the cream.  Place the mold or sieve on a plate or suspend the sieve over a small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, unmold the creme upside down onto a plate and pour the chutney over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides, or place in a bowl on the side of the plate.  Serve chilled with crackers.
The Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts
Brie is usually very good when warm so this simple dish makes everything better.
This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten
Ingredients:
-1/4 wheel Brie
-4 tablespoons Honey
-Handful of lightly chopped Walnuts
Directions:
Preheat the over to 350 degreese F.
Place the Brie on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and drizzle with the honey.  Bake for 5 to 7 mintues, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.  As you can see from the picture mine oozed quite a bit so be sure to place the cheese in the center of the pan to prevent it from sticking to the sides of the pan.
Serve warm with crackers.

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