Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheesy Collard Green Wontons with Black Eyed Pea Relish

What can I say… I’m a sucker for traditions, especially when food is involved. Eating collard greens and black eye peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good luck and wealth.

This recipe is a fun twist on the traditional Southern dish. From the south or not, people usually turn their noses up at collard greens. Add some SarVecchio and mozzarella to the recipe and you will be welcomed at any party! Enjoy & cheers to a prosperous 2012!

Collard Green Wontons

1 head collard greens
3 strips peppered bacon
2 bay leafs
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup half and half
4 oz SarVecchio Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced to small cubes
3 dashes Cholula
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
1 package medium wonton wrappers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add bacon and 2 tablespoons butter. Allow bacon to cook for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, wash collard greens thoroughly. Cut out the thick stem in the center of the leaves. Stack leaves, roll up and slice into 1 inch thick strips. Add greens to pot. Cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove collard greens from broth and transfer to a strainer. Press juices out, set aside. Discard bacon and bay leaves. I know, throwing bacon away makes me sad too.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small sauce pan. Caramelize the sweet onion. Remove from heat, add milk and cheese to pan. Reserve some SarVecchio to top wontons. Combine this mixture with the collard greens in a mixing bowl. Add Cholula, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a muffin tin with olive oil. Place wonton wrappers in muffin tin, forming bowls. Brown wonton wrappers only for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, scoop one heaping teaspoon of collard green mixture in wonton bowls. Top with SarVecchio and bake for 10 additional minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

* Yields 3 dozen wontons

Black Eye Pea Relish

1 16oz can black eyed peas
1/2 cup Cipollini onions in balsamic vinegar, diced (found in the olive bar)
1 yellow pepper, diced
Oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add yellow pepper and spices. Cook just until tender, I like them more on the al dente side. Add onions and peas, cook until heated through. Serve with wontons.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: The Year in Review

The past year has been good to the Dairymaids. We got an AC unit, a bright orange awning and shelves of beer and wine. We started cooking more and threw some excellent parties. We also celebrated our fifth birthday and we couldn't be more happy and grateful. We hope you'll come by and see us on this last week of 2011 to say hello and pick up any cheeses for the New Year's parties you're going to. Cheers to an equally amazing 2012! We have to make it count before the Mayan calendar runs out.

This week on the plate, we have some Mountaineer from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia. It's similar to Comté or a cave-aged Gruyere in its firm texture and caramel-rich nuttiness. Rick and Helen ensure that their Jersey cows get the best grass by using rotational grazing methods that keep the land and the cows well-nourished.

We'll also have the lovely, soft-ripened Sofia from Capriole in northern Kentucky. The dense, fudgey cheese has a layer of delicate vegetable ash and a white, bloomy rind. The plate's big finish will come from Bayley Hazen Blue, a bold American Stilton from Vermont. We're all about big finishes this weekend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Blue, Blue (Cheese) Christmas

Only two days from Christmas, your friendly Dairymaid elves will be toiling in the cheese fridge, readying you for the holidays. It doesn't smell quite like the Keebler tree, but such is the nature of working with a food sometimes described as "barnyard-y." That's right, we're open this Friday and Saturday for our usual tastings.

Come for the Teahive, stay for the Rogue River Blue. Teahive is Beehive Company's newest addition, rubbed with a blend of black tea and pure bergamot oil. The soothing qualities of tea and bergamot combine to produce a creamy cheddar with rich fragrances of orange blossom. If you're doubtful, remember that you didn't sound convinced about the Barely Buzzed before you tried it, either.

The Rogue River Blue is a great celebration cheese because all parties require alcohol, and the grape leaves  around this creamy blue have been soaked in pear brandy. The leaves keep the cheese moist and creamy while imparting a flavor both sweet and woodsy. Also on the plate will be San Andreas, a sheep milk cheese from California, and Truffle Tremor. Come by to grab any last minute gift boxes and say Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ginger Snap Sandwiches with Chevre Frosting

Every year I receive a wonderfully tacky metal tin of fudge and divinity from my Aunt in the mail. You may have a family member that sends you a similar cavity-gram. It’s a love-hate relationship.

With all this beautiful cheese at our disposal, it’s time we go beyond Crisco and corn syrup! These Ginger Snap Sandwiches are unique, but still festive. When filled with chevre frosting, they take on the texture of a whoopie pie. Enjoy with some hot cider and you just might find yourself chiming in as the family quotes A Christmas Story.

3/4 cup natural vegan shortening from palm oil
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated
1/2 cup natural turbinado sugar

4 oz Pure Luck Chevre
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, brown sugar and molasses, gently beat in the egg; set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger,
cinnamon and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, stirring carefully to fully combine. Dough will be fairly stiff. Shape dough into teaspoon balls and coat top in turbinado sugar. Transfer to baking sheet, arranging 1 inch apart. Bake 8 - 10 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. When cookies are completely cool, frost and assemble sandwiches. Store in an air tight container.

For frosting: Cream cheese and chevre should be at room temperature. Combine cream cheese, chevre, confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Adding zested lemon or a spot of honey is great too.

* Yields: 2 dozen sandwiches

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Sharing is Caring Edition

Overheard in the Dairymaids warehouse: "I was considering hoarding them, but probably should share." The identity of the speaker shall remain a mystery, but she was referring to a secret stash of Rush Creek Reserve, which is "among the best things I've ever tasted" and reminiscent of well-done bacon. The cheese is inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d'Or and wrapped in spruce bark before being aged for 60s days. The paste is silky and easily eaten with a spoon--that's right, bacon by spoon! It's like space food but actually tastes good. The catch is that we only have 20 in stock, so show up early to claim one.

This weekend happens to be our Big Cheese holiday celebration so we'll have a number of other impressive occasion cheeses including Caveman Blue, Tarantaise, Dunbarton Blue and Cremont, a mixed cow and goat milk double-cream. As usual, we have a selection of beer and wine to go with your cheese plus all the hazelnuts, olives, cornichons and chocolates a gluttonous person with impeccable taste a person could ask for. Be the big cheese and stock up for your parties and presents.

If you're looking for a gift box, we have five different combinations (and beautiful handmade boxes) to choose from, or you can swing by this weekend to put one together yourself. Bonus: We'll be open on Sunday from 10am-2pm. See you then!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

St. Jorge Gnocchi Soufflés

American chefs are riffing on this Italian classic far beyond its humble beginnings. And I’m happy they are, because scratch-made gnocchi seems a little daunting at first. Watching youtube videos will glean very little tips for success.

No worries though, this recipe does not require fancy tools or dying anything with squid ink. St. Jorge Gnocchi Soufflés are matched up with my personal favorite: SarVecchio Parmesan and the versatile: Matos St. George. Be fearless and have fun!

6 Soufflé or gratin dishes (4 oz)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 oz SarVecchio Parmesan, finely grated (1 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz Matos St. George, thinly sliced
White truffle oil

Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, bring milk and butter just to a boil, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat, when mixture is at a simmer add flour all at once. Keep on low heat and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a ball in the center of pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in SarVecchio Parmesan, salt, nutmeg and garlic. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until mixture is smooth. Transfer dough to pastry bag. If you do not have a pastry bag, use a large zip-loc bag with a 1/2 in hole cut.

Center oven rack and preheat to 375.

Working in batches, pipe 1/2-inch lengths of dough directly into a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water. Use a paring knife or kitchen scissors to cut off dough at tip. Cook gnocchi until they rise to surface, carefully transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. When all gnocchi are cooked and cooled, drain well in a colander.

Divide cream among individual dishes and arrange gnocchi in 1 layer over cream. Top with thinly shaved Matos St. George. I use a vegetable peeler; I’ve never been a fan of cheese planes. Place dishes in a shallow baking pan and bake until golden and bubbling, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn oven to broil the last 2 to 3 minutes to brown. 

Drizzle a dash of truffle oil over baked soufflés and serve immediately. Enjoy with sautéed collard greens and baked fish.

* Want to learn more about gnocchi, or soufflé, or how to even pronounce it? On Food and Cooking is a riveting source for any food lover. Fallen soufflé will rise again!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: The Vintage Edition

When a food or brand of watch gets a special designation like "deluxe," "reserve" or "a la mode," you know you're in for a super treat. The Granbury Gold Vintage is a cheese on another level. Dave and Matt Eagle age batches of Granbury for over six months to get to the Vintage's firmer texture and bolder flavor. With their high-quality milk and distinct methods, the Eagles have made Granbury into something unique and delicious: a smooth-textured cheese with the slightest Swiss-y funk, similar to a Raclette.

Similarly, the Pleasant Ridge Reserve Uplands is also an exceptional cheese. An Alpine-style cow's milk cheese from Wisconsin, this is an artisan American cheese that can hold its own against any European rival. In fact, it has twice been recognized as "Best in Show" by the American Cheese Society. Several big studios are looking to purchase the movie rights to the cheese.

Also on the tasting plate are Carmody, Tilston Point and Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert. As for booze, because we're super into that now, we highly recommend the La Maialina Gertrude Toscana. Lovingly referred to by Dairymaids everywhere as "the pig wine" due to its adorable label, it's a lively blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers to that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Marinated Goat Feta

It’s that time of year, when one cannot enter any retail Mecca without fighting the droves of crazed shoppers. Not to mention the feeling of guilt if you don’t put at least 38 cents in the Salvation Army Red Kettle. Why not make gift giving easy and something that will make your friends and family salivate? The dairymaids have got you covered! This marinated goat feta recipe makes a superb gift and is perfect to take to a holiday party.

1 500 ml Mason jar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz Pure Luck Goat Feta
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Make sure your jar is thoroughly cleaned. In the bottom of the jar, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Take one portion of feta, pat dry and cut into three cubes. Add feta, garlic, peppercorns, crushed red pepper and rosemary. Add olive oil to fill the jar, be certain all of the cheese is covered. Seal jar tightly. Keep refrigerated. Use within 2 weeks.

Serve with toasted Slow Dough baguette, olives and cured meats, all of which is available at the warehouse!

* Also try using coriander seed, different colored peppercorns, thyme or sun dried tomatoes. Really, whatever your cheese-loving heart desires.

* Extra-virgin olive oil will solidify when it is refrigerated. When ready to serve, set jar out at room temperature for 20 minutes or so: it will be servable and pleasing to the eye once again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Winter Pairings Edition

Even though the holidays don't have quite as much shine as they did when we were young, there are certain things about the holidays that we always look forward to: the smell of Houston air below 65 degrees and apple cider. We like the peak season Gala blend, and the alcoholic kind as well. 

Now that we are fully stocked on beer and wine, we just so happen to have bottles of Leprechaun cider on hand. The founder of the company is a 22-year old Houston native who began his business before he was even old enough to drink. If self-doubt about your life's accomplishments didn't just inspire you to stake a swig of something, perhaps the dry, subtley sweet apple flavor will. 

To go with this delightful winter beverage, we recommend Buttermilk Blue Affinee from Wisconsin. The cheesemakers at Roth Kase aged this rindless blue over six months to enhance its complexity and intensity. We'll also have Marieke Cumin Gouda, which is likewise from Wisconsin. Midwesterners know how to enjoy both their cheese and their winters so we're emulating them this week. 

If you've melted any sandwiches recently--wait, of course you have--then perhaps the smoked habanero Cheddar from Beehive will appeal to you. Less well-suited to melting, but a wonderful substitute for Pecorino, the San Andreas is a farmstead sheeps milk cheese from California that will also be in stock. 

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX