Friday, November 16, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A Vegetable Without A Cheese Does Not Taste As Sweet

Who among us has planned a massive holiday meal (be it for Thanksgiving, Christmas or what have you), or merely considered what to bring to one we were invited to, without thinking, "Hmmm. We might need a vegetable side dish. You know, one without cheese." Then, just ended up preparing something with cheese.

Because as surely as you will be eating a turkey next week, you will also be presented with several dishes awash in, brimming with and capped off with dairy. As the saying goes, if you like a vegetable, then you should put a cheese on it. And of course, we have all the cheese you could possibly need or desire.

For your Southwestern sweet potato gratin, creamy squash casserole and plain ol' mac n' cheese, we're stocked up especially for Thanksgiving with Sarvecchio Parmesan, Dunbarton Blue, Bonne Bouche, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and Reading Raclette. We have Lucky Layla butter and Blue Heron cajeta for your coffee, ice cream and an extra kick to your pecan pie.

If you're like us and serve cheese as its own course, then you might be interested in our showstopper--the Rush Creek Reserve. Made only in the fall, it features the richer texture of hay-fed milk and the delicate ripeness of a soft, young cheese. It's spoonable, and wrapped in spruce bark, making it lovely for special occasions.

Store hours this weekend will be the same as usual: 10a.m.-6p.m. Saturday and Sunday. We'll also be sampling beer and wine, in the likely event you find yourself in need of that, too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Desert Island Cheeses

Alright, frankly, if we were stranded on a desert island, cheese would not make it into the top five things we wish we had with us. Aside from being calorically dense, it's not really suited for the situation, seeing that it generally doesn't pair well with coconut. We don't think saying that makes us any less dedicated  dairymaids.

However, in a figurative sense, we definitely have a cheese essentials list and it is in fact posted in our shop. We just updated it this week, and if you haven't tried what's on it--Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Dunbarton Blue and Tarentaise among others--you're definitely missing out. All of them are among the best of their type and generally loved by all, so we recommend having a few handy in the cheese drawer at all times. It's like a party life preserver or even a Wilson-like companion, if you're having one of those nights.

In addition to those cheeses, this weekend we're featuring Beehive's Smoked Habanero Cheddar, Pt. Reyes Toma and brandy-soaked Rogue River Blue. Come by, eat some cheese and ask us about our island survival skills. Haley can do like, 10 pushups (ask her to prove it!) and Elizabeth has probably saved several lives by the time you've finished reading this sentence.

Friday, October 26, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Trick or Cheese?

"Dairymaid store hours, spooky scary. Milk becoming cheese, cheese becoming lunch."-- Sung to the tune of Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.

If we hadn't experienced the making of cheese first hand, we would probably just assume that it was created through inexplicable supernatural phenomena. It's so incredible, how grass becomes something so fatty, creamy and delicious, surely some mysterious force must be at work. And so, we invite you to tour our haunted cheese mansion and eat something substantive before pigging out on Reese's Peanut Butter cups while watching Hocus Pocus.

This week, we're featuring one of our all-time favorites, the Smokey Blue from Rogue Creamery. Cold-smoked over Oregon hazelnut shells, the cheese ends up with a slightly caramel-y, campfire flavor that makes it so perfect for this time of year.

We're also carrying La Tur, which is a dense, creamy blend of cow, sheep and goat's milk. Runny and oozy around the perimeter, it's a decadent treat even for a cheese. Dunbarton Blue, Bellwether Pepato and Matos St. Jorge round out the tasting plate. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A Little of This, A Little of That

Did you guys know that Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta reunited to record a Christmas album? As in, this year, 2012? Check out the album cover. We're pretty sure given the angle at which they're holding those coffee cups, the beverages are just painted in.

As terrible as that album may be, we can't help but sigh a little nostalgic sigh. Remember when Sandy became a little trashy for Danny and Danny a little preppy for Sandy? Together, they were two very different yet very compatible flavors.

Just like in Pure Luck Dairy's June's Joy, where the crushed peppercorns studding the goat cheese is like Danny's leather jacket and the touch of honey is Sandy's sweet innocence (now sullied). Turns out, sullied cheese is delicious cheese. We'll have this Dairymaid favorite on our tasting plate this week along with Barely Buzzed, Pawlet and Rimrocker.

Cheese: You're the One that I Want. Ooh ooh ooh.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: The Black Sheep of the Family

There are plenty of cheese-lovers out there who still don't care much for blues. Some people can do all manner of funky, beefy, salty and tangy cheeses, but choose to skip the last tasting on our plate. We're not the type to be pushy about it--what is recreational diary consumption about if not freedom?--so we typically don't shout about it from the rooftops/our blog.

This week, though, we're featuring the exceptional Old Chatham Ewe's Blue, which is not only a blue, but also a sheep's milk cheese. Neither of those characteristics is a tour headliner, but neither was Van Gogh until it was too late. Sheep milk has been a part of other cultures around the world for some 12,000 years, but we still don't see it much here in America. Sheep are extremely hardy, but those kind of survival skills aren't really necessary in our climate, so sissy cows work just fine for us.

Of course, sheep's milk is richer in fat than cow's milk, so the acidic sweetness that comes with blue veining provides a wonderful balance to the luxurious creaminess. The Ewe's Blue is really one-of-a-kind and so we hope that this week you'll be encouraged to give it a try, even if you usually don't.

Also on the plate are the Marieke Gouda with cumin, Texas Gold Cheddar, Bonne Bouche and Appalachian.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: It's a Wonderful Life/Cheese

With all the mundane activities we busy ourselves with to get through the day--chores like changing in and out of pajamas, driving places and selecting throw pillows for the couch--it's easy to forget that every precious second of life is a wondrous mystery.

That is, unless you're DMX and you just discovered Google. In case you'd forgotten how freaking crazy the Internet is as an invention, let this video remind you. It takes the rapper close to an hour just to type in the three letters of his name and then his world is just completely rocked. We want to be rocked like this today. Rock us universe!

If you are similarly looking for a thrill, we think you should drop by the store this week. Cheese be crazy, y'all. It can go from grass to delicious dairy in four days. Sometimes we wish we could erase our memory so that we could taste a certain cheese for the first time all over again (same for watching Friday Night Lights). You have this power!

This week, we have the Pleasant Ridge Reserve Uplands, an Alpine-style cheese that has won Best in Show by the American Cheese Society twice, Crater Lake Blue and Sand Creek Gouda. The tasting plate is loaded up with smoked habanero Cheddar from Beehive and eating it reminds of us sitting near a campfire. Can you imagine! Thanks cheese, for reminding us of life's little miracles every single day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Leaning Tower of Cheese

Hoarding isn't funny, you guys. Seriously, there are very real and dangerous risks to having massive piles of debris teetering over however many cats have managed to wander into your home.Toes get smashed.

We don't let cats or any other animal wander into our shop, nor would we describe our delicious eats as debris, nor do we hoard, technically, but if you don't come help us devour the mounting wheels of cheese stacking up at 2201 Airline, a Dairymaid might get crushed. Elizabeth is extremely scrappy but Haley is short--who knows what could happen.

This week, we're featuring Pawlet from Vermont. This Italian-style cheese is made with raw Jersey milk and aged for 4-6 months for a creamy texture and a bright bite. It's versatile and has broad appeal, sort of like Gangnam style.

We will also be carrying a cheese called Chimney Rock, which sadly doesn't have any connections to the Houston road. It's made by Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco and it's one of their seasonal bries, covered in organic Pioppini and Shiitake mushrooms and black pepper.

Also on the plate: Veldhuizen Caraway Cheddar, Carmody and Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue. Save a Dairymaid today by eating your weight in cheese.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: We Buy Gold Cheddar

You won't read this on, but we believe that when the dollar fails, invest in cheese.

It can be used for barter, lasts an exceptionally long time (well, the harder cheeses) and is calorically dense, so it can effectively fuel you through worldwide fiat currency collapse. We feel this is a strong economic platform. We also support food truck ordinance changes.

As you stockpile this weekend, we have some exceptional product in store. The Jasper Hill Harbison, the bark-wrapped bloomy-rind cheese best eaten with a spoon, will be the first to go. We also have barrel-aged Mt. Vikos Greek feta, Red Rock cheddar and Pure Luck Dairy's Hopelessly Blue.

Forget the gold standard. It's all about the cheese standard.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: In With the Newfangled Edition

As folks around the world fall to their knees in awe over Apple's unveiling of the iPhone 5 and Nabisco's new Candy Corn Oreo, iPhone 4s and traditional chocolate cookies are retreating into the nursing home where aging, outdated technologies go.

Cheese, a very old human invention, might have been relegated to a rocking chair there once. But even pizza flavored goldfish and Cheez Whiz couldn't put baby in a corner, so to speak.

This week, like every week at the Dairymaids, is going out to the classics. We'll have Barely Buzzed, Shaker Blue, Bonne Bouche and Rimrocker on the tasting plate. The Arabella, a soft, raw milk cheese styled after the fragrant, buttery cheese of northern Italy, is a new option. Not as newfangled as churro-flavored cereal, but still.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A Tale of Hope Edition

Maybe you're working long hours at the office or you can no longer tolerate that Houston summer lower back sweat thing or maybe you're doing pretty good and enjoying an afternoon snack this very moment. Whatever your situation, a good success story never hurt anyone.

Not only is the Sarvecchio Parmesan a delicious cheese--the best domestic parmesan we've tasted--it has a mood-lifting back story. You see, it was a group of laid-off Kraft employees that decided to start a cheese-making co-op in Wisconsin after they lost their jobs. Their great work produced a crumbly yet firm cheese with a nuanced flavor that has since collected numerous awards.

Because this is America, Sarvecchio was eventually purchased by a larger cheese company but the product remains as good as ever. Also remaining the same are our store hours--10am-6pm Tuesday through Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. This week we'll also have Pure Luck's St. Maure, Little Boy Blue and the smoked Marieke Gouda. Come on by and make your cheese dreams come true. As the folks at Sarvecchio have proven, it is possible.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Yee-haw!

We are all about Texas here at the Houston Dairymaids, as you well know. We've even proclaimed our love with our version of the state song, "Cheese in the Heart of Texas." In light of this unbridled passion, we have four fantastic Texas cheeses on the plate this week.

First, there's the smooth Hoja Santa from the Mozzarella Co. in Dallas, which is a mild goat cheese wrapped in leaves of the cheese's namesake.  From Flower Mound, Texas,  the Latte Da Gouda showcases a crumbly hard goat cheese loaded with nutty goodness.

We also have two of my favorites for the more adventurous. St. David's Raclette, a new venture from the Eagle Mountain cheese makers, is delicious with its creamy, salty, and slightly pungent taste. Rounding out the Texas lineup is our famous Redneck Cheddar. Lovingly made with St. Arnold beer, this cheese has a delightful yeasty, malty flavor that nicely balances with the sharpness of the cheddar.

If you're lucky, you may even convince a Dairymaid to join you in an a capella rendition of our cheesy tune!

Photo credit: Eliza Kinkz on the occasion of her visit to Houston Dairymaids

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Aged to Maturity Edition

A Dairymaid had her 26th birthday this past weekend and no longer in her early 20s, you could say she aged to maturity--much like a fine cheese. As a human, she did most of her aging in apartments and houses in the suburbs, but the Red Rock cheddar from Wisconsin did its aging in a cave.

Along with being able to pay for his own car insurance and cook at least three different meals for himself, this cheese has developed a deep, rich orange-red color and slight blue veining close to the rind after 3-6 months. It's the younger sibling to Roelli's Dunbarton Blue and a bit softer and creamier.

Also on the cheese plate at the shop this week, you can expect subtle, buttery Landaff, CKC Farm Baby Caprino and Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert. All aged to perfection, naturally.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Amidst all the recent competitive swimming, the fact that the cheese Olympics were recently held in Raleigh may have gotten lost in all the Lochte-sanity. The American Cheese Society Conference & Competition took place a few weeks ago and our own Lindsey was a judge. She ate hundreds of types of cheese and may have even worn an official visor.

Never one to keep the fun to herself, this week's tasting plate is full of ACS winning cheeses. It's almost overwhelming how many accomplished dairy products we keep in one room. 

First, we will have the Vermont Coupole, a soft-ripened goat cheese with a dense and creamy paste and slightly sweet rind with a mild yeast flavor. The Coupole, in fact, won first place in its category and did not need to bite the gold medal to see if it was real. That move is so played out. 

The Blue Paradise is a mild double cream that placed 2nd in cow's milk blues thanks to its long, balanced finish. Also on the plate are regular Dairymaid favorites Marieke Gouda, Red Hawk and Teahive--all winners. But you already knew that, didn't you?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: New Faces Edition

As we sit in front of the computer with a plain iced tea no lemon no sugar, contemplating ordering the same fried noodles from our go-to Thai place, it occurs to us that maybe we should try something new. Something a little more exciting.

You see, there are always news things going on at the shop. Our latest addition is a new Dairymaid, Haley, and Kerrisa is *this close* to having a new baby. We have new treats from Brown Paper Chocolates. It's pretty much nonstop at 2201 Airline Drive.

So, inspired by the thrilling and unpredictable nature of the cheese industry, we're ordering red curry today. And if you want to join us in our risky endeavors, we say, you go on with your bad self! If you're normally a Pure Luck chevre fan, maybe this week try the Bonne Bouche. The hand-ladeled and ash-ripened goat cheese recently won first place in its category at the American Cheese Society Conference and we have it on the tasting plate this week.

If you normally don't like blue cheese, maybe this week try the Rogue Creamery Caveman. If you like Italian Pecorino, try the sheeps milk San Andreas we have from California. As the saying goes, "Why not?"

Monday, July 30, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Carpe Cheese-um

We don't spend a lot of time on the Dairymaid Diary contemplating the fleeting nature of time and our fugitive plans. We're just cheesemongers, after all. But seriously how is it already almost August and how have we only been to the pool once and bought a watermelon twice?

Summer will be over before you know it, "Call Me Maybe" will be a forgotten casualty of the past and your obsession with doing Michael Caine impressions after watching The Trip will burn out like a candle lit on both ends. 

Cheese is not there for you either! Pretty sure any time we've relied on food for emotional support it's actually disappeared faster. The seconds are ticking by as you read this. Quickly, bite into some cheese!

It's aging as we speak! Luckily, in the case of the California Crottin from Redwood Hill, that is a good thing. It gets firmer and the flavor intensifies, like diamonds. Maybe.

This week we'll also have Ewe's Blue from Old Chatham, Granbury Gold and Cowgirl Creamery's Pierce Point. The time is now. Carpe Cheese-um.

Monday, July 23, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A Little Something Extra Edition

We consider ourselves purists in relation to many things. We prefer our hot chocolate without marshmallows, our movies without the 3D glasses and our steak without the au poivre sauce. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. 

There are, of course, exceptions and as much as we love our Marike Gouda in its original form, it's such a delicious cheese and we eat it so often that sometimes we like the little something extra. We carry a cumin and extra-aged version but this week we're featuring the smoked variety. It's amazing a little bit melty on burgers or mixed into a mac n' cheese. 

Our cheddar from the Veldhuizens this week also has some extra flair in the form of caraway seeds. If you yourself are purist, then we recommend the Pawlet from Vermont. Raw Jersey milk is the basis for this Italian-style toma, which is aged four to six months. It's versatile with broad palate appeal. 

Other than that, our special non-cheese treat that we're sampling is the ever seductive Taza chocolate. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Video Made the Goat Cheese Star

We started carrying cheese from Latte Da Dairy not too long ago, but it was the hard-nosed investigative journalists at CBS that discovered the goat cheese maker back in March. You can watch their video report on vet-turned-cheesemaker Anne Jones and her little pack of loyal goats here. You can purchase some Latte Da Gouda at the shop this weekend.

We'll also be featuring Green Hill from Sweetgrass Dairy, Pt. Reyes Blue and Meadow Creek Grayson, which is reminiscent of an Italian Taleggio but beefier. The beefier the better, as we say at the Dairymaids. Except when you're talking Vinho Verde, which we will also be sampling this weekend and which is decidedly not beefy. We're not crazy. "Vinho verde," of course, translates to "green wine" in deference to its youth and the Arca Nova goes for only $9. July heat, $9 Portguese wine, tastes of fresh apple...stop us when we get close.

Monday, July 9, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: The Mini-Vacation Edition

This time of year, it's pretty normal for people to escape on exotic vacations to the south of France or Cozumel or Portland or wherever people with 10 days and no burdensome cats like to visit these days. Not all of us have been so lucky to go abroad yet this summer, but soldier on we must. Just like it's hard to eat chicken tenders without honey mustard sauce, but we handle it.

One thing we like to do to help with the vacation envy is suppress our wanderlust with cheeses from faraway lands. We pride ourselves on stocking amazing Texas cheeses, but there's nothing wrong with something oozy and Italian from time to time. (If you know of something else that qualifies as oozy and Italian but isn't cheese, just keep it to yourself.) Speaking of which, this week we'll have some La Tur from the great region of Piemonte. It's a dense, creamy blend of cow, sheep, and goat's milk that's runny around the perimeter with an earthy and lingering tang. We are expecting to run out of La Tur before the week is up, when we'll sub it for Cremont.

Also on the plate: Wagon Wheel, Cowgirl Creamery's first aged cheese, Dunbarton Blue and peppercorn-studded Bellwhether Pepato (Italian-style, but from Cali). 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: The New Cheese on the Block

We have a new Texas cheesemaker in the shop, so we hope you'll come make friends with the new kid. Straight out of Flower Mound, Texas, Latte Da Dairy is making aged goat cheeses that rock. Also, their goats are very cute. This week, we're featuring their version of the English-style Caerphilly. Originally made to replenish Welsh miners of their nutrients and salt, this goat's milk version maintains the original characteristics of Caerphilly. It is light colored and crumbly with a fresh, pleasing tang. 

We're also featuring our Whitewoods Farm jams and allow me to personally recommend combining the blueberry sage with a melted brie sandwich. It is the single best cheese sandwich I have ever laid hands on and these hands have touched a lot of cheese sandwiches. 

Of course, we'll also have Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Hopelessly Blue and Marieke Gouda if that's more your sandwich speed. To each his own cheese.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: The Conundrum Project

Drumroll, please! Like any other cheesemonger/human, we like to think that the Dairymaids are unique snowflakes (ssh, Fight Club fans). But this week in particular, we know we'll have something special going on that no one else in Houston will have.

It's another cheese from the Jasper Hill Conundrum Project, where they send out experimental rounds to retail shops and we tell them what we think. Last time we participated, we got a shipment of Harbison. This time, it's a washed rind version of their Moses Sleeper. The original cheese is a bloomy rind cows milk with a buttery, creamy paste. After its experimental bath, the flavor moves from savory to flat out beefy.

We'll only have a limited amount of this cheese, so come out early for a taste! The plate will also be loaded up with Teahive, Sofia and Tilston Point--all delicious, if less mysterious. We can't all be Jessica Rabbit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Savory French Toast with Chevre & Truffle Honey

If you have some bread that didn’t get gobbled up at your party last night, day old baguette is perfect for making French Toast. This savory take on the sweet classic is topped with fresh chevre and Tartuflanghe honey. No idea how to pronounce that, but this Acacia honey with white truffle is pretty special. See Charlotte for help with Italian if needed.

4 thick slices Slow Dough baguette
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
Kosher salt, a pinch or to taste
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
Lucky Layla butter
Pure Luck Plain Chevre
Tartuflanghe truffle honey

Beat the eggs, milk, salt and herbes de Provence in shallow bowl. Soak both sides of bread in egg mixture just long enough to soften. Over medium/low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan until foaming, but not browned. Cook the soaked bread on both sides until golden brown. Wipe pan clean and cook remaining slices, repeating steps above. Spread chevre on each slice and top with honey.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Beer cheese me, bartender

On the long list of things Dairymaids love, including cheese, beer, wine, fresh baked bread and irrelevant pop culture references, 2-in-1 treats ranks very high. Cheese + wine, wine + bread, wine + pop music YouTube videos and of course, beer + cheese, especially when the beer is in the cheese.

Here in Texas, we have the Veldhuizen’s Saint Arnold bathed Redneck Cheddar, which you are mostly likely familiar with if you’ve ever been to the shop. But this week we will also have an Oregon cheese called Pondhopper that utilizes Cascade hops from a local brewery. The dried flowers of the hop plant are usually used as a beer seasoning and the curds of cheese are also soaked in a mystery Oregon beer. The result is semi-firm and alternately sweet and salty.

Other cheeses on the plate this week include White Buck, Sarvecchio Parmesan and Grandbury Gold, which altogether are an entirely other combo-treat.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Smoked Scamorza & Green Chile Pesto Pizza

If you have sampled cheese with me, you may have noticed I like to talk about grilled pizza, a lot! I would like to share one of my absolute favorite recipes for your summer grilling pleasure.

Use Slow Dough’s handmade pizza crust for a lovely crunch that is perfectly thin. Pizza should never be over piled with toppings and should showcase the star ingredient; the cheese! This spicy pesto paired with Smoked Scamorza is rustic, simple and really, really good. Enjoy!

Slow Dough pizza crust
Terra Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 roasted green chilies, seeds removed and chopped
(or use 2 cans roasted green chilies)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
4 oz SarVecchio, about 1/2 cup coarsely grated
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 ball Smoked Scamorza, sliced
Grilled chicken (optional)

* Yields enough pesto for 4 pizzas

Prepare grill. Roast whole green chilies over open flame until skin is black. Remove from grill and place in a sealed plastic bag to make the chilies sweat. If adding grilled chicken, prepare now and set aside for pizza. Once chilies are cool to touch, scrape off blacked part of the skin, remove seeds and chop. Place the chilies, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and SarVecchio in a food processor. Add spices to taste. While processing, slowly add about 1/2 cup olive oil until you achieve a pesto consistency.

Brush pizza crust with olive oil on both sides. With grill at medium heat (about 350) grill both sides of crust before adding toppings just until slightly golden. Remove from grill, spread on pesto in a thin even layer and add slices of Scamorza and chicken. Grilled until cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Rock of Cheeses

Working in cheese, you're exposed to a lot of interesting sensory experiences, the very honest descriptors used to identify them and some hilariously apt names. I've had my lips turn red and burn from a reaction to a cheese. "Barnyard-y" is a word thrown around a lot to describe a certain cheese odor. And bless the Veldhuizens for naming their beer-bathed cheese Redneck Cheddar.

But it wasn't until I heard about this Oregon semi-hard round named Rimrocker that the cheese world really came together for me. It's aged in a cave for 3-6 months. On the Tumalo Cheese website, it is photographed next to some rocks. It is tangy, made with both cow and goat milk and it is not messing around.

Come get your share this week at the Dairymaid shop, along with Smokey Blue, Birdville Reserve and Pure Luck feta.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Easy & Cheesy Brown Rice Risotto

Making Risotto is a rite of passage for any cook, whether you’re a seasoned professional or hobbyist food lover. There are countless variations, most involve cheese and all require time. Thankfully, we found a short cut to allow for half of all the ladling and stirring.

Using instant or quick cooking brown rice makes the delicate process of making a creamy Risotto much faster. To pair with the healthy bite brown rice has, I went with Pancetta and Peas. The Dairymaids’ cooler is stocked with Pancetta from La Quercia in Iowa. One would never guess it’s domestically produced. Sharpshooter and SarVecchio are stirred in to complete this hearty dish.

Other suggested additions: asparagus, prosciutto, shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, seasonal squash, cheese, cheese and more cheese

* Serves 4

Terra Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 package La Quercia Pancetta
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups instant brown rice
2/3 cup white wine
4 cups warm chicken broth
6 oz SarVecchio, about 1/2 cup grated, plus extra for garnish
6 oz Sharpshooter Cheddar, about 1/2 cup grated
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed at room temp
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Chop pancetta to desired size and cook until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked pancetta from pot and strain on a plate lined with a paper towel, set aside. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of oil rendered from cooking the pancetta. You want the flavor from the browned bits, so use the same pot. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic and brown rice. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant. Pour in the wine and let absorb.

In a separate pot, heat chicken broth to maintain a warm temperature (not boiling). Add warm broth to rice one ladleful at a time and stir frequently. When broth is almost completely absorbed add the next
ladleful. Repeat until the rice is cooked to desired doneness. You will use about 4 cups of broth, the process takes about 30 minutes over medium heat. When the rice is nearly done add one last ladleful of broth, peas, cooked pancetta and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and shaved SarVecchio. Serve with a simple arugula salad or roasted salmon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Lookin' Sharp edition

You know what is a totally acceptable mode of expression? Finger guns. I can think of at least two Dairymaids off the top of my head (and that's out of like, five total Dairymaids not counting Dairyman Raymundo) who would give you a fingergun. Their names rhyme with Farlotte and Shicole. Elizabeth would absolutely not give you a fingergun and Kerrisa is a solid maybe.

What I'm getting at here, is that this week we'll have Veldhuizen Sharpshooter cheddar on the tasting plate. It is actually Texas Gold cheddar that has been aged for over 20 months to give it a sharper flavor and more crumbly, crunchy texture. It is on point! See what I did there?

We'll also have my favorite brie-style cheese ever, the Green Hill from Sweetgrass Dairy. It's creamy and rich, but has more complex flavors than just that. The milk comes from pasture-fed cows in Georgia and I'm wondering what the mosquito situation is out there because I could do with escaping ours and that sounds pretty relaxing right about now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Memorial Day edition

You know when it's a Sunday night and you're getting ready for work the next day, packing your lunch and feeling melancholy and then you realize that you actually have Monday off because it's Memorial Day? Three-day weekend, baby. Oh yeeeeah.

To celebrate America's greatest gift to the working man after Donut Tuesdays, we'll have a limited number of Harbisons from Jasper Hill. It's a special occasion cheese, wrapped in bark that makes the spoonable paste woodsy, herbal and sweet. It's like natural fondue.

We'll also have Old Kentucky Tomme, made of goat milk at Capriole Dairy. It bears some relation to a Tomme du Savoie with its natural-mold rind and earthy, mushroomy flavor. The tasting plate will also be loaded up with Barely Buzzed, Cremont and Bosque Blue.

Rhubarb & Apricot Compote with Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche

Spotting rhubarb at the grocer or farmers market is kind of like when you come across a drive through liquor store; it just puts a smile on your face and warms your heart. The Dairymaids certainly have a soft spot for the summer fruit harvest (and convenient libations). 

This simple compote is just the right amount of sweet and tart. It is divine with a dollop of Bellwether Farms créme fraîche or mixed into their sheeps milk yogurt.

Lucky Layla Butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 orange, zest and juice
6 apricots, pitted and quartered
2 stalks rhubarb, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

5 oz Bellwether Farms Créme Fraîche
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400. Butter a glass casserole dish; add brown sugar and orange zest directly into dish. Add apricots and rhubarb and mix to coat fruit in sugar. Squeeze juice from half of the orange over fruit and dot with 1 – 2 tablespoons of butter. Roast until fruit is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes, basting with syrup in dish half way. Allow to cool and transfer to a jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Slice vanilla bean open lengthwise and use a spoon or butter knife to scrape the pulp out, discard the outer pod. With a hand mixer or whisk, mix crème fraîche, honey, and vanilla pulp in small bowl. Spoon vanilla bean crème fraîche over compote and serve.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cheesy Grilled Polenta with Summer Ragout

Grilling season is upon us. A typical backyard grill may see 1 or 2 different types of animal at one time (my record is 4) or perhaps several forms of pork simultaneously. There is certainly nothing wrong with this picture, but don’t be afraid to go beyond the burger. Grilled polenta is a great way to keep the fare light for summer time. Not to mention, it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy some Redneck Cheddar and a cold beer!

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
4 oz Redneck Cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Vegetable oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 pinch salt, or to taste
1 pinch ground cumin, or to taste
1 pinch chile powder, or to taste
1 can roasted green chilies, drained
1 zucchini, sliced
1 can stewed whole tomatoes in sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz Pure Luck Chevre

* Yields 4 servings

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot. Add garlic, red pepper, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the cumin, vegetable stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly add the cornmeal, while whisking constantly. Cook over low heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and stir in the cheddar. Pour into a greased glass pan (about 9x13), smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm and cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Prepare grill by bringing to high heat and oil the grates very well with vegetable oil. Cut the chilled polenta into squares or triangles. Place polenta on grill and cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side.

For Ragout: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in medium pot, add onion and bell pepper. Season veggies with salt, cumin and chile powder and cook until tender. Slice zucchini in 1/4 inch circles and add to pot, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add green chilies and tomatoes. Squeeze whole tomatoes by hand if desired. Lastly add black beans and allow to cook for 10 – 15 minutes to combine flavors. Serve on top of grilled polenta and garnish with crumbled chevre.

Monday, May 14, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: And You Thought You Loved Cheese

Today is the one-year anniversary of Nicole, aka the Queso Queen, joining the Dairymaids. She for real loves cheese. Seriously, she has a full-time job as an Internet wizard and she still comes in every weekend to be around cheese. She also had a burger named after her--nacho inspired, naturally. So we thought it was important to say, what can we give you in return? We dedicate this little number to you, Nicole:

And as any true cheese lover would have it, down to the business of dairy. This week, we'll be featuring an all-time favorite, the Saint Arnold-bathed Redneck Cheddar. Our other Texas cheese will be the Granbury Gold, which starts from a Gouda recipe but has lately tasted more like a mild Raclette.

Also on the plate is the Bonne Bouche, a truly gorgeous goat cheese with the decorative ash layer. We'll also have the sheep's milk Little Boy Blue and Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Come get some from your local Queso Queen today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blue Cheese Oatmeal Cookies

If you're reading this blog we don’t need to tell you that mommies love cheese and cookies. In the name of Mother’s Day and the endless pursuit of savory and sweet, I decided to combine the two, why not? Creative and industrious is how moms roll. 

I thought about how I like to enjoy a good blue. Mostly, I like ‘em creamy, with fruit and honey. This drool inducing idea combined with midnight baking and ka-blamo, blue cheese cookies were born! Please share these with mom.  

1/2 cup softened Lucky Layla butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup golden raisons
1/2 cup dried, wild blueberries
Canola oil, to grease cookie sheet

* Yields 3 dozen

Preheat oven to 375. Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until smooth then beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture into butter mixture and combine well. Stir in raisons, blueberries and cheese. Bake tablespoon size balls on a greased cookie sheet for 9 – 10 minutes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Yo Momma's Cheese

A certain mom that I know never, ever indulges herself. She cuts coupons every week and sends me home with at least 10 for different brands of cat food. She doesn't like sweets (if she gets a piece of candy or cookie from someone, she leaves it out for me) and has never gotten a manicure. My mom does like Marieke Gouda and Slow Dough baguettes, though, so I'm planning on setting her up with some cheese and a bubble bath come Mother's Day this Sunday. Eating cheese in a bubble bath is something I totally do, probably because I'm not a mother. So Mom, here is a day in the life of your daughter as a thank you for raising me.

This week we'll have the St. Pat from Cowgirl Creamery, which is not only a decadent double-cream, it's also coated in artichoke-y nettles that make it a really beautiful cheese to look at. If your momma is a daring adventurous type, we have two blue cheeses including Crater Lake--sharp, sweet and buttery--and Dunbarton Blue, a cheddar with blue veining.

In addition to cheese, we have a chocolates and wine. Pink wine. Oh, yeah.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lemon Zest Pasta with Pesto & Chevre

The latest addition to the Dairymaid inventory is homemade Tavola pasta. These Houston artisans are doing it right: fresh and local. We have a variety of flavors available, such as Chipotle, Spinach & Garlic, Beet and Lemon Zest, all of which pair brilliantly with Pure Luck chevre.

When it comes to pesto, I pretty much use anything green in my garden/fridge. This recipe happened on accident and has since been termed “magic green sauce”. Toss the Lemon Zest pasta in this stuff, garnish with chevre and you can do no wrong.

1 package Lemon Zest Tavola pasta
6 oz Pure Luck chevre, crumbled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 anchovies
8 cornichons, coarsely chopped
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 large handful of cilantro, leaves picked
2 bunches of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 large handfuls of baby arugula
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
8 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon Zest (optional)
Roasted chicken, pulled (optional)

In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind together the garlic, anchovies, cornichons, herbs and arugula. As you're grinding/processing, add the mustard and vinegar, then slowly add the olive oil until you achieve a pesto consistency. Add salt, pepper and more vinegar as needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and cook pasta for 3 – 5 minutes until al dente. Strain and toss in pesto. Garnish with Pure Luck chevre. You can also top with roasted chicken and fresh lemon zest if desired.

This Week's Tasting Plate: April, May, June's Joy edition

One of our favorite spring-summer cheeses is the June's Joy from Pure Luck Dairy. Creamy chevre gets blended with Texas honey, thyme and smoked peppercorns for a slightly sweet, herby spread that's delicious on bagels in the morning. It's also delicious on picnics and with pink wine (which we stock!). We're just saying, it's spring and we kind of know what we're doing.

This week we also have Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert, a sheep and cow milk cheese, and Veldhuizen Paragon Reserve. It's the extra-aged version of the usual Paragon and it is rich and a little bit nutty (like Tom Cruise!).

Between spring and Tom Cruise, there is probably something at the shop this week that appeals to you. That's seriously how we manage our inventory. Always thinking of you, friends.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the milk's been churning. And it just so happened to smoke a little nearby Marike Gouda, which we will have in the store this week and in Elizabeth's words, you're going to "freak out" about it. The plain, extra-aged and cumin variety are already fan favorites so be prepared to get your freak on. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Another cheese we don't see as often as we'd like is the Pure Luck Del Cielo. This pretty, Camembert-style goat cheese round always sells out fast so beat your Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser aand Prokofievto the stash. And to round out your week's grocery list, we'll also have some double-cream Cremont, Green's Creek Gruyere and Caveman Blue from Oregon. Til next week, Billy Joel fans.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A lot of good reasons for cheese

As I was pondering what to write about this week, a few different possibilities came to mind. The arrival of spring, the Tupac hologram and 4/20 were all in the mix and probably all of equal relevance to cheese and interest to you. Then I remembered that it's Earth Day on Saturday. So now you have the munchies and a charitable donation motivating you to come by.

The Dairymaids are participating in the Give 5% program, where 5% of our sales on Saturday will go to conservation groups in Houston. To lure you in for cheeses for trees, we brought in the new Asher Blue from Sweetgrass Dairy. It's a beautiful raw cow's milk round with a natural rind and an earthy, salty flavor.

We also have Cow Girl Creamery's first aged cheese, Wagon Wheel, which is a great melter and might remind you of an Asiago or Fontina. You will probably recognize Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and Sottocenere, our decadent Italian truffle cheese, which will also be on the plate. We'll have the cheeses all week, even if you don't make it Saturday, but remember, a lover of great cheese is also a lover of planet Earth.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Eat Some Cheese and Help the Trees

Green grass and clean water makes for healthy cows, which makes for good cheese. Good cheese makes for happy Dairymaids (the clean water doesn't hurt either). So we owe the environment a lot for what it gives to us and we're celebrating planet Thanksgiving on Saturday, April 21 by participating in the Earth Day Give 5% program.

Whatever we make on Saturday, we'll give 5% to five conservation non-profits including the Bayou Land Conservancy, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Galveston Bay Foundation, Houston Audubon and Katy Prairie Conservancy.

If you're saving up or stocking up, be sure to come by on the 21st and help these great organizations that work hard to help the environment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mango Caprese

The nice folks at the Mozzarella Co. make fresh mozz like you never tasted. This week we are featuring Scamorza on the tasting plate, but I went with it's non-smoked, conservative cousin. The mild mozzarella brings out the creaminess in a perfectly ripe mango. This salad is surprising; flavors are balanced, but still interesting. So good! 

1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced 
1 mango, peeled and sliced
Cilantro leaves (about 10 - 12 leaves or to taste) 
Arugula (about 2 handfuls) 
Extra virgin olive oil
Aged balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste

* Serves 2

Slice mozzarella ball into 5 or 6 1/2 inch slices. Overlap arugula, mangoes, slices of mozzarella, and cilantro leaves on one large serving plate or 2 individual plates. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Where There's Smoke Edition

It’s around this time of year that Houston air starts to smell more like pool chlorine and barbecue smoke. Yes, it’s almost summer and our noses always perk up to the scent of grilling steaks and burgers. Along those lines, this week we’re featuring our scamorza from the Mozzarella Company in Dallas.
Smoked over native pecan wood, scamorza is similar to a firm mozzarella. For smoking, it’s dipped in wax and suspended by a string as per Italian tradition. (That makes it look like a snowman, which is not very seasonable, but life is full of inconsistencies.) This one in particular has a great melting texture and is delicious sliced over a hot burger.
We’ll also have Bosque Blue on hand, which you could also crumble atop a burger (you dog!) and the Marieke Gouda, similarly excellent on sandwiches or slightly melty.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Deviled Eggs with Chevre & Cucumber Caviar

Houston has only a few short months of  “California-ish” weather. Now is the ideal time for bike rides and picnics. No picnic would be complete without cheese, wine and deviled eggs.

This is a classic recipe for deviled eggs that has been verbally shared in my family since the 1950’s. The addition of fresh chevre and cucumber caviar is my dairymaid touch. Happy Sunday and enjoy!

5 eggs
1/2 of one portion of plain Pure Luck Chevre (about 4 oz)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 – 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chives, finely sliced
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 – 3 cornichon pickles, very finely chopped
Pinch smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste

For garnish:
2 tablespoons cucumber caviar
Fresh dill

* Yields 10 deviled eggs
* Cornichon pickles available at the warehouse

Set eggs out at room temperature for 10 minutes (this makes them easier to peel). Place eggs in a small pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 12 minutes. Drain hot water, run cool water over eggs, and peel while still warm. Slice in half lengthwise; reserving yolks in a mixing bowl and whites on a serving platter.

Add the remaining ingredients to mixing bowl and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip; pipe the mixture into the cavity of each egg white. For cucumber caviar: peel the skin from a cucumber. Using the meaty part of the fruit without seeds, cut a thin piece that is 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick. Slice into matchsticks and then in 1/8 – 1/4 inch squares. Before serving, spoon a little caviar on top of each egg and garnish with fresh dill.

Monday, April 2, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: A Star is Born Edition

Raise your hand if you consider Beyonce our true Texas star. Now raise your hand if you you think it's Gary Busey. That probably covers the spread on Dairymaids readers, but you are all wrong. It's Woody Harrelson. Just kidding, it's a new cheese from the Veldhuizens called Texas Star. It tastes similar to a cheddar and has a creamy texture that coats the tongue like a custard. Its rich yellow color speaks to the cows' healthy grass diet.

We'll be showing off the Texas Star for the first time this week, as well as another cheese from Rogue Creamery called Crater Lake Blue.  It's the dairy's most robust blue, sharp and sweet with a rich buttery finish. The contemporary blend of blue molds from around the world make for a cheese that tastes like a blend of Roquefort and Danish Blue.

The store will also be fully loaded on Nancy's Camembert, San Andreas and Reading Raclette. Here's to cheese stardom.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chocolate Chili

Vegan Dairymaid is right next door to jumbo shrimp and girly man, but we are equal opportunists, so this recipe is for our vegan friends (omitting the cheese garnish). Apart
from cheese, we have a hand picked selection of specialty foods such as pickles, olives, nuts and jellies, just to name a few. A new Dairymaid favorite is the Taza Chocolate.

When a customer at a tasting mentioned that she put chocolate in her chili, my eyes lit up. You may be thinking chocolate chili is another oxymoron, but the addition of dark chocolate adds unexpected flavor and depth to any spicy dish. Get in one more batch of hearty chili before summer is here! Garnish with the Veldhuizen’s best seller, Texas Gold (it’s optional, kind of).

* Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (or to taste, 1 tablespoon will make it hot!)
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds, fresh ground
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can whole tomatoes
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
1 disc (about 1 oz) Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano, grated
3 (15.5 oz) cans beans, drained (I used kidney, black and pinto)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1/2 cup strong coffee
4 oz Texas Gold Cheddar, shredded

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in spices. Hand crush whole tomatoes and add to the pot with chipotles and chocolate, stir until well blended. Add beans, coffee and desired amount of vegetable broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes. Add a little more liquid if chili becomes too thick. Garnish with Texas Gold.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Monks Know How To Do It Right

The best Nic Cage movie of all time is absolutely, 100%, no comparison at all, Moonstruck, which in no way explains why we went to see Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance but we did and we don't want to talk about it except to say that there are monks in it and they have an exceptional wine collection.

What is up with monks living the sweet life? Between making beer and cheese and collecting wine, life doesn't seem nearly as ascetic as those burlap outfits would make you think. This week at the store, we have a fresh batch of Birdville Reserve, a small Trappist-style round that is washed in a brine solution as it ages. Of course, it's not actually made by Trappist monks. It's made in Granbury, Texas at Eagle Mountain Cheese. But it is inspired by the delicious flavor and creamy texture of monk cheese and carried out with Jersey cow milk.

While we're living the luxurious life, we might as well enjoy a full-blown triple cream in the Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery. We keep this one around often, but its elegant butteriness is incomparable. We'll also have Pt. Reyes Blue and the cumin version of Marieke Gouda on the tasting plate. As Nic would say, "I lost my hand! I lost my bride!" Now, let's get this man some cheese.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ricotta Sformata

The Dairymaids don’t always have fresh Ricotta in stock. If you are a soft cheese lover, this is a must try! Bellwether’s ricotta, both sheep and cow’s milk, is delicately made in Italian baskets.  Trust me when I say, you can taste the love.

With this beautiful cheese, I wanted to recreate the ricotta sformato. Traditionally, it is molded in a ring and is commonplace in Florence. This version is airy, decadent and very appropriately cheesy! It’s a warm, gentle mass of simplicity.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 oz SarVecchio, grated
1 egg
5 oz cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in thirds   
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (no stems)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

* Serves 6

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon butter. Add whole cherry tomatoes, garlic and asparagus; top with about 1 tablespoon of SarVecchio, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Bake 15 minutes, until tomatoes are hot and split open. Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool.

Keep oven at 400. You can use a casserole or pie dish. If you’re serving them turned out, use a muffin pan (yields 6). Grease the sides and bottom of your baking dish with remaining butter. Mix the ricotta, 1/2 cup grated SarVecchio, egg, 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper with a hand mixer until smooth. If using a muffin pan, add one layer of the vegetables to the bottom of each, then top with ricotta filling. If using a baking dish, spread the ricotta filling in the dish, then arrange the vegetables on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with a simple arugula salad or alone for an appetizer or savory dessert.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Eating Cheese Every Single Day Edition

Europeans live such luxurious lives, with their attractive accents, Belgian chocolates and Swiss watches. The Italians, in particular, have their table wine and table cheese always at hand because you just never know when you might want a fine, gourmet snack. 

One of our cheeses this week, the Carmody from Bellwether Farms, is modeled these versatile Italian cheeses. It's a smooth round made with extra rich Jersey milk that offers a sweet cream flavor. It's definitely deserving of the instatement a new American tradition: Cheese every day, all day. (Excess would be our cultural contribution.)

To go with the Carmody, we also have Truffle Tremor from Cypress Grove, a soft-ripened goat milk tomme with flecks of black truffle mixed in to give it earthy complexity. That's some Grade A California luxury right there. Tarentaise, Bayley Hazen Blue and Green Hill round out the plate. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Teahive Squares

Maybe it’s the gorgeous spring weather or my ambivalence towards St. Patrick’s Day that compelled me to make something sweet. This treat is a hybrid of a classic sugar cookie and a blondie bar, but the marmalade glaze and melted teahive cheddar make it an adulterated sweet. If you are feeling the luck of the Irish, one could top with a touch of green sugar. Who would pinch a person with baked goods?

2 sticks butter
1/2 white sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping teaspoon orange zest
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup orange marmalade
6 oz Teahive, shredded

Preheat oven to 350. In a stand mixer, beat butter with white sugar and confectioners sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl then stir into the butter mixture to form dough.

Spread the dough out in a 9x12 glass baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the marmalade evenly to “glaze” the squares. Sprinkle with shredded teahive and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares. Garnish with an additional thin shaving of teahive.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Week's Tasting Plate: Let the Games Begin Edition

So. Have any of you been reading the Hunger Games? Chances are someone in your life is trying to persuade you to, if you haven't already. Start the revolution, Katniss!

The reason I'm bringing up a young adult novel about a state-sanctioned, life-or-death battle arena is that when the main character isn't fighting starvation, one thing that she does occasionally get to eat is goat cheese. A little round of goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves appears in the very first pages. It's not important to the story, but being frequent cheese eaters, it stuck out to us, especially when paired with crusty, freshly baked bread.

So in case you're just hunkering down to read the Hunger Games, or absolutely do not care and will stick to Blood, Bones & Butter (thank you VERY much), we do have some goat cheeses in store for your snacking needs. We're stocked up on Pure Luck chevre and goat feta and this week we'll have a stash of Cremont, a soft double cream made from a mix of goat and cow milk. The small, 5oz round is smooth and tastes of crème fraiche with yeasty, nutty notes.

We'll also have some hearty Dunbarton Blue, a Wisconsin cheddar with light blue veining, to fight the hunger and some Teahive, a creamy, mild cheddar rubbed with black tea and bergamot oil.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: The Choice Morsel Edition

Along with looking good in orange, Dairymaids have to know a few things about French. ("Elizabeth, how do you pronounce Vacherin? Wait, what? No, no. What?") We're pretty sophisticated, what can I say. This little hand labeled and ash-ripened goat cheese from Vermont is called Bonne Bouche, which means "choice morsel" or something supremely delicious. Delicious it is, a bit mild but with a bite of acidity.

Speaking of choice cheeses, we'll also have the rather hard to come by Harbison at the warehouse this week. It's the bark-wrapped bloomy rind cheese that we usually eat with a spoon. Not to be confused with Rush Creek Reserve, which is goopier and beefier, the Harbison is woodsier and a little smokey.

We also have Sand Creek Brick, Tilston Point and Mountaineer in stock. Don't forget that we'll be open all week, Tuesday through Sunday. Come by and see us!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Savory SarVecchio Tarts

You don’t have to be a trained pasty chef or a worldly traveler to experience a savory tart emerging from the oven, fluffy and fragrant with caramelized onions, herbs and the buttery smell of SarVecchio.

This simple variation on a French classic is especially easy when you opt for the store bought pastry short cut. With a sprinkling of briny olives, these tarts are tangy and meaty with a buttery finish. For obvious reasons, the anchovies are optional.

They are also great the next morning, warmed with a fried egg on top (although the French would bitterly disagree with this).

* Serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 pinch dried thyme
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 oz SarVecchio
1/4 cup Mixed Country Olives, pitted and chopped
2 or 3 anchovy fillets (optional), rinsed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground


Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter with oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme, and cook until onions are golden and soft, about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry, and trim if needed. I made a 6x6 square. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, transfer to oven, and immediately reduce oven to 400. Bake until pastry begins to rise, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven promptly to add toppings.

Brush pastry with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange onions in a single layer over pastry, leaving a border around edge. Generously grate SarVecchio over onions. Top with olives (and anchovies if using). Reduce oven to 375 and bake for 15 minutes until puffed and golden. Cut into squares and serve.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: New Store Hours Edition

March 1, 2012 will go down in history as the day the Dairymaids expanded their warehouse hours, thus liberating hungry people from the confines of their cheese-less lives. If "history" were "Elizabeth's diary," anyway. From now on, we'll be hosting our regular cheese tastings every Tuesday through Friday from 10am-6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-4pm. Mondays we will rest and eat salads. 

You'll also notice that the shop is newly outfitted with the beautiful wine rack pictured above. We had it made for us here in the Heights and it has also conveniently made space in the cooler for more beer. 

Now that things are bigger and better, we have a few very "big" cheeses in store this week. The first is the Smokey Blue from Rogue Creamery, a raw milk blue that has been lightly smoked over Oregon hazelnut shells. The second is the Red Hawk, a washed rind from Cowgirl Creamy in San Francisco. Also on the plate is the Pondhopper, an aged goat cheese from Tumelo Farms that has been washed in Oregon beer, Veldhuizen Caraway Cheddar and the ever delicious brie-style Green Hill from Sweet Grass Diary.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grilled Cheese Duo with Seasonal Soup

Nothing beats a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich dipped in a delicious soup on a chilly day. Since I’m not in the soup or bread making business, I went with the store bought variety. Wholefoods’ Rustic Italian is awesome for grilled cheese. Inspired by Go Texan Day, I came up with the genius notion of grilled cheese on corn bread with candied jalapeños. These flavors paired great with ginger carrot soup.

As you know, the Dairymaids are often contemplating their next mind boggling grilled cheese creation. Please take the liberty to come by the warehouse for your ingredients and come up with your own melted masterpiece! We would love to hear about your grilled cheese ideas. Submit below.

* Modify to serve as many as needed

Unsalted sweet cream butter
Fresh Italian sandwich bread
Fresh sweet corn bread
Vine ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Candied jalapeño
Green’s Creek Gruyere
Texas Gold Cheddar
Sand Creek Gouda
Cashew Ginger Carrot Soup

Cut two slices of cornbread. Generously butter one side of each slice of both breads. Using a cheese cutter or plane, thinly slice each of your cheeses, enough for each cheese to make one layer on the bread. On the Italian bread, layer the Gruyere, Gouda and tomatoes. Salt and pepper the tomatoes. On the cornbread, layer the cheddar and jalapeños.

Toast sandwiches, butter side down on a griddle over medium heat until golden and cheese is melted. Serve with soup of your choice.

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX