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.

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX