Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Nothing Can Change This Love Edition

One of our favorite things about living in Houston is seeing how much it's always growing and changing. The city's story is still being written and it could go any different way. Certainly the weather is unpredictable.

Cheese is capricious in it's own way too, developing a surprising pineapple undercurrent over here or a strong beefy punch over there. Eagle Mountain's Granbury Gold starts off with a Gouda recipe but has recently took an intriguing turn towards a mild raclette flavor and we like it.

We know, change can be unsettling. Comfort yourself with some cheese while we pour you some tea. Try this week's batch of Barely Buzzed, we know you like that. We'll also have Caveman Blue, Nancy's Camembert and Green's Creek Gruyere at the warehouse for your tasting pleasure. And there is always one thing you can be certain of: Cheese is delicious rain or shine.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Cheese Contains Multitudes

If there's anything adult life teaches us, it is that a person is not any one thing. A football player can be a poet and a Dairymaid can also be an amateur battle rapper. So it is with cheese. The Dunbarton from Roelli Cheese is a blue, but it's also a cheddar. The mild sharpness improves upon the cheddar's nuttiness and the earthiness tames the intensity of the blue. We debuted the cheese back in September and since then it has become one of our favorites.

Speaking of debuts, Stuart Veldhuizen's new cheese the Dublin Karst is also a bit of a hybrid. A cross between cheddar and Romano, it's made using Bosque Blue molds and has a pretty fluted exterior. Come visit us this Friday and Saturday to try some of its big, earthy bite for the first time.

We also have a new choice from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company called Kinderhook Creek, made with 100% East Fresian Ewe's milk and our usual selection of mayhaw jelly, pretzel buns and beer. Because like you, our warehouse also contains multitudes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

“Just Plain Good” Macaroni & Cheese

At last, the mother of all comfort foods makes an appearance on our blog: Macaroni and Cheese. There are restaurants, blogs, books and t-shirts devoted entirely to the celebrated dish. I even know of a pair of pet gerbils named after it, but I digress.

This recipe is a “sensible” three-cheese variety. It contains no heavy cream or eggs and only a modest amount of butter. I believe a good mac and cheese is unpretentious and simple, honest and reassuring. It should also cure insomnia.

2 cups large elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 cups low fat milk
* if needed, additional 1/4 cup milk for final cooking
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon Coleman’s mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 generous dash of nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup Sand Creek Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup SarVecchio Parmesan, shredded
1/2 cup Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used leftover Slow Dough ciabatta)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced

Quickly rinse macaroni in a colander and let drain. Combine milk, uncooked macaroni, salt, 1 tablespoon butter, mustard powder and nutmeg in a 4 quart pot. On medium heat, slowly bring milk/macaroni mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. You want to keep the macaroni from sticking together and allow the milk to come to a boil very slowly, so you have to babysit the stove. Once mixture comes to a simmer, turn heat to low. Continue to stir frequently, remember you’re babysitting. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until milk has fully absorbed. If macaroni is not done to your liking, add a little more milk and continue to cook. When milk has absorbed, stir in shredded cheeses, reserving a little for the top. Stir to combine evenly and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a sauce pan. Add rosemary and bread crumbs. Cook on medium until breadcrumbs are crispy. Once cooled, use your hand or the bottom of a glass to break crumbs into finer pieces.

Place macaroni and cheese in baking dish or individual soufflĂ© dishes. Top with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven to broil to brown for about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately. If you’re feeling gluttonous, garnish with fried chicken. Yes, I’m serious.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Cheese?

Pardon the extremely esoteric Spongebob Squarepants reference, but one of our cheeses this week really calls for it. You see, the Appalachian from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia has a natural molded rind and a supple paste. Modeled after Tomme de Savoie or Toma Piemontese, the flavor starts off mild then gets complex at the end. We swear we taste pineapple.

Come see for yourself this Friday and Saturday, during normal warehouse hours. We'll also have CKC Farm Baby Blue, a luxuriously creamy goat milk blue from Blanco, Texas and some Bellwether Pepato. The Pepato is an Italian-style sheep's milk cheese studded with peppercorns, which add a nice kick to cut the richness. [Insert Occupy Houston joke here.]

Acerbic political humor aside, we'll also have Bellwether Carmody for those of you who don't enjoy pepper, and Veldhuizen Paragon Reserve, an extra-aged take on the original. And if you haven't had a chance to try it yet, we also highly recommend the Taza Mexican chocolate, which comes in a bunch of intriguing flavors like guajillo and salt and pepper (my personal favorite). No pineapple flavor yet, but at this point that would just be redundant.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Cheese Lover’s Brunch Casserole

Post holiday depression? Need another reason to get family and friends together? Cheese, of course, is the cure-all remedy. For maximum indulgence: what better setting to enjoy cheese and good company than Sunday Brunch! I’m hard pressed to think of anything better than waking up late, enjoying copious amounts of breakfast foods and drinking champagne before noon.

This dish is easy and versatile, but above all, it is super rich! Melty layers of Carmody and Gruyere compliment the salty bacon and fresh herbs baked into the casserole. Accompany with mixed greens and toasted croissants with jam. Life is good!

1 lb bacon
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
8 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup Bellwether Carmody, grated
1 cup Greens Creek Gruyere, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
Unsalted butter
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook bacon on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Chop cooked bacon and set aside. (Can be made ahead)

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and herbs; stir for 1 minute. Add chopped bacon to pan, mix to combine and remove from heat.

Whisk eggs, half and half, whipping cream, cheese (reserving some to melt on top), and salt in large bowl to blend well. Combine egg mixture with the bacon mixture and pour into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese and parsley over top. Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This Week's Warehouse Tasting: Keep on Truckin' Edition

We're only a few days into 2012, but it turns out that it's pretty hard to maintain an optimistic, motivated outlook now that we're back to the same old workdays and coffeeshops have stopped serving peppermint hot chocolate. But we have to keep on truckin'. 

With that in mind, this week's cheese plate features Cowgirl Creamery's first firm cheese, Wagon Wheel. The cheese is made with organic milk and aged for two to three months. It's a versatile everyday cheese, but melting it really brings out the subtleties of flavor.

Also on the plate this week are two choices from Pt. Reyes. The Toma is a classic, Italian-style table cheese with a buttery flavor and subtle, grassy tang finish. The Pt. Reyes Blue is rindless, similar in format to Maytag, and both crumbly and creamy with gorgeous teal striping. 

We also have Hoja Santa and Harbison on deck and the usual breads from Slow Dough. If we're not truckin, at least we're cheesin'.

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX