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.

Cows in Repose on Veldhuizen Family Farm. Dublin, TX