So you love sharp cheddar and you'll blindly fork over $10 for a wedge of oozy brie — but what do you really know about this beloved dairy product? While cheese can be a complicated subject, one simple way to understand the colossal food category is to learn the eight basic styles of cheese and each style's general characteristics — an important lesson we learned from cheese expert Laura Werlin. Read on to buy cheeses with confidence: by the time you're finished, we promise you'll know your semihard cheeses from their soft-ripened counterparts.
Despite being a food writer, there are times when I can't possibly bring myself to cook yet I desire a rich, robust meal. That's when I turn to a good, hardy block of cheese (like the Point Reyes Toma, pictured) and a fresh sourdough baguette from The Acme Bread Company. If I'm being completely honest, I'd probably even request cheese and a baguette as my last meal or stranded-on-a-desert-island option. Most will eat it as an appetizer, but I encourage you to make a meal out of it. Read on to see how you can do so.
Cheese expert Laura Werlin, author of Mac & Cheese, Please! ($17), taught two jam-packed seminars (who can say no to the American staple?) during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The queen of cheese knows a thing or two about the best cheeses to use for homemade macaroni and cheese, as well as lighter variations to make during the heat of Summer.
Love the creamy taste of fresh burrata cheese but hate the costly price tag that comes with it? Then follow along as Brandon Boudet, executive chef and co-owner of Dominick's Restaurant, demonstrates how to make the Italian cheese yourself. It's simpler than you think! Watch the video, and then get the burrata recipe.
"Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro knows a thing or two about great cheeses. In particular, the Food Network star, who's partnered with Cracker Barrel Cheese, has a soft spot for cheddar, specifically domestic varieties. "We're turning out great cheese and beating a lot of imported cheeses," he said. "Go America, right?"
Since we're always on the hunt for affordable cheese plate ideas, a punchy sandwich, or great pairing ideas, we asked Jeff to share his cheese expertise. Here are his thoughts on all things cheddar.
- Showcase cheddar on a cheese plate: "Use a good, affordable cheese as the bulk, then indulge in the more expensive imported cheeses," Jeff advises. Cracker Barrel's version is just under $4.
- Splurge on a domestic aged cheddar: Jeff loves old cheddars, which are strong and slightly crunchy from salt and aged enzymes. "I have gotten an 18-year-old cheddar [from an Amish village] that cost me $24 for a small block. It is so indulgent."
If you're hankering for cheese, but are living the dairy-free life, we have a recipe for you to try: cashew cheese. This tasty soft "cheese" is great for spreading on crackers, adding to sandwiches, or topping off nachos. In this video, The Healthy Voyager, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, shows you just how easy it is to make. Watch, learn, and then whip up a batch on your own.
Similar in style to a classic brie or camembert, but milder than its cousins, Fromager d' Affinois ($18 per pound) is a crowd-pleaser and perfect starter cheese for even the most aggressive brie denouncers. Made in France from cow's milk, this wedge is buttery, velvety, rich, and milky-sweet — almost reminiscent of unsweetened whipped or clotted cream.
Keep reading to learn more about why we love Fromager d'Affinois.
When the term "cheeseburger" is uttered, orange cheese, American or cheddar, probably comes to mind; that's what, after all, is found in every fast-food joint across the nation. But if you're making a cheeseburger at home, why not think outside the box and melt on a different kind of cheese? Here are some unexpected suggestions:
- Pimento cheese: Spread a liberal tablespoon or two of the Southern condiment, which is made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and pimentos, on top of pork or beef burgers. It will melt onto the patty and provide the burger with a nice creaminess.
- Parmesan cheese: Why not shave some of this cow's milk cheese on a burger? Parmesan would pair with a burger that's seasoned, like meatballs, and topped with tomato sauce instead of ketchup. Or, for a special crunch, bake disks of grated parmesan until brown and put the cheese crisps on the burger just before serving.
- Nacho cheese: Bobby Flay's creamy nacho cheeseburger has been the talk of burger connoisseurs in years past, and even won him the people's choice award Burger Bash one year. Likewise, it'll win you raves with your family.
I liked but never loved Greek salads until I tried them in Greece. At the height of Summer, even the red onions are so sweet and tame, I could eat chunks of them like apples. I never met a mealy nor sour tomato, just tomatoes so ripe they didn't even need a sprinkle of salt to draw out their perfect flavor. And the feta. Can we stop a second to describe the crumbly, umami-filled feta, sliced ever-so-thinly and sprinkled with the most fragrant oregano that I can't help but imagine the restaurants plucked it from their backyard bushes?
While it has been four years since my last visit to Greece, the memories linger vehemently. I've tried my best to re-create and somewhat American-ize the recipe, so you can enjoy the salad at home.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a chili con queso from the blogger the Pioneer Woman. While she served her variation as a warm dip, I decided to experiment with the cheese as a nachos appetizer. I substituted chicken habañero sausages for the Jimmy Dean.
The nachos were decadent and spicy, like a gourmet version of classic ballpark nachos.
Perfect for watching a game (or movie), these nachos are crowd pleasing and delicious. They are exactly what nachos should be: crunchy, melty, pure scrumptiousness. To learn how I made them, read more