Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cheesecipe #2

Who doesn't love popcorn? Who can sit through a movie without popcorn? Well, I personally have worked in too many movie theaters to order popcorn at the movies. Cleaning up empty theaters, popcorn and soda would combine to create a smell that was most unpleasant. But I love making popcorn at home and my puppies love this treat. I always make sure they get a small bow all their own. Popcorn is great as a base for flavors, you can make it spicy, sweet, salty, or buttery. I, of course, had to add cheese to my popcorn. Here is a treat that is great for game day, a girlie movie night, party snack or holiday gathering.

Blue cheese popcorn with honey roasted peanuts

Your favorite blue cheese, I used a strong Italian blue cheese, Mountain Gorgonzola. You can use any type of low moisture blue cheese. Stilton would work very well or a Danish blue cheese.
Honey roasted peanuts, I used Planters peanuts
Popcorn, I used a microwaveable popcorn with low butter and salt. It would be ideal to pop your own corn using little oil and salt, air popped popcorn would be a nice option. Blue cheese and peanuts tend to be salty so there is no need for all that extra salt. You can always add more salt but it is very hard to take any away. And there is no need for that butter flavor as you want the cheese and nuts to stand out.

Pop the corn, add crumbled blue cheese and honey roasted nuts. Use as much cheese and nuts as you like. If you want to sweeten your corn drizzle some honey over the mix. Serve in a bowl and eat it with a spoon to avoid sticky fingers.

What could be easier than that? You could also make Cheddar cheese popcorn with smoked almonds or Parmigiano-Reggiano popcorn with oregano or Mahon (a hard, sharp, Spanish cow's milk cheese) popcorn with Rosemary and olive oil. Basically, take any cheese you like and shave, shred, or crumble and add any complimentary nut or spice. The possibilities are endless.


What is a Cheesecipe!? It is a Cheese Recipe and I will be giving you great ideas on how to use cheese and other lovely dairy products. Every Saturday my cheesemongering takes me away from my cheese counter and puts me in chef shoes. I spend a few hours creating a wonderfully cheesecentric item and then let it lose on the public. I love exposing people to a new cheese and a new way to use cheese.

One of my favorite cheese adventures was a Smoked Gouda and Nutella grilled cheese. This was one of my favorite treats in high school. My parents did a good job of keeping me in Nutella and asiago bagels. One day I put them together and was pleasantly surprised by the sweet salty combination. So I decided to take it to the next step and combined Smoked Gouda and Nutella. It was an even better combination, the smokey cheese with the sweet chocolate nuttiness. So here is my Cheesecipe for you:

Smoked Gouda and Nutella Grilled Cheese
Bread, 2 slices, you may use any type of bread but keep the bread neutral and avoid bread with holes
Smoked Gouda

Heat a frying pan over medium heat or plug in panini press. Butter the outside of your bread then spread the Nutella on one piece of bread. Add a couple slices of smoked Gouda and add reaming slice of bread butter side up. Place sandwich in pan or on grill over medium heat. Toast both sides until golden brown and enjoy!

Many people were shocked and confused by the combination of chocolate and cheese but once they tasted this treat they were won over! I could not make these sandwiches fast enough and there were a few disappointed faces when I ran out. During that time I got a lot of feedback and only received one negative comment. I was told that it had a bad aftertaste. This sentiment was not echoed again during the nearly three hour tasting. Taste is subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I hope that you will try this unusual grilled cheese and if you do, I would love to hear all about it! Sorry there are no pictures, I will try to include some in the future.

The good news on lactose

While working as a cheesemonger I have had many people ask for lactose free cheese. The good news is many cheeses are naturally lactose free. So what exactly is lactose? Lactose is milk sugar and accounts for about 5-8% of milk solids. People are lactose intolerant when they cannot break down the lactose. The small intestine produce an enzyme called lactase which breaks down the lactose so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. If you are lactose intolerant, you do not produce enough lactase to break down lactose.

Unlike other mammals, humans have adapted the ability to continue to produce lactase as they age. However, some people do not maintain this same ability and become lactose intolerant. There are many products available to help with this deficiency such as lactose free milk and lactase supplements. Cheese can be a great way for lactose intolerant people to consume their recommended daily dose of calcium.

The great news is that the wonderful bacteria that make cheese love to eat lactose! When making cheese, a bacteria is added to milk and the milk will separate into cuds and whey. Most of the lactose will be left behind in the whey and whatever is left in the curds will be consumed by bacteria during the cheesemaking process. The older a cheese is the less lactose will be present because the bacteria have more time to eat up all those yummy sugars.

Some cheeses are made from whey such as ricotta and gjetost. These cheeses will contain lactose. When looking at the nutritional label of any cheese notice the amount of sugar. This listing of sugar could also be called lactose as lactose is milk sugar. If a cheese has no sugar it has no lactose. Some cheeses are labeled lactose free but many are not labeled so read the facts if you have any doubt.

What I didn't know is that lactose is often added to products as a filler such as bread, baked goods, cereal to prevent caking and may also be added to frozen or canned vegetables to prevent discoloration. Be sure to read your labels if you are lactose intolerant because it may be hiding in the product as lactose or dry milk solids or whey.

Some people who consume a cow's milk cheese such as cheddar and have an adverse reaction may think they are lactose intolerant. If there is no lactose in the cheese you cannot be reacting to the lactose. You may be reacting to something else in the cow's milk. You may want to try goat's milk or sheep's milk cheese. Goat's milk cheeses are generally considered easier to digest. You may also find that raw milk cheeses are easier to digest because there are more natural bacteria present doing all the hard work for you.

There is a big world of cheese out there, so try a little bit of something new. Try a goat cheddar, a goat Gouda, or a goat mozzarella. (Yes, I do LOVE goat cheese) You may be surprised by a delicious cheese that makes your body happy!