Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kiss My Curds Cheese Consulting

Kiss My Curds is the name of my cheesemaking operation which has been on hiatus in order for me to focus on caring for my son.  Cheesemaking is very time consuming, especially when you are driving two hours for the freshest milk.  Babies are also very time consuming, who knew?  I attempted to return to cheesemaking this summer but found I was spreading myself too thin and was not very good at multitasking.  Someone once told me that multitasking was just doing multiple things badly.  I have missed making cheese, selling cheese, cutting cheese, packing cheese, and talking about cheese. I wanted to get back into cheese in a way that would be more flexible. I am happy to announce a consultation arm of Kiss My Curds!

Kiss My Curds is an artisanal cheese producer and provider of personal Cheesemongering services in the Washington, DC metro region.  Kiss My Curds specializes in one-on-one cheese consultation and in-home cheese making and cheese tasting demonstrations for anyone with a passion or curiosity about the many fantastic cheeses available today.

Kiss My Curds is now offering a variety of educational cheese experiences and workshops:

Cheese Adventure with a Personal Cheesemonger

I will accompany you and a friend to a great local cheese counter and demystify cheese shopping, pairing, and serving. I will answer any cheese related questions you might have on topics such as artisanl cheese production, pairing, seasonality, storage, and presentation. I’ll make recommendations tailored to your personal preferences, and send you home with a selection of three cheeses to enjoy later.
Cost: $150           Duration: around 2 hours

Fresh Mozzarella Workshop

We will make and enjoy mozzarella in the comfort of your kitchen.  I will supply the milk, ingredients, and equipment all you need is a microwave and stove top.  This is a really great workshop for children who are interested in cheese or cooking.  I will also answer any questions and let you know what some great books are and website to get you started making cheese at home.
Cost: $150           Duration: around 2 hours (including a half hour to setup)

Cooking with Cheese

Cheese is wonderful to enjoy on its own but is also a staple of cooking.  We will talk about cooking with cheese, which cheeses are best suited for different recipes, how to save money on cheese shopping, and I will provide recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  We will also make and enjoy and a simple cheese-centric snack or I may bring along on of my favorite cheese dishes.
Cost: $150           Duration: around 2 hours

5 Months of Holiday Cheese Consultations

This entitles you to unlimited cheese advice via phone from October 25th 2012 - March 25th 2013 and anytime by email.  I will present you with cheese plate themes and ideas for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day, all tailored to your palate and dietary needs.  This also includes one cheese adventure for 2 to your local cheese counter (see description above), and an in-home cheese platter making demonstration. 
Cost: $750

In home Cheese Tasting

A guided cheese tasting for you and your guests, conducted in the comfort of your own home!  Tailored to your preferences and interests, your party will be lead through a tasting of a series of fantastic cheeses expertly paired with accompaniments such as wild honeys, nuts, preserves, beers, wines, or spirits.  The theme of tasting can be constructed around any theme (seasonality permitting), such as a given milk type, region, style.  For example:
·        Great New American Artisanals
·        DC Locals
·        Rustic Traditions
·        Up and Down the Pyrenees
·        Craft Brew Pairings
All you’ll need to do is provide the tableware and workspace, then sit back and enjoy with your guests! 
Cost: $50-100/person, depending on theme                       Duration: 2 hour event, with 1 hour setup prior

About Kiss My Curds Consulting

Kiss My Curds is Charlotte McConnell, a professional Cheese expert, Cheesemonger, and Cheesemaker based in Northern Virginia.  Read more at

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Banana Walnut Brownies of Chocolate Deliciousness

I love cheese but sometimes what you really need is chocolate.  After a hard week with a fussy baby and being disappointed to miss out on a nice dinner out with friends because Orion was sick, I required chocolate.  I called Patrick to task him with picking up some chocolate deliciousness on his way home from work.  He needed more specifics and I was helpful enough to say “no ice cream, maybe something cake like or a brownie but nothing from Whole Foods as their sweets never satisfy me and nothing from Wegman’s, and not the standard chocolate cake from Santini’s”.  With instrusctions like that, it is no surprise he came home empty handed.

That night around 8 pm, I checked the cupboard to see if we had anything on had to create something yummy.  Cocoa powder-check, butter, we have that, brown sugar- yup, all of which I can transform into brownies.   I found an Alton Brown recipe, who I love, but he often makes things a bit complicated in his quest for food perfection.  His recipe had way to much sifting going on (how do you sift sticky brown sugar?) so I skipped it.

Here is my recipe for Banana Walnut Brownies adapted from Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies recipe By Charlotte McConnell adapted from Alton Brown

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) melted butter
11/4 cups cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon 
1 cup of walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed and mushed

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
Beat the eggs then add brown sugar and granulated sugar.  
Mix in everything else and pour batter into pan.
Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean or you can no longer wait.

I love that Alton Brown says “resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool”.  Obviously, he is not a woman, and I did not wait.  Yes, they fell apart a little but it was near 10pm and I had been waiting many hours for a chocolate fix and I knew they would be cool tomorrow.

These really hit the chocolate spot and were so easy that I really can’t understand why anyone would make brownies from a box.  Plus they were almost, kinda, sorts healthy with the one banana and all its potassium and the healthy walnuts who are full of good fats and omega-3!  I know this picture really does not do these brownies justice but I was busy eating them.  I made them Thursday night and this was the only bit left on Sunday morning.