Month: September 2010
The Art of Cheesemaking
Here is a video demonstrating the difference in the Amish Cheesemaking process. Video footage courtesy of one of our principal local cheese suppliers, Guggisberg Cheese. Here are links to the cheeses described in this video:
And you can find over 60 other cheeses, including several others produced by Guggisberg Cheese at: https://cheesehouse.com/cheese.aspx
Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
When most of us think of Macaroni and Cheese, we can not get past the image of the plastic bag of miniature elbow noodles and orange powder that we prepare for our kids. Thankfully, a generation of fans of that boxed concoction have now grown up and invented many delectable variations that are more compatible with the mature palate. Creativity knows few bounds, and the variations are countless. But after experimenting with numerous combinations, we found this to be the creamiest, most flavorful Mac and Cheese recipe yet. Save the elbow noodles and orange powder for the kids.
- 16 Ounces of penne or seashell pasta
- 2 ½ Tablespoons of Butter (we recommend Fresh Amish Butter)
- 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 4 Ounces of Grated Smoked Gouda cheese
- 4 Ounces of Grated Medium-Sharp Orange Cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper
- Dash of garlic powder
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10-inch casserole dish.
- Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes until tender; drain.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until it is consistent. Stir in the milk, salt, pepper, and garlic. Simmer, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and smooth enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in both cheeses.
- Combine finished pasta and cheese sauce. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.
- Spread breadcrumbs over top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Makes 8 servings.
Here is another of our favorite recipes in which the key element is…of course, the cheese! The proper amount of good Pecorino Romano perfects the recipe. We got it from a famous chef at a restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It took a while to convert the measurements to American Standard, and we had to replace some of the ingredients that are difficult to find in the U.S. But we think you’ll agree it was well worth it. One hard to find ingredient we left in the recipe was truffle oil. Truffle oil adds an elegant touch to the recipe, but it is optional. Good extra-virgin olive oil can also be substituted. If you do want to include the truffle oil, it can be found here .
For the polenta:
- 1 ¾ Cups of precooked Italian polenta
- Homemade chicken broth (recipe below)
- 1 Tablespoon of Butter (we recommend Fresh Amish Butter)
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, to taste
- Optional: Truffle oil to finish (Good extra-virgin olive oil can also be used)
For the chicken broth:
- ½ Gallon of water
- 10 oz. of finely chopped chicken breast
- Chopped Vegetables:
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 large potato
- ½ cup of leeks
- ½ cup of chives
- salt and pepper to taste
Simmer all of the ingredients over medium heat until the liquid volume is reduced by approximately half. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours (overnight if possible) skim the visible fat off of the top before using. Makes approximately 1 quart.
Heat the prepared broth and slowly stir in the polenta. Continue to stir until slightly thick. Add the butter and the heavy cream. Pour into a medium baking pan and sprinkle the grated Pecorino Romano on top. Heat in oven just long enough to melt the cheese. Finally, lightly sprinkle with truffle oil.
Making Cheese The Amish Way
We now live in a society whose greatest value has become productivity. We get our news from short sound bites from the internet or TV now instead of reading the paper. We rarely read books anymore. We listen to them while we are stuck in traffic, trying to get to work so we can get as much done in as little time as possible. The products we buy are made with the same goal in mind: maximum efficiency. But those who produce the few products that we still make in the U.S., whose ultimate goal is maximum efficiency, seem to have lost their standard of quality. They make it fast, but what happened to the concept of taking your time and doing it right? Some things just cannot be made fast without sacrificing quality.
One of those products is cheese. Mass produced cheeses all seem to have the same “tinny” metallic taste. That is because the manufacturers add chemicals to speed up the maturing process, but the residue from these chemicals creates that metallic aftertaste. The corporate manufacturers even rush the cows to produce more milk by injecting them with hormones and feeding them over processed feeds that are measured and distributed by computers. While these processes are efficient, we all agree that the quality suffers greatly.
Fortunately for cheese lovers, there is still a culture among us that believes in doing almost everything the old fashioned way: The Amish. Cheese making is a skill brought to Ohio by the earliest Swiss and German immigrants, and it still survives in Ohio Amish Country to this day.
Not only do the Amish have traditional knowledge and skill in the trade, there are numerous Amish dairy farmers in the area that provide the best possible milk. The cows are hormone free and they feed on natural grasses native to the valleys of northern Ohio that have never been sprayed with pesticides. The average Amish farm has only ten cows, so they can be more closely monitored. The milk is delivered to the cheese makers in numbered cans that can be traced back to the exact farm, and even the exact cow it came from. This provides a quality control system that prevents any sub-standard milk from entering the supply, but does not affect the distinctive Amish farming methods.
Cheese making is an art and a science, so some modern technology has been added to the final cheese production process to ensure a sanitary and healthful product. But the technology has all been carefully introduced so as not to affect the quality of the cheese. The milk is pasteurized to prevent the introduction of any foreign bacteria. The cheese is now made in stainless steel vats as they are easier to clean and more sanitary than the old copper kettles. The enzymes that are introduced to form the cheese curds are now more carefully measured to ensure the highest quality. No chemical preservatives are added, but the individual pieces of cheese are vacuum packed and refrigerated after the aging process is complete to ensure the cheese stays fresh until it makes its way to your table. All of this ensures an unmatched standard of quality.
Most Amish made cheeses have a cream content level of up to 33% milk fat, which is high compared to mass-produced cheeses, but that’s what makes them so creamy and full flavored. The cheeses are refrigerated during storage, but are best served at room temperature. There are over 50 flavors of cheese that are made in Ohio’s Amish country. The most notable are Amish Swiss, Sharp Swiss, Baby Swiss, Amish Butter Cheese, Colby, Farmers Cheese, Jack Cheese, Marble (Colby Jack), and Yogurt Cheese. They also produce numerous variations of each including smoked varieties and cheeses infused with peppers, onions, and bacon to name a few. A byproduct of the cheese making process is also butterfat, which is used to make Amish Butter, the best butter most will ever taste.
But the Amish level of patience and dedication does not only apply to dairy products. Their religion discourages them from worldly pursuits, so their ultimate goal in everything they do is perfection rather than profit. Their patience and dedication is evident in their other specialty foods including fruit preserves, pickled vegetables, and the specialty meats that they inspired. Anyone who has ever visited Ohio’s Amish Country has most likely seen the top quality bedding and furniture they have also become famous for.
For the cultural tourist, Ohio’s Amish Country is a must see. The cheese connoisseur need not leave his/her own living room. All of the cheeses and other delicacies mentioned are available over the Internet. But nothing compares to actually visiting and seeing the labor of love firsthand.