Cheese of the Month: Asiago
March’s cheese of the month is…
At Shisler’s we carry the aged version of Asiago (ah-SYAH-goh) Cheese, an Italian cheese more specifically known as Asiago d´Allevo. It is aged anywhere from three months to up to a year. The texture also varies from semi-firm to firm depending on how long it is aged and it contains small to medium holes throughout its body. It has a sweet and nutty flavor, reminiscent of Parmesan.
It is popular as a table cheese and is good when enjoyed with crackers, fruits, and red wine. It is treated as interchangeable with parmesan and romano cheeses in some cuisines.
History of Asiago Cheese
Asiago Cheese is an Italian cheese named after a region in Italy where it was first produced. This region is known as the Asiago High Plateau, which lies within the Italian Alps. As far back as the year 1000 AD, Asiago cheese was produced by farmers in this region for use locally. Now, it is manufactured commercially in northeast Italy, specifically in the provinces of Vincenza e Trento, Padua, and in Treviso.
How to Use Asiago Cheese
The aged cheese is often grated into salads, soups, pastas, and sauces while the fresh Asiago cheese is sliced to prepare panini or sandwiches. It can also be melted on a variety of dishes.
It is a brilliant cheese to bake into bread for a cheesy treat or grate over soft pretzels before baking. We also think it works particularly well with chicken dishes. Try pasta with asiago, chicken and a cream sauce or stuff a chicken breast with slices of Asiago and wrap it in pancetta or prosciutto before cooking. You could also try it instead of Parmesan when making a Caesar salad.
For a vegetarian dish, try roasted cauliflower with a cheese sauce. Add toasted flaked almonds for a crunchy topping or even some raisins if you like sweet and savory dishes.
Like many Italian cheeses, it is fairly universal when it comes to wine pairing. It is more commonly paired with reds such as Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and of course Chianti. For those who prefer white wines, Asiago cheese also pairs well with Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. If you like to try cheeses with beer, we recommend an IPA or a Saison style beer, as the fruitiness will work well with the cheese.
Have you tried this cheese? What’s your favorite way to eat it? Let us know in the comments!
10 Minute Pasta Sauce To Make Today!
We know that sometimes time is a factor in your cooking decisions, which is why today we are sharing a 10-minute pasta sauce that you can whip up with plenty of time to spare.
Pop your pasta on the stove and you’ll have a sauce ready in the time that it takes to cook.
You will need:
1 clove garlic
20 black olives
2 tbsp capers
1 tin chopped tomatoes (or fresh as an alternative)
1 bunch fresh basil
Salt and pepper
- Finely slice the garlic and fry it in a pan with a small amount of olive oil for 1 minute.
- Finely dice the olives and capers together and add them to the pan. Fry for another minute, then pour in the chopped tomatoes.
- Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Tear in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you do have an afternoon free, why not try making fresh pasta to go with your sauce? Read on for the recipe!
Recipe – Makes enough fresh pasta for 6 people
You will need:
6 large eggs
600g ‘00’ flour
Method – making the dough:
- Put the flour onto a board or in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and crack the eggs into it.
- Beat the eggs with a fork until they are smooth.
- Using your hands, incorporate a little of the flour into the eggs at a time, until everything is mixed together.
- Combine the dough until you have one smooth lump.
- Knead the dough to develop the gluten. Stop when the pasta feels smooth and silky.
- Cover the dough fully and rest it in the fridge for at half an hour.
Method – rolling the dough:
You can simply use a rolling pin to roll pieces of the dough until they are lovely and thin.
If you have a pasta machine, the best thing to do is follow the instructions that it comes with as some have different mechanisms. In general, though, this will be your basic method.
- Dust your work surface with some ‘00’ flour. Take a handful of pasta dough, press it flat and roll it through your machine on the widest setting.
- Move the pasta machine down a setting and roll the dough through again.
- Fold the pasta in half. Repeat steps 1 and 2 five or six times, folding each time.
- Once the pasta is very smooth, roll it through all of the settings on the machine from widest down to narrowest.
- If you are making tagliatelle or lasagne, rolling it until it is just slightly thicker than a playing card. For stuffed pasta including ravioli and tortellini, make it thin enough that you can clearly see your hand through it.
- Cut or shape your pasta before it dries. Use a clean, damp cloth to stop it from drying out if you need to.
Shaping and cutting fresh pasta:
For lasagne or tagliatelle, you will simply need a sharp knife to cut the pasta to the desired shape. Your pasta machine may have attachments to cut the pasta. If you are shaping the pasta we recommend finding video instructions that will show you the quickest method. Get the family involved to get the pasta ready before it dries!
To cook your pasta:
- Add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water.
- It will take 1 to 3 minutes, so watch the pot closely.
- Test the pasta to ensure that it is just slightly al dente before serving.
Whether you’re using fresh pasta or dried, we know you’ll love this 10-minute pasta sauce!
It’s National Snack Food Month!
It’s National Snack Food Month this February so we are bringing you a list of our favorite snack foods.
- Trail Mix
Our original trail mix is packed with nuts and dried fruit. Our diet trail mix is great if you’re hiking to get fit. Buggy trail mix has butter toffee peanuts, honey roasted sesame sticks, cheddar crackers, pretzel nuggets, and wheat crackers.
We also offer a banana split mix which contains cranberries, banana chips, almonds, chocolate covered peanuts, chocolate drops, pineapple tidbits, raisins, yogurt covered peanuts, peanuts, and yogurt drops. You could also try Mikey’s Mix which is packed with nuts and chocolate treats.
If you’ve got time, you could try making your own trail mix. Check out our gourmet foods section and pick your favorite things to mix up.
- Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a great source of energy and nutrients. We especially love dried strawberries, kiwi, banana chips, and pineapple.
We also offer Think Fruit Dried Fruit Snacks in a variety of flavors, packaged up and ready for you to pop in your bag for those on-the-go snack moments.
Jerky is full of protein which makes it a great snack, especially if you’re exercising or having a busy day. Try our Uncle Mike’s Beef Jerky, which we offer in Mild, Hot or Teriyaki flavor. It’s easy to pack and pull out when you’re out and about.
We have a great range of nuts including peanuts, pistachios, and cashews. They’re a healthy source of protein and fats. You can even create your own mixes of them to snack on. Keeping a jar of nuts in the kitchen can stop you reaching for more unhealthy snacks, especially at hungry moments like when you’ve just got in from work!
Seeds contain high levels of essential fatty acids as well as lots of vitamins and minerals that can help to keep us healthy. Because they are so nutrient-rich, you don’t need to eat a lot each day to get the health benefits of them. A tablespoon a day is more than enough and they’re easy to snack on. Try toasting them and adding them to salads if you’re having a more substantial snack.
Of course, cheese is one of our favorite snacks. Whether you have a few slices with some crunchy crackers or create a more substantial snack with slices of bologna, it’s a great source of calcium and a delicious treat. Pop in to try some new cheeses and you might find a new favorite for your snack pack.
What’s your favorite snack food? Let us know in the comments below!
Celebrating National Hot Breakfast Month
Can you believe February is actually National Hot Breakfast Month?
With that in mind, we’ve got some ideas for hot breakfasts to energize you in the morning!
Take some crescent rolls and roll them up with pieces of chocolate inside. Bake in the oven until the rolls are golden brown and the chocolate is melted. These make a great breakfast that will surprise your family any day of the week!
Crepes are simply a delicious thin pancake that can be filled with toppings both sweet and savory.
You will need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
0.25 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups of milk
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
How to make the crepes:
- Mix all ingredients in a blender. This will create a puree and will ensure that all of the ingredients are mixed well. If you don’t have a blender you can do this by hand, but ensure that you mix thoroughly.
- Bubbles will form on the top when the batter is ready. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. If you are preparing ahead for a dinner party, it can be kept in the fridge for 1 day.
- Heat a non-stick 12inch skillet over medium heat. Add a little butter and allow this to melt and coat the pan.
- Add 1/3 of a cup of batter, swirl it to evenly cover the pan, and cook until golden brown. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.
- Carefully flip the crepe using a silicone spatula. Cook for another minute and remove from the pan.
- Continue with the remaining batter, adding butter before each crepe.
It’s a classic for a reason! If you need fueling up for a full morning then oatmeal is nearly always the one to go for. You’ll have your own favorite way of making it, whether it’s with water or milk, and that’s one of the best things about it. Why not try a new topping? Peanut butter, jams, fresh fruit, seeds, you name it and it can be popped on top of a bowl of oatmeal!
Shakshuka is a Mediterranean breakfast dish.
Preheat your oven to 350F. Start by cooking down one chopped clove of garlic, a sliced onion and a sliced red pepper in an ovenproof frying pan. You want them to be cooked until they are really soft. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
When ready, make 4 small wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Pop the whole pan into the oven for around 10 minutes. Watch closely so that the eggs are cooked how you like them. Once removed from the oven, a sprinkle of fresh coriander can add freshness. Simply serve with fresh bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.
What’s your favorite hot breakfast? Let us know in the comments!
Why We Use Champagne Flutes
If you’re enjoying a glass of champagne, you might wonder why the flute is used as the glassware of choice for sparkling wine. Read on to find out why we use champagne flutes and the importance of choosing the right glass for your drink.
Whilst you could drink wine out of any glass if you are simply having a casual drink, if you are looking to really taste wine then you need the right glassware.
The right glassware means that you can see the color of the wine properly. This is all a part of the tasting experience. It will also allow the aroma of the wine to be released properly and give you space to enjoy it. Whether you have selected the right glass will depend on both the size and the material of the glass.
There are four main parts of a wine glass:
The foot of the glass is the base that allows it to stand upright.
The stem is where you hold the glass. It stops your hands from warming the wine and avoids smudges on the glass.
The bowl is the actual cup of the glass. This is where the most variation exists between wine glasses because the different sizes are suitable for different wines.
The rim of the wine glass is important because it enhances the experience of drinking the wine. A thin rim that is smooth to the touch will let the wine flow out of the glass easily.
A sparkling wine is usually served from a tulip-shaped glass or flute. This is because the upright, narrow glass retains the carbonation and flavor of the drink.
Flutes create a steady stream of fizz and preserve the bubbles in the wine. A tulip-shaped glass or a narrow-mouthed white wine glass will usually help you to enjoy the aroma and taste of the wine more. Furthermore, stemmed glass prevents the temperature of your hands from affecting the temperature of the wine.
You will often see Prosecco served in a tulip-shaped glass, whilst Champagne will be found in a flute or coupe. However, a tulip-shaped glass is actually the best for any sparkling wine that you are enjoying. When filling a glass, pour in a little, let it settle, and then top it up.
In terms of material, crystal is usually the best for serving wine. It is very strong and can, therefore, be spun into thin glassware. This has the effect of creating a very smooth rim and refracting the light well. This helps you to better enjoy the color of your wine. However, the main decision will depend on whether you are able to maintain fragile crystal glasses. They are the best for tasting wine but may not be the best to purchase if you are worried about them breaking.
So, there you have it. That’s why we use flutes for sparkling wine! We also find it just makes us feel happy to be a little fancy every now and again!
What’s your favorite sparkling wine? Let us know in the comments below.
Baked Cheese Recipes: Our Top 5
Did you know that you can bake cheese? It’s a delicious way to eat our favorite food, especially at this time of year when we’re waiting for spring to arrive. We’ve put together 5 great baked cheese recipes. Read on to find out which cheeses bake best.
Camembert is a surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese. It’s soft and creamy, with a pungent aroma. You’ll normally buy it in a wooden box. Start by unwrapping the cheese and making sure that any stickers have been removed. Replace it into its box. Make several cuts in the top of the cheese and add some garlic cloves and rosemary. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey.
Serve with baguettes and crudites for everyone to dip in the melted goodness!
Whilst you can serve raclette cheese at the table using a tabletop grill, you can also easily bake it in the oven. Simply put your cheese into a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and any flavorings that you want to add such as herbs, garlic or spices. Bake it at 400F for around 8 minutes or until it is golden and bubbling. Serve it with a fruity white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc for a real treat.
You might not have thought to bake feta before, but it’s delicious! One of the simplest ways to bake it is to place the whole block of feta on a baking sheet, drizzle over 1tbsp of olive oil and the juice of a lemon, along with 1 crushed garlic clove and 1tsp oregano. Grind some black pepper on the top and put it in the oven at 400F for 5 minutes. It will start to brown at the edges, but no more as then it will dry out. You can serve this mixed into pasta or over roasted vegetables such as zucchinis, tomatoes, and peppers.
4. Goat’s Cheese
Goat’s cheese with a rind bakes very well as it melts slightly while retaining it’s lovely, creamy texture. Try baking it in the oven at 400F for 5 minutes. Serve it on a salad of bitter leaves, tomatoes, and olives with a lemony dressing. A light white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio, would work well with this dish.
5. Blue Cheese
Did you know that you can bake blue cheese? Place a good wedge of cheese in a baking tray, using a knife to make a few holes around the cheese. Pop it in the oven at 400F for 10 to 15 minutes. This will create a melted blue cheese dip, perfect for slathering onto bread or pouring over a salad. You could even use it as a dip for chips!
Have you tried baking cheese? Let us know which of our baked cheese recipes is your favorite in the comments below.
Get Prepared for Valentine’s Day 2020!
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it’s time to start preparing to show your loved ones your affection.
We’ve created two fabulous gift boxes that are sure to hit the right note on February 14th.
Our Valentine’s Day All Chocolate Gift Box is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Inside you’ll find a Heggy’s Solid Milk Chocolate Heart, Chocolate Cheese, Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Turtles, and two kinds of chocolate covered fruit!
With this much chocolate packed in, your loved ones will be thinking of you for a long time.
For inspiration on how to use the chocolate cheese, check out our recent blog post.
Our Valentine’s Day Gift Box combines some of our favorite treats. Inside you’ll find Havarti Cheese, a Heggy’s Milk Chocolate Heart, Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Fudge, Strawberry Caramel Creams and Yogurt Covered Cranberries.
This is the ideal gift if you’re preparing a special dinner and want to have cheese and sweet treats to complete the evening.
If you want to serve up some wine along with your gift boxes, you have several options.
To complement the Havarti Cheese, a merlot or chardonnay would both work well. Havarti is a semi-soft Danish cow’s milk cheese with a buttery aroma and a sweet, sometimes nutty, taste. These wines will complement the flavors whilst matching its smooth texture.
If you want to pair wine with the chocolate, you need to find something that is slightly sweeter. A dessert wine such as Moscato or Sauternes is ideal for this. For something lighter, try a sweet Riesling. This will also work well with the Strawberry and Cream flavor
Whether you’re a new couple or celebrating years of marriage, Valentine’s Day is the time to take a moment to appreciate those that we love.
We don’t want to be too cheesy (!), but we love all of our Shisler’s Cheese House customers! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cheese of the Month: Havarti
We are continuing our Cheese of the Month posts today! We will share with you some of our favorite cheeses to eat throughout the seasons, some ideas for eating them and even wine pairings so that you can make a party of it.
February’s cheese of the month is…
What is Havarti Cheese?
Havarti Cheese or Cream Havarti (Fløde Havarti in Danish) is a semi-soft Danish cow’s milk cheese. It is rindless, with a smooth surface and a cream or yellow color depending on the type. It has very small and irregular eyes (holes).
It has a buttery aroma and a generally sweet taste with a slightly acidic tang. It can be sharp in the stronger varieties, resembling Swiss cheese.
We also stock Havarti with Dill and Havarti with Caraway for those looking for additional flavor. Dill combines the flavors of fennel, anise, and celery, with a slight bitterness, whilst caraway has a very pungent, earthy anise flavor.
How is Havarti Cheese made?
Havarti cheese was initially created by Hanne Nielsen who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, in Øverød, north of Copenhagen, in the mid-19th century. It is made like most cheeses, by introducing rennet to milk to cause curdling. The curds are pressed into cheese molds which are drained, and then the cheese is aged. Havarti is a washed curd cheese, which contributes to the subtle flavor of the cheese.
It will usually be aged for around three months. As it ages it becomes saltier and nuttier.
How should I eat it?
Havarti is a table cheese that is suitable for slicing, grilling, or melting. When left at room temperature the cheese tends to soften quickly so it is great on a cheeseboard alongside hard cheeses.
It is delicious melted into pasta dishes including macaroni cheese or incorporated into a grilled cheese sandwich. Havarti even works well when grated onto a pizza with mozzarella. You can make an excellent cheese sauce with it that will pair well with grilled chicken and vegetables.
Because of its creaminess, it stands up well to spice. You can use it in recipes that call for chilies and it also pairs very well with the heat of horseradish. Try Havarti with Dill in cauliflower dishes for a fun combination of tastes.
If you are serving it as part of a cheeseboard, slice a few thin slices off the block to show your guests that this is a fantastic way to enjoy it. Serve it with fresh fruits and honey, as well as savory crackers and cured meats. Try our Streb Meats Fresh Smoked Sausage as a starting point.
What should I drink with this cheese?
The smooth, creamy flavor of Havarti goes well against most red wines. It can stand up to the high alcohol flavors of Zinfandel or Shiraz, but it is subtle enough to enjoy with a soft Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you prefer white wine, try a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, as the fruity flavors of both will complement the butteriness of the cheese. You could even try it with a light weiss beer or saison.
Do you like Havarti Cheese? Let us know in the comments!
Celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day!
Today, January 31st is National Hot Chocolate Day!
We thought you’d like to read some of our fun ideas for creating delicious hot chocolates. Whether you’re looking for topping ideas or a way to celebrate the day we have got you covered.
The Best Hot Chocolate
One of our favorite ways to make hot chocolate is to grate real chocolate into hot milk. You can try this with lots of different types and flavors of chocolate to find the best one for you.
Otherwise, the best hot chocolate is the one that you love! Try a few to find one that works best for you. Do you prefer it with hot milk or mixed with water? You could even try plant-based milks for a different flavor.
Play with toppings and syrups
You name it, it could be delicious on top of a hot chocolate! We’re sure someone has even tried crispy bacon bits on top of their whipped cream! So this is the time to get creative and experiment with something new.
There are the classics: marshmallows, cream, chocolate sprinkles. But you could also add cinnamon, sauces, nuts, marshmallow fluff, dried fruits, coconut shavings, or cereals. For extra decadence, try popping a chocolate truffle on the top and letting it melt in. You could even put a scoop of ice cream on the top for extra creaminess. If you add marshmallow fluff, try crisping it with a kitchen blow torch for a s’mores effect!
For extra flavor with your chocolate, you can pour in something a little extra. There are so many syrups available now and loads of them would be delicious in a hot chocolate. Try classics like peppermint, salted caramel or vanilla. You could even try making your own syrups at home with your favorite flavors. We highly recommend trying a bay syrup with your hot chocolate for a grown up twist. add a little of your favorite spirit. Whiskey or brandy work well but our favorite would have to be Irish Cream. You could try even flavored vodkas instead of syrup.
Friday Night Celebrating National Hot Chocolate Day
It’s a Friday so we think tonight is the perfect chance to gather some friends together, get cozy with a mug of hot chocolate and even a movie or even some board games. Why not have a competition to see who can create the most delicious and inventive hot chocolate? If you’ve got little ones they’re sure to enjoy a little sweet treat. You could use lower sugar hot chocolate to include them without it being too unhealthy.
If you want to celebrate in true Shisler’s Cheese House style, you’ll need our signature mug to enjoy your hot chocolate in. We even sell it as a gift set with some chocolates if you are a true chocoholic!
How are you celebrating National Hot Chocolate Day? Let us know in the comments below.
Health Benefits of Drinking Wine: FAQs
Last week, we brought you some of the health benefits of drinking wine. Today we are answering some of the frequently asked questions about this.
Is a glass of wine everyday good for you?
This is a difficult question because the answer will be different for everyone. In general, however, a glass of wine a day should allow you to enjoy the health benefits without encountering too many of the risks. If you are struggling to moderate your alcohol consumption, then seeking help from a professional can help you to get back on track.
Is wine fattening?
Wine does have a high calorie content, so drinking too much of it could cause you to put on weight. Sticking to the guidelines of one glass per day will help reduce this risk, but it you are on a calorie-controlled diet you may wish to cut out wine on some days.
What are the risks of drinking too much wine?
Just like any other alcohol, drinking too much wine can negatively affect your health, social relationships, and career. Excessive consumption can even threaten your life. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of some cancers including breast, mouth, throat, liver, and bowel cancer.
Which is better for you: red or white wine?
Whilst white wine will certainly have some of the benefits listed above, many of the healthy qualities of wine are derived specifically from red wine because of the use of the grape skins. Whichever you prefer to drink will have some benefits, although this should always be in moderation.
Which wine has the least amount of sugar?
The sugar in wine comes from the fermentation process as the grape sugars are turned into alcohol. The residual sugar depends on when the fermentation is stopped. If this happens earlier, there will be more sugar left. To find wines with low sugar content, look for a dry wine or an extra brut champagne. Whether red or white, dry wines will have the lowest sugar content. By contrast, a dessert wine or champagne labelled as demi-sec will have a high sugar level.
We hope these facts about the health benefits of drinking wine have been interesting to you.
Please do remember to drink responsibly!