Did you know that tomorrow, January 20, is National Cheese Lovers’ Day? Although this “national holiday” may not be decreed by Congress or have much of a historical background, we know that many of you are Lovers’ of Cheese and always looking for a way to celebrate that love. So, let’s take a look at some fun facts and new cheesy things to try out in celebration!
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!
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!
To get 2020 off to a fun, cheesy start we have decided to introduce a Cheese of the Month blog post!
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.
January’s Cheese of the Month is…
What is Raclette?
Raclette (ra-klet) is a semi-firm, salted cheese made from cow’s milk. It originated in the Swiss canton of Valais, but is today also produced in the French regions of Savoie and Franche-Comté.
The term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning “to scrape”. Raclette cheese is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates. It’s the perfect cozy cheese for the colder winter months!
What is the history of Raclette?
Raclette is mentioned in medieval writings and was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese.” Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them into the mountains. They would cook it by the campfire and scrape it onto bread. Can you think of anything more delicious than a meal of melted cheese on the top of a mountain? We certainly can’t!
Don’t worry though, you don’t need to climb a mountain to enjoy this incredible cheese.
There are a few options for serving raclette at home. You can invest in, or borrow, an electric table-top grill. These have small pans that make the job of melting the cheese easy and fun. Each person fills their small pan, known as a coupelles, with cheese and melts it before adding it to their plate.
If you have a fire pit outside, and don’t mind standing in the cold, or an indoor open fireplace, then you can actually heat the cheese next to this, just like the cowherds! Scrape the rind off the cheese and put it on a heatproof plate or stone. Then place the cut edge next to the flames until it is soft and gooey. Using oven gloves, carefully pick up the cheese and use a knife or spatula to scrape the gooey layer to push melted cheese over boiled potatoes. Do this on a big serving dish if you are serving guests and then everyone can help themselves to this.
Alternatively, you can use your oven. Cut the cheese into fairly thick slices (around 3/4 inch) and arrange the slices in a baking tray on top of boiled potatoes. Pop the whole thing in the oven and bake until the cheese is completely melted.
However you’ve melted your cheese, you should now have a plate of cheese and potatoes. The traditional accompaniments are fresh bread, cornichons, and small pickled onions, as well as a good seasoning with salt and pepper. You can serve yours in your own way, though! Try it with meats, other cheeses and a variety of chopped vegetables, especially if you’re looking to make this into the whole meal.
Serve this all with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or a light wheat ale.
Have you tried raclette? What’s your favorite way to serve it? Let us know in the comments below!
Did you know that there are many health benefits to eating cheese? Of course, we need to consume everything in moderation but we’re excited to share with you some of the great healthy elements of our favorite food.
Cheese is an excellent source of calcium. This is important for promoting healthy bones and teeth, especially in our younger years. Even more essentially, calcium helps our muscles to contract and our heart to beat. It is quite vital for our health!
Some fat in our diet is very important and cheese can provide this whilst also offering many other health benefits. If you need to gain weight for health reasons, then cheese can be an excellent addition to your balanced diet. The healthy fat known as CLA supports our immune systems, regulates blood sugar levels and can even reduce your risk of heart disease. CLA is found in a variety of cheeses, but especially those made with milk from grass-fed cows.
This is responsible for repairing and protecting our body and also promotes a good immune system. As our bodies do not store protein, we need to make sure that we eat adequate amounts of it each day. Hard cheeses such as Parmesan have the highest protein content; wet, fresh cheeses will have much less.
This is the largest and most complex vitamin that we have knowledge of. It helps the production of red blood cells, protein and DNA. Without it, we can experience lethargy and muscle weakness. Cleverly, our body can store away any excess of B12 that we don’t need at the time for up to a year. We can find the highest B12 content in delicious Swiss cheese. That’s an excuse to eat some if ever we heard it!
This vitamin can help to prevent some of the most common diseases facing us. It works with calcium and vitamin D to help your bone, skin and dental health. This is another vitamin found most often in hard cheeses, especially Gouda and brie.
You might not have heard of this antioxidant, but a study found that it is found in dairy products. It is great for our brain health and preventing age-related degeneration.
So, there you have it, cheese isn’t simply bad for you. In fact, in most cases, it is the things that we eat cheese on that are unhealthy: pizza bases, nachos, and so on. As part of a balanced diet, cheese provides many of the health benefits that are essential to us. Consider eating cheese with salads, fruits or in dishes with vegetables to keep getting those health benefits without the less healthy foods.
It has been shown that cheeses made with milk from grass-fed animals are the best in terms of nutrients, so you’ll be pleased to know that many of our local cheeses are made from the highest quality milk, with no artificial hormones added.
How do you like to stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below!
Especially in the warmer months, it’s especially important that we use the proper methods for storing cheese. This will keep it in the nest condition so that you can enjoy it for longer! Storing cheese well helps it to keep its flavor and texture.
Storing Cheese: Temperature
All cheese should be stored at a cold, stable temperature. Some refrigerators have a designated cheese drawer, so if you have one of these then definitely take advantage of it. Otherwise, the vegetable crisper is a good place to keep cheese as it won’t be so affected by the changing temperatures in the rest of the fridge.
However, most cheeses should be served at room temperature. Served straight from the fridge, they can taste bland and have a disappointing texture. Allowing them to come to room temperature also allows the aroma of the cheese to be released, which is an essential part of the whole eating experience. Try to remove cheeses that you want to serve from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. For cheeses like brie, allow a couple of hours for them to reach their gooey best. Fresh mozzarella can even benefit from sitting in a little bit of of warmed, salted milk before serving to unleash its creaminess.
Storing Cheese: Wrapping
Unfortunately, keeping cheese in plastic wrapping can make it go off quickly. The plastic can also impart a taste to the cheese in as little time as one day!
The best wrapping for storing cheese is cheese paper, which is slightly breathable but will keep the cheese in excellent condition. You can also buy dedicated cheese bags. Wrapping your cheese will prevent any other foods in the fridge from changing the flavor and stop any cheese odors from affecting the rest of your groceries.
For fresh cheeses that might come in water, such as mozzarella or feta, we recommend keeping them in their original packaging. However, you might want to change their water periodically to keep them super fresh.
Storing cheese: Freezing
Did you know that you can freeze cheese? Hard, aged cheeses will freeze best as it will not affect their texture too much.
Any cheese that you wish to freeze will need to be fully sealed in airtight bags or containers to keep it at its best.
If your cheese does go through a change in texture after defrosting then you can cook with it, rather than serving it as blocks on your cheeseboard.
You can also grate cheese before freezing it. Label everything and use it within three months.
Storing Cheese: On the Move
If you want to take cheese with you out and about, perhaps to a picnic or to work for lunch, then consider purchasing a small cool bag to keep the cheese as fresh as possible. Try to only take along the amount of cheese that will be eaten, to avoid food waste.
We hope that these tips for storing cheese will be helpful. Do you have any top tips? Let us know in the comments below!