Been a busy week, and would have posted more except that I sadly didn’t eat much cheese this past week.
How is that possible?
Good question, “Inner-Cheese Voice”. I came down with a cold that had been going around the office (at my day job), and although it was the type of cold that I was well enough to go to work, I haven’t been feeling 100%. Although cheese is fantastic, when you have a cold, fondue isn’t always the first kind of meal you think of feeding it with.
Now that I’m just about 100% myself again, I’ll throw out a few things today which I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about. FIRST; incredible mail these last two days. Yesterday not only did I receive some pins I had been expecting, but also an incredible and unexpected refrigerated box OF CHEESE. This arrived as a fitting and unexpected gesture of appreciation from the California Artisan Cheese Festival for the work I had done (thanks Lynne!). If you’ve never received cheese in the mail, you should order some for yourself, or send some as a gift. We’re fortunate here in the Bay Area of California to have a lot of fantastic cheese shops; if you are less fortunate, then cheese by mail might be the way to go. As you can see, the shipment came from Cowgirl Creamery, and contains cheese from both their own creamery as well as from Redwood Hill Farm (plus excellent crackers from Rustic Bakery and quince preserves from June Taylor). Besides the great cheeses, crackers and preserves, the shipment was complete with an attractive re-usable box, and printed materials; descriptions of the cheeses, and care and handling of artisan cheeses (see the two page pdf scan of them here). Not sure what to order if ordering cheese by mail? Cheese clubs can be excellent. I have two to suggest; Cowgirl’s, and Cheese Plus’. Both clubs are distinct and different from one another. I recommend both because of the level of quality, and personalized care, that I know goes into them.
So what’s with the pins?
The pins I needed in order to restock Kathy’s and my 25¢ home vending machine with prizes. The vending machine’s capsules are filled with random pins and odd paper prizes meant primarily to confuse and entertain our friends. It’s a small dADaIsTic homage that fills an artistic need of mine. The pins themselves I buy from a wonderful Canadian artist/pin maker: Button Empire.
This has nothing to do with cheese!
Actually, it kind of does… This is the SECOND thing I was going to write about – I needed to refill the vending machine ’cause we’re having a party on Saturday. The party is titled; “Postcards, Cheese, and Cheesy Postcards“, and is a celebration both of my birthday (just past), and the fact that Kathy and I have had a hand-crafted piece of furniture made, a card catalog-like case which will hold our extensive postcard and stationary collection. It has been a dream of mine to have such a case; one with specific drawers for specific sizes/purposes. Friends attending have been asked to bring cheese, and the addresses of three people they’ll write to. We’re going to provide the drinks, the postcards and the stamps. I write at least one postcard a day to a friend, family member or aquientence, and I’m always trying to get others to embrace this habit as well.
30 to 50 friends coming over with cheese?!?
Yep. We asked everyone to keep it below $6 worth, whether a small amount of something fancy (ie expensive) or a larger quantity of something less costly. I’ll try to document all the cheeses. If YOU happen to know us and would like to attend, get in touch with us! …since my parents are unable to attend, they sent a fantastic gift; a box of postcards, correspondences which were sent to my grandparents through the years. Many from Switzerland, such as the pictured one, from 1966.
THIRD item to leave you with today, is an easy, quick recipe, with which you can incorporate cheese. It is for a “Dutch Baby” which is an egg, milk and flour (and butter; mmm, butter!) baked dish which I would describe as a combination between a souffle and a pancake. That doesn’t even describe it too well, which is why you should just try and make it yourself (it’s simple and quick!). Dutch Babies can be made as a sweet or savory treat, Kathy and I will often make savory versions. A nice dusting of finely ground Parmesan is enough to make this meal delicious, but the recipes below are a “spicy” version with jalapeño and avocado, as well as a creamy cheesy topping I made up the other night since we were out of avocados. enjoy!
Chile Dutch Baby with Avocado Salsa
Taken directly from Sunset Magazine’s Special Issue: Fast & Fresh Best of Sunset 2008
This savory version of a Dutch baby is reminiscent of chiles rellenos, but it saves the effort of filling and frying the chilies. It’s great for brunch or as a change of pace for a light supper.
Prep and Cook Time: About 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
¼ cup (1/8 lb.) butter
3 large eggs
¾ cups milk
¾ cup flour
1 ½ tbsp. minced jalapeño or Serrano chiles, divided
1 cup chopped firm-ripe avocado
1 cup chopped firm-ripe tomato
1 tbsp. thinly sliced green onion
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
1. Place butter in shallow 2 to 3 quart baking dish and heat in a 425-degree (F) oven until melted, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, whirl eggs and milk until blended. Add flour and whirl until smooth, then add 1 tbsp chilies and whirl just to blend. Pour batter into the hot baking dish.
3. Bake until Dutch Baby is buffed and well browned, about 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix remaining 1/2 tbsp. chiles with the avocado, tomato, green onion and lime juice.
5. Dust baked Dutch Baby with cayenne if you like. Cut into wedges. Add avocado salsa and salt to taste.
Bryce’s Creamy, Spicy, Cheese Sauce
(for Dutch Baby when you don’t have any avocado, but do have cheese)
Similar to above, but with a cheesy twist.
¼ pound of semi-hard cheese or cheeses, cubed. Pepper-jack or any kind of spiced cheese will work well in the mix you decide on.
¼ cup of sour cream
1. Using the (cleaned) blender or food processor, blend the cubed cheese) with the sour cream until fairly smooth. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the remaining 1/2 tbsp. chiles, tomato and green onions. Freshly ground pepper can be a nice addition if it is to your taste. Spoon onto, or to the side of the Dutch Baby servings.