June = peas. Peas = feta. Maybe that’s not the way you think, but my mind turns to feta every time I see the season’s first sweet English peas. That’s because one of my favorite Greek meze is the pea, feta and dill salad from Kokkari, the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant. I collaborated on the restaurant’s cookbook with chef Erik Cosselmon several years ago, and many of the Kokkari recipes entered my repertoire, but this one is probably the one I make the most. With warm pita and chilled rosé, you have the perfect first course.Read More
It’s travel season. Maybe you’re going to Europe. Maybe you’d like to bring home some of that stinky raw-milk Brie. But can you? Do you have to bury it in your suitcase and “forget” to declare it? I get asked this a lot. People think they can’t enter the U.S. with raw-milk cheese, or that a wedge has to be vacuum-sealed to pass muster.
Which of the European cheeses pictured above would you have to surrender at the U.S. border? Let’s stop speculating about what’s permissible and ask Customs and Border Patrol.Read More
What better way to celebrate Planet Cheese’s fifth birthday than with a cake? Cheesecake, of course. My favorite recipe (see blog) comes from a food-stylist friend; the surface never cracks or sinks, and the texture is dreamy. Serve with a strawberry-rhubarb sauce and just try to stop at one slice.
Cheese has been good to me. To pay it forward, I’ll be marking Planet Cheese’s birthday by donating to five non-profits doing important work in the cheese or dairy realm. Please join me in supporting them if you can.Read More
My recent class on “Best Buys at the Cheese Counter” reminded me—and my students—that a superb dinner-party cheese platter doesn’t have to set you back more than the lamb chops. You can spend $35 to $40 a pound on cheese today, or you can spend half that if you know where the values are. I assembled the seven selections for this class without shopping at a big-box store or chain. I was a little surprised by the class favorite but almost all the cheeses got some votes.Read More
My dad made my mother breakfast in bed every Sunday. It wasn’t fancy—Bisquick biscuits, scrambled eggs and canned orange juice—but she wasn’t picky. She got to lie in bed for a quiet hour or two with a tray over her lap and the Sunday paper and her coffee. I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of her week. If you’re within cooking distance of your own Mom, or your kids’ Mom, consider pampering her on Mother’s Day with a warm, cheesy frittata. Whether served in bed or at the table, it’s a treat.Read More
Can you name America’s top five milk-producing states by volume? Let me help you: California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho and Texas. Are these also the top five states for artisan cheese? Not if you ask me. Considering not only the quality of what’s produced in the state but also how enlightened its retailers are, I’ve compiled a different list. See if you agree with me.Read More
Where should you live if you’re a cheese lover? Maybe it’s not as important as great weather, but availability of great cheese is one reason I love where I live. Artisan cheesemaking is happening well beyond the leading dairy states, and it has been exciting to see the activity push into new territory. Weighing a couple of factors, I’ve compiled a (totally subjective) list of the Top Ten Cheese States.Read More
Ever since my husband, home baker extraordinaire, made a star bread with raspberry jam—gorgeous on the first try—I’ve wanted to make one with cheese. It took a few attempts to transition the sweet recipe to a savory one, but the shaping technique is easier than it looks. I got some whole-grain flour into the dough, which made me happy, while still maintaining a soft texture, like pull-apart dinner rolls. The filling is feta mixed with ricotta and a pinch of dried spearmint. If you want to impress the heck out of people at your Easter table, here’s your recipe.Read More
The most persistent defenders of raw-milk cheese are, in my view, the cheesemakers of Switzerland. “They see pasteurizing milk as a risk,” says Joe Salonia, a U.S. marketer of fine cheeses from Switzerland. “Why would you do that? Why would you hurt the most precious part of your milk?” With Raw-Milk Cheese Appreciation Day approaching (on April 20), I’ve been thinking about why it’s so critical to defend the right of cheesemakers to work with raw milk. Making the argument for me are the phenomenal cheeses from Gourmino, a Swiss marketing co-op that represents exclusively raw-milk cheeses. You don’t need to know the name Gourmino, but you do need to know its cheeses.Read More
Steve Jones is one of the cheese world’s wise men, proprietor of Cheese Bar and Chizu in Portland, Oregon, and a cheesemonger everybody respects. He has been telling me for years that he is going to write a book, and now he has done it, with co-author Adam Lindsley. Cheese Beer Wine Cider: A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings(W. W. Norton) takes us on a tasting journey that upends some conventional wisdom. You might be surprised to learn which beverage he would choose for cheese if he could have only one.Read More