Raspberries, blueberries, ricotta…what could be more American? Italian immigrants are a huge part of America’s cheesemaking story, past and present. They brought their know-how and taste memories with them and created their own made-in-America interpretations of mozzarella, burrata, Fontina, Gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano. What would American cheese counters be today without the Swiss, German, Dutch, Portuguese and Mexican immigrants who arrived with little besides their work ethic and built our cheese factories and dairy farms? Let’s toast all these hyphenated Americans on the Fourth of July.Read More
As the author of a yogurt cookbook, I should know something about skyr (pronounced skeer). Sales are growing in the U.S. for this Icelandic dairy product, but when a friend asked me how it differed from yogurt, I couldn’t say. It’s thick, creamy, tangy cultured milk—like yogurt. It’s fermented with bacteria—like yogurt. So why do Icelanders insist that it isn’t yogurt?Read More
When I see the name Rodolph Le Meunier on a new cheese, it’s my signal to seek no further. That’s the cheese I want. Le Meunier is a cheese whisperer, uncovering little-known gems in. hidden corners of France and maturing young cheeses made by others. Some of the cheeses in his product line are exclusive to him, like this crusty wheel from the Pyrenees. To know it is to love it.Read More
Where has this luscious cheese been all my life? How many bagels have I slathered with gummy cream cheese when I could have used this fluffy spread instead? It’s French, it’s not high in fat (well, as cheese goes) and it’s going to be a summer staple in my fridge. Hors d’oeuvres just got a whole lot easier. Pour yourself some rosé, make some toast and meet your new favorite fresh cheese.Read More
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