Recipes For Cheese
Cheese has gotten a bum rap lately
Many Americans avoid cheese because it’s “too fattening”. That’s cute because Americans statistically aren’t getting any slimmer.
Numerous studies have shown that feelings of deprivation lead to overeating. For example, if you are craving a wedge of cheese but avoid it because you don’t want to “cheat”, the chances of you consuming even more calories in a food that you think is ok go way up.
Cheese is rich in calcium and B12. Some recent studies also suggest that moderate consumption of cheese actually accelerates weight loss. Plus, let’s not forget about the French and that paradox. They love their cheese and obesity and heart disease are nowhere near US statistics.
So…don’t be afraid to enjoy some cheese on occasion. (If you’re afraid that it’s a slippery slope to gorge town, make individual portions and toss the extra. That may sound wasteful, so give it to a friend or whatever makes you feel ok about it. The reality is that the cost of some wasted cheese can’t compare to the cost of gaining some weight that makes you upset and insecure and the amount of punishment that you will put yourself through until you lose it)
It’s a classic. It’s also trendy right now. There are plenty of high end hangouts on both coasts that only serve grilled cheese sandwiches. They have about 20 varieties on the menus.
One of the most popular is the caprese. Just like the salad of sliced tomato, basil leaves and fresh mozzarella, dressed with a balsamic/oil infusion, the grilled cheese version uses those ingredients. They’re just pressed into a panini. Sometimes, a basil pesto is included.
We’ve made a Gruyere, ham and pear version with great success.
The best one that we’ve tried sounds strange but it was amazing. Mozzarella, fontina and Swiss with a leaf or two of fresh basil on challah (which is an egg bread) ,grilled to a golden brown and drizzled with honey. Killer!
You can add bacon or tomato. Slices of apples or pears work very well.
A Croque Monsieur is a French version of a grilled cheese. It’s a ham and cheese sandwich, typically Gruyere is used but Swiss is not uncommon. But there’s a surprise. After the grilled cheese part is put together, the whole thing is dipped in egg then flour and fried like French toast and dusted with powdered sugar. Oh my!
You can make several different varieties and cut them into quarters or eighths, stick tooth picks in them and serve them at a cocktail party. Not only will your guests love them, they’ll think that you are very chic.
This is a heavenly delight. It’s a super creamy version of buffalo mozzarella. Use it in your caprese or with sliced fruit. Melon, peaches, apples, pears. Whatever you like. Prosciutto is terrific with burrata, with or without fruit.
A few cubes of cheese added to a salad, makes a filling lunch.
Cheese plates have always been considered an elegant French component of a formal meal. Usually served after the main course.
Potatoes au gratin are sliced potatoes baked with a cheese/milk and flour sauce. Usually a mild cheese like cheddar
If you use Gruyere instead the same dish becomes potatoes dauphinois.
Cheese on vegetables like broccoli has been used as a ploy on kids for generations.
A French onion soup would not be the same without the Gruyere and toast on top. It’s very easy to make too
- 2 quarts good quality beef stock.
- 1 cup of red wine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 onions
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 c flour
- French bread
- Gruyere cheese
- Heat the stock
- Sauté the onions in the butter with the bay leaves, thyme and garlic
- When the onions are caramelized add the wine and simmer until the wine evaporates and the onions look pretty dry.
- Remove the leaves and stems and sift the flour onto the onions. Stir on low heat for about 10-15 min. Then add it to the stock.
- Slice the bread and toast it in the oven.
- Ladle the soup into oven proof bowls top it with a couple slices of the toasted bread and a mound of shredded cheese. Broil the bowls for about 5-7 min and serve.
Cauliflower casserole is a Scamper favorite but tomorrow’s cauliflower day. You’ll have to wait for that one.
Fondues are just melted cheese with or without some added flavors that you dip fruits and bread into. There are a million recipes available but honestly we don’t eat fondue unless we’re skiing. We don’t make it at home.
Here comes the Canadian special
This is a real favorite in Canada and the states that border Canada. There are bistros that specialize in poutine. Truthfully, we found it to be a gratuitous combination of poor quality ingredients on the one occasion that we tried it. If it sounds good to you, make it fresh
French fries covered in beef gravy and cheese curds. That’s the classic variety but the place where we went had about 20 versions.
People who like it love it. People who don’t would be just as happy to never see it again.
However, cheese curds are great.
They have recently become more available. You won’t find them at shop-rite yet but a decent cheese department will probably either have them or be willing to order them for you.
Cheese curds are mild, firm chucks of the solid parts of milk on cheddar cheese. Most commonly, they are battered and fried. Heaven help us.
We just tossed them on a salad or served them with grapes. They are a tasty novelty.
Obviously, cheese is a crucial component of both mac & cheese and pizza. Try to use some of your creativity with both.
Cheese popcorn is big now too. That chemical powder is not what we are talking about. Make your own. You’ll love it and you won’t have to deal with chemical reactions in your mouth. Canker sores and burns like pizza burns are very common responses.
Pop some popcorn and keep it warm in a 250 degree oven.
Melt butter with grated cheese (any hard cheese)
Stir it and when it’s thoroughly combined pour it on the popcorn and toss it until it’s evenly distributed.
Finally, this is one of our favorite ways to use cheese without guilt:
Take a pounded chicken breast or cutlet and place it on foil.
Raspberries are our favorite but you’ll find your own favorite with a little experimentation.
Cover the chicken with the berries. Close the foil and bake it at 350 for 15 min.
Open the foil and cover with either grated or sliced Gruyere. A little goes a long way. It just provides a contrast to the sweetness of the berries and satisfies more of your desire for each of the varieties of taste. Sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami. The more that you satisfy, the less you crave.
Place it back in the oven uncovered for about 5-7 minutes. It depends on how thick the chicken is. Either eat it melted or brown it on broil for a few minutes.
There are an infinite number of ways to include and enjoy a little cheese in your diet. Be creative.
Enjoy your cheese