Monday, September 29, 2008

The Blues that Are Green

Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola form the triumvirate that rules a world of lesser Blues. They are actually green, as green as the mythical cheese the moon is made of.

In almost every, land where cheese is made you can sample a handful of lesser Blues and imitations of the invincible three and try to classify them, until you're blue in the face. The best we can do in this slight summary is to mention a few of the most notable, aside from our own Blues of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and other states that major in cheese.

Danish Blues are popular and splendidly made, such as "Flower of Denmark." The Argentine competes with a pampas-grass Blue all its own. But France and England are the leaders in this line, France first with a sort of triple triumvirate within a triumvirate—Septmoncel, Gex, and Sassenage, all three made with three milks mixed together: cow, goat and sheep. Septmoncel is the leader of these, made in the Jura mountains and considered by many French caseophiles to outrank Roquefort.

This class of Blue or marbled cheese is called fromage persillé, as well as fromage bleu and pate bleue. Similar mountain cheeses are made in Auvergne and Aubrac and have distinct qualities that have brought them fame, such as Cantal, bleu d'Auvergne Guiole or Laguiole, bleu de Salers, and St. Flour. Olivet and Queville come within the color scheme, and sundry others such as Champoléon, Journiac, Queyras and Sarraz.

Of English Blues there are several celebrities beside Stilton and Cheshire Stilton. Wensleydale was one in the early days, and still is, together with Blue Dorset, the deepest green of them all, and esoteric Blue Vinny, a choosey cheese not liked by everybody, the favorite of Thomas Hardy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cream Cheese

In England there are three distinct manners of making cream cheese:

1. Fresh milk strained and lightly drained.
2. Scalded cream dried and drained dry, like Devonshire.
3. Rennet curd ripened, with thin, edible rind, or none, packaged
in small blocks or miniature bricks by dairy companies, as
in the U.S. Philadelphia Cream cheese.

American cream cheeses follow the English pattern, being named from then: region or established brands owned by Breakstone, Borden, Kraft, Shefford, etc.

Cream cheese such as the first listed above is easier to make than cottage cheese or any other. Technically, in fact, it is not a cheese but the dried curd of milk and is often called virginal. Fresh milk is simply strained through muslin in a perforated box through which the whey and extra moisture drains away for three or four days, leaving a residue as firm as fresh butter.

In America, where we mix cream cheese with everything, a popular assortment of twelve sold in New York bears these ingredients and names: Chives, Cherry, Garden, Caviar, Lachs, Pimiento, Olive and Pimiento, Pineapple, Relish, Scallion, Strawberry, and Triple Decker of Relish, Pimiento and Cream in layers.

In Italy there is Stracchino Cream, in Sweden Chantilly. Finally, to come to France, la Foncée or Fromage de Pau, a cream also known around the world as Crême d'Isigny, Double Crême, Fromage à la Crême de Gien, Pots de Crême St. Gervais, etc. etc.

The French go even farther by eating thick fresh cream with Chevretons du Beaujolais and Fromage Blanc in the style that adds à la crême to their already glorified names.

The English came along with Snow Cream Cheese that is more of a dessert, similar to Italian Cream Cheese.

We'd like to have a cheese ice cream to contrast with too sweet ones. Attempts at this have been made, both here and in England; Scottish Caledonian cream came closest. We have frozen cheese with fruit, to be sure, but no true cheese ice cream as yet, though some cream cheeses seem especially suitable.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gourmet Toasted Cheese Sandwich

Butter both sides of 2 thick slices of white bread and sandwich between them a seasoned mixture of shredded sharp cheese, egg yolk, mustard and chopped chives, together with stiffly beaten egg white folded in last to make a light filling. Fry the buttered sandwich in more butter until well melted and nicely gilded.

This toasted cheeser is so good it's positively sinful. The French, who outdo us in both cooking and sin, make one of their own in the form of fried fingers of stale bread doused in an Welsh Rabbit and Fondue melting of Gruyère, that serves as a liaison to further sandwich the two.

Garlic is often used in place of chopped chives, and in contrast to this wild one there's a mild one made of Dutch cream cheese by the equally Dutch Pennsylvanians.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Minnesota Blue Cheese

The discovery of sandstone caves in the bluffs along the Mississippi, in and near the Twin Cities of Minnesota, has established a distinctive type of Blue cheese named for the state. Although the Roquefort process of France is followed and the cheese is inoculated in the same way by mold from bread, it can never equal the genuine imported, marked with its red-sheep brand, because the milk used in Minnesota Blue is cow's milk, and the caves are sandstone instead of limestone. Yet this is an excellent, Blue cheese in its own right.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Liederkranz

No native American cheese has been so widely ballyhooed, and so deservedly, as Liederkranz, which translates "Wreath of Song."

Back in the gay, inventive nineties, Emil Frey, a young delicatessen keeper in New York, tried to please some bereft customers by making an imitation of Bismarck Schlosskäse. This was imperative because the imported German cheese didn't stand up during the long sea trip and Emil's customers, mostly members of the famous Liederkranz singing society, didn't feel like singing without it. But Emil's attempts at imitation only added indigestion to their dejection, until one day—fabelhaft! One of those cheese dream castles in Spain came true. He turned out a tawny, altogether golden, tangy and mellow little marvel that actually was an improvement on Bismarck's old Schlosskäse. Better than Brick, it was a deodorized Limburger, both a man's cheese and one that cheese-conscious women adored.

Emil named it "Wreath of Song" for the Liederkranz customers. It soon became as internationally known as tabasco from Texas or Parisian Camembert which it slightly resembles. Borden's bought out Frey in 1929 and they enjoy telling the story of a G.I. who, to celebrate V-E Day in Paris, sent to his family in Indiana, only a few miles from the factory at Van Wert, Ohio, a whole case of what he had learned was "the finest cheese France could make." And when the family opened it, there was Liederkranz.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Coulommiers, or Brie de Coulommiers

Also called Petit-moule, from its small form. This genuine Brie is a pocket edition, no larger than a Camembert, standing only one inch high and measuring five or six inches across. It is made near Paris and is a great favorite from the autumn and winter months, when it is made, on until May. The making starts in October, a month earlier than most Brie, and it is off the market by July, so it's seldom tasted by the avalanche of American summer tourists.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cottage

In America cottage cheese is also called pot, Dutch and smearcase. It is the easiest and quickest to make of all cheeses, by simply letting milk sour, or adding buttermilk to curdle it, then stand a while on the back of the kitchen stove, since it is homemade as a rule. It is drained in a bag of cheesecloth and may be eaten the same day, usually salted.

The Pilgrims brought along the following two tried and true recipes from olde England, and both are still in use and good repute:

Cottage Cheese No. 1

Let milk sour until clotted. Pour boiling water over and it will immediately curd. Stir well and pour into a colander. Pour a little cold water on the curd, salt it and break it up attractively for serving.

Cottage Cheese No. 2

A very rich and tasty variety is made of equal parts whole milk and buttermilk heated together to just under the boiling point. Pour into a linen bag and let drain until next day. Then remove, salt to taste and add a bit of butter or cream to make a smooth, creamy consistency, and pat into balls the size of a Seville orange.