December 09, 2013

Grilled Cheese with Meule de Savoie, Roast Potato, + Bacon

    I'll just get this off my chest.  It's.  Cold.  As in really, really cold by Denver standards.  As I write this the outdoors gets to enjoy one single balmy degree on the Fahrenheit scale (that's -18C to the rest of the rational world).  
    My only solution to ever feeling warm on the inside ever again is to make something with hot melted cheese.  But really, isn't that everyone's solution?  What I present to you is a glorious sandwich of the refined French alpine-style cheese, Meule de Savoie, and stuff I scrounged in my fridge.  
    What happened was a layering of cheese onto sour dough with leftover thin sliced roast potatoes (from yesterdays dinner), and the last two pieces of apple wood smoked bacon.
  The crispy gooey result was the subtle mineral-y, earth, and astringent cream flavors of the cheese blending nicely with the salty smoke of bacon and potato.  
    So put some of this in your face and feel warmer.  I hear this winter thing keeps on being cold... 

December 06, 2013

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Valdeon Blue (and a giveaway winner, too!)

        Guys, that was a  lot of unintentional rhyming in the title of this post.  Yeah, sorry about that.  I guess it's the result of listening to too much Christmas music.  I admit, I'm not actually a curmudgeon about the holiday season.  When confronted with bespectacled hipsters lauding how much gift giving, St. Nick, and tinsel are overrated.  Well, lets say I just throw their own eye-roll ammunition right back at them.  
    But lets face it, my favorite part of this aggressively festive season is the eating.  No kidding, right?  This is the time of year that I dust off my hollow leg and get down to some serious noshing.  (secret: I don't actually eat huge amounts of grub the rest of the year.) 

    So Santa baby, if you're listening, leave a nice slice of this Valdeon blue under my Christmas tree.  You know, for me?  Because this blue is one slick holiday party attendee.  No matter your drink and nibbles situation Valdeon fits right in.  
    Does it pair with juicy, sparkling white wine?  Check.  Is that a platter of smoked meats on that appetizer table?  Check.  What goes with your swank after dinner sherry?  You have one guess.  
    Yes, Valdeon embodies a lot of my requirements for a good crowd pleasing blue.  Not too rustic, balanced salt content, the paste is supple with a hint of crumble, the chestnut leaves wrapping it give it a campfire-y earthiness, and a hint of white pepper piquant lingering on the finish.  
    Santa, I'll be waiting up for you.

    {We have a winner! After much digging around, blindfolded, in a hat full of names, The Board and Wire Anniversary Giveaway winner is Jesse Purdom!  Congrats to the winner and keep an eye out for a special cheese-centric Christmas box coming your way!}

November 22, 2013

Sweet Creme Fraiche + Almond

    How to explain that Creme Fraiche is a not sour cream?  Ah, let me count the ways.  For starters it has a much more viscous, dreamy texture than American sour cream.  As you can see in the photo above it can be piled up in heaping decadent swirls.  Also, Creme Fraiche is typically much higher in fat content, about 14% fat in some cases.  The acidity can hover around 4.5 ph the result is a cultured cream less sour than sour cream.  All of these marvelous traits combined makes for a much richer product.  Creme Fraiche is a knock out replacement for heavy cream in recipes, soups, and makes one hell of a (insert favorite dessert here) topping.  
    Now that you feel all educated about why Creme Fraiche is so much more than fancy-pants French sour cream let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time Creme Fraiche was mixed with sugar and almond extract.  Making a laughably simple dip/frosting thingy and there was much rejoicing in the kingdom.  The End.  Good story, no?  Right, so no literary prizes for me.  However, this bit of sweet dairy I whipped up is no joke.  

    Having never really used Creme Fraiche for anything and staring at the copious quantities on my store shelf I decided to explore.  I admit, I'm really not a fan of unadulterated Creme Fraiche.  I know, I know.  All you other cheese-heads out there will tell me how vaguely nutty and lactic yogurty amazingness this cultured cream is.  Frankly I find it bland.  That is until it's mixed with other things.  Then BAM!  
    In this case mixing it with sugar and almond made what was formerly an almost  distasteful Creme into something, dare I say, magical.  (okay cliche. but it is!)  Suddenly the light sour yogurt flavors all harmonized into a sweet nutty topping for my breakfast toast.  But the real good part was finishing off the last of it after dinner with a big bowl of ginger snaps carelessly dragged through the fluffy almondy cream.

Sweet Creme Fraiche + Almond

8 oz Creme Fraiche ( I like VC's version)
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 tsp almond extract

In a small chilled bowl whip all ingredients together until smooth and fluffy.
Eat at once and refrigerate left overs promptly.

November 20, 2013

Wednesday Morning Breakfast

A quick but definitely savored breakfast.
Earl Grey and Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. Creme Fraiche on lightly charred fresh sour dough.
Details to come on what made that Creme Fraiche a knock out. 
Good.  Damn.  Morning, everyone.

November 13, 2013

The Board and Wire is Turning 2! Give Away Edition!

     The Board and Wire is swiftly approaching its second
birth-iversary! How time flies when you're eating/writing about/researching/obsessing over cheese...
     In honor of TBAW turning 2 I think it's time to start an annual tradition. A birthday giveaway!
     To enter leave a comment below, or on the TBAW Facebook page, about your favorite cheese!
You must comment by 11:59pm on Dec 1st, 2013.  
One comment (either here or on FB) per person. 
The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced here on the TBAW blog. 
Check back at often to see if you are the winner!
The fabulous prize will be chosen at my discretion and shipped to the lucky winner by 1/1/14.
Good luck to you all!!

Mashed Sweet Potato with Taleggio + Cinnamon

        I promise that this time I actually used a recipe for the dish I made.  And by recipe I mean said recipe was made up by my brain whilst staring at a pudgy slab of Italian Taleggio cheese, eyes glassy with desire, and thinking "yeah, those flavors would be so awesome together."  Completely neglecting the fact that it's likely a flavor combo I've never even encountered.  Yet I forge ahead.  
    Swan diving into undetermined amounts of salt and spice.  Baking, whisking, simmering, broiling my way to something that I hope will be edible.  
    Not just edible.  
    I want whatever it is to be that mouthful that makes the eater go blind with temporary joy.  The type of dish that makes the recipient stand up and shout "This! This thing right here!"  Then followed by the silence so peculiar to a meal being thoroughly devoured.
    So I'm not that close to being that good of a chef (or even a real chef at all).  What I can do is whip together a dish (usually cheese centric, natch.) and make it work.  Enough so that the lucky test subject holds out a plate and mumbles, mouth crowded with Gorgonzola sauce and pecans, "More, please."  
    This go around I was caught in a fit of having the right ingredients all at the same time.  It's November.  Which means in Denver it's cold-ish (sort of).  I wanted hot comfort food.  Sunshine and perfect fall temperatures be damned.  What came out of my kitchen was surprisingly fall-like, if a bit on the almost painfully orange side.  
    But, oh, that Italian Taleggio and the cinnamon blended with brown sugar, butter, and warmed cream into the oven roasted sweet potatoes! 
    I had the good insight to toast the cinnamon lightly on a dry, hot pan before putting it in the mix.  Playing up the savory side of cinnamon by really opening its flavor and lending it a gentle roasted quality.  
    The whole dish was balanced between that earthy-sweet of the potato, the egg-y meatiness of Taleggio, and the savory-sweet dance of cinnamon and light brown sugar.  It's a good thing I came up for air.

Mashed Sweet Potato with Taleggio + Cinnamon
 serves 2-4
2 large sweet potatoes
4 oz. Taleggio Cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs salted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs packed light brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F
(for you high altitude cooks I found 375F worked best)
Wash and pat dry the potatoes.  
With a fork poke a few holes in the skin of each.
Roast in a pan or cookie sheet for approx. 1 hour or until the skin is crispy and insides are soft.

Unwrap the Taleggio.  Trimming away the rind and cutting into small pieces. Set aside a few pieces to top the dish with.

On the stove top heat a dry skillet on medium.  When hot add cinnamon and stir until fragrant about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn down heat to medium low.
Add butter, cream, and brown sugar.  Stir until melted and hot but not bubbling. 

Mash potatoes and Taleggio together in a large bowl with a fork or masher until coarse and lumpy.  Slowly, using a hand-mixer to blend, add the hot cream mixture until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy.

Whip in salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper if desired.

Top with remaining pieces of Taleggio

Serve* at once. 

*Preferably at your upcoming Thanksgiving feast!


November 05, 2013

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Taleggio

    Taleggio is certainly one of autumn's most perfect cheeses.  Perhaps because it is made during the fall season that makes it so.  Contrary to what most people think about cheese making it is not all done during the peak of the growing season.  Sure there's the ideal lush alpine hillside in high summer with happy fat cows grazing on happy fat grasses.  While this certainly does happen it is not the norm for all cheese making.  

    Taleggio is unique in that it is made autumn and winter when the cows are stracche, or "tired".  Meaning that the summer grazing is over and the milk produced has gained more acidity than it had in the high season.  But enough with the science blah blah.  
    This cheese is made of poor first impressions.  Aged for about 40 days and washed weekly with a seawater sponge it gains some, ahem, interesting characteristics.  It develops a strong odorous wiff of feet, brine, molding hay, and dirty animal.  (I know this is hard, but stay with me here.) 

    Thankfully that is just the rind.  What lies beneath the offensive outside is a creamy wonderland of cheese.  Soft, supple, mildly sticky texture that all but becomes a fondue-like texture under the tooth.  Its flavors bursting with clarified butter, roasted almond, egg, over ripe fruit, and its characteristic meatiness.  This is a most magical of cheeses.  
    Be even more daring and melt it open faced on slices of baguette for grilled cheese bliss.

September 21, 2013

Baked Apple with St. Agour Blue Cheese

    Apples.  Honeycrisp, Tango, Gala, Granny Smith, Jonagold.  No matter its name or character apples are the official fruit of Autumn.  The best type having crispy flesh that turns velvety under the tooth, with honeyed sweetness balanced out with a tart snap.   While possibly the most perfect fruit on its own there is nothing that a little cheese can't improve.  
    Let me be the first to tell you that this improvement makes your average solo apple taste like that french fry you found in your backseat last week.  I'll explain.  This Jonagold apple was cored and baked with a fluffy mixture of softened butter, light brown sugar, and...wait for it...triple creme St. Agour blue cheese.  Oh. Yeah. 
    The salty, lactic, yet gentle acidity of the cheese perfectly complements the heady sweetness of the apple.  Blending seamlessly with the toasted, buttery caramel of the brown sugar and butter.  
    As I write this I have slowly been working my way through this a fore mentioned baked fruit (yes, it's my breakfast. don't hate.).  The sheer, almost physically palpable, decadence of it has left me slowly working my way to the bottom of the bowl.  Though once past the spoonable, just barely crisp apple, lies the juices left over from baking.  A caramelized, buttered pool of brown sugar, salt, and cream.  
    Now this is the way to welcome the first day of Autumn.
Baked Apple w/Blue Cheese
serves 1

1 washed and cored baking apple w/skin on
1 Tbs salted butter, softened
2 Tbs light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbs blue cheese, softened and packed
1/2 cup water
Cinnamon for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F

Blend butter, sugar, and cheese with a spatula in a small bowl until well blend but still lumpy
Pack the mixture lightly into the cavity of the apple
The mixture should mound slightly over the top of the apple
Place into a baking dish and cover with apple lightly with tin foil
add the water to the baking dish
Bake for approx. 20 minutes
Remove tinfoil and add water if needed
Baste often with its own juices
Bake 20 more minutes or until tender under a fork
Carefully (molten sugar burns like napalm) move the apple to a ramekin or bowl 
Spoon over the juices from bottom of the baking dish
Sprinkle with cinnamon and any left over brown sugar

Spoon it into your face and enjoy!

August 15, 2013

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: 3 Month Manchego

The Cheese from La Mancha.  Three month aged Manchego is a prime example of Spanish cheese.  Made from the milk of Machega sheep, this cheese has a texture and flavor unique to its origins.
The particular fattiness of sheep's milk ensures a texture that is supple, springy under tooth, but not rubbery.  Really shining textually, as most cheese does, when eaten at room temperature.  The flavor profile is strong on the grassy olive oil note, with a good measure of piquant and clean lanolin-sheepiness on the finish.
 Three month Manchego is truly best when consumed in late fall and though out the winter.  Which means those wheels of cheese will have been made with the fattiest, richest milk from summer-autumn grazing.  Do it up right like a Spaniard with a sparkling glass of Cava and a slab of membrillo on the side. 

August 07, 2013

Bresaola with Mascarpone + Sour Cherry Spread

     Uniting a few of my favorite flavors into a surprising post-dinner hit is undoubtedly a tiny thrillI'm sure by now it's no secret how much Mascarpone is adored in these parts.  Which today's paring just reinforced.  Matched up with Creminelli Bresaola and Dalmatia Sour Cherry Spread, Mascarpone plays quite nicely. 
The Mascarpone gives a cushioned, lactic mouth feel to soften the sour edge of the cherry and bring out it's sweetness.  While the Bresaola adds a wine like note with its subtle herb and rich bloody/iron tang.  Trust me, this simple (and slightly messy) arrangement brings the ol' "sweet and salty" classic flavor combo to a decadent grown-up level.

June 23, 2013

Deconstructed Strawberry "Tiramisu"

     Yes, that's right, readers.  What you see above is the beginnings of one rad dessert.  While pouring hot liquid onto fluffed Mascarpone cheese seems counter intuitive, I promise you only good things come of it.  Sugared strawberries (this is still high strawberry season. get on it, people!) milky-sweet Mascarpone, and the bitter edges of espresso all swirl into a creamy, sugary, delightful mess.  Thankfully it's easy enough to go back for seconds...or fourths.  Just don't expect to sleep for a month. 

Deconstructed Strawberry "Tiramisu"

Serves 1

8 good-looking Strawberries (plump, glossy, no green spots)
2 Tbs softened Mascarpone cheese
1 Tbs Sugar
1/4 c Espresso (or to taste)

  • Thoroughly wash strawberries, remove tops, and slice as desired into your heat resistant container of choice
  • Sprinkle with sugar and carefully toss until evenly coated
  • In a microwave safe dish heat the Mascarpone on medium power for about 15 seconds or until just softened.  Stir gently until creamy but not edging in on liquid.  Alternatively heating the Mascarpone slowly in a small sauce pot on the stove  works well, too.
  • Brew or heat your espresso. ( i use a stovetop espresso maker. however, instant espresso is easily obtainable these days.  lacking both of these things, a strongly brewed dark roast coffee is an acceptable substitute.)
  • While your espresso is preparing top the sugared strawberries with the softened Mascarpone.
  • Gently pour the hot espresso over the mascarpone.  Use as much or as little as you desire.  
  • Try not to dissolve the cheese entirely.  I find part of the appeal of this dessert is getting a spoonful of berry, cheese, and espresso all in one go.  Bitter-sweet.  Invigorating.  Heady. 
    Also, the variations on this "Tiramisu" are endless.  I'm curious to find out what booze soaked, alternative ingredients, etc. versions you all come up with.  Share away, dear readers!
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June 12, 2013

Avalanche Cheese Company: Lamborn Bloomer

     The Avalanche Cheese Company has become something of a summer time darling around The Board and Wire.  Made locally to me in Basalt, Colorado, cheese can't get any fresher than this.  Well, unless it's aged on purpose, you get the idea.  My current obsession now that June is fully upon us is the Avalanche Lamborn Bloomer.  

    Those lady goats grazing on the Western Slope in Paonia are getting the best of the spring grasses and flora.  As a result the milk produced is rich in flavor and nutrients.  Making it ideal for creating bloomy rinded, milky, fresh cheese.  Hence, the Lamborn Bloomer.  
    Based on the Robiola style cheese of Italy it oozes out of its light, snappy rind.  Lactic and creamy at first bite it blossoms into floral and fresh-mowed grass.  Finishing gently with subtle flavors of citrus and yogurt.  Best served with seasonal fruit (right now, strawberries, get 'em while they're good) and slices of soft french bread (not crackers. do yourself a favor on this one.). 
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May 24, 2013

Bloody Mary Week: Carrot + Peach Bloody Maria w/Gorgonzola Dolce Stuffed Peppadews

    As the grande finale of Bloody Mary week I present, to you, the Carrot + Peach Bloody Maria.  Because apparently using tequila instead of vodka makes its name all Latin-ized.  I wonder what the translation of "Mary" is in Russian?  
    Anyways, this sweet gem of a drink still packs the savoriness and heat of the original Bloody Mary.  An added splash of lemon juice keeps the peach from descending into cloying.  All around this is the cocktail to have in hand when it's 90F at 9am on a weekday.  
    Topping it off (since you all know, by this point, how I feel about garnish) is a wee South African beauty known as the Golden Peppadew.  Sweet, spicy, and a bit pickled it goes quite nicely with a cool filling of butter-soft Gorgonzola Dolce.  This simple but punchy topping is pretty straight forward in construction so let's jump straight to the beverage.

Carrot + Peach Bloody Maria

Carrot Juice
Peach Nectar
(just a really thick, pulpy juice)
Tomato Juice
Lemon Juice 
Prepared Horseradish
Tabasco Sauce

Serves 1
  • Measure out 2/3 cup Carrot Juice to 1/3 cup Peach Nectar
  • Add a splash of Tomato Juice and a splash of Lemon Juice (I also liked an extra splash of peach nectar in mine since I Love peach)
  • Stir in a 1/2 tsp. Prepared Horseradish and 1/2 tsp. of Tabasco sauce.  Use more or less to taste.
  • Add 1 shot of Tequila (or 2 if you really don't feel like going to work that day). 



May 22, 2013

Bloody Mary Week: Classic B.M. w/Capricho de Cabra + Manchego Stuffed Olives

     As the cocktail train keeps rolling I realize that I should have labeled this "Garnish Week"  being that it's what I'm most excited about in these Bloody Mary's.  I am pretty stoked about today's offering.  
    What we have here is an olive stuffed with a mixture of Capricho de Cabra and One Year Aged Manchego.  That's right, I'm mixing milks here.  Goat Cheese + Sheep's Milk Cheese = Love (Forever).  I told you it would get crazy in here this week.  
    The Capricho is bright and balanced, with a touch of that familiar lemon zest of fresh goat cheese.  Meanwhile the Aged Manchego adds depth and fatty-earthy aroma.  Together they make my favorite stuffed olive yet.

 Olives w/Capricho de Cabra and 1 Year Aged Manchego

Pitted Olives
(Green works best with this variation)
Capricho de Cabra, plain
1 Year Aged Manchego

  • Bring Capricho and Manchego to room temperature.  About 20 minutes out of the fridge.
  • Drain and pat dry olives.
  • Shred Manchego using a hand held cheese grater
  • Mix 1 part Capricho with 2 parts shredded manchego
  • To stuff the olive roll a pinch of the cheese mixture in the palm of your hand and gently poke it into the  olive. 
  • To get the pretty "snowball" effect from the photos dip the large end of the stuffed olive into any remaining Manchego shreds.  This is also good for extra Manchego flavor.  
Visit TBAW here for the Classic Bloody Mary recipe! 

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May 21, 2013

Bloody Mary Week: Classic B.M. w/Fire Roasted Tomato Olives + Bresaola

    Today's Bloody Mary garnish has no cheese in it.  I know.  That's pretty weird.  But bear with me, here.  For Charcuterie makes a strong appearance.  Particularly Bresaola Piccola from Creminelli Fine Meats.  
    I'm not much into eating beef, however this air-dried eye of round is amongst my favorite pieces of charcuterie.  The salt and pepper profile of the beef blends well with the spicy-tomato of the Classic Bloody Mary.  Meanwhile the olives provide their astringent vegetal flavors paired with a fire-roasted tomato filling.  All together this topping lends a smokey, vaguely peat-y, roasted note to the cocktail as a whole.  

Fire Roasted Tomato Stuffed Olives w/Bresaola

Green Olives, pitted
Fire Roasted Tomatoes,  in oil
Bresaola, sliced paper thin

  • Drain and pat dry olives
  • Drain tomatoes(Set aside the oil. It makes an awesome drizzle for arugula salad or chicken breast.) cut width wise into thin strips.
  • Stuffing these olives is fairly easy.  I found that folding up the tomato piece and just poking it into the olive worked fine.  
  • String your stuffed olive and Bresaola slices onto a skewer in an ascetically pleasing way.
  • I also suggest taking a little nibble of garnish before sipping the cocktail.  Though, I'm sure that goes with out saying.
For the Classic Bloody Mary recipe see The Board and Wire post here!

(Oh and one more thing.  That little bit of something dangling off the skewer is called a flower pepper.  It's a real scorcher!)

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