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.